Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscars 2005: Africa is in the House

The 77th Annual Academy Awards (The Oscars) will be starting out on the West Coast of the United States in about 6 hours or so (I'll be fast asleep over here in Germany. Leider). I don't visit the cinema as nearly as much as I would like to, and I can't remember the last time I have seen an American or British film in the original language version while sitting in a moviehouse. Long haul inflight videos just don't cut it for me if you know what I mean and finding an original English-language release of a film is a real pain over here.

I ran across this article today about the South African film production "Yesterday" . The article also includes some background info and links on the award-winning SA film "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha" and the South Africa/U.K./Italy collab blockbuster film "Hotel Rwanda".

So I'm just beside myself with excitement tonight wondering who is going to win what and if African filmakers and actors/actresses get the recognition this year they so aptly deserve from the Academy and I've watched great TV news interviews with the leading ladies of "Hotel Rwanda" and "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha" and I'm so doggone happy for the African filmmaking industry and.... I think I'll just faint!

If you are lucky enough to have a chance to watch the Oscar's Live tonight, then have great fun. I'll have to check tomorrow at the BBC Oscars 2005 site and maybe go over to the N.Y. Times Oscars 2005 site as well to see what happened. I hear that Halle Berry has not been nominated for anything this year, at least not by the Academy.

Good Luck Tonight, Africa. Yessir! Africa is in the House out in Hollywood!

"What? What about Ray? Ray who??"

Update March 3rd: Oh well. None of my favorites won anything at this year's Oscars. But then again, when was the last time I was at the movies to know what's good and what's not?

Owukori over at Black Looks blog has a real good posting on the Pan African Film & Television Festival (FESPACO) being held in Burkina Faso. Looks as if there are some real winners amongst the more than 90 films being shown. Maybe somebody will get smart and make some of the better films available online to broadband internet customers for a fee.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Remembering Malcom X

My friend Mshairi did a posting on February 21st in honor of the legacy of Malcom X, the charismatic and highly controversial African-American leader who was brutally murdered 40 years ago this week at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights – New York City. In honoring the many outstanding figures of African-American history one cannot nor should not forget Malcom X (El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), born Malcom Little on May 19, 1925 in the State of Nebraska out on the Great Plains of the American Midwest.

As I wrote in a comment on Mshairi’s blog I personally never learned enough about Malcom to be able to write a well-informed article about him and the media and various opinions about Malcom at the time (1960’s) was so skewed in one direction or another that many people in America (and abroad) continue to have a negative view of this important figure in American history. Malcom scared the crap out of people back in the turbulent sixties, black and white alike, and his name and memory still scares some people today.

So I did a little digging around to see how his legacy is being handled in 2005 and especially since it is Black (American) History Month I feel that it is a good idea and a duty to share with my international readers these two articles from MSNBC online about Malcom X:

MSNBC Online - Malcom X: Down for the cause before the cause
MSNBC Online - An Interview with Malcom X’s Daughter

It’s also a good idea to visit the official website of Malcom X where you can learn even more about him in greater detail and be sure to check out the eulogy delivered by the African-American actor Ossie Davis at Malcom’s funeral.

Here is an excerpt from the article by MSNBC producer, editor, and reporter Michael E. Ross titled “Malcom X: Down for the cause before the cause”:

He was aware of the fact that the Islamic population in the world is growing at an incredibly rapid rate, in the United States it’s growing significantly,” said Howard Dodson, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, based in New York City.

That means that Americans will have to come to terms with Islam within the United States and outside, and formulate positions at individual and societal levels that bring the same respect to Islam that people bring to Christianity,” Dodson said. “That kind of respect will be won over time. It won’t happen overnight.”

Rest in Peace, Brother Malcom. God Bless.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Meanwhile back in Togo...

Update March 2nd:
I am editing this post today due to an unfortunate choice of words I used in my original posting which offended a group of people that I did not intend to insult. Therefore, a few paragraphs have been deleted and a sentence here and there to return focus to issues in Togo and my experiences with the few Togolese people that I know here in Germany.

What remains from the incident is a real smarting (menatlly fortunately) and food for thought about the sensitivities of various individuals, groups, and entire nations blog authors and their readers address and attack everyday with their postings and their comments. I am bound to make these types of mistakes again in the future as I experiment with web publishing via blogs. Fortunately I have picked up an angel or two along the way to help me when I get too careless with my writing.


Here is a report from the U.N.'s IRINnews with firsthand accounts from teachers and parents of school-aged children in Togo speaking of the difficulties they faced under the regime headed by Faure's deceased father, President Gnassingbe Eyadema. Of course, Fauré is going to fix all of this as soon as he is officially elected president within the next 60 days +/- a few months or so. After reading a number of news articles recently and listening to my Togolese friends speak about their country over the past many years I have to wonder about the part where the U.S. is calling for sanctions and cutting-off arms sales to Togo. What the He-- are we doing selling arms to the government of Togo? Who else has been selling Eyadema's regime weapons?

I sort of like that part in the IRINnews article which goes like this:

“This is Togo,” sighs her colleague, 33-year-old Akouete Attiogbe. “We have a saying here: If there’s no hound to take hunting, just take a sheep instead.”

So if you had a chance to read my previous posts on Togo, Justin and Vincent are doing just fine, and they are not acting like sheep no more. They are behaving more like bloodhounds these days and they say they are hunting for freedom for their people and I am gonna be running right along side of them for the next several weeks hunting for it too.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs news site has another good backgrounder story on Togo describing life in the country under decades of very poor governance and sanctions. After reading just these two brief reports from IRINnews you tell me how these people are going to be able to hold free and fair elections without some serious help from the outside? Who is going to help them, the ruling party and fatcats sitting in Lomé? Fauré Gnassingbe is flying around Africa today trying to get some advice from Omar "Jimmy" Bongo of Gabon and Col. Moammar Ghadafi of Libya about what he should do in the face of international pressure to step down from the presidency. Maybe he should call his father's best friends in Europe, Jacques Chirac & Co. I'm sure that Les French have a suggestion or two for Fauré.

Update March 3rd: I misspelled not only the Colonel's name but that of his country as well in my original posting. The Colonel would not appreciate that you know with all that money he is spending on advertising these days. My apologies.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Spyware Snags Blogger Users

Spyware Snags Blogger Users

If you use the Blogger web publishing software or visit and download from Blogspot hosted weblogs, you need to read this article in order to CYA and protect your PC. The spyware/adware problem may be showing up on other web publishing systems in the Blogosphere as well, but I haven't seen any security alerts about that yet. And you had better double-check some of those 3rd party add-on applications and Java-script code pasted into your weblogs too, just to be sure.

'Aint nothing sacred anymore? Blogger Tech Support needs to get on this right away and then notify the millions of Blogger users out there "tout de suite"! (Did I spell that right? Non? Schade.)

If you are not up-to-speed on what Spyware is and how dangerous it can be to you and your data, then check out these eWeek tech articles here and here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Aftershocks in the Iranian Sector

Hey! There is a big protest action going on today in the blogosphere against the Mullahs in Iran and their heavy-handed treatment of our fellow bloggers working from inside the evil empire. Go check it out over at the Global Voices Online blog posting “Cyberdissidents and WSIS”. Here is some more on the Mullah crackdown at former CNN Asia bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon’s Rconversation blog “Free Mojtaba and Arash Day” and here is a real good article on how dangerous it is for a woman to blog inside Iran at the L.A. Times titled "Blogger's Crime Against the Islamic State" dated February 9th, 2005. Goes to show you. Bloggers beware! The Big Kahoogi’s are watching you.


Angela Davis? I wonder what she has been doing since she got out?
Let me see here search Free Angela Davis…..whoa Angela baby! Gigging at the University of California - Santa Cruz these days. Cool! Can't stir up too much trouble over there on the other side of the mountains down by the sea.

Have to keep plugging for Black History Month 2005 you know.

Friday, February 18, 2005

ethiopundit: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

As I sit at my computer in my office today watching the beginnings of one of those really dangerous North Sea snow storms sneak up on us for the weekend, I decided to check my web-based email at Yahoo! and lo-and-behold there was a message from one of my favorite bloggers: ethiopundit!

It was a notification message about a recent posting the ethiopundit Team has done on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If any of my readers have been fortunate enough to have discovered the ethiopundit blog some time back (founded in July 2004) then you know that this article on Dr. King is a must read. Every time I visit their weblog I come away with the feeling that today I have learned something that I didn't know before.

I have been marvelling at the excellent writing and creativity out there in the web and particularly in the Blogosphere lately by people of every shade and color, from so many nations and ethnic backgrounds, who are writing about Africa in particular and about practically everything going on down here on the Planet Earth. You are making the Fat Cats and the Bad Guys around the world nervous, I'll tell you that. Too much sharing of valuable information going on for their tastes.

If the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today (we sure could use him now, couldn't we?) and was able to enjoy some of the beautiful work I and many others have been so privelaged to experience from certain authors and designers and contributors from every background active in the Blogosphere today, well he would be mighty proud. Mighty proud indeed.

Thank you ethiopundit for helping to keep our heads up...und unsere Ohren steif! (auf Deutsch)

BRE: "Who are these guys, Tonto?"
TONTO: "I don't know, but I think they from Ethiopia or somewhere like that."
BRE: "Well, wherever they are from they are damn good at what they do."

AN EXTRA TREAT for My Readers:

You may remember that I wrote a humble article in rememberance of Dr. King back in January 2005, where I mentioned the speech Martin Luther King delivered at the NYC Riverside Church in 1967 titled "Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break the Silence". Well thanks to the article from ethiopundit referenced above I discovered a great site named American Rhetoric which has the text including an MP3 audio file you can listen to over the internet of that speech and others from Dr. Martin Luther King . Get the handkerchiefs out laidies (and gents) this site will make you cry if you can remember back to those days. There is oratory by other great American historical figures on this website as well including speeches by JFK and RFK.

This is a good time to make a plug for a good article titled "Reversing the Middle Passage" from Kenya Hudson (another one of my favorite bloggers) which highlights the new InMotion Exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. InMotion online is one of the most extensive multimedia exhibits on the history of Africans in North America I have ever seen on the web and will serve as the basis of a number of articles I plan to post over the next weeks and months. The (written) history of the African roots of my family dates back to the mid-1700's in the United States of America, and the story of my people is definately somewhere InMotion. Yessir!

And of course last but not by any means least the U.K. is having a Black Culture Blowout this year with the Africa ReMix art exhibition and the Africa '05 festivities and celebrations in and around Londontown through October 2005. This is the largest (and perhaps one of the best) celebrations of African art and culture ever held in Britain (nah...the largest in all of Europe!).

So there! Have great fun and learn something about the History of Black Folks while you are at it. It's Black History Month back home.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Togo Army Backs Down on Coup Attempt

According to this BBC News article General Seyi Memene has announced that Togo’s military has agreed to “return the country to constitutional order” after talks with West African leaders from ECOWAS (and a helluva lot of pressure from outside of the country). Now this is very good news and I mean that. Let’s hope that everything goes smoothly for the people of Togo as they stand up for their rights and demand a democratic government elected by the people and for the people as stated (hopefully) in Togo’s constitution.

You may remember that I wrote a brief piece on Togo a few days ago and left a rather lengthy comment on the Ambiguous Adventure blog referring to the two young men in my neighborhood from Togo. I want to tell you that they have stopped talking about “taking up the gun” and just yesterday they were using terms like ECOWAS and ECOMOG and saying “Africans must work together to solve Africa’s problems”. I was a bit surprised that they were even informed about ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and very surprised that they felt ECOMOG could be of any help to the people of Togo based upon its past history in Liberia back in the ‘90’s. To be fair ECOMOG has improved their act lately in Liberia and Sierra Leonne where I believe they are presently active under a U.N. resolution of one kind or another.

Vincent (one of my friends from Togo) complained “…nobody wants to help us!” but I calmly explained to him that a lot of people and countries want to help the people of Togo and that I am doing it right now, that I personally started more than 2 years ago to talk with my Togolese friends about a political change not only for their tiny nation but for all of Africa. That big changes are coming and it is high time for them to get ready to support a peaceful and meaningful change for Togo. To prepare themselves by continuing and improving their education and access to information and to do the same thing for their people back home.

Vincent agreed with me and he and Justin (my other friend from Togo) are thinking real hard now about what concrete steps they can take to help move their country forward during this window of opportunity. It will be real interesting to see what they do in the next months. Unfortuantely like so many African immigrants living for a time in Europe they have forfeited their citizenship and passports from their native countries in favor of a European passport to ease international travel restrictions for themselves and to be able to take advantage of some social benefits available to European citizens. They have practically no rights whatsoever re: the political affairs in the countries of their birth and they cannot vote. It is a real pity of sorts.

So the BBC article talks of a renewed optimism from the ECOWAS and the international community that there may be a breakthrough in the “misunderstanding of democratic procedures" which has mistakenly put the new president Faure Gnassingbe in power last week.

Kenya Hudson has a nice little article on the problems of opposition parties in Africa as reported by the BBC last December 2004 and I found a very interesting Special Report on the 2003 Togo Elections at the site which provides very good background info on how politics work in the country and how the now deceased former dictator (President) Gnassingbe Eyadema was able to hold onto power back in 2003 after small but important last minute changes to the constitution which basically crippled the oppostition. Compare actions taken before the 2003 elections by the former President of Togo to the recent closing of independent radio and TV stations in the country by the present (interim) administration to get an idea of where this is going.

No wonder the new (interim) President Faure Gnassingbe was grinning like a Cheshire cat on the BBC World News TV report today, he knows he’s got the elections the military is promising will be held within the next 60 days “…in the Bag!”

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day Ladies

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY 2005 to all of the wonderful women in my life out there. If I could I would have scores of people showering you in perfumed flower petals as you ride atop decorated elephants in a procession through the streets of some exotic Asian city.

A special greetings to the ladies who have always been there for me in my life (you know who you are) and have worked hard to keep me on the "right path" and encouraged and supported me in my many endeavors. You are like angels to me still and I often turn to you in silence for guidance when I lose my way. I bathe in the glow of your beauty and kindness and wisdom.

And last but certainly not least to my newfound lady friends in the Blogosphere who inspire me with your words and your courage and your deeds. You show those of us who will listen the great power and beauty of women and girls around the world, and may God always keep his hands over you forever. Happy Valentine's Day.

BRE: "How'd I do Tonto?"
TONTO: "Good, good Black River Eagle. Women like to be recognized and remembered you know. I'm just glad we are not in India or something or we would be out of a lot of money hiring all of those elephants and stuff!"
BRE: "Well even if we were they would be worth it Tonto, every penny. Women are precious."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Test Posting Feb. 12th

This is just a test posting to check the recent software upgrades and changes by Blogger. The profile and posting count routines don't seem to be working properly yet to me. I guess I'll have to Ping those support staffers again back at Blogger.

If any of my readers have been cruising around the Blogosphere today then you have probably noticed that the blogging community around the world is RED HOT!! Boy, I hope the Net can handle the heat and traffic out there. I don't think the Net was built for this kind of upsurge in global interactivity. Maybe we need to build out the global ICT infrastructure at an even faster pace and higher priority for all nations so that even more people can have a voice and chance to Speak Up.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Togo Stands Up!

Uh-Oh. Looks like the tiny African nation of Togo is in the house. After 39 years of dictatorship under President Gnassingbé Eyadéma the people of Togo are trying to stand up to board the Freedom Train. Looks like we done started something here Tonto. People trying to make the break to freedom everywhere on the planet.”

Now what am I talking about? Well go on over to Ms. Hudson’s
Ambiguous Adventure and you can read all about it. Don’t miss my little side story in the comments section of her posting on Togo’s new self-appointed President. According to this article from BBC News online the new president, Faure Gnassingbe, was educated by the French at the Sorbonne Université and he earned an MBA in the U.S.A. at George Washington University (4 blocks down from the White House mind you). I wonder where he was taught about “Le coup d’etat” strategies for the 21st century? Folks around Africa don’t seem to be too happy about it either. You can read about it here.

UPDATE (February 11th): I changed and improved some links in the paragraph below because the former URL link to the website had all kinds of strange pop-ups and stuff. I hate unwanted pop-ups and spyware launching in my readers' browers, so Infoplease has been axed from this blog.

Togo was a military protectorate of The German Empire II briefly in the late 1800’s as you can learn here in English or "auf Deutsch" or " auf D-Englisch". The German language site has some great photos and graphics from the period. The open encyclopedia project Wikipedia has detailed info on the country of Togo. has some of the best and most comprehensive coverage on the developing story in Togo by African journalists from around the continent.

STAND UP People of Togo! Stand Up for Your Rights as Human Beings!

Stand Up and you just may be surprised who will stand up with you, and who won’t. Togo is in the House doggone it, and the people of Togo ‘aint goin’ back out in them fields no more!” Amen.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Remembering the Great Ossie Davis

As I was doing some online research today in preparation for upcoming postings on African and African-American History in honor of Black History Month 2005 I came across the news that Ossie Davis had died on Friday, February 4th in Miami. This is like hearing that a dear member of your family has died for millions of Americans and other people around the world, and I thank Owukori of the Black Looks blog for this news; I wouldn’t have even known about it if I had to depend on the television media here in Germany. Maybe it is in the newspapers.

The names Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee played a role in my life and times back in New York City because of their close friendship to people there who are (like) my own family. I know that Beryl and Diana and Paulette are just devastated by this loss, as is all of New York City. They dimmed the lights on Broadway on Saturday night in his honor, that’s how important he is to the theatre family in America. Last December Ossie and his wife of more than 50 years, the beautiful actress Ruby Dee, received The Kennedy Center Honors for 2004 at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

It could be that Ossie Davis is relatively unknown outside of the United States and if you are a reader who has never heard of him or not had the pleasure to see his works in theatre, film, books, or television then I would suggest that you become familiar with this great man. Ossie is a giant of a personality in American entertainment, the U.S. civil rights movement (he spoke at Dr. Martin Luther Kings funeral), and in the very fabric of the country itself. In other words, he was an important part of America’s living history up until last Friday. Now he is gone and he will be missed by millions of us.

Owukori did a nice little article on Ossie over at her blog with a great list of his work in film, theatre, and television. Below I have provided some additional links to online resources where you can learn more about Ossie Davis and other great actors who worked together with him to help entertain and educate his loving fans for more than six decades:

Washington Post (some registration required)
Distinguished Actor’s Talents Graced Screen…”- (Feb. 05, 2005)
Remembering Ossie Davis – Life in Photos

The Seattle Times (no registration required, I think)
“Ossie Davis, smoothing out a rough way” – (Feb. 07, 2005)

The Westchester N.Y. Journal News (Feb. 06, 2005)
“In all things that mattered Ossie Davis was a big man

National Public Radio (NPR)
“Rememberances for Ossie Davis” (incl. text and audio files)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

UN Special Commission Report on Darfur January 25, 2005

This is just a quick update post on Darfur 'cause frankly, I'm busy with some other stuff. You didn't think that I was giving up on the folks down in Darfur and Chad, did you? Nah, never.

So I was over at Ingrid's place poking around for the latest news out of Sudan and making trouble in her Comments section yesterday. Now those of us who have a boob tube (TV) at home or at least access to good press or radio know that the international media is getting tired of the Tsunami Disaster reporting and has turned its attention back to Sudan again, however briefly. The big story of the day is the latest report to the U.N. Secretary-General from his Special International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004. The report was officially released on January 25, 2005 at Geneva and certain important people (including the GoS) have received advanced warning (sorry, advanced copies) of the report which pretty much lets the Khartoum regime (a.k.a. the GoS) off-the-hook for GENOCIDE ____________ (at the special request of China and Russia I might add) and now the proverbial S--T HAS HIT THE FAN in capitols around the globe and fur is flying everywhere and a few chicken feathers too.

Now all I've got to say about it is "I told you, I told you so, I ..." nah, I'm not going to say that. All I've got to say is READ THE REPORT! After all, we (taxpaying citizens of the world) paid for this special investigation by the U.N. Special Commission of Inquiry or whatever, 'cause the U.N. is flat broke and they sure as heck aren't paying for it.

Download and read the 176-page U.N. document and you might be motivated to do something to relieve those poor people of their living hell out on the deserts of western Sudan and Chad, like start raising some Hell in your home country with certain politicians and businesspeople doing big business with the regime in Khartoum, making money at the expense of the lives of innocent women and children being brutalized and murdered in Darfur by you know who.

Lastly, the next time you are at the store and pick up something labelled Made in China or Made in Russia or Made in any of the other countries supporting the present regime in Khartoum, well think about what you are doing before you buy it. Hit 'em where it really hurts, in their rear-ends where they keep their fat wallets full of your money.