Tuesday, January 31, 2006

U.S.A.| Coretta Scott King dies at 78

Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife and widow of the slain American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., has died. Mrs. King had suffered a stroke and heart attack in August 2005 and according to news reports she passed away peacefully in her sleep late on Monday night at a California medical center where she was undergoing therapy for her stroke. Like the late Rosa Parks who died in October 2005, Coretta Scott King was an important icon of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from the 1950’s–1980’s. Both women were deeply committed to non-violent action for civil rights and equality for all Americans. Both of these great women have left their mark on the conscience and history of our nation.

New York Times article by Peter Applebome (January 31st) gives an excellent background on her life and an amusing anecdote about the courtship between the ambitious young Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the intelligent, beautiful and self-confident Coretta Scott during her university days at the New England Conservatory of Music in the early 1950’s.

Her first encounter with the man who would become her husband did not begin auspiciously. Dr. King, very much in the market for a wife, called her after getting her name from a friend and announced: "You know every Napoleon has his Waterloo," he said. "I'm like Napoleon. I'm at my Waterloo, and I'm on my knees."

"That's absurd," Ms. Scott, two years his elder, replied. "You don't even know me."

Still, she agreed to meet for lunch the next day, only to be put off initially that he wasn't taller. But she was impressed by his erudition and confidence and he saw in this refined, intelligent woman what he was looking for as the wife of a preacher from one of Atlanta's most prominent ministerial families. When he proposed, she deliberated for six months before finally saying "yes" and they were married in the garden of her parents' house on June 18, 1953. The 350 guests, elegant big-city folks from Atlanta and rural neighbors from Alabama, made it the biggest wedding, white or black, the area had ever seen.

And even before the wedding she made it clear she intended to remain her own woman. She stunned Dr. King's father, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., who presided over the wedding, by demanding that she wanted the promise to obey her husband removed from the wedding vows. Reluctantly, he went along. After it was over, the bridegroom fell asleep in the car back to Atlanta while the new Mrs. King did the driving.

There are a number of eulogies and information available online about the life and times of Coretta Scott King to help those of you who are unfamiliar with her and those of us who may have forgotten. I have listed some of those resources below. I do want to leave you with some words by Coretta Scott King delivered during the August 2003 Recalling MLK Dream speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the famous 1963 March on Washington. Her words are most appropriate for everyone the world over in these troubled times that we live in today:

“We must make our hearts instruments of Peace and non-violence because when the heart is right, the mind and the body will follow.”
Coretta Scott King @ The Lincoln Memorial - August 28, 2003

Go with God in Peace and we thank you for your wise guidance and great love for all these years, Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Amen.

Online resources about the life of Coretta Scott King:

Google News Search: Coretta Scott King

New York Times (January 31, 2006)
Coretta Scott King, 78, Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies

NPR (National Public Radio) Remembrances

Coretta Scott King dies at 78 (audio features)

NPR: The March on Washington 40-Year Commemorative
WGBH: 1963 March on Washington (original audio archives)
PBS Online News Hour: Remembering the March 40th Anniversary
CBS News Recalling MLK’s Dream Speech (with video)

Stanford University
The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute

Wikipedia (the free encyclopedia)
Coretta Scott King

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Liberia: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sworn-in as President

Update January 17th:
I've added a few new links to news articles (Germany's Der Spiegel) and to the full text of the Inaugural Address given by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia at Monrovia yesterday. If you read nothing else in this post, please read the moving and powerful words delivered by Liberia's new leader to her anxious people and to the people of the world.

January 16, 2005:
As of approximately 13:25 CET today history was made in Liberia and in the world. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn-in as the 26th President of the Republic of Liberia, Africa received its first elected female head of state, and the leading democracies of the world welcomed a competent and determined West African leader who has their full support in helping to rebuild her war-torn country and bring peace to a region troubled by brutal conflict and corruption for decades. Madame President Johnson-Sirleaf pledged in her acceptance speech to work hard to unite Liberians stating, “Let us begin anew, moving forward into a future that is filled with hope and promise.” (CNN) She also promised to “wage war against corruption regardless where it exists or by whom it is practiced”. This of course is an issuing of walking papers for a number of politicians and their business cronies operating in Liberia today.

The inauguration ceremony was broadcast live on CNN and
BBC albeit by videophone due to the lack of electricity and communications infrastructure in the capital Monrovia. I can’t wait to see the various videotape reports later today. International news agencies from across the globe have been following the preparations leading up to Liberia’s presidential inauguration for weeks and CNN’s Feme Oke and Jeff Koinange featured a Focus on Liberia special on the Inside Africa program this past weekend.

There has been so much said and written about President Johnson-Sirleaf and the Liberian presidential campaign and elections over the past several months it is difficult for me to add anything new here. As I took time to watch the inaugural ceremony TV news footage this afternoon I was deeply moved to be able to witness this historical event in my lifetime, and I kept saying to myself “God Bless her, God Bless her and the people of Liberia”. It was also not lost on me that January 15th is our (U.S.A.) national holiday for remembrance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to the Reverend Samuel Sumo Payne, a Liberian immigrant to the United States who will be participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration activities this year in Ohio, Dr. King’s impact on social justice and civil rights reverberated far beyond the shores of the United States. Here is an excerpt from the
Toledo Blade news article on Rev. Payne:

Mr. Payne was in junior high school when he spotted a book in his father’s office with a photo of Dr. King on the front. He said he asked his father, a Lutheran bishop, about the “gentleman on the cover” and was told that it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights leader in America.“It was just a casual conversation, but I started asking what a civil rights leader is. My Dad said he stood for unity and peace and that Dr. King was in some ways a bridge builder,” Mr. Payne recalled. “He said he wanted to help eliminate social injustice and to bring equality to everyone.”

“Dr. King’s stand for social justice and equality for all people in America, regardless of their race, had a tremendous impact on me,” he said. “For me, to come to this country and not be judged, being an African and being black in America, and being looked at for what I can do, I see that as the evidence of his impact.”

Like Dr. King, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is determined to do what she can to heal a nation and move forward, to build bridges between former combatants and the victims of brutal conflict and injustice and inequality. It’s a tall order for anyone to try to fill, but in my soul I believe that this lady has what it takes to get the job done. It is up to the rest of us around the world to make sure that our respective national political and business leaders provide the support that Liberia so desperately needs. So that Africa’s first democratically elected female head-of-state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and the new start for the people of Liberia, goes down in the history books as an important turning point for West Africa and a beacon of hope for people everywhere.

I and other bloggers and journalists will write more (much more) about Madame President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia this year and throughout her term in office. I am certain that many of us around the globe wish her great success in her new job and her new leadership role in Africa.

News References re: Liberia and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for January 2006:

Google News search:
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia

allAfrica.com - Monrovia January 17, 2005
Full text of the Inaugural Address by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Reuters AlertNet January 16, 2006
U.S. signals backing as Liberia leader takes office
Reuters AlertNet January 13, 2006
Taylor ex-son-in-law elected Liberia House Speaker

Germany's Der Spiegel (Intl. Edition) January 17, 2005
Liberia and Chile Elect Female Leaders

MSNBC Today Show interview w/ Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
“All men have failed… let’s try a woman.”


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

China in Africa: The CNOOC Nigerian Oil Deal

Recently Chinese financial investments in African countries has been making headlines in the MSM and in the Blogosphere. The Washington Post ran a story yesterday on the announcement by CNOOC Ltd., a Chinese state-owned energy company, of its USD$ 2.3 billion deal with the Republic of Nigeria for access to a large offshore oil and gas reserve. Nigerian blogger Orikinla Osinachi of the Nigerian Times blog was one of the first to pickup the WAPO article.

Following is my comment to Orikinla's post CNOOC: It's a good deal

"I found your post today while researching information about Chinese government and private sector investments in Africa. The link to your blog was directly from The Washington Post news article titled "CNOOC Announces $2.3 Billion Nigeria Investment". Although increased direct foreign investment in the Nigerian economy is a good thing generally, I'm not so certain that CNOOC, a Chinese state-owned and controlled energy company, is the kind of business partner the people of Nigeria would want. For example, the fact that China's military, economic, and diplomatic support of the murderous Khartoum regime in Sudan is directly linked to Sudan's oil reserves and exports to China would probably not sit well with a majority of the Nigerian people, would it?

In other words, the genocide and ethnic cleansing we see taking place in Darfur and parts of southern Sudan today can be directly linked to China. The Chinese government and so-called Chinese private investors supply the regime of Omar al-Bashir with weapons (helicopter gunships and aircraft, heavy-duty automatic weapons, landmines, mortars and rockets, etc.), the Chinese military personell needed to train the Sudanese military and police how to use them, and loads of money in the form of revenues from oil exports and generous Chinese bank loans. The various peoples of the Sudan don't see any benefits or at best little from the money earned by oil exports to China and elsewhere by the way.

While you are busy thanking God for this announced CNOOC deal in Nigeria, be sure to ask Him what he thinks about China's complicity in the genocide taking place in Darfur and the rape of the Sudan."

Chippla Vandu of Chippla's Weblog - Thoughts on Issues has a very appropriate and timely post on perceived oil wealth in Nigeria titled Poverty Beyond Corruption. Chippla brought the subject of China's newfound love affair with African business and political leaders to his readers attention in his April 2005 post titled The Future of Africa is Not China re: the Asian-African Summit 2005. Here is the link to the Xinhua News Agency article "Asia Africa on way to new strategic partnership" which preceded the historic Golden Jubilee of the first Asian-African Summit at Bandung in 1955. Yale University's Yale Global Online published a good op-ed piece from the Jakarta Post on April 6, 2005 by Joself Purnama Widyatmadja titled "The Spirit of Bandung".

I must say that this post is just an opening salvo from this blogger on China's strategic interests for Africa, inspired by Ethan Zuckerman's excellent post and question of January 8th: "Chinese trade with Africa - good or bad news?". Of course with the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2006 at Davos, Switzerland coming in just a few weeks economics and development issues are at the forefront of many people's minds. The theme of this year's annual meeting is The Creative Imperative and you can read more about the organization at the WEF official website. The countries and economies of China and India will be a major focus at this year's event.

What do you, my readers, think?
Is China's renewed interest and financial investments in Africa a good thing for the people of the continent or not? Do you have some examples of how it is working well and if so, where?


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

WEF Davos 2006: Blogging, podcasting, webcasting


The World Economic Forum 2006 Annual Meeting at Davos, Switzerland has annouced a major blogging and podcasting effort for this year's event. Tired of the various presidents and business leaders of the world neither answering your emails nor reading your blog? Then this is your big chance to listen to, be heard, and communicate with them face-to-face (sort of).

According to a WEF Press Release of January 2nd, ALL of the more than 2000 participants from countries around the world, including presidents and prime ministers, will be asked to contribute at least 1 post to the Forumblog. Boy, I'd hate to see those comment threads. So if you've got a gripe or a special request or just want to tell the Prez or Prime Minister what a great job he/she is doing, this is the place to be from January 25th-29th, 2006. Get in touch with your respective political and business leaders early to make sure that they pony up for the WEF 2006 Forumblog. Tell them to speak up loud and clear, the world's bloggers will be listening (and writing about it).

Hat tip to the World Bank's PSD blog for bringing our attention to this story and to Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion for being one of the first to break this news in the Blogosphere. Be sure to wear a nice, warm hat and ear muffs Steve while down in Davos. It's freezing over here and snowing non-stop down South in the Alps. Skiing and hotels are good. Prices are outrageous.


Monday, January 02, 2006

The Africa Quiz 2005

Nah? Are we still nursing that throbbing headache after a bit too much cheer at the New Years Eve party? Here is something that will get you back into shape Zak Zak.

Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online and the ...My Heart's in Accra blog has come up with a great end of the year 2005 Africa Quiz. For some great fun and to see how much you have learned about Africa from reading blogs, online news articles, and other media sources go over to EZ's place and take the test.

Jewels in the Jungle was asked to submit one question for the quiz so AFTER you have completed the test please click on this link to learn more about our Africa 2005 News Item entry. If my guess is right 8 out of 10 people have answered this question wrong on the quiz so far.

Don’t cheat, take the quiz first! I know that it is tempting, but don't do it.

Then after you have aced that little mindteaser go over to the BBC News site for a run at their Africa News 2005 Quiz. I blew it on this quiz (only 4 out of 8 correct) but maybe you will do better. Happy New Year 2006 to all of my readers.