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

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by Gumia 

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.

hardcore-history-5-meandering-through-the-cold-war0620-cuban-missile-crisis-collage

                                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. 
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THE STRUGGLE FOR ELUSIVE DEMOCRACY IN BURUNDI.

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By  Gumia    _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 the neighboring 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 a 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 an ethnic conflict in a region where memories of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide remain fresh (Reuters.com)

             This has ignited neighboring 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 hot beds 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 was 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.

Gumia is a Global studies student majoring
in Peace and Conflict 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”

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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.

Commentary

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!

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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

Six pop songs unintentionally made but led performers into History Books.

music
By Rob eep 

There’s always a period when a rare music group or an individual breaks into the global  scene with a fresh sound so groovy,funky and weird that even the Pope  himself decides to quit his  many years of  occasional secret ritual of lambeth walking on his bathroom floor in favor of a popular stoogie like dance tune (We can reliably imagine the likes of Pope dances to this type from his 40’s teenage youth).

We seen since the 80’s the sequence of productions of  nearly silly but magical tunes released  to a mass effect so infectious almost every walking man and woman goes into an- ‘‘I must pull off this new dance move before I die’’ stunt.The saddle tramp dance and the likes..

prompting scenes of civil servants and high end workers on way to daily routine, awkwardly braving the street leaping craze for a dance that could fairly be termed as ‘kangaroo on fire stone dance’ globally known as the Gangnam style; halting the kinds of ‘’fork in the garbage disposal dance ‘’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35cj0LGu5zM or the American hilarious Bernie dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GVRtS18xSk which used to make one feel as if they are watching a group of individuals dancing after obtaining a wrong clearance on mental disability.

Thanks to the rise of internet’s social network exhibitionist sites like YouTube! where such obscure producers and artists can now post these songs, and blink a second while they go Viral !!!

To cut the crappp, here are some of the songs  Rob eep thinks were made out of sheer fun and mild silliness and therefore held no underlying thread of sense in message but swept the world by storm. Rubber stamping the owners into History books before we knew it.

#6.Calfornia Love By Tupac shakur feat Dr.Dre and Roger Troutman.

A year before Tupac Amaru shakur’s assassination in 1996,Tupac and his death row records best mate Dr.Dre spent a night recording a fresh new hip-hop single ‘’California Love’’. Not sure of whether to put it up for album ’’ all eyes on me’’ or inclusion on Dr.Dre’s shelved chronic II. The move was out of sheer fun and utter celebration of then 2pac’s epic release from prison. This merged with the gloss appreciation, pop success and the love enjoyed by the two Hip-hop icons from the beautiful wild honeys in the state of California.

Everyone had heard the massive radio airplay of ‘How do u want it’, another single off ‘all eyes on me’ album which massively reinforced better feelings the two artists had for their west coast state of Cali and therefore set out in the next mornings to the California love’s video iconic  thunder dome set in some  apocalyptic future desert isolation.

The two fully clad in cyborg suits, semi military jeeps full with a gang of friends and wild girls, Dr.Dre rocked a full pirate’s eye patch on right eye, while Tupac  set rousing  with a skin head Machiavelli style.

The video inspired by 1985 movie Mad max beyond thunderdome ,was directed by hype Williams set in a  futuristic year  of 2095 complete with Chris tucker playing the evil tribal chief’s yes man and Tony Cox as the dwarf soldier and former Zapp band member Roger Troutman carrying a talk box (which twelve years down the line would inspire superstar wannabe T-Pain to start a music career with the help of an autotune ).

Why the song became a success

1.It was Dre on the beat dammit!

2.The song’s video is an epic sequence of double versions.

3.Use of Roger Troutmans Talkbox.Freaky sound made us think Eliens were here. Until the invention of auto tune and its immediate utilization by Cher and Daft punk and oh..nearly all the Nigerian modern artists.

Song California love remains perhaps 2Pac’s best-known track  and most successful ever, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks (as a Double-A side single with “How Do U Want It”). The song was nominated for a posthumous Grammy Award as a Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap performance by a Duo or Group (with Dr.Dre and Roger Troutman).

#5.Thriller By Michael Jackson.

Thriller” Is the seventh and final single from late Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album name. Released in 1983 by Epic Records. The song  appeared on multiple greatest hits compilation albums from Jackson, including HIStory (1995),Number Ones (2003), The Essential Michael Jackson (2005), and Michael Jackson’s This Is It (2009) and it was remixed to the Immortal album in 2011.

“Thriller” was adapted into a highly successful music video, known independently as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. At fourteen minutes the video is substantially longer than the song, which ties together a narrative featuring Jackson and actress Ola Ray in a setting heavily inspired by horror films of the 1950s. In the video’s most iconic scene, Jackson leads other actors costumed as zombies in choreographed dance routine. Its video was nominated for 6 MTV music video awards and won three   it was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the first music video ever selected.

Why the song received phenomenon success.

 1.Zombies were dancing.

2. Lyrics that are “seemingly lifted from some little kid’s ‘scary storybook’

3.The groovy funky beats and the zombie dance moves in the longer than average video.

4.The terryifying idea of the return of the living dead.

 #4.Macarena by los del rio.

 Macarena”  is a Spanish dance song by Los del Río about a woman of the same name. Appearing on the 1994 album A mí me gusta, it was an international hit between 1995 and 1996, and continues to have a cult following. One of the most iconic of 1990s dance music, it was ranked the “#1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of all Time” by VH1 in 2002. The lyrics are completely original, but the music it is based on has been accused of plagiarism, coming from the song “Tengo una pena” (I have a sorrow, 1975) from the Spanish band “Desmadre 75”,at the same time based on a popular children’s song known as “Trabajando en las minas de pan duro” (Working in the hard bread mines).

The song uses a type of clave rhythm.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSIkDyqm0UQ) The song ranks at #5 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. It also ranks at #1 on Billboard’s All Time Latin Songs. It is also Billboard’s #1 dance song and one of six foreign language songs to hit #1 since 1955’s modern rock era began.

Why it attained massive success .

1.The Macarena dance.

2. The sample line from the old school film ‘’graduate’’ .’’im not trying to seduce you’’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3lKbMBab18)

3.Sexy young girls acting wiggly sexy with 60 year olds Los del rio in the clave rhyhim video.

4.Religious conservatives like Mother Angelica and Pat Robertson publicly denouncing the words to the song,

saying they were sordid and scandalous.

#3.Waka waka.

Waka Waka” is based upon a traditional African soldiers’ song named “Zamina mina (Zangaléwa)”, a 1986 makossa hit for Cameroonian group Golden Sounds.  Shakira might have learnt of WAKA WAKA after Dominican Republic group Las Chicas Del released their remixed version of the song called “El negro no puede.

The Colombian sexy super singer adopted the song as one of the official performer for fifa 2010 world cup.

Why the song became popular.

1.Song was popular in Africa and Latin America since the 50’s

due to puffed up asses of Cameroonian soldiers performing the train dance in its original

Video.The swollen stomachs, the moustaches and the white eyebrows made it popular perhaps.

The look of the soldiers as if like they were in a farting exercise after a eating competition.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=b1jQMM9cEbY)

2.Sexy Shakira singing part in tongues to a global soccer audience.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCtNU64Wqqo)

#2.Baby by Justin Bieber.

If you are still wondering what in the hell made Bieber’s Baby song video become the  most watched on YouTube before oppa gangnam style cloaked it; and not even the Lions video of behaviourist Kevin Rechardson playing  and sleeping freely with the beastly cats in the den, then you haven’t figured out that, winning a pop culture popularity contest today isn’t about being the most popular, or having the most fans–it’s about having fans who are devoted enough to mobilize themselves into ballot-stuffing, YouTube-watching brigades. Contrary to the usual knock on them, outcomes like these measure neither talentnor popularity–they measure fandom.This kid from the block proved to the world that,If your hyperdevoted fanbase is large enough (and hyperdevoted enough), it doesn’t matter how much of close to a ‘jerk’ you are to everybody else.Your hyperdevoted fans (teenage girls and boys) can  be mobilized to watch videos 1000s of times, or at least until their dad (who just doesn’t understand) kicks them off the computer in the living room. They will push someone to the top of the charts because they’re the only people who care about their idol’s silly lyrics, dance strokes and baby face.

Why Baby by Beiber became phenomenon.

1.Beliebers.

2. Directionators: this should mean those fake fans who only care about their idol’s looks and drop them when they fall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWhuRlK5WFc&temp-new-window-replacement=true

#1.Gangnam style.

 For a longtime the rest of the world associated far East Asia with epic

Martial Arts and Acrobatics. Not until recently though, when Psy, who in May 2012 wasn’t known to exist even an inch by most far Western people, uploaded his electro dance song on YouTube just like most of

us bedroom  and spare room producers occasionally do, not expecting more than 700 views some comments and a few shares on facebook. What happened next would usher Psy to an overwhelming instant fame and glory.Before we knew it,prisoners in Philippines were choreographing dance moves to gangnam style.Lets not forget that these prisoners did the same thing to MJ’s thriller with a vibrating performance that went viral on internet way back.(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMnk7lh9M3o)

The whole Global vip’s caught the virus prompting unsuspecting very important VIPs like Chinese Ai Wei Wei to do the dance motion (but this time not in protest for human rights abuses),Maddona and even made Mc Hammer baack at least for 20 minutes on stage!

What made the song a global success?

1.YouTube.Never in the history of any online video has ever been anything like this!.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0   Close to a Billion views .

2.The Dance:oppa gangnam style. The wicked horse riding dance.

3.Size height. Sorry. Psy’s height.

4.The rapping. Not only did the song push E.D.M from S. Korea to heights(and perhaps already infused David Guetta with a near fresh idea to move to Seoul for a brighter future) but rapping from south Korea as well.And the rap is about Psy desperate need for a sexy girl (according to the interpretation of the rap)contraryto  the motion pictures that make fun of affluent dwellers of Gangnam suburb of Seoul city.

5. A chain reaction of Global parodies.

Song prompted parodies and reaction videos by many different groups, organizations, and individuals, including The Oregon Duck, midshipment from the United States Naval Academy, and the North Korean government. By the end of October 2012, the song reached the number one position in more than 30 countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The song topped China’s Baidu 500 download list and was labeled by state-controlled media as having a “divine melody.”

6.Political leaders including Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, the British Prime Minister David Cameron and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon,  hailed the song as a “force for world peace” (wtf!!!? World what?…yieh world peace.Oh well!).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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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.