Thursday, August 26, 2004
I had to go back and make a few corrections from my posting from August 26th due to some errors I made in stating facts and figures. I also added new information today regarding migrant labor remittances to Africa.
Posting from 26 Aug 2004:
A couple of days ago I really "stepped in it" by giving my opinions and thoughts on African ex-patriates and migrants living in Europe (see: Migration - The Grass is Not Always Greener). Fortunately up to now no one has expressed outrage via my blog's comments tool or otherwise for writing about such a personal and sensitive subject for migrants living abroad.
Did you know that migrant workers from developing countries living in the U.S. and Europe send home more than US$ 73 billion every year?* (source: World Bank Group for year 2001). Correction: The World Bank Group has more recent figures from a November 2003 working paper which estimates this amount worldwide to be much higher. You can download their report Migrant Labor Remittances in Africa and really learn something about this subject.
Did you know that the money African workers send home from abroad exceeds by more than 25% all of the development aid received by African countries from the industrialized nations? Correction: The figure for 2001 (US$ 73 billion) is just under 50% for all foreign investment in Africa and exceeds by more than 40% the amount African nations receive in development aid from industrialized countries.
More importantly, do the people sending money home know about this???
To show another side of the many issues surrounding immigration and migration, I thought it would be wise to provide some links to the debate featured presently at BBC World online. If you are sending money home to help your family or community in Africa or elsewhere, this information could prove to be very helpful. Pay particular attention to the comments from respondents to this debate. Do some of their stories sound real familiar to you?
BBC World Africa Live Debate: Do you send money home?
BBC World news article: Africans sending money back home
BBC World Service (streaming audio): Hidden Aid
There are plenty of resources online covering this important subject. Of particular interest are news stories and case studies on how financial services institutions such as Western Union and Wells Fargo and the big international banks like HSBC (see Yahoo!'s transfer services) are cashing in big on this monetary transfer bonanza!
Recently here in Germany I have begun to see huge billboard advertisements on the sides of Bahnhof (central train station) buildings, trams, and busses prominently featuring graphics of happy Africans with phrases like "Did you wire some money home today?". No joke! However, if you go into one of these money transfer offices you won't find many Africans working behind the counter, or other "Auslanders" for that matter. It 'aint right, you know what I mean?
In a BusinessWeek Online article dated December 22, 2003 the figure is estimated to be much higher than that published by the World Bank Group in 2001. The BW Online article quotes a figure for the year 2003 exceeding $150 billion dollars in cross-border remittances from 80 million immigrants/migrants living abroad, with about $100 billion going to their family members and other people anonymously! Check the article out for yourself here:
BusinessWeek Online: Can Western Union Keep on Delivering?
We're talking $150 billion bucks here! Hello? Does anyone out there with financial management training and experience see an opportunity here to do something positive for Africa and earn a few bucks while you're at it?
I wonder what would happen if people would wise-up and consolidate that financial power for democratic and economic change in their home countries? They would have more clout than the U.N., which much of the time is crying they are near bankruptcy again.
Monday, August 23, 2004
I've been following them on the Net for months and just about everything I have read on this not-for-profit organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa is outstanding. You can examine the organization's programs, tools and resources for teachers and school administrators at the link provided above. You can read about their mission statement here and I have provided a brief excerpt from their website below.
If you are involved with or interested in improving the education of youth on the continent of Africa, and haven't checked out School Net Africa's new online portal, then you have been sleeping and not doing your job properly. Here is a second chance to do that and an opportunity to start or expand upon School Net projects in your country. Contact them personally.
Operating in 31 African nations. Publishing in Kiswahili, English, French, Portuguese, and Arabic. Backed by some of the best private and public international partners and sponsors anyone could ever want. No excuses. It's Back to School Time for the children of Africa. Get busy buddy!
SchoolNet Africa is one of Africa's first African-led, African-based non-government organisations (NGO) that operates across the continent in its endeavour to improve education access, quality and efficiency through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in African schools. SchoolNet Africa works mainly with learners, teachers, policymakers and practitioners through country-based schoolnet organisations across Africa.
SchoolNet Africa is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa where it employs staff from different African countries to manage its programs.
SchoolNet Africa's vision is for the empowerment of all of Africa's children and youth through access to quality education, information and knowledge on the basis of their effective use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
SchoolNet Africa's mission is to support national SchoolNets throughout Africa by mobilizing resources, building effective partnerships and knowledge in promoting education through sustainable use of ICTs in African schools.
- SNA stands for the right of all African youth to education and lifelong learning possibilities.
- SNA stands for the right of every African child to have access to information.
- We stand for affordable and sustainable access to ICTs in African Schools.
- African education content on the Internet.
- We work towards developing online content in local languages.
What We Stand For
SchoolNet Africa supports and promotes
- the right of every African child to have access to education, information and knowledge
- affordable and sustainable ICT access for African schools using a variety of solutions
- the creation of locally developed, digitised education content
- expression through the recognition of indigenous African languages
- multi-stakeholder partnerships within a progressive, development framework
- gender integration and women's empowerment
- the achievement of the Education For All objectives and the UN Millenium Development Goals
Friday, August 20, 2004
To my young adult readers in Africa and elsewhere who may be contemplating giving money to some stranger, friend, or relative for a visa or pass or failsafe transport and entry into Europe or North America or Australia or any country for that matter, don't even think about being that stupid! It would be safer to jump into a lake or river filled with hungry crocodiles and other maneating critters!
I will never forget my first experience many moons ago when I observed a group of African "asylum seekers" stranded in a backwater, north German town. Their living conditions were terrible and their chances for the "good life" weren't much better. I became friends with these young men and shared many a joyful day and evening with them, but in no way could I resolve all the new problems they faced here in Europe. There is so much that I and others here in Europe could say on this subject that it would require a 1000 new blogs just on this subject.
It is important to travel and see the world if you have the chance in life to do so, and you should take every opportunity to do it. However, there is the right way to do things and lots of wrong ways to do things which in the end can cost you your future or your life, dashing the hopes and dreams of your people and your country.
So before you strike out with less than savory types for the "promised land" read these online articles and resource sites on Migration carefully, and follow the instructions on the package!
BBC Talking Point Special Report June 2004: Migration
Billy's Journey: Crossing the Sahara and Europe at Last
Gao's (Mali) Deadly Migrant Trade
Guinea: Unstoppable Exodous
Factfile: Global Migration
Migration: Global Village Voices
Some of the saddest memories I will have of my experiences in Europe over the past 24 years will be those memories of the people in search of a better life from faraway lands who ended up in a worse condition than what they left behind. I know that such a statement could draw some vehement fire from those who disagree, but I know what I've seen and have been told by many of the migrants and refugees fleeing Africa and other regions of the world.
If you can, stay in your own country or on the African continent, work hard to get a good education, and build a better future for yourselves and for your people. If you can do that successfully, the world will beat a path to your door. Thereafter, almost everywhere in the world that you may travel you will be made to feel welcome, and you yourself will feel like a queen or king in a foreign land.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Group of rural Ugandan children in song for visitors from abroad.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003
I was having a nice chat by telephone last evening with my friend Janine Smith, an outstanding multi-talented performing artist from Brooklyn, New York (Yo B.K.!, Yo Man). Janine lives here in Germany and tours with her very popular and funky Blues/Soul/Jazz fusion band Voodoo Child. Janine also instructs and leads inter-racial, multi-national choirs in northern Germany. You can find out more about her on the Voodoo Child website and perhaps iTunes website.
Anyway, Janine is a real intelligent and sympathetic soulmate for me (sometimes), and last night we were discussing Africans living here in Germany and in Africa and all the difficult issues facing them here and there and everywhere.
So I was discussing with her the latest news out of Darfur, the child-trafficking crisis across West and Central Africa and into Europe and the Middle East, gender-related issues for the women and girls of Africa, and the latest atrocities in the D.R.C. and Burundi and Oh My God... you know. This usually bums Janine out because she is a real sensitive artist and a New York sister and so forth.
So Janine says to me,
"...but Bill (that's my other name)...but Bill The Beast is so Big! What can we do to help these people when The Beast is all over the place in Africa?".
So I answered Janine,
"Look here Baby, ordinary people like you and me have to get in there to help 'em out, no matter how small the effort might seem. We have to dance at the edge of the Abyss if necessary and pull 'em out! What are we going to do, let monsters like Omar (al-Beshir) wipe out the people of Darfur and southern Sudan and do nothing, be silent about it and let all these people just die?'
'Be silent like people were back in the 1940's when Jews and ethnic groups all across Europe were being rounded-up and trucked away and murdered by the millions, and then pretend we didn't know anything about it. I can't do that, not me. The ghosts of my ancestors__ of my grandmothers and grandfathers won't let me rest if I don't do something, when there is something I can do to help. Not me doggone it___I can't be silent no more!"
I think what I said to Janine last night goes for a lot of us around the world, no matter our color or our nationality or ethnic group or religious beliefs or whatever we think makes us so different from one another. Of course we can't all express it in the rich cultural lingo of the descendents of black African slaves taken from the continent more than 300 years ago, but don't worry about that.
I didn't start this weblog to be some kind of activist or protest website, but as a platform for ideas and communication exchanges and a way to easily publish things on my mind and on the minds of those who visit this blog. It is obviously focused on Africa and her peoples and natural biodiversity.
I've received some very nice and encouraging comments and acclaim about Jewels in the Jungle over the past 90+ days it has been online from people deeply involved with humanitarian and economic development work as well as colleagues and professionals from the technology and academic world. I really appreciate those nice comments and thank all who have offerred them.
I am convinced that such simple and easy-to-use web publishing tools like Blogger and Movable Type and Radio Userland can go a long way in helping peoples in the developing world to connect to one another and to people throughout the (cyber) world.
Blogging can be a solid first step into the exciting world of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) for millions of people who have something to say or to share. The costs to start is either very low or absolutely free.
So stay tuned to our Jewels in the Jungle blog as we dig deeper into the technology and make some changes and improvements over the next months. In the tradition of the great Saint Louis and Chicago blues musicians of my home " we're gonna rock this sucka" over the next many months. Maybe Janine of "Voodoo Child" could write a little song for "Jewels in the Jungle".
I definately intend to mercilessly rock Omar's World down in Khartoum and all of his ilk across the continent, until people like him are gone from Africa for good.
Until we can look at photos like the one of these lovely Ugandan children and know in our hearts that they are going to be allright. We've got some work to do, Baby.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Sudan Has More Pyramids than Egypt !!
When I first began to learn about African history in middle school in America (a long, long time ago) we of course were taught a great deal about ancient Egyptian dynasties and civilizations. Back in those days textbooks contained practically nothing about the great cultures and civilizations of sub-Saharan Africa. There of course was a purpose to this madness, which I hear has since been rectified to some extent in American school textbooks for young people.
Anyway, did you know that Sudan has (and had in the past) more pyramids than Egypt? Did you know that they have a culture (on record) dating back more than 200,000 years and that there are artifacts in a museum which prove that? This is news to the culturally and historically illiterate amongst us, probably most of us. This is good news on Friday the 13th! Check out the link above if you don't believe me.
Oh yeah, there is some bad news connected to this story. Certain highly developed and civillized peoples of Egypt (and Europe) robbed "cleaner than a camel's carcass" practically every ancient holy gravesite and pyramid built in Sudan during the last 100,000 years or so. Na ya.
BBC African Photo Essay Contest
More good news out of Africa. Buried in one of my earlier postings this month (see "Sudan's Army Anger Over U.N. War" dated August 02) I made mention of a nice little contest for ameteur photobugs and unemployed pro photographers sponsored by the BBC World News online team. It's a rather easy way to pick up a new digital camera worth USD$ 300.00 bucks (retail, not black market price). In case you didn't catch the original posting perhaps you might check it out today, if you are interested that is and/or need the camera or the money. I'd love to enter, but I am not in Africa, and I would like to see someone there win the prize. I'm also interested in seeing the photography, such as the 11 photos displayed in the BBC Africa Photo Contest Gallery.
Somalians Find a Good Life in the U.S.A.
This is some of the best news "Out of Africa" I've seen all day. Actually it's about some very persecuted folks gettin' the heck out of Africa. It seems that Omar over in Sudan has some real like-minded buddies just across the border in Somalia. What I mean is that apparently there are some black North African "Arabs" (I know, they don't look like Arabs to me either) who have a lighter skin complexion and other dubious differences which give them the right to persecute, murder, rape, and conduct other general human rights abuses against their fellow black countrymen and countrywomen. These incidents over a long period of time would make a movie like "Blackhawk Down" look like a Disney family film. No, I haven't seen the movie Blackhawk Down___waiting for it to come to German T.V. in the next century or so.
Anyway, it seems that the Government of the U.S.A. (GoUSA) made a decision last year to accept the immigration of 12,000 Somali bantus (ooohh, bantu is a controversial word) to the United States. According to this news story things are working out really well for most of the families presently located in New York State and South Carolina. I think that it is a real nice story and I am eager to see life become a success for these new immigrants. I hope that some of the families settle in my hometown, one of the best cities in the world (naturally).
200 years of slavery and persecution under their fellow Africans before they get a break. You need to read this story (see link above) and I need to contact my friend Yvette (author of the weblog Inside Somaliland) to see what she has to say about these people. This is cool enough to encourage me to get back to the States sooner and help out with our new African residents.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
When you see an emergency of this scale unfolding before you very eyes, and you have a voice, then you damn well need to speak up, loudly! The perpetrators of these crimes in the region of Darfur and the Government of Sudan in Khartoum needs to hear the outraged Voices of the World, and understand what time it is... that it is time for them to backoff and let us help these people, or else.
John Prendergast of the ICG (International Crisis Group) gave a chilling account of what he and renowned Harvard University professor Samantha Powers witnessed firsthand on their recent trip to Northern Darfur. Here is the link to his July 15 report for the New York TImes "Sudan's Ravines of Death". You can find more ICG information and reports on Sudan at their special Crisisweb site Crisis in Darfur.
AllAfrica.com has a recent "must read" interview with John Prendergast here:
To Save Lives in Darfur, Back African Peacekeepers and Demand War Crimes Accountability
Human Rights Watch has just released another scathing report on continued attacks and atrocities by both Janjaweed militias and GoS regular military and police that you can read here:
Darfur: New Atrocities Disprove Khartoum’s Claims
The BBC and CNNI continue their relentless LIVE reporting from within the region of Darfur and Chad including excellent interviews (i.e. BBC's Hardtalk ) with officials from the GoS and experts from the International Community. It's a pleasure to watch some of the excellent female reporters and journalists expose and publicly shame the very world officials who are supposed to be bringing everthing under control in Darfur. Go get 'em girls, dog 'em!
BBC World: Sudan Faces New Atrocity Charges
BBC Hardtalk: Interview with Sudan Vice President Ali Osman Taha
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Everybody who is anybody travelling through West Africa and particularly Senegal over the past few decades has stopped to pay his/her respects at Goree Island___Presidents and Prime Ministers, The Pope, movie stars and famous personalities___ 200,000 people a year visit this landmark and shrine to one of the saddest episodes in human history, The Transatlantic Slave Trade between Africa and The Americas.
Renowned professor Philip Curtin of John Hopkins University, author of more than 24 books on the African Slave Trade and African History, says "The whole story (about Goree Island) is a phony." No, No, No___this can't be. Not only that, the Senegalese government and Senegal historians and other experts on African History have known about this scam for quite some time!
According to the professor, The Slave House on Goree Island was not a depot for slaves awaiting the brutal and inhuman treatment and transport by slavers and their ships sitting off the coast of Dakar, but that it served in the late 1700's as a mansion house for some white French dude. The transport to slave ships of African slaves actually took place at the mouth of the Senegal and Gambia rivers on the mainland, miles away from Goree Island.
Aint nothin' sacred anymore? Now the Senegalese will have to move the whole attraction to the mainland and drop the theatre about the "Door of No Return"; otherwise, the tourists may not return. How am I going to break this news to the folks back home, another lie about our roots? What does the President of Senegal (whom I like from what I've heard and read about him) and his Minister of Culture and Tourism have to say about this? I'm waitin' Monsieur Presidente?
My thanks to the author of Black Looks blog, where I learned about this story first. You need to check out her August 10th posting on the Locust plague in Africa at the moment, that's scary stuff!
Monday, August 09, 2004
I was browsing the blog "Black Looks" authored by a self-described African feminist living in Spain and ran across the link to a website featuring outstanding art by some of Uganda's leading modernist painters. The exhibition took place in 2002 at the University of California - Berkeley's Center for African Studies and a San Francisco gallery named The Art Room.
Do check out this website thoroughly as both the artwork and the many references to literature and documents about the Women's Movement in present day Uganda are very interesting.
In celebration to the Women and Girls of Uganda, and throughout the African continent. Something positive for a change for my readers. Enjoy.
Friday, August 06, 2004
This photo of a young boy is a strong symbol of why we all must help to support and protect Africa's hope for a bright future...from Sudan to South Africa.
Photo by Susanne Behnke
Looks as if zillions of people around the world have stirred up quite a bit of dust and heat down in Sudan. That's good, but concerned people everywhere need to keep a very close eye on that 30-day countdown for Khartoum and the actions of the U.N and the A.U. and the rest of the "International Community".
The right thing to do in the meantime is to prepare professional military troops to go in and protect those refugees and the aid workers in Darfur and Chad, because the GoS will do nothing but continue their killings of innocent civilians and then lie about it "LIVE on international TV". Khartoum is already attempting to erase the evidence of genocide within the 90 days they have requested of the U.N. and show the world its "behind" while it does it.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, down in the Jungle... things have been conspicuously quiet. I'll have more photos and info on Uganda this month and hopefully some new inputs from Tanzania as well. You will get a chance soon to meet "The Professor", an African scholar and intellectual friend of mine. He was born in Tanzania back in the period when Africa was just emerging from European colonization, and he has lots of experience and stories about working with African leaders and governments and their international partners. He is a real treasure who I would like to share with all of you.
I've also added some new weblog links to my blogroll Hot Blogs ToGo today in order to help my visitors learn more about what other people are publishing to the Blogosphere regarding Africa. Check the right-hand side of this homepage for the new additions mostly Africa and Africa Blog and Southern Cross and Ethiopundit. Check my blogroll regularly for new additions.
Well, that's it for now. Have a nice weekend. Boy, it's really hot in Germany today, 30°C plus. The Europeans are really suffering from this heat. Think I'll go have a cold beer and watch 'em. Ciao.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Hey, that U.N. Sudan Information Gateway website has lots of information and uses modern web technologies in a very impressive and easy-to-understand way.
For example, the site has well organized menues including News and Media feeds from various independent sources, a Country Profile section with an excellent Map Centre, loads of downloadable reports and documents, and the STARBASE database and statistical records system. I particularly found the various maps on IDP's (internally displaced persons) from the 20 year-old-war between the Khartoum regime and Southern Sudan interesting, and alarming.
I also learned on the website that I have been mispelling Omar's (President of Sudan) name wrong! Oh my gosh, I must correct that in all my postings about Omar immediately!
Here is an excerpt from a web page in the Country Profile section:
"...In 1989 a coup brought into power a military regime led by Lt. General Umar Hassan Ahmed al-Beshir which was dominated by the National Islamic Front led by Hassan al Turabi, Speaker of the 400 seat National Assembly. Following the 1989 coup the war against the SPLA intensified..."
Do visit the U.N. Sudan Information Gateway site, since many of us are paying for it with our tax dollars (and other currencies) as citizens of the world and member countries in-good-standing with the U.N.
O.K., most member countries don't pay SQUAT to the U.N. At least we should keep their excellent web design teams around.
Last and certainly least of all, In All Fairness to the GoS (Government of Sudan), here is the link to the Sudan Embassy (Washington, D.C.) where you can get the latest news direct from the camel's mouth about what is REALLY GOING ON in Darfur and the rest of Sudan. Enjoy.
Embassy of Sudan website in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Did you know that the U.N. has an excellent, modern news and multimedia information network named IRIN? Well you do now and you can visit them at the link(s) above.
In all fairness to the United Nations___ (yeah, I'm rather pissed-off at the U.N. right now, I know)___ I do use their online resources extensively to help educate myself and others to what's going on in the world.
IRINNEWS.ORG was started by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) back in 1994 during the African Great Lakes regional crisis (Rwanda Genocide, Zaire/Congo War plus Genocide, et. al. stuff) and in the IRIN's own words,
"...IRIN pioneered the use of email and web technology to deliver and receive information to and from some of the most remote and underdeveloped places in Africa..."
Well, the year 1994 was still back in the Stone Age in the Internet Timeline chronology, but I have to admit that in 10 years the U.N. OHCA has built an excellent platform for news and info about the continents and peoples of Africa and Asia___it's a must resource for people who are serious about development and humanitarian issues. IRIN also has a very good broadcast radio network with satellite up/downlink services from Worldspace, an African-owned and operated satellite network provider based in Washington, D.C.
Pay particular attention to the IRIN Web Specials with downloadable reports and online multimedia presentations. I just dumped the IRIN Web Special reports on Northern Uganda and Child Soldiers in the D.R.C. to my PC today. Oh yeah, there is also lot's of news and reports on Darfur as well.
The United Nations has also setup a whole new website just for the Sudan Crisis named the "Sudan Information Gateway" which I haven't had the chance to visit yet, but you should. Remember, we've got to keep the pressure up on Omar, 'cause Omar el-Beshir is not too bright you see and he needs that kind of help to remember what he is supposed to be doing.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Well, here's the latest official word from the Government of Sudan (a.k.a. GoS):
"The Security Council resolution about the Darfur issue is a declaration of war on the Sudan and its people," armed forces spokesman General Mohamed Beshir Suleiman told the official Al Anbaa daily newspaper..." (see link above for full article)
Well, my answer to the General after reading his statements and his declaration of another Holy Jihad in Sudan against "The West" is, "Fine with me, Dude, let's get it on right now, screw the 30 days. Move the women and children to safety, and let's get it on."
The BBC has some other interesting articles and features on its Africa homepage today, BBC News Africa August 02, 2004 . Of special note are the following features:
Darfur: What's the Way Forward (a BBC Africa Live debate on August 4th at 16:30 and 18:30 GMT, email and audio participation)
Africa Photo Essay Contest (see Photo Journals link and dropdown menue) ( Teaching in Uganda - essay on a school for HIV/AIDS orphans in Kampala)
Finally, I found this article published in the online version of the U.K. newspaper "The Scotsman" not only an interesting point of view on the Crisis in Darfur, but a scathing criticism of the United Nations Security Council limited actions and failure to head off the crisis in time:
The Scotsman (online) - U.N. Takes the Path of Least Resistance
According to the latest Blogosphere Stats from Technorati, there are over 3.3 million blogs (weblogs) being tracked just by that service since July 7th, and there are between 8,000 - 17,000 new blogs being created around the world every day. My first casual search on blog articles related to the Darfur Crisis today yielded 308 postings, many of them excellently written.
Now that's what I call an alternative movement to mainstream media! The crescendo of voices is rising in volume and numbers against Khartoum and the Janjaweed Arab Militias, every day.