Friday, August 21, 2009

'Half the Sky': New York Times Magazine special on how to help empower the world's women and girls

Cover: The New York Times Magazine
Sunday August 23, 2009

Saving the World’s Women: How changing the lives of women and girls in the developing world can change everything

This week’s edition of the New York Times Magazine (Aug. 23, 2009) is a special issue dedicated to women’s issues and gender equality for the world’s women. Featured on the cover of the magazine (print edition) is a photo of a woman from Burundi, a woman who could not read or write, who was able to get away from literal enslavement in her hut, escaping the grinding poverty of life in her village, with the help of a US $2 dollar micro-loan. Now she is the main breadwinner for her family and a shining example for her whole community. She is living proof of what women can achieve with even the smallest amount of help from people who care.

This special issue of the New York Times Magazine is an excellent tie-in to the series I am working on at present about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Africa and her tour of the hospitals and clinics for violent rape victims and brutal attacks against women and girls (and now men and boys as well) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

So I will not waste a lot of your time with my opinions on how we all can do more, much more, to support women and girls in developing countries around the globe. The New York Times Magazine writers and contributors have done such a lovely job of bringing these important issues and needs to the forefront. Here are recommended ‘must reads’ in this special issue of the magazine:

The Women’s Crusade by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn 08/17/09
Nicholas D. Kristof is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Sheryl WuDunn is a former Times correspondent who works in finance and philanthropy. This essay is adapted from their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will be published next month by Alfred A. Knopf. You can learn more about “Half the Sky” at Nicholas Kristof’s blog ‘On the Ground’.

Related multimedia and photo slideshows:
A Powerful Truth (audio/photo slideshow: Nicholas Kristof narrates, photography by Katy Grannan, produced by Zahra Sethna)
Must See: Holding Up Half the Sky - Lens Blog – official website for the book and the network

Questions for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Madame President - Interview 08/18/09
Deborah Soloman interviews Liberia’s president in the wake of Secretary Clinton’s visit, photography by photojournalist and blogger Glenna Gordon (Scarlett Lion). I shall be writing more about Glenna Gordon’s wonderful photography of the people of Uganda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in my continuing series on Hillary Clinton in Africa.

Related posts at Glenna Gordon’s blog (Scarlett Lion)
Scarlett Lion - NTYM: Interview with Madame President 08/20/09
Scarlett Lion - “Ma Ellen n Hilary Clinton r Sisters” 08/14/09
Scarlett Lion - Context Africa: village life makes it to the mainstream media 08/11/09

New York Times Magazine (continued)
A New Gender Agenda interview by Mark Landler 08/18/09
Excerpts from an interview with Secretary Clinton shortly before here Africa trip re: the Obama administration’s strategies to help empower womaen and about the violence against women and girls in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo__

Q: I’m curious about what priorities you’re setting. Will the Obama administration have a signature issue — sex trafficking or gender-based violence or maternal mortality or education for girls — in the way that H.I.V./AIDS came to symbolize the Bush-administration strategy?

Clinton: We are having as a signature issue the fact that women and girls are a core factor in our foreign policy. If you look at what has to be done, in some societies, it is a different problem than in others. In some of the societies where women are deprived of political and economic rights, they have access to education and health care. In other societies, they may have been given the vote, but girl babies are still being put out to die.

So it’s not one specific program, so much as a policy. When it comes to our global health agenda, maternal health is now part of the Obama administration’s outreach. We’re very proud of the work this country has done, through Pepfar, on H.I.V./AIDS [the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was begun by George W. Bush in 2003]. We’ve moved from an understanding of how to deal with global AIDS to recognizing it’s now a woman’s disease, because women are the most vulnerable and often have no power to protect themselves. And it’s increasingly younger women or even girls.

But women die every minute from poor maternal health care. You know, H.I.V./AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria — those are all, unfortunately, equal-opportunity killers. Maternal health is a woman’s issue; it’s a family issue; it’s a child issue. And for the United States to say to countries that have very high maternal mortality rates, “We care about the future of your children, and in order to do that, we care about the present of your women,” is a powerful statement.

Q: Gender-based violence is an enormous issue in much of Africa, and in places like Congo, rape, as you know, is an instrument of war. How can you, or anybody else, hope to combat that?

Clinton: President Obama and I and the United States will not tolerate this continuation of wanton, senseless, brutal violence perpetrated against girls and women. We don’t know exactly what we can do, but we are going to be delivering some aid and some ideas about how to better organize the communities to deal with it. We’re going to sound the alarm that this is not all just unexpected and irrational.

These militias, which perpetrate a lot of these rapes and other horrific assaults on girls and women, are paid well, or realize the spoils of guarding the mines. Those mines, which are one of the great natural resources of the Congo, produce a lot of the materials that go into our cellphones and other electronics. There are tens of millions of dollars that go into these militias that, in effect, get translated into a sense of impunity that is then exercised against the weakest members of society.

The ambassador for war crimes, Steve Rapp, has the distinction of being among the first international prosecutors to win a case on gender violence, and I specifically wanted him to take on this role, because I want to highlight this issue.

End excerpts___

Related article at the New York Times:
Clinton Presses Congo on Minerals by Jeffrey Gettleman 08/10/09

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clinton in the Congo: Behind the veil of concern and outrage, a legacy of failure in U.S. foreign policy

Note: this is a draft version of a coming 3-part series on the DR Congo and Secretary Clinton's visit to the country. Have a look at the Additional Resources section at the end of this post in order to peek into my mind as I put this baby together.

Behind the humanitarian concern and moral outrage, a legacy of ashes

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touched down in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, for talks with President Kabila and Alan Doss (UN Special Representative to the DRC and MONUC head) and local dignitaries and civil society organizations, she had in tow some pretty heavy baggage. The relationship between the United States and this sprawling central African nation has a very troubled history of neglect and failed foreign polices. Although many people are familiar with U.S. support for the longtime Congolese leader Mobutu Sese Seko during the Cold War years, we should also not forget the failures in U.S. foreign policy toward the region under the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

It was under his administration that the devastating wars and mass atrocities took place in Burundi and Rwanda, setting the stage for the nightmare scenarios we see taking place today in the eastern DR Congo. If the United States together with our European allies and African partners in the region had made smart changes to post-Cold War policies in the early 1990's, engaging these brewing problems head-on before the chaos and bloodletting took place, the situation in the Congo today, fifteen years after the Rwandan Genocide, would look very different. This is something that Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and her entourage should have had firmly in mind as they stepped down on the tarmac of Kinshasa’s N'djili International Airport, and this should have especially been at the forefront of Secretary Clinton's thoughts as she was engaging in roundtable discussions and dialogue with young Congolese students. Students who oft times must study for exams by candlelight due to a lack of a reliable supply of electricity in Congo's capital city Kinshasa.

The Atlantic Magazine – September 2001 issue
Bystanders to Genocide by Samantha Power
This is a must-read feature article for anyone seeking to gain understanding of the Clinton White House during the period preceding, throughout, and following the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Samantha Power, the Yale and Harvard-educated academic, journalist, and award-winning author of ‘A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide’, is now serving in the Obama administration as a special advisor to the President on foreign policy and humanitarian issues and is a member of the National Security Council. She was not invited along on the Secretary’s important trip to some of Africa’s most troubled conflict zones.

Forbes Magazine (
Commentary: Congo's Conflict and What the U.S. Can Do December 22, 2008
A good background editorial about the conflicts and resource exploitation in the eastern Congo by independent journalist, blogger, and academic Mvemba Phezo Dizolele. Mvemba is presently working on his new book “Mobutu: the Rise and Fall of the Leopard King” after completing a fellowship at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was a former grantee at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. More of his writing on the DR Congo is listed in the Additional Resources at the end of this post.

One last thing before I proceed with the main topics of this post about U.S. foreign polices and the DR Congo. I can imagine that many people back home and around the world feel that America has no business being involved with this central African nation and its troubles, especially in light of the Congo’s brutal 75 year colonial history (Belgium’s King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo) and the post-colonial period when it was used as a Cold War proxy against Soviet and Cuban expansion in Africa and a precious minerals plantation for Western powers. But let me throw out a few factoids about this vast, mineral-rich, environmentally important giant at the heart of the African continent for the doubters among you:

Fast facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo
General geographic information and basic indicators

Straddling the Equator, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the third largest country in Africa (after Sudan and Algeria). The mighty Congo River flows north and then south through a land rich in minerals, fertile farmlands, and rain forests. The country has a tiny coast on the Atlantic Ocean, just enough to accommodate the mouth of the Congo River. The forested Congo River basin occupies 60 percent of the nation's area, creating a central region that is a communication barrier between the capital, Kinshasa, in the west, the mountainous east, and the southern mineral-rich highlands. As many as 250 ethnic groups speaking some 700 local languages and dialects endure one of the world's lowest living standards. War, government corruption, neglected public services, and depressed copper and coffee markets are contributing factors.

Size (Area): 2,344,855 sq. Km (approx. 905,365 sq. miles)
The DR Congo is approximately the size of the United States west of the Mississippi River and covers an area larger than all of Western Europe.

Population: approx. 63 million and growing fast (median age = 16 years)

Birth Rate: 50 (births per 1000 persons)

Mortality (Death) Rate: the International Rescue Committee ( reports that approx. 45,000 people are dying every month in the eastern DRC, mainly from severe malnutrition, preventable diseases and a lack of basic medical care and clean drinking water (figures from 2008). More than 5.4 million people have died since the beginning of the 2nd Congo War in 1998, half of them children under the age of 5 years old.

Life expectancy: 46 years

Adult Literacy Rate: 67% (persons over 15 years old who can read and write)

Primary School Net Enrollment/Attendance: 52%

Sources: National Geographic Travel, UNICEF (2007 statistics for the DR Congo), the IRC blog Voices from the Field and other reliable sources i.e. The New York Times
Congo’s Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended by Lydia Polgreen Jan 23, 2008

Congo’s Minerals, Forests, Ecology and Conservation

According to a February 2009 report in African Business magazine, the value of the mineral reserves buried under the soil of the DR Congo exceeds US$24 trillion dollars. This sum is greater than the combined GDP of both the United States and the 27 European Union (EU) countries. As far as I understand, the figure does not include the potential economic value of Congo’s sprawling tropical forests (located in the Congo River Basin, 2nd in size only to the Amazon rainforests of South America) and its mighty rivers (navigation, hydroelectric power, fresh water supply), and the Congo's precious flora and fauna (unique biodiversity and biospheres, pharmaceutical base products, and agriculture). The value of the non-mineral natural resources to future generations on Planet Earth could easily exceed the trillions of dollars of gold, diamonds, coltan, cobalt, and other minerals of Congo’s rich soil.

Source: US Government information websites, ICUN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), CARPE (Central African Regional Program for the Environment), WWF (World Wildlife Fund)

WWF: Forests of the Congo River Basin, The area: Congo River Basin forests

USAID Presidential Initiatives: Congo Basin Forest Partnership
USAID Africa: Congo Basin Forest

IUCN - Congo Basin Forest Partnership
The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (full text and multimedia features)

National Geographic – Megatransect II: The Green Abyss and Megaflyover I with Dr. J. Michael Fay

VOA News
Congo Defends China Mineral Deal August 12, 2009

BBC News
Scramble for DR Congo's mineral wealth April 17, 2006 (a Dunn & Bradstreet website)
DR CONGO'S $24 trillion fortune by M.J. Morgan February 1, 2009 (source: African Business Magazine)

Fleet Street Invest
China's Relationship With Congo Soured by IMF by Manraaj Singh May 6, 2009

The Rumble in the Jungle: Hillary Clinton ‘loses it’ in Kinshasa

Now I know that several people back home in the U.S. and across the African continent have been highly critical of Hillary Clinton’s trip to Africa, and I have read blog posts and news articles about her unfortunate outburst at the meeting in Kinshasa with Congolese university students. I really do not want to get mixed up in all the trivialities and punditry and political mudslinging at Hillary Clinton. I don’t feel that would be very helpful when addressing something as important as America’s strategic interests in Africa____ especially with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, I must say a few things about Hillary Clinton’s short visit to Kinshasa and her unfair scolding of that young Congolese student re: his question about President Clinton’s opinion of Chinese loans and investments in the Congo.

After Hillary Clinton’s marathon tour of Africa which ended with important visits to Nigeria and Liberia and a brief whistlestop tour of Cape Verde, I can well imagine that Mrs. Clinton and her entourage were eager to fly home to the USA. The extensive travel across this vast continent and the many meetings and discussions with Africa’s political leaders, students, and civic leaders had begun to take their toll halfway through the trip, as was evident at the invitation-only event for students arranged by the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.

If Hillary Clinton was not prepared to answer questions from students and citizens of the Congo, especially in light of what I have pointed out in the introduction above, then she should not have arranged a public forum where journalists and bloggers would follow her every word. The use of Bill Clinton’s name and work in Africa served her well at the AGOA Forum in Kenya, but all of a sudden in the Congo it was a red button issue that caused her to blow her top. She never answered the question from the student about the disputed US$ 9 billion dollar Chinese government loan to the Government of the DRC in trade for mineral rights (10 million tons of copper and 600,000 tons of cobalt). Beijing has promised to the government in Kinshasa that they (the Chinese) would build US$ 3 billion in infrastructure development (mines, roads, highways, and rail systems). God only knows what else was negotiated under the table between Beijing and President Kabila and his ministers, but you can be sure it was worth plenty for both sides, and nothing for the people of the Congo.

If the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a problem with this dubious transaction, then that’s a problem for them. However, I would be very interested in the Obama administration’s honest opinion (not their official position, but the honest opinion) about this dispute as well as their views on China’s growing economic and political influence in Africa. As a matter of fact, damn near all of the American people would like a clear answer to these important questions. Secretary Clinton fully understood that this is what this student meant with his question no matter how it was worded. Clinton blew up on this young man instead, denigrating him with her bitchy attitude and sharp response, and she never apologized to this young man publicly, and that is what was wrong with her behavior. So hear is my advice for the U.S. Secretary of State: Answer the damn question, Madame Secretary, and cut the BS!

While some have come to the defense of Madame Secretary with suggestions that the question was sexist or there was a possible problem with the translation, one has to wonder why a US Secretary of State would have required a translator at all. The student posed the question in French (not in his native tongue of Lingala or Kikongo), and a basic knowledge of French or other world languages should be a minimum requirement for America’s leading diplomat (and members of her staff), oder nicht?

The New York Times
Was Hillary Clinton’s Answer in Congo the Right One? 08/13/09
Robert Mackey of the excellent New York Times blog, The Lede, has probably the best follow-up post about Clinton’s angry outburst at the student forum in Kinshasa presenting eyewitness accounts from French-speaking journalists in attendance (700+ reader comments)

VOA News
Chinese Mineral Deal Blocking Congo's IMF Debt Relief by Scott Stearns May 26, 2009

NPR – National Public Radio – Morning Edition program
China, Congo Trade For What The Other Wants by Gwen Thompkins July 30, 2008
China Rising: China's Influence in Africa (full 5-part series at NPR)

Asia Times Online
China’s Copper Deal Back in the Melt by Peter Lee – June 12, 2009

The Jamestown Foundation
Chinese Inroads in DR Congo: A Chinese "Marshall Plan" or Business? By Wenran Jiang - January 12, 2009

And another thing about Secretary Clinton’s visit to Kinshasa while I’m on that subject: why did she not pay a visit to the common folk of the capital city? There are over 5 million people living in and around Kinshasa from all corners of the Congo and beyond. A quick 1-2 hour tour of the city’s open markets, shops and small businesses, town squares, and other points of interest (churches, bars, and bordellos) would have done a ton of good to lift the hearts and spirits of the Congolese people, showing them that Secretary Clinton and the American people really cared.

The Secretary could have learned all sorts of things about the Congo and the Congolese people that she cannot learn from reading expert reports and analysis and holding special Senate and House subcommittee meetings on the DR Congo. By simply by getting out on the streets and meeting with these people face-to-face she would have been immersed into the true heart of this sprawling jungle metropolis on the mighty Congo River. I'll bet you that her staff ever entertained such an idea, opting instead for a death-defying 1700+ Km flight across the Green Abyss (no ground radar, no air traffic control, no roads, no SAR) to Goma for a meeting with Congo's president Joseph Kabila and the tortured souls trapped in miserable UN (un)guarded refugee camps of the eastern Congo.

As important as Clinton’s visit to Goma was in order to meet with the doctors and nurses struggling to treat violent rape victims and mutilated survivors of attacks, widows and orphans of war and savagery, to meet with the President of the DRC to discuss his problems in trying to govern this lawless land, and of course to take advantage of the important photo opportunities in front of the world's press___ it would have been as important to spend a little more time in search of something positive in the Congo to tell the folks about back home. This was an important opportunity missed by the entire Clinton team, much to the regret of the people of the Congo and to the precious few people of the United States of America who follow news and events about this troubled country. Schade Hillary. Wirklich Schade Frau Secretary.

End of Part I

Related news articles, editorials, and additional resources

Note to myself:
I need to add text that emphasizes that Secretary Clinton was in Africa on the American people’s business and not just the President’s business or her own. Also explore the idea of the U.S. and E.U. government training and arming Congo’s women to protect themselves against rogue Congolese army soldiers and predatory militias. It has worked well in countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia (national army and police). The U.S. is already involved in a proposed training of Quick Reaction Forces for Congolese National Army, and the European Union has been training Congolese police and military officers for years. Has it worked? It doesn’t seem so when one reads the latest HRW reports and various news stories. Research this information and include in the second installment of my Clinton in the Congo series. Use AFRICOM, U.S. DoD, State Department and other websites.

Democracy Now!
Clinton Unveils US Plan to Combat Sexual Violence in Visit to Eastern Congo 08/12/09
Guest: Christine Schuler Deschryver, Congolese human rights activist. She lives in Bukavu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and is the director of V-Day Congo. Christine met personally with Secretary Clinton during her visit to Goma and states that Clinton promised at least US$ 3 million of the US$ 17 million pledged for the training of a woman police force in the eastern DRC.

UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) - Defence News - Training and Adventure
British soldiers train Congolese Army June 30, 2009
News In Depth - Defence in Africa
Clinton Sprinkles US Military Aid Across Africa by Daniel Volman* 08/06/09
Secretary Clinton is alleged to have pledged US$ 185 million to assist military, paramilitary, and police forces in African countries in the coming year. This is excluding the US$ 1.3 billion military assistance package for Egypt. This article was also published to by the Inter Press Service.

AFRICOM – US Africa Command
TRANSCRIPT: General Ward Says U.S. Military will Continue Supporting Security Assistance Activities in DRC - US AFRICOM News 04/24/09
The United States military will continue working with the Congolese armed forces in training, advising and capacity building to support security assistance cooperation activities, but has no plans to put combat troops here, said General William E. "Kip" Ward, the commander of U.S. Africa Command during a visit to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, April 24, 2009.

Ward in Congo: U.S. Military will Continue Supporting Security Assistance Activities - US AFRICOM News 04/27/09

U.S. Military Legal Experts Train DR Congo Military in Preventing, Prosecuting Sex Crimes - US AFRICOM News 02/09/08

A team of military investigators and lawyers from the United States and Europe arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late January to take part in a collaborative training project with the Congolese military on the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes that take place under military jurisdiction.

A four-day training workshop was organized by the U.N. Mission in DR Congo's Rule of Law division in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, home-based in Newport, Rhode Island.

The capacity-building training workshop on sex crime investigation targeted 42 military investigators, prosecutors and magistrates, drawn from the province of Orientale. Training workshops are scheduled for other provinces in May.

The goal of the seminars is to address sexual violence in the DRC by strengthening the capacities of the investigators and magistrates in the military justice system to investigate and prosecute these crimes, and in turn to move the Forces Armes de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC) closer to its goal of attaining professional, disciplined military standards.

"With all the wars our country has experienced sexual crimes committed by men in military uniform," FARDC 9th Region Commander General Jean-Claude Kifwa said in a U.N. news release, "but with this seminar I really think we'll be able put an end to sexual violence in our military region."

Note to my readers: I am a big supporter of the US Africa Command and General William E. Ward's work on the continent (so far), so have your sh_t together before you make any critical comments about US AFRICOM. Other blog authors, pundits, and more than a few of my blogger buddies have learned this lesson the hard way.

Embassy of the United States - Kinshasa, Congo
Profile of U.S. Ambassador to the DR Congo William J. Garvelink (2007-present)
Agreement on Military Training Signed (June 19, 2009)
U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa news and press releases and podcasts
Note: the website of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is bordering on the pathetic!

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington DC)
CSIS Africa Program - Online Africa Policy Forum blog
A Smarter U.S. Approach to Africa by Jennifer G. Cooke and J. Stephen Morrison
Excerpts from the groundbreaking CSIS March 2009 publication “Beyond the Bush Administration’s Africa Policy: Critical Choices for the Obama Administration”.

CSIS Africa Program: U.S. Security in Africa, China in Africa, Rising U.S. Energy Interests

U.S. News Online
A Killing in the Congo by Kevin Whitelaw July 24, 2000
A Mysteries of History special feature on the death of Patrice Lumumba and the involvement of Belgian security forces and the role of the CIA in the assassination

The New York Times
C.I.A. Sought Blackwater’s Help in Plan to Kill Jihadists by Mark Mazetti 08/19/09
C.I.A. Had Plan to Assassinate Qaeda Leaders by Mark Mazetti 07/13/09
Lawrence R. Devlin, 86, C.I.A. Officer Who Balked on a Congo Plot, Is Dead by Scott Shane 12/11/08
Memories of a C.I.A. Officer Resonate in a New Era by Scott Shane 02/24/09
Report Reproves Belgium in Lumumba's Death 11/17/01
Editorial Observer; The Rise and Violent Fall of Patrice Lumumba by Bill Berkely 08/02/01

Bill Berkeley uses Raoul Peck’s riveting film ‘Lumumba’ to help explain the reason behind the decades-long war-ravaged legacy of the eastern DR Congo.
Excerpt from 'The Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba' by Bill Berkeley___

''Lumumba'' recounts the swift rise and fall of the man who became Congo's first and last legitimately elected prime minister after it won independence from Belgium in 1960.

The film begins with images from the Belgian colonial era -- pith-helmeted white officers lording it over barefoot natives in scenes that recall one of Africa's most violent and predatory colonial orders. The narrative picks up the energetic and articulate Lumumba as a young salesman for a Belgian beer company who emerged in 1959 as a popular nationalist leader. Jailed and brutally beaten, he was then freed to participate in negotiations in Brussels that would lead to the Congo's independence. Lumumba's party won the largest number of votes in the country's first free elections, and he became prime minister at the age of 35.

Within days, the vast new nation began to unravel. The army mutinied. Belgium's military intervened to protect its citizens and encourage the mineral-rich province of Katanga, led by the conniving opportunist Moïse Tshombe, to secede. United Nations troops intervened to little effect. Nikita Khrushchev decided to send Soviet planes, weapons and advisers to help Lumumba, seeming to confirm the worst fears of the Eisenhower administration.

Lumumba and his neophyte nation, which at independence had barely a dozen university graduates, were caught up in a web of cold-war intrigue and neocolonial knavery. Just six months after he took office, Lumumba was murdered by Congolese rivals with the collusion of the United States and Belgium.

End Excerpt____

The New York Times – a short list of my favorite NY Times’ journalists reporting on Africa and the DR Congo (Note: I shall add more of my favorite journalists, photojournalists and videojournalists and filmmakers covering the DR Congo ASAP)

Lydia Polgreen (award-winning journalist, West Africa bureau chief from 2005-2009)
A Massacre in Congo, Despite Nearby Support by Lydia Polgreen 12/11/08
The Spoils - Congo’s Riches, Looted by Renegade Troops by Lydia Polgreen 11/15/08 – this special feature series on resource conflicts in Africa earned Lydia the prestigious 2008 Livingston Award for International Reporting.
New Power in Africa by Lydia Polgreen and Howard French August 2007
A 3-part series about China’s growing economic and political power in Africa

Nicholas D. Kristof (award-winning author, columnist, and passionate author of the New York Times’ On the Ground blog)
Crisis in Congo: Laurent Nkunda's troops advance on Goma 10/29/08
Dinner With a Warlord by Nicholas Kristof 06/18/07
Kristof interviews the infamous Tutsi Lord of War Laurent Nkunda on a remote hilltop in the eastern DRC

Jeffrey Gettleman (the young new East Africa bureau chief for the NY Times)
Symbol of Unhealed Congo - Male Rape Victims 08/04/09
Photo Essay: A Predatory Conflict in Congo 08/04/09
Book Review - 'Africa’s World War,' by Gérard Prunier - History of Conflict in Congo and Rwanda 04/02/09
Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War 10/07/09

Howard French (a former NY Times bureau chief for West Africa and Shanghai, China. He is presently an associate professor of journalism at Columbia University)
Book Review - 'The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget - Murder and Memory in Uganda,' by Andrew Rice 07/29/09
Howard French reviews this excellent book about Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin
Letter from China - China Could Use Some Honest Talk About Race 07/31/09
Letter from China - U.S. Finding Its Voice in Africa Again 07/13/09

Le Monde Diplomatique (English edition)
Power Struggle in Kivu: Congolese flashpoint by Gérard Prunier July 1998
A chilling account of the events that led up to the brutal violence of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Congo Wars, and the continued violence we see in North and South Kivu to the very day. Read more of Professor Gérard Prunier’s articles at, such as his November 2008 article ‘The eastern DR Congo: dynamics of conflict’. He is the author of several good books about Africa, including his 2006 work “From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa” and his 2008 book “Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe”. Here is a link to the January 2009 interview with Gérard Prunier at the Oxford University Press blog: A Few Questions for Gérard Prunier by Eve Donnegan - January 14, 2009

Excerpt from the OUP interview with Gérard Prunier___

OUP: How has the involvement of the world increased or decreased in Africa since the initial conflict?

Gerard Prunier: I don’t think international involvement of a non-commercial nature in Africa has increased or diminished since the 14 nation war. Basically what you see towards Africa is humanitarian goodwill (of a slightly weepy nature) backed up by celebrity photo ops, journalistic disaster reporting (unfortunately justified), “Out of Africa” type of exotic reporting and diplomatic shuttle diplomacy on Darfur and assorted crisis spots. None of this results in very much action. Meanwhile the United States drinks up crude oil from the gulf of Guinea, India and China export cheap trinkets to the continent and in exchange (particularly China) chew up vast amount of natural resources and build cheap roads and sports stadiums. The Africans at first loved it. Non-imperialistic aid, they said. As the Chinese shoddily-built roads already show signs of wear and tear and as their stadiums and presidential palaces (another Beijing specialty) begin to look slightly out of place, they are beginning to have second thoughts.

OUP: How has the 2006 election in Congo affected the country?

Prunier: It has stabilized it internationally and tranquilized it internally. But an election is only an election. Phase Two of the Congolese recovery program has so far failed to get off the ground. Security Sector Reform never started (the Congolese Army is still basically a gaggle of thugs who are more dangerous for their own citizens than for the enemy they are supposed to fight), mining taxation is still touchingly obsolete, enabling foreign mining companies to work in the country for a song and a little developmental dance, the political class mostly talks but does not act very much, foreign donors have forgotten the country as it made less and less noise, the Eastern question is a continuation of the endless Rwandese civil war which has been going on with ups and downs for the last fifty years and the sleeping giant of Africa still basically sleeps.

OUP: What sort of future do you see for Central Africa?

Prunier: Only God knows. It will depend a lot on the capacity of the Congolese government to move from a secularized form of religious incantations to real action. Mobutu is dead but his ghost is still with us. One typical feature of Mobutism was the replacement of action by discourse. Once something had been said (preferably forcefully and with a lot of verbal emphasis) everybody was satisfied and had the impression that a serious action had been undertaken. This allowed everybody to relax with a feeling of accomplishment. In a way the last Congolese election was a typical post-Mobutist phenomenon. A very important and valid point was made. This led to a great feeling of satisfaction and a series of practical compromises and lucrative arrangements. The Congolese elite sat back, relaxed and enjoyed its new-found tranquility. Meanwhile the ordinary population saw very little result of this new blessed state of affairs. Beginning to rejoin reality might be a good idea.

End excerpt___

Congo News Channel - a blog that aggregates English-language news, press releases, and editorials about the Democratic Republic of Congo
What the U.S. Can Do for Congo by Zachariah Mampilly 08/17/09
Zachariah Mampilly is an assistant professor of political science and African studies at Vassar College
Congo-Kinshasa: Question and Answers - Dossier for Hillary Clinton's Visit 08/11/09
The latest Human Rights Watch report on the DRC ahead of Clinton’s visit

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Africa: the 'Super Size Me' tour

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has returned to Africa for an 11-day, seven-country tour of the continent. I use the term “returned to Africa” because Hillary Clinton has been to Africa before, most recently accompanying President Obama during his visit to Egypt in May and in her role as the U.S. ‘First Lady’ during former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration. Some readers may not remember the 1997 whirlwind tour through Africa by Hillary Clinton together with her daughter Chelsea. They visited a record six African countries___ Uganda, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, and Senegal.

Following is an excerpt from Ebony Magazine’s coverage of the 1997 trip to Africa:
Ebony Magazine – July 1997 issue (source:

Hillary Clinton's triumphant trip to Africa; historic voyage marks the most extensive visit by a U.S. first lady

In the most extensive African trip ever undertaken by a U.S. first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited six African countries and praised the largely untold story of the continent's social, economic and political progress. Donning African gowns and participating in African dances and ceremonies, the first lady, accompanied by daughter Chelsea, was greeted with the enthusiasm usually reserved for heads of state and movie stars.

Among the highlights of the trip were a visit with President Nelson Mandela to Robben Island, a tour of Soweto, and major speeches in South Africa and Uganda. She also visited Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Africa's newest country, Eritrea. Her first stop in Senegal was at Goree Island, where she peered through "The Door of No Return," through which slaves passed on their way to the dreaded Middle Passage of the Slave Trade. When she arrived in Dakar, Senegal, the first lady was greeted by Senegalese who danced and serenaded her with lyrics written especially for the occasion.

The Ebony magazine article went on to say…

As on all of her foreign trips, Clinton participated in roundtable discussions with prominent women and non-governmental organizations that are helping to build a new civil society. Famous all over the world for the African motto she used for the title of her book, It Takes A Village, Clinton visited for the first time some of the African village-models that inspired the motto. She later praised the efforts of villagers who have constructed their own houses and created health clinics and businesses.

The goodwill tour, undertaken at the request of President Clinton and the U.S. Department of State, was designed, according to her aides, "to underscore the United States' commitment to continued active engagement with the continent and to highlight the progress of democracy . . . women's empowerment and social investments in education, health care (including fighting AIDS), and our collective commitment to the survival and well-being of children." The first first lady to make an African trip of this kind, Clinton deliberately highlighted the positive. Although she did not ignore the massive and continuing problems of poverty, refugees and AIDS, she focused on models of hope.

"I want more Americans," she told reporters, "to know more about what is going on in Africa beyond what is often in the headlines, so if my coming here can bring more attention to the continent . . . I hope that will help Americans have a broader understanding of Africa and understand more fully the real stake we can have in a successful, prosperous, stable Africa in the future."

End excerpts from Ebony Magazine. Read the full article using link below.
Hillary Clinton's triumphant trip to Africa; historic voyage marks the most extensive visit by a U.S. first lady

Fast-forward to July 2009 (12 years later)

In a U.S. Department of State press release issued on July 27, 2009 Ian Kelly issued the following brief statement about the Secretary’s upcoming Africa trip:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Travel to Africa

Ian Kelly
Department Spokesman
Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 27, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin a seven-nation trip to Africa on August 5 at the 8th U.S. – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) in Nairobi, Kenya.

This trip will highlight the Obama administration’s commitment to making Africa a priority in U.S. foreign policy. This will be the earliest in any U.S. administration that both the President and the Secretary of State have visited Africa.

While in Kenya, Secretary Clinton will discuss new approaches to development, including an emphasis on investment and broad-based economic growth. The Secretary will be joined in Kenya by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

During the visit to Kenya, the Secretary will deliver a speech at the Ministerial Opening Ceremony for the AGOA Forum, participate in bilateral meetings with Kenya’s senior leaders, discuss global hunger and agricultural issues at a major research institute, and engage with Kenyan citizens. She will also meet with Sheikh Sharif Amed, the President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

The Secretary will continue her travel with stops in South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. In each nation, she will emphasize Africa as a place of opportunity, built on an ethic of responsibility. She will underline America’s commitment to partner with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens to build societies where each individual can realize their potential.

In her bilateral meetings and other events, she will encourage new solutions to old challenges, harnessing the power of innovation and technology to provide a foundation for future stability, human development, and sustainable economic growth. She will stress the importance of facilitating social and economic entrepreneurship, encouraging a new generation of young African scientists, small business leaders, entrepreneurs and civic leaders who are solving real problems and establishing new models for economic success and social advances, with women as full partners in this progress. And she will discuss ways to foster good regional governance, partnering with regional leaders to band together to prevent conflict and violence, including gender-based violence, democratic erosions, and transnational threats.

Following her visit to Cape Verde, the Secretary will return to Washington, DC.
End PRN: 2009/782

Note: The errors appearing in the official State Department press release above (dates, spelling) are not mine. The links to external websites have been added to the original document in order to provide bios of respective U.S. government officials.

The fact that Secretary Clinton will be traveling to the continent so shortly after President Obama’s visit to Ghana gives her an opportunity to further promote and clarify U.S. strategies and policies toward key sub-Saharan African countries during the Obama Administration and beyond (long term). This trip should also give the Secretary an opportunity to counter some of the criticism expressed by some African journalists, bloggers and news commentators over President Obama’s keynote speech to Africans delivered in Accra, Ghana on July 11th.

I believe that it is good that Hillary Clinton is finally coming out from under the pervasive shadow of President Obama’s huge popularity abroad (especially in Africa) and ‘struts her own stuff’ to America’s friends and allies in Africa. Let’s face it, Hillary is no pushover and she is also no greenhorn when it comes to foreign affairs and international (and domestic) crises and challenges.

Some contributors to Foreign Policy Magazine (i.e. David Rothkopf) have been giving the secretary a pretty hard time lately re: her life in the shadow of President Obama. To be fair much of the criticism one reads in the press about Hillary’s leadership style at the State Department is unfair. However, the fact that her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is visiting North Korea and has met with the reclusive leader Kim Jong Il on the same day that Secretary Clinton is to deliver an opening address at the 8th AGOA Forum in Nairobi is yet another PR blunder by planners at the White House and the State Department, similar to the President’s alleged upstaging of Clinton’s major foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this month.

Madam Secretary – an obsessive FP blog about Hillary Clinton
Clinton is going to Africa next week 07/28/09
Clinton: New reality demands different 'global architecture' 07/15/09
Excerpts from Secretary Clinton’s major foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations

The Cabe by Laura Rozen – reporting inside the foreign policy machine
Clinton to Africa 07/27/09
Holbrooke trumpets Clinton leadership after address 07/15/09
Excerpts from Clinton's foreign-policy speech (at the Council on Foreign Relations) 07/15/09
With foreign-policy speech, Clinton plans to raise her profile 07/09/09

David Rothkopf
Ker-plunk: why Clinton’s big speech didn’t make a big splash 07/16/09

It will be interesting to hear what Hillary has to say to African leaders and especially to the all of the people of Africa while on tour on the continent. As with the President’s visit to Ghana, ‘digital diplomacy’ via the use of social media, blogs, YouTube, and other forms of interactive online tools may play a large role in the success or failure of the Secretary’s trip.

CNN International - CNN Video
Clinton’s Digital Diplomacy at the U.S. State Department 08/03/09

PBS MediaShift with Mark Glaser
Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age, Part 1 by Mark Hannah 02/23/09

TED Blog – official blog of the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conferences 06/03/09
A first-of-its-kind conference between the U.S. Department of State and leading thinkers and speakers at TEDTalks

The American Prospect
The Next Diplomatic Cable by Nancy Scola 07/27/09

The State Department’s Digital Diplomacy Footprint 06/05/09

DipNote – the U.S. Department of State official blog
Secretary Clinton launches virtual student foreign service initiative 05/13/09 (Associated Press)
Hillary Clinton: E-diplomat 03/23/09

Which reminds me: Just the other day a staff member of the U.S. State Department’s new media team left a comment to my previous post about President Obama’s visit to Ghana and reactions to his foreign policy speech to Africans. The global feedback to President Obama’s speech has been substantial and it is still continuing. There is absolutely no shortage of dialogue, opinions, and viewpoints from people about how to improve U.S.-Africa policy and relations. Here are just a few of the many articles, editorials, and online forums surrounding President Obama’s Ghana visit and speech that I feel may be of interest to my readers:
Live Chat While Watching President Obama’s Speech in Ghana 07/11/09
Transcript of global webchat on President Obama’s speech in Accra, Ghana
Note: Thanks to Mark, the CO-NX webchat moderator for the U.S. Department of State and the Whitehouse during the President’s visit to Africa, for providing us with this information.

Foreign Policy Magazine
The Best Worst Country in Africa
Why Obama is going to Ghana, and why he should push for more progress when he arrives by E. Gyimah-Boadi 07/10/09
E. Gyimah-Boadi is the Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development

Photo Essay: The Obamans Abroad by James Downie 07/24/09
A focus on the recent overseas travel of Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

FP Column – Argument
Obama’s Trash Talk
Why Obama gets it wrong on Africa by Andrew M. Mwenda 07/15/09
Andrew M. Mwenda is Editor-Chief of The Independent newsmagazine (Kampala, Uganda)

Our reply to Obama by O. Natty B. Davis 07/16/09
Liberian government minister responds to Obama’s Ghana address to Africa

Nigeria, a Violent Window of Opportunity by Mark Schneider and Nnamdi Obasi 07/17/09

FP Column: Interview
Aiding the Future: Does U.S. foreign assistance really work? by Michael Wilkerson 07/20/09 – the FP/Oxfam America panel discussion on aid effectiveness

FP Column: Letters
What’s Ailing Africa? by Chanda Chisala 06/22/09
A countrywoman of Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo reflects upon the ill effects of foreign aid to Africa. See related article The Next Big Thing: Africa by Dambisa Moyo, May/June 2009

NPR – National Public Radio (USA)
Foreign Policy: He's Not Our Savior by Andrew Mwenda

C-SPAN (Washington DC, USA)
Washington Journal program, July 11, 2009: President Obama Travels to Africa
Interview with economist George Ayittey (American University, Washington DC) and Q&A with C-Span viewers (video, approximately 30 minutes with Professor George Ayittey – ‘Hat Tip’ to Shay over at Booker Rising for the lead on the Ayittey video)

Newsweek – Newsweek Voices with Fareed Zakaria
Africa's New Path 07/18/09
Interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Rwanda’s successes 15 years after the 1994 genocide and his views on President Obama’s speech in Ghana

The Root (
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka on Obama in Africa: Obama's Choice 07/14/09
The Nigerian author and Nobel laureate dissects Obama’s trip to Ghana and the message it should send to the corrupt and failing states of Africa

Kenya and the AGOA Forum

The visit to Kenya by senior U.S. government officials including the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and U.S. Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack along with an entourage of more than 250 American business leaders and government officials from the Department of Commerce, Transportation, and others is unprecedented in the history of U.S.-Kenya relations. This will be Hillary Clinton’s first (official) visit to Kenya and to the capital Nairobi, which is the location of the 8th AGOA Forum and the Kenyan Private Sector Forum.

Of course senior U.S. government officials have been attending opening ceremonies at AGOA forums since the first AGOA Forum opened in Washington D.C. back in October 2001. That’s correct, the first AGOA Forum was NOT hastily cancelled after the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, a fact that some people conveniently overlook. Former U.S. President George W. Bush along with key members of his cabinet was in attendance. President Bush delivered the opening address at that first AGOA conference.

Note: Read more about the U.S. Government’s AGOA program including speeches, remarks, and economic and trade data from previous AGOA conferences by following the links provided in Additional Resources at the end of this post. Pay particular attention the articles and resources at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the AGOA website, and the AGOA Info website.

Back to the future: Has U.S.-Africa policy really changed?

When you compare the June 1997 article from Ebony Magazine to the State Department press release of July 27, 2009 it is evident that Secretary Clinton will be dealing with many of the same issues and themes that she championed 12 years ago. This is interesting when you consider how much has changed on the African continent and around the world since the year 1997. Something that I will be looking for in Secretary Clinton’s statements and speeches will be signs of continuity and consistency in U.S. foreign policy toward African countries in comparison to the policies of previous U.S. administrations.

The Wall Street Journal
Eliot Cohen: What’s Different About the Obama Foreign Policy?
Editorial from Eliot Cohen (John Hopkins University) on the striking continuities between the Bush and Obama administrations on U.S. foreign policy

The Economist
Barack Obama and Africa: How different is his policy? 07/16/09

History News Network
The Moderometer: Charting Obama’s Zig-Zag ... Step Left Domestically, Gesture Left Globally, but Keep Your Foreign Policies Somewhat Centered by Gil Troy 08/03/09
Barack Obama's Foreign Policy: The Five Pillars 07/13/09

I shall also be watching for a major policy statement regarding security concerns in the Horn of Africa and in East African countries, especially how the U.S. government plans to work with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the leaders of the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. As Clinton speaks with the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in Nairobi, I do hope that she will also be meeting with African Union leaders regarding the struggling AMISOM mission in order to help counter the growing threat by Islamic extremists and militias in Somalia (BBC News: Meeting Somalia’s Al-Shabab).

Security worries and the growing Somali refugee crisis should be a major concern in Kenya while in other East African countries like Tanzania and Uganda everything is (relatively) peaceful. Which makes you wonder, why was Nairobi selected as the venue for this year’s AGOA Forum in the first place? Why didn’t they choose a much safer East African city like Arusha or Dar es Saalam (Tanzania) or Uganda’s capital city (Kampala)?

It is also interesting to note that five countries (Eritrea, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Senegal) previously visited by ‘First Lady’ Hillary Clinton in 1997 have been left off the itinerary of Secretary Clinton’s 2009 Africa tour. Only one African country apparently deserved a repeat visit (Clinton will make three stops in South Africa). Perhaps one shouldn’t read too much into that little factoid, but nonetheless, I wonder why she is returning to South Africa and not visiting Rwanda or Botswana, both countries are good examples of how democracy is taking hold and working in Africa.

Here is some recommended reading material for Madam Secretary Clinton while she is country-hopping around the African continent this week:

The New York Times
Radical Islamists Slip Easily Into Kenya by Jeffrey Gettleman 07/21/09
Al Shabab and Al Qaeda may be crossing the border from Somalia into Kenya

Fears in the West about Al Qaeda Affiliate’s Boldness in Africa 07/09/09
The U.S. military (AFRICOM) is helping train West and North African soldiers to fight against the rise in terrorist activity and attacks by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

Letter from China - U.S. Finding Its Voice in Africa Again by Howard French 07/17/09
Howard French was a former bureau chief (Shanghai, West Africa) for the New York Times. He now teaches at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Op-Ed Contributor (Kofi Annan) - Africa and the International Court 06/29/09
Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the ‘responsibility to protect’ and the responsibility of African leaders to support the International Criminal Court in bringing to trial leaders charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity

An Interview with Joseph Kabila by Jeffrey Gettleman 04/03/09
A rare interview with the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Washington Post
Clinton to meet Somali president in Africa trip 07/27/09
Corruption Cop: A Conversation with Nigerian Anti-Corruption Crusader Nuhu Ribadu 05/24/09

PBS Frontline World
FRONTLINE/WORLD: The Business of Bribes: Lowell Bergman Investigates – Part 5
Former Nigerian anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu talks to Frontline World about corruption in Africa 05/15/09

Global Post
Worldview: Africa's moment? by Mort Rosenblum 07/07/09
Opinion: hints of light in a not so dark continent
Interview: Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga by Mark Scheffler 07/21/09 (Updated)
An interview with the Kenyan PM during his U.S. visit in May 2009

(The East African)
Kenya: U.S. Embassy Boosts Anti-Graft Book As Smug Kenya Government Looks On 07/27/09
The explosive exposé ‘It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower’ about the life of former Kenyan anti-corruption chief John Kithongo and how corruption works at the highest levels of Kenyan politics and business.

The Daily Nation (Kenya)
Secrets of book about John Kithongo ‘It’s Our Turn to Eat’ 02/15/09
The groundbreaking book about the life of former Kenyan anti-corruption chief John Githongo and corruption in Kenyan politics and business

Royal African Society (UK)
It’s Our Turn to Eat. The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower
An editorial on the release of the book by the author Michela Wrong

U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs – Public Hearings
New Challenges for International Peacekeeping July 29, 2009
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Susan E. Rice, gives testimony on America’s commitment to international peacekeeping operations and conflict resolution in Africa (Sudan, DR Congo, and Somalia)

Sudan: U.S. Policy and Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement July 29, 2009
John Prendergast (co-founder of the Enough Project), SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum Okiech, former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Richard S. Williamson

U.S. Department of State YouTube Channel
Video of Ambassador Susan E. Rice’s July 29th testimony on international peacekeeping before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Associated Press (source: Google News)
US warns Eritrea over activity in Somalia 07/29/09

BBC News
Mugabe calls US envoy 'an idiot' 07/06/09
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe insults Obama’s lead diplomat for Africa on the sidelines of the 13th African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya. There have been no apologies to date from the African Union leadership about this embarrassing incident.
Summit takes AU back to its roots 07/01/09
A report about the 13th African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya

Country-hopping around Africa

The list of African nations that Secretary Clinton will be visiting is impressive, especially the selection of Liberia (America’s closest ally in Africa), Nigeria (the giant of Africa), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Yes Lord! Secretary Clinton is scheduled to travel to the eastern DRC to learn what’s been going on with her own eyes and ears). I am assured that Clinton’s visit to Goma in the eastern DR Congo, her talks with the female victims of incredible sexual violence at the hands of the Interahamwe (Hutu militias) and regular Congolese army soldiers, the poverty and hopelessness she will see in the eyes of women and children of the many refugee camps spread across the region, will change her outlook on life___ forever.

Hillary Clinton will also be visiting the nation of Angola, America’s (and China’s) largest African supplier of petroleum. Angola was formerly a self-declared Marxist state and a ‘bitter enemy’ of the United States during the Cold War years. Angola (historically called the Kingdom of Kongo – 15th century) was also a major source of black African slaves to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. The first African slaves to arrive at a permanent settlement in Colonial America (Jamestown ca.1619-20) were from Angola. Today, Angola is America’s newest partner in sub-Saharan Africa for private capital investments. The Cape Verde Islands (cool those aching, tired feet of yours Hillary in the beautiful sand and surf of this West African paradise) will be the last stop on Madame Secretary’s 2009 Africa tour.

According to the State Department Secretary Clinton plans to meet not only with senior government officials and business leaders in the countries she will be visiting, she will also meet with African community leaders and activists, young entrepreneurs and students, and ordinary ‘working class’ folks. I believe that Secretary Clinton will hold a series of public town hall-style meetings, debates and forums. If this is true, exactly who has been invited to these events and how were they selected? I’m fairly certain that Secretary Clinton’s staff at the State Department along with staff from respective U.S. embassies have helped to select the attendees for these planned forums and roundtable discussions.

However, in case the invitation lists have not been finalized, here are a few of my tips for State Department staffers who are involved with the selection process. These are people that I feel Clinton should invite and listen to during her visit to Africa, people who have earned and enjoy respect and admiration not only from various online communities of bloggers and social networks, but who also deserve to be bathed in the spotlight of the international news media that will be following Secretary Clinton’s every word and move on this journey to Africa.

Ory Okolloh (Harvard educated lawyer, activist, and author of Kenyan Pundit)
TED Global Africa Conference June 2007

TEDTalks video: Ory Okolloh on becoming an activist
Ushaidi – a crisis mapping and online communication networking platform ‘Made in Kenya’

Daudi Were (Nairobi, Kenya) profile at Generation Kenya
Mentalacrobatics (the popular blog authored by Daudi Were)
Kenya Unlimited – an award-winning network of more than 600 Kenyan bloggers founded by Daudi Were that operated from 2005 thru 2007

Transcript of webchat with US Ambassador to Kenya 01/21/09
On the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael E. Ranneberger hosted a webchat with citizens of Kenya on U.S.-Kenya relations – Kelele 2009 Pan-African Blogger Conference
Kelele: First African Bloggers' Conference Scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya 07/22/09

James Shikwati (IREN, The African Executive)
Kenyan economist and publisher of The African Executive business magazine

Wangari Maathai
Founder of the Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel laureate

Angola, South Africa
Ana F. Santana (Angolan-born economic historian and educator, a graduate of the London School of Economics, and author of the K Faktor blog)

Ana on the growing economic and political relationship between Angola and China

Ana on the July 2009 speech by President Obama delivered in Accra, Ghana

Sokari Ekine (London, UK, Nigeria) – Nigerian activist and prolific writer, author/editor of the award-winning Black Looks group blog and online news editor at Pambazuka News (Oxford, UK)
G20 Voice – a citizen media project at the G20 Summit in London April 2009
Meet the G20Voice bloggers: 50 leading blog authors from around the globe

CNBC Africa video (source: VPod)
Live at 2009 G20 Summit in London: Bob Geldof, Daudi Were and Sokari Ekine

Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo
Cédric Kalonji (DR Congo, France) – a former journalist at Radio Okapi and one of the DR Congo’s top blog authors, presently living and studying in France. He was the first of 50 blog authors selected for the G20 Voices project at the 2009 G20 Summit in London. Cédric Kalonji’s personal blog and his work at

Rosebell Kagumire (Kampala, Uganda) – Rosebell is an investigative journalist working presently at The Independent, a weekly news magazine published by Ugandan journalist/editor Andrew M. Mwenda. Rosebell’s personal blog (Rosebell’s Blog) was one of the winners of the 2008 Waxal Blogging Award for African Journalists. A profile of background can be found at McGill University Law School website for the 2007 Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide.

Andrew M. Mwenda (publisher of The Independent weekly newsmagazine)

Pan-African Voices on U.S.-Africa Policy
Global Voices Online
Obama in Africa (Ghana) 2009 archives
Africa: Winners of the First African Blog Award for Journalists Announced 03/02/09

2008 Waxal Blogging Awards for African Journalists
A joint project sponsored by The Panos Institute – West Africa, Highway Africa (South Africa), and Global Voices Online (founded at The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University School of Law)

Related articles, editorials, and additional resources

DipNote – the U.S. Department of State official blog
Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Departs for Africa 08/03/09
A New Era of Engagement 07/15/09
Summary of Secretary Clinton’s foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations (full video and text)
Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) 07/14/09
Secretary Clinton address U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid reform at the USAID
A New Moment of Promise by Shanique Streete (U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana) 07/13/09
President Obama in Ghana 07/12/09
Townhall meeting by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to announce the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review 07/10/09 (text and video) – Engaging the World
Briefing on Assistance to Somalia Transitional Federal Government 06/26/09
Opening Statement by Assistant Secretary-Designate Johnnie Carson 04/29/09
Testimony (confirmation hearing) by the new Assistant Secretary for African Affairs before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Africa news and features

U.S. Department of State
Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Upcoming Trip to Africa by Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary - Bureau of African Affairs (text, video) 07/30/09
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to Africa 07/27/09

U.S. Department of State – Bureau of African Affairs
“Confronting Drug Trafficking in West Africa” (PDF) 06/23/09
Testimony of Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson (Bureau of African Affairs) before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs

AGOA – African Growth and Opportunity Act (USA)
AGOA Forums: Information, speeches, remarks and videos from the 1st through 8th AGOA Forums
Introduction: the 1st AGOA Forum held in Washington DC October 29-30, 2001
AGOA News and resources
The 8th Annual AGOA Forum official website (Nairobi, Kenya August 4-6, 2009)
AGOA Forum Seeks to Expand U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment ( 06/30/09
U.S.-African Trade Profile 2009 (PDF)

Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) - Ambassador Ron Kirk
"Toward a New U.S.-African Partnership on Trade and Development" by US Trade Representative Ron Kirk 08/03/09
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Florie Liser Speaks About AGOA Forum (video and text) 08/01/09
"Trade Is Key to Africa’s Economic Growth" (USTR blog) 07/23/09
An interview with Assistant USTR for Africa Florizelle Liser ahead of the 8th AGOA Forum to be held in Nairobi, Kenya
Report Shows AGOA Continues to Grow and Diversify U.S.-Africa Trade (Office of the United States Trade Representative) – May 2008

AGOA Info (a portal operated by the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa)
Envoy hails Clinton’s trip to Africa, focus on hunger, AGOA ( 08/01/09
Eighth AGOA Forum more critical than ever, says Ambassador Carson ( 07/29/09
Africa: Enhanced US market access critical ( 07/24/09
Kenyan farmers reap gloom from American market (Business Daily Africa) 07/23/09

The Corporate Council on Africa (Washington DC)
7th Biennial U.S. - Africa Business Summit Sep 29 – Oct 1, 2009 - Washington DC
CCA 2008 US-Africa Infrastructure Conference

VOA News
Clinton Leaves on a Seven-Nation Africa Visit 08/02/09
Article includes an audio interview with Professor Okey Onyejekwe – UNECA Director of Governance
Supporting The Somali People 08/03/09
An editorial reflecting the views of the US Government
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Visit Africa 07/28/09

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