Questions of legitimacy in the last days of the Songhai Empire.

    By Rob Eep
In 1493, a usurper, whom we know as Askia al-ḥājj Muhammad Ture, captured the reins of power in imperial Songhai mow Mali by defeating an army led by Sunni Baru, the rightful heir to the throne of the great warrior king Sunni Ali Beer, who had died the year before under suspicious circumstances. After deposing Sunni Baru, Askia Muhammad established a new dynasty of ‘Askias’ who would rule imperial Songhay with different degrees of skill and success until the state’s destruction at the hands of an invading Moroccan army in 1591. In both the 17th century Arabic chronicles of Songhai history written in Timbuktu, and in much of the modern historiography of the Songhai Empire, Askia Muhammad is represented as a novel political figure because of the extent to which he sought to legitimize his rule on explicitly Islamic credentials. Askia Muhammad became a patron of Muslim scholars and holy men in commercial towns such as Timbuktu and he undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1496-7 soon after establishing himself in power. Upon his return to West Africa, he endeavored to put his rule on a sound Islamic footing by winning the approval of a prominent North African scholar named Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Maghīlī (d. 1504), who visited the Songhai capital of Gao in 1498. The written text which records Askia Muhammad’s questions and al-Maghīlī’s answers offers us a unique window onto medieval west African statecraft. Above all, it reveals an argument made by Askia Muhammad that his regime would respect the letter of Islamic law. This adherence to the law was contrasted with the behavior of his predecessor Sunni Ali Baru who, despite his claim to be a Muslim, was described as both unjust in his treatment of Muslims and insincere in his profession of Islam.

The Tarikh al-Fatash document.

*The Tarikh al-fattash is a West African chronicle re-written in Arabic in the second half of the 17th century. It provides an account of the Songhay Empire from the reign of Sonni Ali (ruled 1464-1492) up to 1599 with a few references to events in the following century. The chronicle also mentions the earlier Mali Empire. It and the Tarikh al-Sudan, another 17th century chronicle giving a history of Songhay, are together known as the Timbuktu Chronicles.88B4A153-4A1B-41B0-8F0A-28D19C1F9EA6

            Analytical question

Did the Ta’rikh al-Fattash document and the questions of Askiya Muhammad make different arguments for the legitimacy of Askiya Muhammad’s seizure of power in Songhai?

       

    They are equally arguing for the same outcome. One finds both the Tar’rikh al-Fattash and the questions of Askiya Muhammad to Al-Maghili to be supportive of Askiya Muhammad’s legitimacy of seizure of power in Songhai, despite the coup being regarded by tradition as illegal. The documents offer praise of his image and great endorsement to his validity as king and champion of political reformation and transformation in the last days of Songhai empire.

    In the Ta’rikh al-Fattash,  the author seemed to chronicle the events that led to the times of Askiya Muhammad’s seizure of power. The documents largely describe and praise the unorthodox king as God-sent. It provides an explicit account of what went wrong with Askiya Mohamed predecessors especially their abhorrent tactics of brutality and tyranny towards  subjects which in a way justified Muhammad’s enthronement. It degrades kings such as Sonni Ali and those before him as guilty of misconduct and abuse of power and transgressions towards the people of Songhai and that there was no way such bloodline could continue to rule.

           The Ta’rikh al-Fattash does further provide a comprehensive and vivid narrative of Askiya’s style of rulership after seizing control of Songhai, particularly, after challenging and overthrowing Sonni Ali’s son. Askiya immediately implemented a leadership that was unconventional and revolutionary one that sought to implement Islamic law in contrast to his many various predecessors despite their legitimacy to the throne and direct descent from Sundiata Keita. Sonni Ali’s quality of rulership and reputation had been tainted by bloodshed and carnage to which Askiya pursued to change and introduce a new protocol and  unorthodox administration that went by radical Islamic tradition and koranic teachings, largely in quest to implement justice and order in line of his self-view as messenger of Allah.

         The Tar’rikh al-fattash painted Askiya Muhamad as highly honorable. In one translated passage, the observer writes. “It would be difficult to enumerate his [Askiya] many virtues and qualities such as his strong political skill, his goodwill towards his subjects and his concern for the poor”.

It would be difficult to find his match from any ruler who came before him or after him”. He writes. “He had a warm regard for the Ulemas,…beyond the obligatory duties, he gave many alms and performed highest acts of devotion. He was a man of greatest intelligence and clairvoyance.” (Wise, 116)

      The condemnation of Sonni Ali and his predecessors in the chronicles somehow elevates Asikiya Muhammad’s position and paints him as a good man. His greatness is alternatively heard about in question two to Algerian scholar Al-Maghili whereby, king Sonni Ali is continually described as a non-devout Muslim and an evil leader in the questions. Reference to his mother in the passage as an idol worshipper is stressed. Sunni Ali is described in relation to this practice which in Islamic doctrine is regarded as awful, Barbaric and backward. He is described to have trusted those idols in addition to worshipping ancestral spirits than consult the Islamic God of the Koran. In essence, he is defined as if he had not yet been civilized despite being Muslim. He is condemned in the four “questions” to have shunned the attendance of mosque on Fridays and refrained from praying with the common people but also his act of making lawful the shedding of blood and seizure of the property of Muslims.  The passage  goes on to explicitly spell the awful deeds by Sonni Ali and putting in context how incomparable this evil king was to the new king Askiya Muhammad who  in many ways was defined as a man of Allah one who carried with him great courage and wisdom.

     “He [Sonni Ali] put to death scholars, jurists and priests, women, infants and others…, he sold seized property and sold men free men to the extent that cannot be measured. Then after his death the Amir Askiya Muhammad ruled and possessed the land and brought people back from polytheism and  the practice of evil”. (Question 2 to Al Maghili)

    In a way, the unflattering definitions of Sonni Ali’s reputation were to help show to the world how Askiya Mohammed was justified in taking over the throne in contravention  of Songhai cultural protocols. Question two largely  deliberates on whether to posthumously punish Sonni Ali and the descendants of his general and condemn them to the eternal slavery as punishment for what they did to Islam and the people of the land.

          In question four to Al-Maghili, however, Askiya Mohammad continued to cast questions that intended to legitimize his unconventional ascendance to power with regards to his coup d’etat.

“if there is a land in which there are Muslims and their sultan is oppressive or their chief seizes their property in an unjust and aggressive way, should I or should I not drive away that oppressor from them, even if this leads to his being killed?  Similarly, if there is a sultan who levies [unlawful] taxes and does not restrain wrongdoers, is it for me to curb him through fighting and killing or not?” He Asked.

  In this passage, analogies of scenarios are drawn making it clear that for the people to obtain justice, evil tyrant kings or Sultans must be put to death and replaced by any means as he did.

One learns in the last parts of the fourth question that both Askiya and scholar Al Maghili were applying the tact of dialogue in search for  missing effective laws to introduce in the land.  The moral aspect in the implementation of those laws was crucial to them. 

And what is the ruling concerning a man who buys [from the sultan] something he seized by force or like means from the property of orphans and others and does this to such an extent that we cannot distinguish his original property from what he purchased from the property [confiscated from other] people?  Does everything which is in his possession go to the Public Treasury or not?  . . .” (Question 4 to Al Maghili)

 

                                                            WORKS CITED

          Wise, Christopher. The Timbuktu Chronicles, 1493-1599: Tarikh al-fattash. Trenton,

                    New Jersey: Africa World Press. 2011.

 

        Askiya Muhammad’s Questions to Al Maghili: Songhay Sovereignty.pdf
               journals.openedition.org

 

 

 

 Rob Eep’s review & summary of Derrick Hindery’s “From Enron to Evo”.

By Rob Eep

The Book From Enron to Evo: Pipeline politics, Global Environmentalism, And Indigenous rights in Bolivia was written by Derrick Hindery, a social-economic researcher and professor in the Department of International Studies at the University of Oregon. 

The book is a conflict analysis between the rights of the indigenous peoples in Bolivia and the Pipeline Politics in the wake of global environmentalism at the height of socialist rule of Evo Morales in 2000s.

The author puts together a detailed explanation of the conflicting situations that arose in the wake of President Evo Morales’s surprise election that brought with it neoliberal reforms and leftist policies.

The book contributes to the global campaign movements for the protection of the natural environments such as tropical rain forests and the advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples that inhabit these forests from transnational corporations and oil giants who collude with governments to implement social and economic injustices.

It is a great book to read  now in the wake of shocking Amazon fires due to malicious damage (perhaps).. in addition to global warming, massive logging, and minerals scouting by western multinational corporations  as it gives insight into the geopolitics of Latin America taking a case study of Bolivia during the rule of Evo Morales.

When reading this book, one learns how transnational oil corporations such as Enron and Shell sparked anger and resistance from the indigenous communities when they entered Bolivia due to the economic neoliberal reforms that had been put in place since 1985.

Hindery devises term “Dynamic pragmatism” to describe a way the indigenous peoples of Bolivia tactically applied their facet of being natives to the land, while thoughtfully interacting with partners, and intelligently discussed on whether to concede to the “development” plans put forth by the government. Dynamic Pragmatism became a feasible approach by the indigenous groups in the wake of practical consequences considering shifting public, historical and environmental conditions during that era.

Derrick Hindery contends in this book that Evo Morales’s leftist model of nationalizing Bolivia’s natural resources while attempting to combat the influence of the multinational corporations and the USA’s influence, still exhibited the structural practices of neoliberal strategies such as the semi privatization of the oil and gas industry and the removal of the government’s power on such matters of the indigenous peoples’ rights.

The theme rotates around indigenous uprising, pipeline politics and the extraction of gas/minerals. This is clarified by reading on the rift that broke up between the groups such as the Yuracare, Mojeno and Chimane indigenous peoples that reside in the Isiboro- Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) and those indigenous lawmakers among Evo Morales’ movement towards socialism (MAS) party who formed a committee to defend the aboriginal rights and prevent the government’s controversial plan to construct a road in the TIPINIS protected region from happening.

Tactics employed by both Morales and his neoliberal predecessors utilized the rhetoric of environmental protection and Indigenous rights to justify oil, gas, mining, and road development in Indigenous territories and sensitive eco-regions.

In reality, very little had changed and what came into place was something called Andean-Amazonian capitalism according to the author.  Deep neoliberal priorities remained ingrained within the political economy and were advocated and pursued by Morales and his top cabinet.  Evo Morales adopted the same rhetoric used by his neo-liberal forerunners which advocated for environmental protection and fostering the rights of the indigenous to the extraction and trade of oil and gas as well as road and pipeline constructions.

Hindery applies the relationships between political, economic and social factors with environmental matters and changes in his research work to rise above the aspect of simply navigating the basic values of neoliberalism to show the polemical relationships between oil, gas and minerals extraction project formations, their environmental effects on the ground, and the indigenous social movement against the models.

The author facilitates his arguments by drawing conclusions from many documents and statements such as the preamble of Bolivia’s 2009 constitution in chapter 8 of the book from which he finds the preamble contradictory to the  directive of the  constitution’s promise to provide the new rights of the indigenous whereby those rights were violated by extractive schemes implemented by the Evo Morales administration.

Hindery however fails in almost the entire book to condemn the role and the type of influence that the USA and the international financial organizations such as the IMF had in making sure that Bolivia adopted the capitalization of the state oil company and the hydrocarbons law in their statutes which opened doors to transnational oil giant corporations like Enron and Shell who ushered destruction of indigenous lands and communities.

The author somehow concludes that the adoption of neoliberalism in Bolivia largely opened the door to multinational corporations and exacerbated systematic dependence on industries that degrades Bolivia’s Amazon forests while trumping on the Indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral lands.

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Rob Eep took Global Studies at the University of Berkeley Cal 2017

what is history & what is mythology?

Rob Eep

History is something that happened.

It is a series of past events relating to a people, nation or something i.e land, a star, a species etc. History is predisposed to fact and less transcendental.

Myth, on the other hand, is the encoded instructions and explanations of what may have happened in the past, what is happening now and what shall happen in the future. The source of instructions is always part mystical part forgotten history which why it becomes mythology or folklore.

Myth can be a call to wisdom, awareness and preservation of the sanctity of order and balance in nature.

History stands within the structures laid forward by myth.

Myth in a sense stands at a higher vibration than history.

The internet defines myth as a folklore genre consisting of narratives or stories that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales, legends or origins. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods or supernatural humans.

Mythology is the source of nearly all religions. The exploitation of Mythology by past visionary tricksters helped produce most of the world’s beliefs and confusions we have today.

World-views based on deduced dogmas tend to lead man into the attempt to take symbolic myth literally i.e God being some character outside man or natural livings things.

This leads to many corruptions and conspiracies within the professional academic circles in a race to validate fallacious beliefs the various warring factions are often based upon. 

Mythology is multidimensional which secular approach avoids grasping. History is linear. Faded history is swallowed by mythology and becomes part of it.

Myhtology

 

THE RISE OF POPULISM IN UGANDA.

  What that means for the future of the nation.  

By Rob Eep

Uganda has seen an emergence of populist politics in recent past following local pop star Bobi Wine’s campaign and win for the role of a member of parliament which resulted in the representation of his home constituency of Kyadondo-east, an area in the outskirts of capital Kampala.

The musician’s win of the parliamentary sit in 2018 caught many by surprise as no one had expected such a candidate to win. The win was aided by thousands of young followers and music supporters who out of a fascination for the musician’s audacity to announce political ambitions, cast him enough votes to propel him to corridors of power. No one really knows how he garnered the audacity but being a successful local musician, one would theorize need for more fame and the power that comes with it thus took advantage of the political quagmire Uganda is in and launched a people power populist movement.

How Bobi’s debut into politics formed an emergence of Uganda’s brand of Populism?

Populism, as relates to African politics, is different from how it is viewed in the western world. In the United States of America, populism applies to far-left and far-right political spectrum upon which topics of a dispute are contested.  Populists draw on lingering dissatisfaction within the state of democracy. Tones can be nationalist in terms of ethnic lines, anti-immigration, gun laws whereby both sides of the spectrum contend views in populist rhetoric seeking credence. Centrists on both left and right dislike populism because they see it as evocative of uncontrollable rage and anger and passions, unlike liberalists who take pride in reason, rationality, facts and figures. Populist leaders often turn away from their messianic saviour attitude and become fascists.

In many ways, liberalists view populism as foggy anarchism especially that it attracts the support and the enthusiasm of rowdy elements as part of its machinery and energy. Democrats nonetheless, view populism as a positive thing because it can be about challenging the complacent elite and can be set on behalf of the downtrodden which in a way is noble. Populists are good at holding politicians to account in a sense that the elites come to a point where they ask themselves what went so wrong that the population is up in arms and on the streets against them.

Contrary, populism is branded bad by political experts because, when populists take leadership, they implement bad economic policies.

With the above said, populism in Uganda Is different because; unlike the USA or the EU nations where democracy reigns, Uganda still is a hybrid regime or an illiberal democracy. It is never been run on the full principles of fairness since its independence from the British in the 60s although the leaders in that country teach their subjects the opposite. This fact, plus many other factors related to widespread illiteracy, culture, poverty and the effects of recipiency of exploitative world bank and western foreign policy enhances a different brand of populism among Ugandans. The dynamics of suffrage in both Africa and the west involve differing societies. One affluent and well versed on the workings of their system, the other impoverished and lost.

For this reason, 60% of voters in Uganda are acutely unaware they lack civil liberties. That despite a vibrant press and freedom of speech put forth by the NRM government as a scheme, Uganda is not an open society but a low-intensity democracy. This means that the population’s delight in independence and the process of upholding democracy is an illusion.

     People Power Movement

Unaware of this slant, Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi) and his gang of music fans under people power movement slogan “Tweberelemu”, hope to apply their brand of Ugandan populism and overthrow dictator Museveni and magically transform Uganda into a vibrant democratic and independent nation.

To an expert spectator, this is sheer fantasy given Bobi Wine’s competence in regional politics as compared to that of fellow opposition comrades and that of M7. Bobi Wine and his band of supporters espouse in parochialist approach and ignore Uganda’s regional and international position as far as Africa is concerned. Their slogan Twebelelemu colloquially stands for “f the law, lets rise and improvise”. This is a dangerous attitude given that most of the “people power movement” fanatics are visceral in their rhetoric and quest for political change regardless of how the need for that change is.

“People power” followers support Bobi Wine based on the fact that he is an entertainer and not because he is a viable candidate for what Uganda needs. The silly part with the Ugandan version of populism is that half of the people power fanatics are in for the entertainment of the fiasco that comes with Bobi wines public appearances which often puts him in arms with the government police thus giving a great spectacle.  None is genuinely concerned about the change of power from the incumbent leader to a new capable one.

While Bobi Wine’s story is somewhat phenomenon in the ears of general Africans on the continent, the dynamics of change in the current capsule of the Ugandan system needs a more sophisticated candidate to par with the clever dictator Museveni than a young pop star with money, fame and no education to run a nation within the new world order system. Bobi Wine’s people power populist movement’s motivations are based on unsophisticated views and are unreliable and worse still, based on ostentatious, selfish ambitions like those he is fighting against.

The crisis of Illiterate leaders in Uganda.

The rise of substandard political candidates within Uganda’s economic and political-administrative strata is absurd but in many ways an effect of many ills that befell Ugandan society.

Ills such as massive corruption from the top down. Mass emigration of highly trained professionals and intellectuals (brain drain) for greener pastures which leaves the leadership of the country in the hands of majority halfwits and thugs.

The proliferation of substandard media houses which spread inadequacy in logic, empty noisy bloggers who miseducate and spread fake news and incite hooliganism in the country.

A feeling of mass-dumbfication is sensed when following Ugandan media houses. Also the exaltation for the hate and distrust of the educated Ugandans. This is a stratagem. Works for both the government and those fighting it to keep the status quo place. Years of NRM’s poor education policy and negligence of the nation’s young has produced millions of illiterate populace who at will vote for political candidates that reflect their image and level of thinking. One example is that of Kato Lubwama’s win to the parliament. The result is regular pandemonium and comic scenes during debates.

These scenarios often beget promisingly lucrative for the western powers as well because; an ignorant leader in any part of Africa preparing to take charge means a fresh slate in the ways of exploitation under means of new foreign policy agreements to be signed.

       Why populism is bad.

According to dutch political scientist Andre Krouwel,  populists deny pluralism. Populists argue that the population is one but turn and deny recognition and affirmation of the diversity within a political body that permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles.

Populists don’t like the coexistence of different groups and classes that hold different views and interests in society. In the case of Uganda’s Bobi Wine’s people power populist movement, the scapegoat in the situation is not just president M7 and all his public servants but the tribes of Banyankole, Banyarwanda as well as the well-educated class.

Around the world, populists like to portray all society as one homogenous group. In the case of America, Trump who is a populist, argues that the Mexicans need to be kept out to make America great again. He sees the elite of that nation as siding with the Mexicans and the minorities, therefore, a border wall needs to be erected to keep migrants out.

All in all, populists argue that democracy is a fight against the rule of law.

 

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Is Time an Illusion? Why I think Time is real, but Space isn’t.

Rob Eep

 Scientists teach that the entire universe blew out of a single atom or out of a tiny primordial unit. I don’t doubt that. It makes sense that out of one, many came.

My hypothetical question is:

 Would distance and space exist if that single atom or quantum unit did not explode and scatter matter away from itself producing the wide expanse and the firmament that we see today as the universe as part of the aftermath? How about ground distance on the planet that we mostly base linear time on?

  That single atom or tiny point would exist forever enjoying time in a void and not space if there was no explosion at the big bang.

 This implies that time as an entity and not a meter exists regardless of distance or not. Time, therefore, is an eternal thing and not an illusion. It applies to the existing and none existing things. It remains where there is none.

I raise this view because there are many videos online that push the idea of time as an illusion. I feel it erroneous for one to suggest time is a hallucination because the term eternity which pertains to time suggests infinity and ever, therefore, all potential aspects exist in infinite Time.

Space and all the matter there is, and was,… are clusters that are tightly packed within the concept of eternity which is TIME. Space and matter were the ingredients tightly packed within the dot that exploded into everything. The dot had enjoyed time in a void for as long as it could remember.

I am of the view that our great scientists discuss time from a 3d linear perspective which is why to them, it seems like an illusion or an enigma.

The 3D linear time that we are familiar with lives in Space that is subject to inflation and deflation due to the aftereffects of the quantum bubble explosion that happened at the big bang. That ground measurable time is the illusion. Without space within the firmament, it does not exist.

The exterior of the shell of the firmament is eternity which is the real Time that everything falls under.

For 9 months into our mother’s wombs, distance does not affect us but time does. We all had to do time (9 months) in the womb (literally static) before we walked out into space and witnessed the expanse beyond our eyes and consciousness.

If everything in the entire universe died and all that remained was total darkness, the dark void would remain for quite some time and if not eternity. There would be distance within that dark void. But also, the aftermath can be a tiny dot as was before the big bang and the potential prior to it, contents in that dot will still experience eternal time.

 This is why I believe that Time is real and ever-present.

There could be a much better explanation of the concept using scientific examples but I prefer a bit of philosophical approach. 

 This is not an expert’s explanation but an opinion.

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Rob Eep’s comprehensive review of the book – The Bottom Billion

By Rob Eep

Being an African and hailing from Africa, I always find self attracted to books that attempt to explain the quagmire facing the continent and its people in the wake of globalization. After coming across the book Bottom Billion and enjoying reading it, I decided to share with those that haven’t had a chance to read it a description of it and a few thoughts about it on my Roblog.   I introduce to you this great book (if you have never read it) and I get to throw in my critique as well.

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          What is the Bottom Billion?

The Bottom Billion is a book written and published in 2007 by an Oxford economist and director of the Development Research Group of the World Bank, Paul Collier. It won several awards including Arthur Ross award for best book on international affairs. It is considered one of the most important books on globalization today.

In this book, Paul Collier calls for dramatic changes in how the G8 nations deal with the third world in relation to the new state of global order. He appeals for a change in western foreign policy in regards to aid to the Bottom Billion populations by explaining in his writings why African countries, in particular, are lagging behind and falling apart as he attempts to offer solutions.

Paul Collier’s thesis is that about 60 “small” countries whose population adds up to almost a billion people have missed the celebration in terms of economic development and prosperity, and have thus stayed at the bottom and behind the rest.

       Falling Behind and Falling Apart

In this book, Collier gets to classify the world in three categories. A) 1 billion people who have made it.  B) 4 Billion people who are on the right track to catch up and C) 1 Billion people who have been living in countries that for about 50 years have been stagnant and extremely lagging behind the rest of the world. He indicates that two-thirds of these Bottom Billion nations are in Africa and external parts like Haiti, East Timor, Bolivia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Laos, Uzbekistan and more Stans of Asia.

Collier uses economic expertise to extrapolate on possible future scenarios if the west did not revise their foreign policy and approach towards these third world nations. He nonetheless does come across as a quintessential global 8 propagandist and economic strategist in many ways on behalf of the western block’s future foreign policy and domination in preparation for global trends 2020,2030 and so forth. Although Collier offers great solutions towards the end of the book such as   1. Calling for the trade policies’ mandate to encourage free trade and to offer preferential access to the poorest nations’ exports’.  2. Encouragement of good governance via international charters and providing templates, rules and prototypes. 3.Appropriate Military Interventions to monitor and enforce democracies. 4…as well as calling on, Aid agencies to venture and operate in environments deemed less fancy or difficult to work in such as Darfur…..,

Collier strengthens the view held by many in the west that Africa for instance, is inherently incapable to rise up without western intervention and therefore needs help- this time around- by sending military troops to monitor and police democracies in an effort to support these bottom billion Africans and other third world nations, utilize aid justly.

     Rob’s exegesis 

To some readers such as myself, this somehow renders Collier’s book seem like a springboard that was prepared a year in advance in preparation to launch the western strategic programs geared at securing control of the third world nations. Programs such as the United States’ neo-colonial militaristic program known as AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) that is been operating within all African nations except in Egypt since 2008. Africom’s assumed assignment is to foster U.S plan of action for sub-Saharan Africa. It claims to want to strengthen democratic institutions and boost broad-based economic growth in the third world, which is exactly what Paul Collier’s Book, the Bottom Billion, had called for a year before AFRICOM was launched in 2008. Enough time has passed for the world to have a record of judgement whether Africoms missions in Africa has produced results that match their announced “goodwill “objectives as instability, poverty, wars and poor education continue to linger in the sub-Saharan countries in their full presence. Africom’s assignment perfectly echoes Paul collier’s Bottom Billion’s call for Military intervention, a  book that was published a year before the organization’s birth.

Since the presence of Africom troops and US military bases across Africa, democracies deteriorated including  Libya of which Africom’s military was involved in 2011 in conjunction with NATO troops. One would think that peace and stability in Libya would follow given that Muammar Gadhafi had been deposed yet a severe increase of insurgency and destabilization of a once Africa’s economic success ensued for much longer in their watch.

Overtly, Collier’s book does play ample advocacy for the Bottom Billion to get out of poverty but latently in a way that is designed to guarantee western hegemony and expansion with great force into a western themed globalization. He argues throughout the book that, not only has globalization not helped these countries but has actually hurt them which he gets correct. The hurting is often passed through the IMF and the World Bank loans that levy higher interest rates. It is also passed through western corporate individuals and rich nations that secretly fund rebellions, assassinations and coup d’états while refusing to engage in fair trade with these countries. The placing of unfair conditions through trade policies and immigration restrictions, debilitating trade embargos become major bottlenecks on these poor countries.

  Globalization

Collier, however, hints an interesting view that the debate on globalization is very polarized between people who think that it is the solution to all problems of the world and those who take it intrinsically evil (the curse of capitalism). His verdict on such matter is that neither of those views is attainable. That the same forces which have been good for most developing nation such as India and China are actually damaging in the case of countries that are at the bottom in Africa and other parts of the world. An example is given. In this case, on how capital markets are now integrated therefore rendering capital to move into emerging market economies such as China and India in a big way; an aspect that is helping. With regards to the nations of the bottom billion, Collier points out that most third world countries integrated into capital markets in a wrong direction because the big capital movements for the bottom billion are not capital in-flows but capital out-flows.

That… this is why one finds the private wealth of countries like DR Congo kept somewhere else because Congolese rich individuals are insecure in their own environment and therefore such wealth owners move their money out to places like the Swizz banks, Dubai, London and New York.  In such cases, capital is not just syphoned out but skills as well. Noting that there are very few skilled and educated people among the bottom billion but it’s often those that are trained who use their high qualifications as  passport to leave for greener pastures overseas preferably  Europe, Australia and America, therefore leading to a massive brain-drain in the bottom billion which in itself leads to economic hemorrhage,  foreign exploitation through interventionism, and poverty.

     On Aid

Book Bottom Billion talks about the ineffectiveness of foreign Aid to Africa and Haiti since the 80s. It indicates that most aid money does not go to the very poor because quite a lot of that aid money, carries with it a sort of hidden commercial and political motivation. Collier writes that often these third world nations do not matter commercially as well as politically to the donor countries which in my opinion is not entirely true. There is usually a huge underlying economic and strategic interest by the west on the developing nations that Paul Collier does not present in the picture.

The motivations for donating aid do not hold to the welfare of the people in those lands as may sound but how easy the bottom victims’ aggravated situation can help render cheap minerals and natural resources to the western powers. Collier also hints at the preference often done on who the aid money goes to. An example is that, for commercial reasons, Brazil is most likely to receive aid money than Zambia and for mundane reasons, it is considered fun to work in Brazil than to work in Darfur due to very harsh and costly environment there. The fact that Aid to the third world is ineffective because it is often disbursed without being combined with other major policy instruments becomes his basic argument.

      On Traps

        In the conflict trap, Collier explains the failure of the western donors in identifying and supporting legitimate reformers that rightfully rebel in the struggle to achieve effective governance and change instead of throwing huge money to corrupt regimes who instead of allocating the funds to equitable purposes pocket it for their selfish needs. Collier reveals how a large 40% of aid money goes to the military of the recipient nations whether dictatorships or not. Often, the military undermines the aid efforts as well as the struggle with good reformists and justified activists. He explains well how the military in the third world is the most powerful lobby and why that is the case. That the military is the epicentre of power and so it often has its own private schemes both as an organization and a bunch of individuals within who plot to loot. He paints a picture that aid goes directly into the hands of such individuals or in worst case scenarios, rebel groups such as in the case of Ethiopia during the struggle against secessionist Eritrea during the 1980s in which most aid money that was raised during Live Aid by Bob Geldof went into the coffers of the rebels.

That, this affects how much aid the west sends to the Bottom Billion.“Rebels usually have something to complain about, and if they don’t they make it up”. Writes Collier. “All too often, the really disadvantaged are in no position to rebel: they just suffer quietly”. That Civil war is development in reverse as it perpetuates into another civil war.

The book does expound in great detail on four other traps that these Bottom Billion nations face. In addition to the conflict trap, there are the;  ii) natural resources trap,  iii) being landlocked (with bad neighbours) trap, and iv) bad governance trap.  With the aspect of countries that are landlocked with bad neighbours such Zambia, Uganda, Chad and perhaps Botswana, Collier gets extensive in analyzing and explaining the issue and succeeds in showing that these developing counties’ poor situation is not entirely theirs to blame.

  The Natural Resources Curse

According to Collier, natural resources for the Bottom Billion have been a curse. He, however, disregards the fact that, western foreign policy (which have been in operation in relation to mineral-rich bottom billion countries) is largely influenced by the strategic minerals stockpiling act which was passed in 1946 in the U.S to obtain and stockpile minerals such as Cobalt that is largely found in DR. Congo. With the largest reserve of Cobalt on the planet, Congo was targeted as a result of this act. Cobalt is a strategic mineral that is critical for the West’s Aerospace military and defence industries’. The U.S and the U.K provide military and financial aid to nations such as Rwanda and Uganda, these neighboring countries become pawns and tools in plundering the D.R Congo’s natural resources while causing destabilization of democracy leading to a high death toll and a desperate situation among the natives to the point that they submit to exploiters and allowing to engage in all sorts of illegal activities such cheap exchange of minerals and accepting illegal firearms to saturate in their society.

There is an absence of mention of foreign-backed coup d’etats,  grooming of despots, assassinations and the involvement of international corporations in the looting of mineral resources via stooges in the book. Nowhere does Paul Collier mention the multinational companies that serve as the engine of conflicts in sourcing these blood minerals i.e Coltan. Neither does he advocate for a balanced, truthful media coverage of western involvement in the causes of conflicts and destabilization of the Bottom Billion countries and how much the international media plays a role in perpetuating a negative stereotype of these so called-third world nations to sustain a certain perception that allows and justifies western constant involvement and control of whether the bottom billion grows out of poverty or not depending on their interests. Western media will often feature stories claiming rebels committing genocide but not who is actually funding and arming these rebels or bad governments with state of the art weaponry since no such technology to make hi-tech weaponry is easily available in most third world nations. Collier thus eludes mentioning how war is profit for the western weapons industry.

All in all, there is no smudge of investigation in the book on whether,… some of the bad economic, social and political situations mentioned are as a result of the ramifications of past colonial experiences of these nations.

The highlights that China and India reached economic success as a result of overpopulation; disregards fact that half of those populations are below the poverty line especially in India where a large population lives in conditions worse than those experienced in Sub Saharan Africa.  Collier somehow paints a picture of a bunch of unfortunate nations whose citizens somehow await a form of natural evolve-ment  in order to compete with “modern western man”. A picture that is false and perhaps remotely steeped in eugenicism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are cities supercomputer processors?

By Rob Eep

 

        On board a plane looking through the window down below on my recent trip to America’s Midwest, I found it interesting that the city of Oakland underneath seemed like a giant  computer motherboard. It was a striking view. Quickly I pulled out my Camera and started taking photos from behind the tiny glass window to my right. I was lucky to have gotten the seat next to the window as often I end up travelling sandwiched between strangers on either side with no access to the aisle or the window.  I took a few snapshots and then shut the window and reclined to my seat wondering how interesting it was that we could be living in a setting practically designed like a computer microprocessor and perhaps one that is a mega computer in itself.

      Soon we landed at Dallas Fort Worth airport in Texas where we had a layover of approximately 3 hours before connecting to another plane.  We soon took off to the skies for the Midwest. On a connector, I noticed through the window that it was getting dark outside which gave a glimpse of the ground in a different perspective with a much more electrified view.  From above, Dallas lights were lit everywhere and the image was spectacularly engaging.

      Darkness offered an animated and vibrant image of Dallas city as opposed to what we observed when above Oakland during daylight. Dallas was an Image that resembled a large slate of interconnecting capacitors and transistors that glowed.

      The entire scene below seemed like a great expanse of dark and lit super large computer microprocessor complete with capacitors, fuses, generators, fans, microchips, meandering microwires and transistors. On the ground, one would saw roads and large buildings but from a bird’s eye view, one saw some form of technology which I thought was brilliant.

The appearance of stadia, roads, warehouses, parks, canals, rich people quarters and poor people quarters all mirrored components of a CPU.

      I took more photographs and began to wonder if this is a coincidence or whether the planners and construction engineers of these megacities held a secret to these stunning designs that are only observable from a bird’s perspective.

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Oakland & surrounding area after take off. Photo by Rob Eep.

 

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A section of the city of Dallas from a bird’s eye view at night. Photo by Rob Eep

                      

mother15
A microprocessor complete with a stadium, factories, roads,  poor and rich neighbourhoods

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a microprocessor complete with a stadium, warehouse, roads, central park,  factories and rich people area

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City of Chicago from above

               Boggling questions

     Could we be units of energy and information transmitters at a macro CPU level for an unknown receiver outside our solar plane as opposed to what a computer does for us at a micro level?  Could we be living in a computer simulation? Are we wirings in a mega computer system that is the interconnectedness of our large cities through roads and waterways? At what capacity is this computer in terms of bites for the alien user? Was movie The Matrix hinting at something real?

        If the answer to all these questions is yes, who is utilizing this terra computer and where are they located? where are the keyboard and the screen at? Is there a reason related to this why the sky is transparent. Is it a screen usable by super large entities? Is the beneficiary of this mega CPU living beyond our solar system or inside the computer itself?   

 These questions flooded my mind as we travelled and there were more questions than answers.

       One could see that the warehouses, temples, and the stadia resembled features built to generate static energy as they seemed like capacitors. Since computers are new and only came recently on the scene during the 1970s, then one can suggest CPUs mimic cities and not the other round. This could mean that the idea of energy flow between humans for various reasons was taking place before it transferred to artificial intelligence.

        As Morpheus stated in the movie matrix, humans are batteries or units of energy in a supercomputer. One comfortably compare the high-rise towers and monuments to energy transmitters, especially that a large element of sand, which in a sense is Quartz, glass and silicon are part of the materials embedded in the construction of these modern structures.  As a result, these structures possess a conscience of some sort since glass is hardened water. Computer microchips use silicon dioxide (SO2) to store and transmit information.

                                   More Questions & hypothesis

        Could the utilization of this terra computer, possibly by E.Ts outside our realm be similar to how humans use common computers on earth?

Is the terra motherboard used as a kind of cellphone, a calculator or a memory machine by a mysterious user somewhere in the universe?

Are super elites in our setting the operators of this terra computer system?

       If so,

with the advent of AI and transhumanism, future CPUs will most likely be designed in a macro model that mimics this human energy grid as witnessed from the bird’s eye view of earth’s megacities.

 

Thoughts on the Black Panther Movie

 

 By Rob Eep                                

         I found the Black Panther movie to be one of the most amazing fantasy films ever made since the Dark Knight. The film is the holy grail of Blackness hands down and this time, it is a hug from Hollywood community to the global African peoples after countless offensive release of movies that either depicted Africa and its people poorly or whitewashed African stories and African characters. One can also view the Black Panther as 2018’s  Hollywood’s equivalent of  “Barack Obama elected as the first ever black president of the strongest nation on earth and what initially that meant for the black peoples in the Americas and the world over.

           It is difficult to pinpoint which angle to begin analyzing this movie as it is a mountain of many shapes. The skillfully scripted blockbuster turned out a surprising piece of great art expressing the grievances, undiscussed or unresolved issues between Black people on earth and Black people period but also raises the awareness on the economic and technological exclusion of the African continent by the west  in the party of the modern world system. The movie speaks to the world that “what if Africa was never colonized and left alone?” It also speaks to Africans that, what if “you Africans” used your power (countless mineral resources, ancient knowledge and good health) to fight and defend self? And what if Africa ruled the world? Which vibration would the “world order” take under the ethos of ubuntu as opposed to the trick and treat philosophy of the west guiding the world we live in?

    Black Panther makes its director Ryan Coogler and those that may have helped or paved the way for him in the franchise i.e Ta-Nehisi Coates somewhat geniuses and perhaps modern unconventional heroic adherents of the African emancipation and reparation struggle through comic writing and fictional artworks which one would call art diplomacy. Something far different from the historical approach of Garvey, Luther King, Malcolm and Huey P. Newton to the issue. Whether Coogler intentionally pitched the story envisioning to stir social-political dialogue on black matters or was casting a net in the sea seeking fame and glory as often is the case in Hollywood. That is hard to know but it looks good.

      The Black Panther movie is analyzable through many dimensions and all sides lead to amazing revelations. It is highly analogous to every aspect hitting strong in relation to black people issues in the world since 500 years or so ago.  One notable example (which I choose to share on), the film picks on the not- so-openly discussed rift and the grievances that may linger between the formerly enslaved Africans of the diaspora and the Africans on the motherland. Issues that before the Black Panther, one learned about on the dark corners of the internet via anonymous forums and rarely in the limelight. This is seen through the role played by Michael B. Jordan as Villain Erickillmonger. An African-American whose father was a prince of Wakanda that got killed by the Black Panther senior (T’chaka) for betraying the Wakanda kingdom while on a diplomatic mission to America. Erick suffered abandonment afterwards growing to resent his own relatives in Wakanda bringing to light the seeming neglect of the Diaspora Africans (in the face of slavery and the abuse) by the rest of Africans on motherland and leaders who relish in “paradise”.  Eventually, Erick killmonger makes it to his late father’s home nation on motherland with a mission to avenge his prince father and to take the throne against the will of Wakandans. Erick after defeating his cousin (the Black Panther) in a ritual fight, rallies Wakandans to take on a bearing similar to that of the North Koreans or the Iranians and the Chinese to fight and defend Africa from the claws of the west which to the Wakandan people was an idea that is out of order due to their traditional ethos. This speaks to the common attitude that the modern African leaders have in the milieu of the new world order in relation to the feelings of the diaspora Africans whereby continental leaders are viewed as corrupt and useless bunch and viewed as tools for the west in the destruction of their own lands.  Eric killmonger believed in fighting fire with fire in retribution towards 500 years of oppression of the African Americans and to rescue all the oppressed and enslaved Africans on earth which Wakandans did not feel was a necessary way of dealing with the world outside them. Wakandans believed in Ubuntu and the power of Vibranium and did not initially see the world as Eric viewed it.tWIjOYWDv-0l

       Movie addresses the far ancient greatness of the peoples of the African continent and how it fell. It subtly reenacts the fallings of Africa from glory to obscurity which was initially due to brother betraying brother.  A scenario that has replayed itself to date since the Ramesside rule of ancient Nile Valley to the fall of Rwandan, Yoruba and the Zulu Kingdoms. The common element was the insider wars between blood relatives causing the divides and falls of mighty kingdoms in the process creating a loop for a much vicious enemy.

      It addresses the original African spirituality and the lost spiritual concepts such as the relevance of ancestors in the guidance of what is in the earthly realm. One of my best characters in the movie is Forest Whitaker as the chief priest. In ancient African ways, a priest was a mysticist and held the most important position in the entire land next to the Queen and King.  A Kingdom was nothing without its chief priest. He was the emissary between the unseen and the living. To the Africans, that was a big deal. In other words, the priest was the original Pope. The entire nation sought and listened to him as a seer, a medium, a thinker, healer and a shaman.

     Additionally, one can view the battle between Erick Killmonger and his cousin the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) as  hinting at the far  ancient eternal battles on motherland and extended areas of the middle east between “good and evil” that went on for years which engulfed man from genesis i.e the fight between Marduk and his brother Ninurta in the gods from the heavens mythologies or the fight between Sabizeze and his brother for the throne in the center of earth or the fight between Seth and Osiris. There was also a fight between Rwandan king Rwabugiri’s children which brought the end of Rwandan monarchy.

      Everything in this movie was cast euphemistically in tune with the African tradition of myth telling to teach about realities of the world we live in. The nation of Wakanda was allegorically the entire African landmass and not a mere fictional central African nation as literally projected. This is supported mainly by the minglings of all the African traditional fashions and cultural practices in the film. The power of vibranium spoke to the potential power that lays within the vast quantities of mineral reserves spread from Sierra Leone to South Africa. A quality that no other landmass on earth has.

    Wakanda vaguely fits the area of the center of Africa i.e Uganda or Rwanda and Congo which in reality are the true source of both mankind and civilization which went up the rest of the world through the Nile river. From the Swahili translation “WAKANDA” is a diasporic pronunciation of WAGANDA meaning the “Ganda” people (which is a real tribe whose country Uganda is named after) and then cleverly misplacing the term to represent a fictional nation rich in rare magical Vibranium.

      One can look at the BP story from the perspective of environmental protectionist advocacy as well whereby the marvellous futuristic architecture meets tropical jungles along with ancient Timbuktu high rising mud-obelisks and Zulu huts. This gives viewers concepts of perfect integration of tech and nature for future earth if we were to digress from the rappings of capitalism which through its radical ideals viewed through scientific deductions tells man via a monopolized scientific tentacle that in order for mankind to go from a type zero to type one civilization, humans will have to exploit earth until there are no more resources left to burn and that at that time, humans will be equipped to evacuate to a foreign planet (perhaps Mars) for a life of an advanced civilization better than that we had here. This is echoed through the many teachings of mainstream theoretic physicists. From the environmental protectionist view, the Black Panther becomes a more developed and nuanced version of the movie Avatar except for the fact that the natives of planet Pandora never applied or seemed to need hyper-sophisticated artificial technology like the Wakandans did through the use of  Vibranium. The parallels in the two movies are strong in a sense that “Unobtanium” on Pandora planet could fit for the Vibranium in Wakanda. The relationship the wakandans had with the heart-shaped-blue-translucent flower was in many ways similar to that which the Omatikaya tribe had with the translucent trees and the flying horses on planet Pandora until Humans of earth invaded them and unleashed destruction.

         From the feminist perspective, Wakanda’s most powerful individuals are women.  Queen mother Ramonda is the most important woman in the kingdom just as it was in precolonial Africa. A king never came forth without the way of the mother. Most elite army squad in the movie is made up of women led by the Zimbabwe born Donai Gurira as Okoye. This somehow pays tribute to the ancient  Dahomey female warriors and other notable female hero fighters such as Queen Yaa Asantewa of the Ashante empire and the 1890s Zimbabwe’s warrior mother Nehanda Nyakasikana   who revolted against Queen Victoria’s agents in southern Africa. One has to give great credit to the researchers in the making of the script.

     Social, political, spiritual, economic and historical wrongs perpetrated by the west towards Africa were well addressed in the movie BP without offending people and races but rather delivered in a creative and entertaining way.  One can write an entire book about the Black Panther movie depending on what they want to focus on. The film can be handled as the book life of pi only that,  elements from the BP hold more relevance to a real people. The film pays tribute to the headquarters of the Black Panther political movement during the Huey P. Newton era. Here the city of Oakland California with a timestamp of 1992 is showcased in the opening and the ending which is a celebration of some sort. The city also happens to be the director’s hometown. How marvellous!!

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That’s where the producers of this film become legends.

 

 

 

 

 

Rob eep is a Dj who also enjoys to write.

 

Masking in pop culture

By Rob eep

The first time I watched a musician perform with a Mask attached to their face was on MCM. A French Version of MTV music channel which since 1998, I had long thought was dead until a recent simple Google search proved me wrong.

After years as a non-conformist dj with a sharp interest in global music culture, the consequence of personal observations of artists’ trademark and image, had to be this eventual bit of lengthy commentary about Masks and anonymity they provide to some celebrities.

A fascinating culture of mask-wearing has over the years taken root and caught centre-stage in music cultural projection and it’s fascinating. It almost seems as if numerous artists have bugged into the mystery and power of facial masking for various reasons and I partly write to muse on it. Could it be for self-defence, artistic eclecticism or a subversive expressional movement?

I am intrigued by a number of pop icons of course,.. who due to their veiled faces,..fans get confined to knowing them only by their stage names and taste of repertoires as they wholeheartedly devote their love and support for them based on art, image and reputation they discharge. As I became more interested and immersed in the presence of pop culture over time, I consent to ignorance of assuming that, Daft Punk was the only music group which concealed their faces. Turned out this practice had been around in the western music world for decades. It was pioneered by the hard rock culture in the Sixties though I may stand corrected.

Daft Punk
Daft Punk

Groups such as the Residents,..an experimental art collective band with avant-garde music, who are probably pioneers of this eccentric practice, have worn eyeball helmets since the birth-time of Rolling Stones and no one has had a pinch of luck ever since “yet” as to how their real faces look like.

The style of Mask wearing and face painting was initially rife with rock and roll subcultures, until recently when more artists in EDM and Hip-hop adopted it. The notorious on contemporary masking, of course, is the famous French electronic house duo Daft Punk. What followed in their footsteps was the likes of Deadmau, Clapton, The knife and British born American comics fixated, off-kilted rapper MF Doom.I have not yet seen an R’n’B artist donning a hardcore mask on stage, though some would point to Rihanna and Lady Gaga as entrants. I know for sure that a long-retired songstress named Gabrielle at least rocked an eye patch as a trademark which equally gave off a half equal amount of anonymity and reverence but it wasn’t a full-figured mask.

MF Doom
MF Doom

Why rock Masks?

Musicians endear to entertain crowds but also have weaknesses and limitations which they select to push beyond those limits. Some are camera-shy, while others harbour insecurities and low self-esteem. Alternately, some may be former criminals..reformed or on the run or even reputable bosses of high-end firms and social institutions thereby wishing to protect their range of valuable personas and lives. It could be that they also luck freedom and therefore achieve total liberation behind the veil. These musicians harness courage behind masks where they would normally be shy to present their craft bare-faced.

It is simple for them attaining popularity and success while embracing the twilight. It may also be an ultimate devotion to the art while sacrificing fame and the gratification that comes with it, while others may stage-mask for outright freaky reasons. It can also be a gimmick to extort a cult of following especially in Wrestling entertainments. The abundance of online social media and DIY publication platforms which allows every talent-less Jim and Jane to be renowned, also pushes some of these great artists feel the urge to appear unusual so as to thicken the often blurred line between the famous-for-no-reason and the fame-worthy.

Roots of Mask wearing

General understanding accord the artistic culture of Mask wearing to Africa and Island rain forest cultures in which the act and art of face painting, helmet, and mask-wearing hold significant meanings and are symbolic in customary ritual ceremonies. Often serves as aids of communication with spirits in non-physical realms to invoke super-powers during trance-induced dance and experience as a millennium’s old custom.

The Guro of Ivory coast, for instance, wear masks during traditional Zaouli dance under which they go into a daze and perform exquisitely which they probably wouldn’t produce to the same effect without full-body costumes and the masks.

Guro Zaouli dancer
Guro Zaouli dancer

such symbolism is eclectically expressed by thrash metal groups like Gwar. Their grotesque masks and costumes on stage help them fulfil a band image of a collective of barbaric interplanetary warriors that delivers shock rock.This symbolism may be different from the African practice during traditional dance and ritual but it surely is stage and music performance as well as a neo-spiritual rite of expression of a kind.

Following in the footsteps of Gwar, Finnish hard rock and metal band Lordi keeps it theatrical too with monstrous masks and horrific elemental performances. The two musical groups fall into the gory category with the likes of Kiss, Mushroomhead, Ghost B.C, and slipknots the inherent characteristic layer these share is the Halloween, violent, spooky, gothic apocalyptic quality as compared to, rather balaclava-clad Bloody Beetroots and Brian Chippendale of the Lighting Bolt and face painted Tech9 along with the Insane clown posse.

Tech9
Tech9

one would ponder at whether masking in pop culture is the next big practice. Or will a mask be a required accessory by the public for identity protection in the years to come as the world leans more closer to a full Planet under surveillance and as rare airborne diseases are predicted?

At the moment masking is exclusively associated with entertainment culture and tribes. As we write, the EDM sub-genre is seized it from Rock and Roll and WrestleMania therefore, we section the big brother and post-apocalyptic scenarios for the time being to Hollywood movies. We could alternatively attribute the immense achievement and success of Electronic dance artists like Deadmau, Cazzette, Nicky Romero, SBTRKT, Dr.Lektroluv and Daft punk to mare MASKS

SBTRKT
SBTRKT
The BloodyBeetroots
The BloodyBeetroots

 

AS THE WORLD MOURNS FIDEL CASTRO,WHAT WAS THE CUBA-AMERICAN STANDOFF AND THE EVENTUAL LIFT OF SANCTIONS ALL ABOUT?!

by Gumia ( Dj Rob Eep)

As the world is mourning the passing of Cuba’s larger than life leader Fidel Castro,my mind rushed to the paper I  produced and submitted to my global history teacher at College last year.

In the paper, I had attempted to unravel and chronicle the hostility that befell Castro’s beloved Island of Cuba and understand the cause of conflict between  Castro and the US making Cuba a middle projection screen in the Cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and the clash between Marxist-Leninist ideology and capitalism.

Here are the bits that I have taken out of the paper and turned into some form of a blog post.

     On December 17, 2014, United States President Barack Obama announced plans to re-establish diplomatic friendship and economic operations with Cuba. In addition, Obama announced a review of Cuba’s status as a “terrorist” state and expressed an intention to ask congress to lift the half a century sanctions on the Caribbean nation entirely. These new discussions by the US after 52 years with Cuba resulted in the immediate release of Alan Gross, an American aid worker who had been held prisoner in Cuba by Raul Castro.  He was released on humanitarian grounds and exchanged for the three remaining members of the Cuban Five who had been imprisoned in the United States since 1998 accused of counter-espionage. All in all, Cuba agreed to release 53 political prisoners and to allow Red Cross and UN human-rights investigators access.  But what was the major cause of the sour relations between Cuba and the United States?  Why would such a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean engage in a prolonged standoff with a world super power such as the United States in its proximity?!

To answer this question, we need to go back to Cuba’s post world war history in relation to the United States and global relations.

     On January 8, 1959, a group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro, his brother Rau Castro and Che Guevara stormed the Capital Havana and succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.  Fidel Castro a Marxist/Leninist lawyer, had earlier instituted a rebellion against the government and failed. Batista had initially risen to power as part of the 1933 revolt of the Sergeants that overthrew the authoritarian rule of Gerardo Machado a former general of Cuban independence. Fulgencio Batista had appointed himself chief of the armed forces during World War II era, with the rank of colonel.  He maintained control through a string of puppet Presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a populist platform. He then instated the 1940 Constitution of Cuba (considered progressive for its time) and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in the United States, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952.  Facing certain electoral defeat, Batista led a successful military coup against Carlos Prío Socarrás that preempted the election.

     After taking power, the new Castro government immediately engaged in warfare with the insurgent forces for six years in the Escambry Mountains until they gained full control of the country. This fighting lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the revolution that preceded it. At first, the revolution was viewed as a positive development by the United States which supported bringing democracy to Latin America. But as Castro purged Cuba of loyalists to Batista, executing thousands, the US support faded.

     At this point, Castro looked to the far north eastern hemisphere of the globe and embraced “Communism”. From that point, Castro broke up and redistributed land and farms to the peasants who worked them which severed relationships between the US and Cuba to a breaking point. That pinnacle of the breaking point came in 1960 when Fidel Castro signed a commercial treaty with Soviet premier Anastas Mikoyan.

     One month later president Dwight Eisenhower gave the CIA a go-ahead to begin planning an operation to train and arm a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. Momentarily, the US banned exports to Cuba except food and medicine and a year later banned all the imports from the island.  On April 14 1961, the newly elected president John.F.Kennedy super charged the CIA operation and American B-26s bombed Cuban airfields.  The next day 1400 Cuban exiles, armed and supported by the U.S. landed at the Bay of Pigs to fight Castro.

     After initially overwhelming Cuban Militia, the American-supported invaders surrendered at the hands of a counter-offensive led by Fidel Castro himself. Most of the captured prisoners were publicly interrogated and eventually sent back to the United States. It was a major victory for Fidel Castro, cementing his power in Cuba and leading to a further confrontation with Kennedy and the United States in the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year of 1962.

                                       CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS

      In the heat of the 1962 midterm US elections, pressure was mounting on J.F. Kennedy to do something about the nuclear missile facilities that were being supplied by the Russians in Cuba especially after a US spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of the facilities rapid progress.  Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba and announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered by Russians. What followed was an incredibly intense 13-day drama that played out in the media. It was the closest the world would come to a full-scale Nuclear War.

     Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev eventually reached an agreement.  The Russians would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and the US would end its naval blockade and agree never to invade Cuba without direct provocation.  The Americans would secretly dismantle their nuclear warheads they had deployed within striking distance of the USSR in Turkey and Italy a year earlier.  Around that time, Cuba was already looking like a fully-fledged soviet model of a communist state which kept that way for many years.

     In the 1970s, the standard of living was poor and discontent among Cuban people was growing. Castro admitted failures of his economic systems in his speeches. Around that time, in 1975, several nations that formed the “organization of American states” lifted sanctions against Cuba but the USA still maintained the embargo.

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                                EFFECT ON CUBA OF FALL OF SOVIET UNION

         Fidel Castro’s rule was to be tested years after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Cuba faced a severe economic downturn following the withdrawal of economic subsidies by the USSR worth 4 to 6 Billion dollars annually resulting in effects such as fuel and food shortages. Though prideful, Cuba had no immediate option but to accept American donations of food and cash in 1993.To replace the Soviet aid, Cuba found a new friend in Communist China. Castro also turned to Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s new president Evo Morales for support.  As new allies, these leaders provided Cuba with oil and gas.

                                              A NEW DAWN

      In 2008, 81-year-old president Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba after almost five decades in power and appointed his 76-year-old brother Raul Castro as a new president. Soon after his first appointment as president of the United States in 2009, Barack Obama signaled that relations with Cuba could be normalized IF Cuba took steps towards democracy. Obama began the year by lifting the ban on all Cuban Americans who wanted to travel and send money to their island homeland.  However, relations were tainted again that year as Cuba arrested an American aid worker Alan Gross for spying and sentenced him to 15 years in Prison. Nonetheless, in 2013, Cuba ended a 52-year-old requirement that any citizen who wished to travel abroad had to buy an expensive government permit and produce a letter of invitation. Later that year, the new Cuban President Raul Castro announced to the media and the Cubans that he would step down in 2018. These Cuban expressions to the world seemed to be what the US had put forth as conditions on Cuba (steps towards democracy) which encouraged dialogue between Obama and Raul Castro.

        The US-Cuban relations came “full circle” in 2014 as the Presidents of  the U.S. and Cuba engaged in phone conversations negotiating the release of Americans held in Cuba and the US agreeing to do the same for Cubans held in America for more than 15 years.  The swap, allowed President Obama to release Cuba of nearly half a century long economic sanctions. With Cuba’s agreement to all other conditions of openness and reform, President Obama made the historic announcement of the beginning of normal relations with Cuba ending one of the bitter economic and political standoffs in modern history.

                                        FUTURE BILATERAL BENEFITS

    Despite years of sanctions, the United States was still providing Cuba with 6.6% of its imports. As rich Americans start to flock to Cuba with capital investment and tourism dollars, we can expect that number to quadruple. The easing of tensions and adopting of new friendship with Cuba by the United States is a watermark sign that the communist system which divided the world in the 20th century is no longer relevant in this age. 

The death of Fidel Castro at this point may not affect the new bilateral relationship that have been in place for two years although many will remain curious as to what is in stock from the controversial republican president-elect Donald Trump especially with the dispute surrounding the US’s wish to have Assata Shakur  (who many marginalised people in America regard as innocent) extradited back to the US as well as the international cry to have Guantanamo bay ceased from being a torture facility.

                                                WORKS CITED.

Perez,A.Louis. Cuba and the United States: Ties of Singular intimacy.
  University of Georgia Press.2011.
Lamlani,Salim.The Economic War Against Cuba: A historical and Legal       PerspectiveOn the US Blockade. NYU Press.2013.
Coll,AR.Harming Human Rights In The Name Of Promoting Them: The CaseOf Cuban Embargo. UCLA Journal of International Law &
                            Affairs.12, 2,199-273, 2007.ISSN.10892605.
Osieja,Helen. Economic Sanctions as an Instrument of US Foreign Policy. TheCase of US Embargo against Cuba. 2006. Boca Raton. Florida
                       ISBN 18581123140
Gumia  is a Global Studies Student majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) at the University of Berkely California. 

THE STRUGGLE FOR ELUSIVE DEMOCRACY IN BURUNDI.

By  Rob Eep  _88156941_d57b608a-1d23-49cd-9038-fe02ea6a3115   

   In this blog, I will explore and analyze the main causes of the long conflicts in Burundi and try to indicate why the western “democratic ideal” has not worked since independence until the colonial seeds of confusion left behind by the Belgians are sincerely addressed by conflicting parties and permanently uprooted and therefore achieve sustainable peace and rule of democracy.

Key actors:

The UN, The AU, President Pierre Nkurunzinza of Burundi, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

Key terms: Democracy, ethnic conflict, Burundi, seeds of colonialism, post-colonial conflict, Anarchy, Monarchy, The Belgians.

        After the European colonial nations granted several African colonies independence during the 1960s and the 70s,  African nations such as Burundi were not ready or fit to subscribe to the western model of democracy but stay in a monarchical state due to several factors; some of which include the complicated far historical backgrounds, inter-cultural, clan and ethnic structures and the complex traditional relationships involved along with a lack of understanding of the hostile system of governance by a people that went from cultural administrative practices of monarchs and chiefdoms to a spell of brutal colonialism.

      Burundi never received an adequate period of orientation at the end of Belgian colonial rule to help it come to terms with its colonial experiences and to decide whether its society would have wished to face the future with a system that was before colonialism or takes on the newly given “democratic” model of the governance without a sort of “guide manual” and the untangling of the twisted social setting left in place that artificially formed its people into deep ethnic social divisions.

        Brief historical explanation of the birth of Burundi’s contentious conflict

      After the League of nations gave Burundi to Belgium at the end of world war I, Belgians administered the then east African kingdom of Burundi as a territory of Ruanda-Urundi which had been carved as an extended territory to the vast Belgium-Congo along with the northern kingdom of Rwanda under the authoritarian rulership of King Léopold II. (Vansina).5 Burundi society like neighbouring Rwanda had for many centuries been ruled by a monarchy of mainly Tutsi aristocrats that were cattle barons. “After the European intervention, the formation of a centralized state system responsible for the distribution of power and resources shifted the focus away from local arrangements.” (Deng).86 The leadership in these kingdoms before the Belgians came in under the directives of the then League of Nations; had for a long time succeeded in creating harmony between the citizens that were comprised of mainly the Twa, Tutsi minorities and the Hutu majority groups. However, this harmonious and homogenous relationship stopped when the colonial Belgians sought to exploit the ethnic differences at the heart of Burundi population by re-arranging them using Eugenicist methods hence creating a class system that would help the colonial masters easily apply their repressive administrative strategies. From that point on, to be Tutsi meant anyone whether Hutu or Twa that had more than 10 cows in addition to anyone that possessed lean, tall and sharp facial features. To be Hutu meant anyone that had less than 10 cows therefore branded as a member of the poor class. The Belgians thus elevated the newly re-arranged “Tutsi” group to an upper-class status whether the group was genetically comprised of real Tutsi or not as long as members were having 10 or more cows, it did not matter whether such individuals were from the Hutu or Twa ethnic groups. Since the elevated caste of the new Tutsi social class was ushered into doing the Belgian’s dirty work in the oppression of the majority underclass, the rift between the new Tutsi group and the Hutu was born. The underclass viewed the Tutsi as complicit in the brutal oppression they endured during colonialism since the Tutsi had been chosen to hold the whip. These aspects would lead to real serious rifts and tensions between the Hutu and the Tutsi in the 60s when the wave of Pan-Africanists such as Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana hit the African continent, demanding independence for the African nations. Since the Tutsi were upper-class in Burundi and therefore had access to European education by the Belgians, some members became nationalist radicals and began to demand national independence from the Belgians. A demand that for some reasons was not well received by the then colonial masters. The Belgians granted independence to the Burundians regardless, however, with a newer re-arrangement in the social empowerment premise that would become a driving ingredient and precursor to the ongoing conflict to this day.

          The Belgians made sure to finance and empower far-rightist Hutu political parties like FRODEBU that would engage in a prolonged rise against the Burundi monarchy in addition to leaving the nation to figure out by itself on how to implement the new democratic ideology left behind. To Burundi, such a western ideal of a democratic system of governance cut from Europe and handed to former colonies would not in decades work for it without a willingness and a continued involvement of the western architects of such a system (in this case the Belgians) in helping orientate it into the new democratic state. This could be part of the reason why many formerly colonized nations in the third world, for instance, carry the term “Democracy” in their international identifier yet they have stayed in a near-perpetual state of anarchy such as the nation of the “Democratic” Republic of the Congo. It can be safe to say that there is nothing democratic reflected from the DRC ever since the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the 60s.

        For Burundi however, the concept of the democracy may ideally sound simple but has also proved as a tough challenge in implementation since given unresolved social-political issues marred in conflicts of ethnicity and post-colonial chaos at hand. Democracy would never be grasped from such an early stage without proper education about its workings set from the society’s grassroots level up.

       The recent eruption of fresh conflict and violent protests in Burundi related to the re-election of the incumbent president Pierre Nkurunziza for the third term mandate, for instance, is somewhat a testament to this argument.

       Burundi, which since the gain of its independence from the Belgians in 1962, immediately slipped into a state of ethnic conflict and warfare between the minority Tutsi and majority Hutu groups, is widely overlooked and if not; the social-ethnic conflict therein disregarded and the potential dangers involved miscalculated by the UN’s definitions of what constitutes a peaceful democratic society. According to the UN charter, the system of Democracy is based on “the freely expressed will of people and closely linked to the rule of law and exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms” … “The democratic success of any nation depends on equality, security and human development” (UN.org) NP. “This is not achievable if there are lingering issues of ethnic differences amongst the population pertaining to peace, security, harmony, and the rule of the people” (Deng). It also falls into the conceptual definitions of sovereignty where Bodin states that: sovereignty constitutes the power to make, interpret, and execute the law. (Slomp et al).

The current state of affairs as a continued failure to grasp the workings of democracy.

The announcement in April 2015 by the incumbent Hutu president Pierre Nkurunzinza to re-run for the third term in office after ruling the nation for 10 years, for instance, was met with violent protests mainly from the jobless Tutsi youth alongside other disenfranchised members of the opposing groups in the capital Bujumbura. Nkurunziza rigged the elections and in July 2015 got inaugurated as the president of Burundi after surviving a failed coup d’etat by one of his generals. The decades-long standoff between the Hutu’s ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) and  Tutsi’s Union for National Progress (UPRONA) is a hallmark of a nation that has not yet figured out how to establish itself past ethnic divisions especially that, the parties at play are inherently identified  on ethnic lines. Such is an indicator of a society that is run on the premises of ethnic divisions whose motivation to power is fear among other things. Fear in a sense that paranoia among opposing groups exists that if the other group take power they might conduct a genocide of the other ethnic group. The presence of a lack of trust. “virtually most such former colonized state’s governments have operated behind the psychologically protective shield of ethnic identity.” (Adekanye). 31. In this case, Nkurunziza’s party is striving to maintain Hutu hegemony in Burundi rather than struggle to foster unity of the people. Nkurunziza’s re-election for a third term sparked the crisis, which has raised fears of ethnic conflict in a region where memories of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide remain fresh (Reuters.com)

             This has ignited neighbouring Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame to be nervous and much concerned about Burundi’s situation especially when close to 77,000 Burundi refugees (the majority being Tutsi) fled to Rwanda for safety since 2015 causing the two nations’ diplomatic relations to deteriorate. Burundi’s Nkurunzinza accuses Kagame of training elements of the Tutsi refugees in Rwandan camps to plan insurgent attacks on Burundi. Allegations that have led to a form of retaliative targeting of Tutsi elements in Burundi’s opposition. Nkurunzinza’s government insists that there is no ethnic bias but opponents say that districts of capital Bujumbura where Tutsi people live and which were hotbeds of protests against Nkurunzinza’s third term bid last year have been targeted with most Tutsis singled out. UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein recently raised particular concern about “Imbonerakure”, a  Hutu youth group allied with Mr Nkurunziza with qualities reminiscent of the “Interahamwe” of Rwanda that largely massacred innocent civilians mainly Tutsi in 1994. Burundi’s Imbonerakure group is suspected of carrying out summary executions, tortures, and beatings, and ” causing fears that it could tip an already extremely tense situation over the edge,”.

     Again such is an indicator of a democratic system that has not been understood by the Burundians. The unresolved ethnic conflicts among the citizens are major in defining the nation’s situation regardless of the constitutional literature in place. Nkurunziza might be sounding pro-democratic in his political justification for a third term but at the core of his political objectives is a plan to maintain grip for the Hutu long rule. And suppress the opposition. “At the top, there is an over aching sense of leading a major political party for his nation’s security and interests but at the base of the edifice lies a sense of ethnic identity.” (Deng). Deep down sentiments and actual practice betray reality where allegiance is placed more commonly with ethnicity and not with the nation-state.

      The coming into Burundi of African Union forces which were a positive development indicates that a diplomatic sentiment by the international community to bring the warring factions to the negotiations table and perhaps help enforce democracy somehow fails to recognize that Burundi’s society has far complex problems related to ethnicity, political history, education, and poverty. In this case, “intervening powers such as the AU must often proceed with the understanding that they cannot bring about liberal democratic states overnight” (Western & Goldsteing252). Objectives need to be tempered to match both local and international political constraints. According to Western & Goldstein, recent scholarship on post-conflict state-building suggests that the best approach may be a hybrid one in which outsiders and domestic leaders rely on local custom, politics, and practices to establish new institutions that can move over time toward international norms of accountable, legitimate, and democratic governance.

       For Burundi to come to a final point of sustainable peace and democracy, mediating international diplomatic parties must not only respond by encouraging diplomatic negotiations, but they must  involve respective former  colonizer nations on the table as well because the issue causing the long disability is not just the “thirst for power” by Burundi’s politicians (in reference to numerous past coup d’etats and various  assassinations of leaders) Burundi has had since independence,… but the  underlying mass social- psychological racial class divisions that is a legacy of the Belgians in that country. The deep social psychological impact the division has on Burundians keeps them in a perpetual state of conflict, genocides, and warfare to a point of where understanding democracy and applying it keeps elusive.

Rob was an international area studies student majoring
in Global Studies at the University of Berkeley California.
Refs:
Vansina,J, “Kingdoms Of The Savanah”,pp.57.Copyright 1975.University of Wisconsin
Deng,Francis, “The politics of Identity and the Challenge of Unity,” Identity, Diversity
    And Constitutionalism in Africa, pp.31-44. Copyright 2008.United State Institute of Peace.
Slomp,Gabriella,Salmon C. Trevor and Imber,F.Mark , “On Sovereignty”, Issues in
        International relations, pp.33-45. Copyright 2006.Treveor and Francis
                            Group LLC.

WHAT I CAUGHT FROM MOVIE “CONCUSSION”

By Rob Eep

While many reviewers preferred to focus on describing movie Concussion from a western standpoint and at plain value, I found the movie quite extraordinary and “on time” in bringing to the mainstream western world the quandary frequently faced by African immigrants. It exuded an often overlooked and disregarded professional aspect of these immigrants who usually arrive into the United States with adequate professional qualifications and assuring resumes, instead to be welcomed with prejudice, ignorance, racism even contempt that riddle heavily among western professional bureaucrats.

The impersonation of Dr.Omalu by an African American actor Will Smith feature an elemental continuum of the star speaking in a perfect Nigerian accent.

We must pass credit for the accent rendition and emulation in “Concussion” as the best yet by an American born since Don Cheadle’s impersonation of Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda.

Since most of you can google what the movie plot is about, I shall therefore skip that part.

Somehow the movie opens with a comical display of Dr.Omalu in a dock responding to the question about his academic background. Omalu recites his long credentials revealing his professional capabilities to the inquirer in a lucid and steadfast manner that promptly becomes satirical to the audience as Dr.Omalu’s extended list of high-level honorary degrees, doctorates, and other professional certificates became endless. The nature of achievement by a Nigerian astonished the audience which one could tell is culturally programmed to assume that high-level scientific qualifications, especially in fields of Pathology and Forensics, were not for Nigerians and at that minute most court attendees assumed Dr.Omalu to be another stereotypical Nigerian scammer. Fortunately, this perception died soon after.

As a recent African immigrant to the US, I had a moment of sudden insight as if the story (though epic on another level) was mine.Dr.Omalu went on to beat the odds amidst stiff opposition of his boss, workmates, NFL technocrats, Federal investigators and thugs in reassurance to real underdogs that, one can win no matter how difficult norms seem.

Dr.Omalu immigrated to the United States with a dream of becoming a good doctor. He didn’t just achieve that but he became an inventor, a life saver, and an international hero. There are many other unsung heroes of an immigrant kind from Africa that hold exceptional roles in Nasa, Universities, international research bodies that have helped change the world but have not yet been glorified in a Hollywood blockbuster or may never be.

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MY COMMENTARY ON RECENT SOUTH AFRICAN AFRO-PHOBIA/XENOPHOBIA.

By Rob eep

Been a minute since I posted on my blog.While I’ve been contemplating,scheming and procrastinating,I finally find  time and reason to tap fingers on keys for few words in reaction to trending #Hashtag of #afrophobia in S.Africa.

I am beseeched to ask myself why is the richest country in Africa also the poorest one in deeds? Here, I mean south Africa.I am driven to chat on this issue due to  horrible attacks on African migrant workers and refugees in past weeks,which we learn was one of many series of similar incidents in south Africa since 2008.

For an African that loves his continent,it is disappointing to see streaming videos of brother stoning,stabbing and burning brother to death on suspicion of having crossed  border-lines in search for a better life or in intent to export rare skills,and on accusation of stealing jobs and local women.

What is the cause of such morbid attitude towards fellow brothers and sisters on motherland if one may ask!?  and most important of all,what happened to Madiba’s fantastic vision of a rainbow nation?!

The Utopian melting pot of all races. A nation of different colors and a one people as Lucky Dube once sung.A land of religions and cultures.A melting pot of different but fervently united,loving,inclusive,tolerant,hard working,progressive,happy people.

Is the hatred harbored towards Mozambicans,Zimbabweans,Nigerians and Ethiopians and others by slum dwellers of south Africa abundant for other south Africans of different races too?… but cowardly projected  towards poor defenseless African migrants? Could the recent violence and rise in crime be a “tip of the iceberg” of a much deeper and complicated situation the government and business leaders of South Africa have dodged to address for years?

So,how does one decipher from afar,the appalling xenophobic attacks on foreign Blacks that hit S.A streets recently?

Death of a Utopian vision.

The utopian proclamation was Madiba’s only and may have died with him.Everyone else is grappling with the idea with little will or no knowledge of fostering and maintaining it.Unless current happenings among impoverished communities of Johannesburg,Durban and other areas became a wake-up call for its revival by torch holders of it, if there is any still left.

To most south Africans that lived during Mandela’s release in 1990,a “rainbow nation” model meant a united country of local blacks,local whites,Indians and coloured (mixed race) disregarding fact that some of the exiled freedom fighter Zulus and Xhosas would return home with wives,children and husbands from Zimbabwe,Tanzania,Nigeria and Ghana whose inlaws were to come along as well for new horizons.South Africa was to  become multi racial  mini-USA of Africa.

Also local white Afrikaners had kins in Europe and Australia that was happy to hear of a new south Africa and were eager to immigrate to a new land of milk and honey since the dream theme allowed it.A new south Africa encouraged direct foreign investment which meant more economic immigrants coming in.

It was the dawn of Capitalism in Africa and South Africa was to become a new frontier of fresh opportunities and a big job market and a number one point of destination for African searchers of greener pastures and refugees from unstable parts of the continent like Somalia and DRC given that, no other immediate country within the borders of the continent had ample resources and  promise of a good human rights mandate was near for these poor refugees to escape to.

Majority of black south Africans still need higher education on these things especially on the history of Africa in relation to the rest of the world and the history and cause of conflict in their country along with maintenance of vital reconciliation programs.They also need history on the origins of themselves and the role diaspora Africans played in securing their independence from apartheid leadership. A lot are still suffering from post oppression syndromes stemming from apartheid era which often clouds their vision.

From time of independence,blacks who made over 70% of the population had  no enough individuals to steer the new nation’s important sectors like education,leadership,health,economic planning and wealth distribution except for the few comrades of Nelson Mandela such as  Thabo Mbeki,Walter Sisulu and Tokyo Sexwale with a few more,that were to be light bulbs for over  30 million black South Africans in combination with serving white and yellow citizens in respect with egalitarian principles.White people felt it was the black people’s turn and many preferred staying hands-off political machinery and concentrated in owning the economy which in it self is a cause of problems.

For first leg in office Mandela spent much of his time uniting and reconciling blacks and whites through promotion of truth and reconciliation programs and through sport focusing on rugby to show blacks that it wasn’t about revenge and exclusion towards non blacks but togetherness.He tried to instill hope among the poor south Africans but in the end did not do much to alleviate majority from a squatter and squalor lifestyle due to aging.

Mbeki came in and gave more weight to new laws pertaining to affirmative action and Black economic empowerment (Bee) which saw a bit of rise of black middle class but criticized for reverse racism towards whites, as most  government jobs went to black applicants.In the end, the BEE programs did not show any significant improvement in the lives of numerous un-skilled workers who were mostly indigenous blacks living in slums.

Mbeki left office and a picture of a rainbow nation became a chaos of white-rich,new black-rich over poor black underclass vs foreign blacks.

Many years of un equal distribution of wealth,denial of education to some and corruption by black leaders clearly pushed most poor tribal south Africans to a predicament of medieval times where darkness,hopelessness,and paranoia loomed minds of those in sharks and will attain no second thought in killing a fellow black at any point on a whim of  agitation amidst hunger,frustration and confusion.

These people were victims of a racial system that kept them as slaves and rebels for years and yet again they fell victim to betrayal by unsuspecting group of politicians whom they trusted and elected but in return preyed on them often through rhetoric at the expense of incurred ignorance caused by deprivation of good education and result of systematic exclusion.

Many years of lack of education means an ignorant population roaming about living under a dollar a day,.. Such people will think that a Nigerian doctor and a Malawian teacher are the cause of their miserable condition and can do harm in a spasm.

As a lover of my continent,I should say that,..20 years of black rule in a new “rainbow nation” of South Africa is enough.It should be about time a new qualified individual from another race got entrusted to take the wheel and maybe the world would get to see them revive the rainbow dream.Such a fresh individual might even do better at solving black peoples’ problems for the time being in new nation than blacks themselves since its evidently clear that things have not been good under black leadership post Mandela.

…..And what is it that causes the new ANC and its supporters to not  give importance to candidates with college metriculation and graduation.It explains why leaders like Zuma leads such an enormous country with no record of formal education at all. Zuma is the second head of state in recent history after Idi Amin to head a diverse country such as south Africa without a primary school certificate!.. but elected based on experience as a freedom fighter.

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NEW AGE POLITICS AND A FLIMFLAM DIPLOMACY.THE SWAG SYNDROME!

By Rob eep

My discernment tells me,certain world leaders have randomly adopted a fresh approach in their public relations and appearance strategy.Global leaders are now  sighted  in an unusually striking and likely sly and inducive style in a similar fashion the masses have largely been  transfixed by Hollywood stars for decades.It may have begun in 2008 when out of the blue a good looking black senator of Illinois mesmerized Americans of all  color and creed with new levels of eloquence and unbearable charisma.He would soon stand to win the presidential elections. Becoming  the first ever black president of the United states of America to the surprise and acclaim of  millions around the world.The moment also became the inception of an international leader  with “swag“. An overtone word with origins from urban entertainments, street fashion and behaviors and of which word this conversation slightly tilts to. Again which” word”, as I write is long kicked its last (dead) in swanky society.Slang swag trolled around for the first time synonymously with name Obama! A word and name many people had never heard of that year but triggered a sense of ishness and godly exclamations ! …….., the first which provided a new sense of fervency and often a mistaken belief in stylishness and originality among global youth that religiously followed MTV, Nicky Minaj,Rihanna,Justin Beiber and Kanye West ; while the other produced a sense of new hope and speculations of fulfillment of a Martin Luther Jr prophecy.It even got Biblical as many thought Obama was the second coming of Jesus while the religious zealots counter-intuitively suggested the antichrist.One of Obama’s line was “hope and change we can believe in”. Putting all his manifesto aside, Obama did all he performed in his introductions but the most noticeable among his ways was his  swag!!(lets call it that) when he stepped on the apex with it in package literary under his sleeves.We would soon begin to see a president that Jogged to his plane! a leader that smiled charmingly longer to the crowds and a president that often posed with his two young daughters side by side and  head of nation that complimented his wife to the public and often let her speak! We begun to see a president that freely posed chest out at a Hawaiian beach and played basketball with young adults and ate at street restaurants with strangers.A president that sung at a dinner party and frequently posed with musicians and rappers and one to first ever take aSelfie at a  funeral gathering with a Danish prime ministress in the presence of wife Michelle on side  sparking media hype and mixed reactions from fans and critics.Qualities that have been found groundbreakingly startling by many.., and in  parts of the world perhaps,..shocking! Yet revolutionary in true sense given the intricacies of running a progressed population like the USA and being at the forefront of global politics.

One would say swag became an awakening appliance for those conservative world leaders often deficient in style and charisma to suddenly arouse from sleep, pick and imitate the seething suave of a new man on the wall, thereby finding  the methodical idea, a great tool to copy for continual aid in their dictatorial work of hoodwinking their ( often blindly anxious) and subjugated citizens, into false impressions and further empty promises.

As we write a  new stratagem  by politicians is  gradually unfolding  amongst few heads of countries especially in Africa.A syndrome of  swag and political gimmickery  whichever  way you  describe it.

When did swag  really take  political realm widely?

Most noticeably when a 5’5″ tall former french leader Sarkozy begun publicly showcasing a lot with his  5’9″ tall wife,singer and model millionaire Carla Bruni,the media and the world thought it was so cool! And Sarkozy was for a few years rather revered as a powerful husband of a sexy celebrity than his role as a politician but realized it later during his invasion of Libya with NATO to depose Gaddafi and during his struggle to be re-elected as president of France which he lost  and later slammed with corruption related charges that, the ex-leader had received up to €50 million in illegal campaign financing from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Swag showcased further when Russian Putin paraded in a left hand synchrony with best mate Dmitry Medvedev shortly after Obama’s first leg in power.More interestingly,Putin Viladmir and Dmitry Medvedev swagged out more publicly by drinking unfiltered beer and eating grilled potatoes together at a central Moscow pub in full caption for Youtube upload[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODpun1HFMVg] to the reassurance of the Russian population of what a progressed duo of leaders their country had.

Also,not forgetting Kenyatta and William Ruto  parading in white uniform shirts and red ties as they entered Kenyan state house for the first time last year. One could not help but spot the  Obamic mannerisms on display in their self presentation to the public as they walked from outside into the Kenyan state house. Also Kenyatta in Jeans at the African leader’s summit of 2014 in Washington DC stood suspiciously questionable  and testament to this topic.

The highlight of it all was of course that of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame who flew in with his never before seen-in-limelight daughter Ange Kagame. A 6’1” towering beauty with extraordinary height,got to captivate millions on social media and beyond, helping sidetrack discussions on looming questions held by many regarding whether her father Paul Kagame is truly taking Rwanda on the right track or is in serious violations of human rights and double-crossings on accountability and social cohesion.

A foaming question remains on whether the political swag syndrome as we’ve chosen to call it, is a PR innovation and a revolutionary change in quality of mannerisms by heads of states (mostly those in third world dictatorships) that mirrors persons of integrity, true justice and democracy, complimented by objective leadership? or is it  simply a cunning tact to distract the masses that are already numbed by a cult of celebrity following  exacerbated by a Hollywood obsession and fashion media industry? or maybe it is a tact to run away from accountability by those politicians and paint a false assumption to the world of how liberal and progressive they suddenly are?!

 

paul-kagames-daughter

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Image

By Rob eep

Some brands do attract my full attention and may be yours too,as they stand out in their demeanor especially

when they sound effectively loud and assuring. Brands such as cheesy balls,AFF-anti farrrt freshener or crystal white octagon (a type of dish-washing soap .This may not sound funny to u but to me, it makes me l..ol)! and most attractively,EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL!!

On this particular brand of cooking oil, the element that makes the  line and the package more interesting is the word “Virgin”. Bringing out  questions in mind, why this word on an oil label and  what is it’s significance on the product’s life?

If i Quickly put that at bay, brings to me  the minor attention on the recollection of a Chinese source I once tried called-SUPERIOR DARK SOY SOURCE! a brand when i first came across, left me  puzzled what kinda flavor the superior ”darkness” had to offer  in the  source! interestingly,the soy  tasted great and with  Saltish effect on rice,but all in all couldn’t stomach the fact that  it  looked like blood on the plate!  Back to the matter, Literal definitions of word ”virgin” available anywhere,say-: undefiled,fresh,sexually intact,unmixed,unsexedyet. Also on a higher stance relates to astrological sign Virgo.There are cultural and religious traditions which place special value and significance on virginity,especially in the case of unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth which in comparison to this type of cooking oil ideally asserts the purity and concentration of nutritional substance from the olives inside and therefore explains the high price mark that usually tags with it. An oil with hyper  allegations of deliciousness carrying the most flavorful commentaries everywhere evoo be the substance.

While the brand extra virgin olive oil exists, defiled olive oil or less virgin olive oil doesn’t.And how more very interesting it would  be if there was!

I however pressed on with the question-”Whats the difference between 100% Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil?”.

A reasonable query to pose for  healthy junkies and diet freaks perhaps.Turned out the difference is in the Olive taste and amount of calories there is in olive oils.  Amazing facts that hail the genius placement of  idea of ”virginity” in the product’s marketing ploy..,and oh,the usual art in the  fancy-looking bottle among all bottles  at the supermarket, under the assumption that “it’s from Italy..,wins.Could it also be the anointing type?! On a final note though; with a warning,feelings of fake EVOOs abide.Beware!.

Found facts.

All of the oils are equally healthy: they’re all 100% fat (9 calories per gram) and it’s all mono-unsaturated. The difference is in the flavor.  Extra virgin olive oil is produced just by pressing the olives, without heating.  It has the most olive flavor with a minimum of bitterness.  Virgin olive oil can involve the application of some heat and more pressing, and unlabeled oil can even involve some chemicals to extract the most oil. The virgin and regular oils have less olive taste, though they also burn a bit less easily so they’re better for cooking.  Extra virgin is usually used raw, since its flavor is lost by heating it.