Saturday, April 23, 2005

Who the heck is Corneille E.N. Ewango?

Who is Corneille E.N. Ewango? (Updated January 02, 2006)

This post is for the benefit of participants who have completed the Africa Quiz 2005 at the Global Voices Online - Blog Africa project site. We hope that you enjoyed taking the short quiz on Africa and will follow the global dialogue on African affairs in the blogosphere for 2006. Following is the text of my original question entry for the Africa Quiz 2005 that contains detailed information and links about the correct answer.


What is the name of the African botanist and conservationist who was the recipient of the 2005
Goldman Environmental Prize for courageous acts to preserve endangered wildlife and plant species in the Okapi Faunal Reserve?

Hint: The Okapi Faunal Reserve is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site located in a country that is home to 50% of Africa’s tropical moist rainforests.

Wangari Maathai - Kenya

Sama S. Banya -
Sierra Leone

Corneille E.N. Ewango -
Democratic Republic of Congo

Jef Dupain -
Democratic Republic of Congo


A. Wangari Maathai - Incorrect
Wangari Maathai is the internationally renowned Kenyan environmentalist, activitst, government minister, and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Wangari Maathai did receive a Goldman Environmental Prize in 1991.

B. Sama S. Banya - Incorrect
Sama S. Banya, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation in the government of Sierra Leone, was awarded a
Birdlife Conservation Achievement Award in March 2004 for his work to help preserve precious bird and wildlife sanctuaries in his home country and his work in facilitating the signing and ratification of several international conservation agreements.

C. Corneille E.N. Ewango - Correct
Corneille E.N. Ewango, a former staff member of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature, was responsible for the botany program in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the eastern D.R.C. from 1996 to 2003. The reserve covers more than 3 million acres and is home to the Mbuti people (indigenous pygmies) and to 13 primate species, elephants, and animals found nowhere else on Earth, including the Okapi (a forest giraffe).

Amidst the chaos of two brutal wars, economic and political corruption, and the rampant resource exploitation that took place for more than a decade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), Corneille Ewango was able to save the reserve’s precious herbarium collection, computers, research and data on 380,000 trees and plants___ and his own life. Working together with only 30 junior staff members who did not flee the fighting, Ewango was able to mobilize more than 1500 local residents of the Ituri forest region to stand up against marauding militias who were raping and murdering and bandits who were illegally exploiting and exporting the Congo’s gold, diamonds, coltan, and timber.

Corneille E.N. Ewango was awarded the
2005 Goldman Environmental Prize and a no-strings attached grant of USD$ 125,000.00 together with 4 other recipients in April 2005. He is due to complete his graduate studies in Tropical Botany at the University of Missouri – St. Louis this year.

D. Jef Dupain - Incorrect
Jef Dupain is a primatologist working for the
African Wildlife Foundation famous for his work with the bonobo species, a member of the Great Apes family and very close relative of the chimpanzee. Jef’s work with the endangered bonobos of the central African rainforests dates back to 1994 when he set out for the very remote Lomako Forests of the Congo River Basin. After the outbreak of war in 1997, bonobo populations in the region were devastated by the civil unrest, burgeoning human populations and loss of habitat, bushmeat trade for the illegal mining and timber extraction, and the illegal global trade in endangered wildlife.

Bonobos are the closest relative of humans in the Great Apes family, sharing 98.4% of our genetic makeup. Unlike their more aggressive chimpanzee cousins, bonobos are noted for their docile natures and matriarchal societies. The Bonobos’ similarities to humans has long been noted by the indigenous peoples (pygmies) of the Congo Basin. Their legends tell of bonobos showing men what foods were available in the forest to eat.

Jef Dupain returned to the Lomako Forest region of the D.R.C. in 2002 to continue his work studying and protecting the bonobos. The
award-winning documentary The Ghosts of Lomako features his recent work with these mysterious and precious primates. Jef Dupain is presently chief coordinator of the AWF Congo Heartlands project.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Blogging and the world of business

UPDATE January 03, 2006:
Attention to participants of the Blog Africa "Africa Quiz 2005"

Please follow this link for detailed information about the Congolese botanist and conservationist Corneille E.N. Ewango. The April 22, 2005 post below "Blogging and the world of businesses" unfortunately contained links to two blogs that are no longer online. That problem has been fixed today. Thanks for participating in the Africa Quiz 2005 and we hope that it was fun.

Original Post April 22, 2005

I want to begin this posting today by saying to some of my fellow blogger buddies that I am truly humbled and terribly proud of the work you are doing. In the past 30 years (Wow! Has it been that long??) that I have been involved with electrical engineering and the ICT fields we have seen a lot of things come and go. I am amazed many times at the creativity and brilliance I see pouring out of people who are publishing online and their willingness to share information and knowledge and all kinds of stuff with other blog authors and their reader audience. To this day many tech purists continue to ignore the power of these simple web publishing tools (blog software) albeit at their own peril. There are between 9 and 10 million weblogs out there, 40,000 new ones per day.

I appreciate the comments saying thanks for my encouragement, but it is I and many others in the tech field and other professions who must say thanks to you. Some of us have waited for this explosion of creativity and collaboration using simple tech tools for a very long time. Bravo to you.

Now in my little sector of the Blogosphere (can’t cover the whole thing, it’s growing too fast!!) I have been paying particular attention to the laidies, not to say that the guys aren’t doing good work ‘cause many of you are, but the women are just moving like Gazelles. Again bravo to the women, it’s about time that you left the boyz behind in the dust. Go on girlz.

Kenya Hudson who has recently returned to blogging from what must be a really busy schedule posted a nice morsel the other day that has important value and I plan to build upon some of what she could only state briefly. The same goes for Carine in a brief article she has done on Corneille E.N. Ewango, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize 2005 for the work he has done at the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Prize for Peace 2005 laureate, received this coveted prize for grassroots environmental work in 1991. Africa in many ways is still in a frontier stage, underdeveloped and working desperately for engagement from the world of global business, not just begging for humanitarian and development aid. In recent history no continent, no nation, has been able to fulfill the wants and needs and ambitions of its peoples with just handouts and loans from the IMF or World Bank and the like. None.

Now what does this have to do with blogs and business? Well, read the special cover feature of the upcoming May 2, 2005 issue of BusinessWeek magazine: Blogs Will Change Your Business to get an idea about the shakeup blogs and bloggers are causing in corporate America and soon to arrive in Europe. Then think to yourself how this might apply to businesses in emerging markets i.e. the African continent, Asia, South America. If you are interested in the world of business this BW feature article could be very useful for you.

I receive the BusinessWeek Insider email newsletter for years now and a link to this special preview article was included in today’s BW email. However, I first discovered the news about the BusinessWeek cover story at Amy Gahran’s Contentious blog. You can learn quite a bit about blogging at her place and from her readers (see comments). Another good place to learn about business blogs is at the Business 2.0 online magazine’s B2Day. Despite the 1,000’s of information feeds I receive about technology every month and year the first place I learned about weblogs was by reading a February 2002 article at the Business 2.0 site.

I’ve recently added the Nairobi, Kenya financial blogger bankelele to my blogroll and the Timbuktu Chronicles business blog has been on my roll for ages now. Check these folks out when you find the time. The next time someone tries to tell you that blogging is just a waste of time and nobody is earning money with blogs, just smile. Smile like a fox on Wall Street.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Covering your rear-end in the Blogosphere

Ethan Zuckerman of the My Heart's in Accra blog has an interesting article on using encryption technology to protect yourself online titled A Technical Guide to Anonymous Blogging. If you find yourself in one of those repressive regimes where speaking out can land you in jail, get you killed, tortured, or worse then this article is worth a read. Also check out Ethan's new blog publishing experiment using Wordpress at his new URL here. The last time Ethan tried out a new web publishing tool it did not work out so well, but if he get's into trouble with the new software this time he can always seek help from Wordpress afficiendos like Carine or Amy.

Ethan also wrote an article titled the Subtle Business of Software Localization. This article should be interesting for those of you who use web-based digital image storage and management services from Flickr or Yahoo! and are wondering why your images don't look the same online vs. how they are displayed on your PC monitor. Note that Ethan is cross-posting (or bridging?) between his new blog address and the old blog address at Harvard.

We'll keep it brief today because yes we are still working on the technology problems described earlier. Sometimes technology can be a BIG PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHAT!!! Fortunately we know how to keep a cool head in technical emergencies.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

As I pointed out in my last posting, I am attempting to fix a problem with one of my Microsoft desktop applications. What at first appeared to be a minor bug has turned out to be not so minor after all. Fortunately it is a problem with my "old baby" and I refuse to put her out to pasture just because I have a new extremely hot Dell PC. I shall retire the "old baby" with respect and honor and in good working condition as soon as I nail down this pesky little software failure.

Should be back in action in the Blogosphere any day now. Oh yeah, I refuse to accept any help from the boyz in the lab. I can fix this baby all by myself, thank you. (I hope??).

"Tonto, hand me that hammer over there please. Yeah, the BIG ONE."

Monday, April 11, 2005

Living with Refugees + General Updates

We're gonna be away from the blog for a couple of days (or more) because I have to troubleshoot a particularly pesky little problem with a software application. First Tonto and I are going after the little critter (bug) 'cause we can do anything that these young tech experts around us think they can do, and we can do it better. If we mess anything up, then we might ask the youngsters for help.

"Fur and Feathers are Flying" over at Le Salon of News and Thought because somebody (Brian) brought up the "G Word" in reference to Rwanda. It's getting kinda hot over there so Tonto and I are gonna keep a low profile until things calm down. All kinds of nationalities have joined in the fray, including a Rwandan blogger. Maybe The Malua needs to serve some refreshments to his guests in Le Salon to cool 'em off? Lemonade anyone? Tea?

Kenya Hudson of the Ambiguous Adventure blog is back after a (very) long pause, so you should keep an eye out for her upcoming postings. Welcome back, Ms. Hudson. There is also some good writing to be found over at Wambui's Snapshots of New Orleans. In my opinion she is doing very interesting legal work dealing with crime and punishment issues in the U.S.A., so do stop by and have a look at some of her excellent journal entries.

Oh yeah, CNN did air Sorious Samura's Living with Refugees documentary this past weekend here in Europe although the scheduled time slot got changed due to Prince Charles and Camilla's wedding. If you missed this excellent 1 hour program depicting Samura's 3 week journey and stay with a family escaping the killing fields of Darfur and their nightmarish experiences at the UNHCR Breijing Camp in Chad, then try to get your hands on the video or demand that it be shown again to the world by writing to your Minister of Communications or something. Here is another account of life in the camp published by journalist Monika Wawrzyniak on April 6th.

Riveting documentary journalism on the atrocities in Sudan and the abuse and incompetency of local and international "officials" who are supposed to be helping people who have escaped from what Kofi Anan described as a "living Hell". A must-see video for anyone who gives a damn about the victims of war and mass murder. Adam and his family are now living at the Tréguine Refugee Camp in Chad thanks to the tireless efforts of Sorious Samura. Neither camp is like the one that the IFRC describe in this little PR story from 2004. Living with Refugess. No blood, no Janaweed militias on camelback, and a Happy Ending (sort of).

See y'all in a couple of days or so. Ciao.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Funeral of Pope John Paul II

Today I joined with millions of people around the world in the privelage to witness the live TV coverage of the Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II, a truly historical event in my opinion. I was so moved by what I saw and heard this morning here in Europe that I felt compelled to write just one more piece about this great religious leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Let there be no doubt about it, live broadcast and satellite television remains a very powerful communication medium on Planet Earth despite the increasing gains of the Internet.

Any funeral is a sad occaisson and this one particularly so as one could witness over the last several days the outpouring of grief from the millions of people who were part of his flock and from those of us who respected John Paul II’s leadership and concern for the world. As I stood or sat and watched the funeral I couldn’t help but be impressed by the gathering of thousands and thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, and the 200+ world leaders and dignataries from more than 80 countries, and religious leaders from around the world. Of course the images of the beautiful and historic Vatican itself is enough to impress all by itself, but to see it filled with so much humanity was a powerful experience for many.

Today at the Vatican many leaders from the Four Corners of the Earth were gathered together to mourn this great man. Presidents and prime ministers from 5 continents: from the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, France, Ghana, Turkey, Afghanistan, Italy, the U.S.A., Iran, Syria, Brazil, Australia, Jordan, Spain… and on and on were there. Many of them mortal enemies standing side-by-side to mourn this man (or at least to be seen on international TV). Kings and queens and other royalty and world dignataries seated side-by-side. Leaders of the world’s great religions who throughout history have waged wars against one another that were so bloody and horrible it is improper to describe them here, gathered together to offer their condolences and prayers to John Paul II. They didn’t look so mighty and powerful today with their heads bowed in sorrow against the backdrop of the ancient Vatican surrounded by that sea of humanity from around the world mourning for the Pope, did they?

I was wondering to myself as I watched if they really understood as leaders of our world what kind of responsibility they carry for all of us everywhere on this Earth? ...for the weak as well as the strong, the poor as well as the rich, the sick as well as the healthy? If these political and business and religious leaders are committed to the meaning of faith and prayer and the recognition of good in all of humanity, as the Pope tried so hard to show us with his own life and service to God?

Looking at the faces of all of those people today gathered in St. Peter’s Square to mourn the passing of the Pope helped me to re-confirm not only my own faith in God (which gets a little shakey at times, I’ll admit it) but also in humanity itself and especially in those people who so desperately need our help. I hope that I can hold onto that conviction real tight until my own passing, and I hope that at least some of our world leaders present at the Vatican today were moved in similar ways and better understand these very important facts:

FACTS: Humanity is crying out for peace and justice and dignity so that people can get on with the important business of building a better world for everyone. The majority of people around the world want to live in peace and be good neighbors and friends, to be united in our humanity and not be divided by war and violence for political gains or misused through greed and corruption for money and other material wealth.END FACTS

If our leaders and we ordinary citizens of the world can keep these important facts always in the forefront of our thoughts and our actions, humankind will truly make it to the Kingdom of Heaven someday. And if we fail to do so, we will all most certainly perish from this Earth.

Those are some impressions I come away with after watching the Pope’s requiem funeral mass. May John Paul II rest in peace under the glorious Dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral for as long as a thousand generations, so that others who follow us may come to learn about his great works in our time in the history of humankind on this Earth.

Here are some additional online resources about Pope John Paul II’s funeral for my readers:

1. BBC News online
coverage of the funeral
2. BBC News photo essays of the funeral
3. BBC News Timeline of the Popes throughout history: note that the 3 African Popes are mysteriously missing in the timeline but are noted in this BBC article. Also reference comments made to my earlier posting on John Paul II. My readers are the “The First to Know What’s Up”.
4. BBC's
thoughts and views about the Pope from around the world
5. Google News links to online media
coverage of the Pope’s funeral

CNN’s coverage was so lousey today they don’t even get an honorable mention. Somebody oughta tell the CNN U.S. reporters they need to shut up when a requiem mass is in progress and stop trying to score career points. At least Christiane Ammanpour knew when to shut up and when to talk. CNN needs a shakeup from the top down. Bring back Ted Turner now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Global Voices Online bloggers featured at BBC News Online

I was doing a little web research today for upcoming postings I'm writing about Darfur (that's right, I haven't forgotten). I also wanted to post a Media Alert for my readers re: award-winning Sierra Leonean journalist and documentary filmmaker Sorious Samura's latest work titled Living with Refugees . Samura is famous for two of his earlier documentaries Cry Freetown and Living with Hunger which have aired on various TV networks around the globe. So as I was preparing for my next blockbuster posting what do I come across? This Breaking News Story for April 06, 2005 at BBC News Online.

That's right! The crew over at Harvard's Berkman Center (Ethan, Rebecca, Ory,) who collaborate on the group blog Global Voices Online have hit paydirt by getting a frontpage feature link at BBC News Online today. Now this may not be such a big deal for Rebecca MacKinnon of Rconversation and NKZone being that she is a former CNN Bureau Chief for Asia and all, but for Ethan Zuckerman (My Heart's in Accra ) and Harvard graduate student Ory Okolloh (Kenyan Pundit ) this should be well, really important. At least I think it is really important.

I am delighted that they received this mainstream media (MSM) press coverage from such a respected organization as BBC News Online. Congratulations folks. As for my regular readers I told you before to pay close attention to the blogs in my blogroll, not to my postings. This BBC article oughta beef up the online traffic to certain blog authors writing about Africa and other interesting regions of the world considerably. I wonder who has thought to track and record the traffic statistics?

While I am on the subject of Bloggers and the fear they are creating out there in the world at large, you should check out this April 4th article at BBC Programmes Click Online titled Blogging from East to West. Still think blogging is a leisure pasttime of an internet-saavy elite of white males living and working in the West?

Please watch Sorious Samura's documentary if you can find the time this weekend at CNNI (Europe) on Sunday, April 10th. Readers from the U.K., U.S., some African nations (with DsTV) and elsewhere may have already seen an airing of the documentary but if not then check your local TV listings. CNN's Christiane Ammanpour has a special feature titled "Return to Darfur" airing soon also but I cannot find anything about it on the (poorly designed) CNN website.

Here is an excerpt from Insight News TV about "Living with Refugees":

Adam has 2 wives, 8 children, no money and all his friends have been murdered. Sorious meets Adam at the Chad/Sudan border where he has been living on handouts - but he's outstayed his welcome. Even though he doesn't know how far it is, he's heading for a UN refugee camp further to the west in Chad. He agrees Sorious can follow his family on this journey. "You have come all this way to tell our story, you are our brother."

Never before has someone filmed an exodus of people in this way. As the journey progresses more refugees join the group – there's safety in numbers. Sorious is exhausted and cannot keep up. He follows their methods of survival, digging dry riverbeds for water and eating only once. Sorious speaks to Adam about what happened in Darfur, he breaks down "Please don't make me remember what happened, it's just too much."

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II Dies

I, like so many millions of people around the world, am deeply saddened to see His Holiness Pope John Paul II preparing to leave us behind. Whether one is Catholic or not, whether one agreed with the Pope on religious and social and global issues or not, one had to respect this man for his conviction to his faith in God and in humankind.

Pope John Paul II has done his job for God and for all of us on Earth, and now it seems that it is his time to go. My sympathies go out to the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church around the world in your time of great sadness, and to people in the world who looked upon him as a good and strong leader for all of us who believe and want to believe, in God.

Go with God, Pope John Paul II, in Peace.

Update April 03:

A few hours after publishing my brief posting above Pope John Paul II died. Although many of us are sad to see him go we must also be relieved to see his physical suffering come to an end. It is fascinating to watch on TV the outpouring of emotion from around the world for this great spiritual leader and to be able to observe the ceremonies and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.

I noticed something last night in a comment made by of one of the zillions of TV commentators covering the story of the Pope's death, and that is that there was a Pope of the Roman Catholic Church about 1500 years ago who came from Africa. Help me out here (religion experts and historians) who was this Pope and where did he come from?

As this blog is supposed to be focused on Africa, it was nice to find this little Q&A article at BBC Wolrd News online about Pope John Paul II's legacy to Africa.