Tuesday, May 31, 2005


In the grip of Benin's child traffickers.
By Mike Thomson BBC News, Cotonou.

Rafine was just five years old when her father hired her out to child traffickers. He had done the same with all of her brothers and sisters since finding himself a new wife. Due to poverty, children in Benin's villages are vulnerable to trafficking Besides, money was on the table. He had been promised a share of the proceeds from her work as an unpaid domestic servant. Soon afterwards, a woman took her away and she was placed with a family a few miles away where she was told to cook, clean and look after the children. In return she was given just enough food to survive and told to eat off the cat's plates and sleep on the kitchen floor.
Horrified at the treatment she received, little Rafine told her father, who visited her occasionally, that she hated it there and was desperate to come home.
Threatened He angrily replied this was out of the question and warned her of what would happen if she disobeyed him: "My father threatened me that if he heard that I went back to the village he would butcher me with a machete. He said that. He would butcher me with a machete." A child should stay with her mother no matter how poor that woman is.
Rafine, who ran away after four years of forced labour, is just one of 50,000 children who are trafficked each year in Benin. The country is one of the poorest in the world and many parents cannot resist the trafficker's promises. They are told that their children will earn enough to send home large sums of money and will also be given a good education. In reality many of the children are smuggled into neighbouring Nigeria and used for backbreaking work in quarries.
Others are even shipped off to Europe as domestic slaves. Sadly, little if any money is ever paid and some parents often do not see their child for years, if ever again.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

ZIMBABWE - a Poem.


'House of stone' crumbles.
Great ruins of Zimbabwe,
how sad & ironic!

In exile I watch.
My dream to return fades
as my motherland dies.

Sjambok welts expose
a bloodied spine across
a dark land, devoid of hope.
Mottled tears of Victoria
drown a nation's grief.

written by Jackal.






Elephants hit hard in Ivorian war.
By Elizabeth Blunt BBC News.

Many Ivorian elephants may have left the countryAmong the sufferers in Ivory Coast's civil war have been the elephants which originally gave the country its name. In 1980, the biggest concentration was in the Tai forest near the Liberia border - some 3,000 elephants.
By 2002 - the last attempt to count elephants - there were fewer than 100 left. Now, no-one knows. With a peace plan to reunite the country going ahead, the government is beginning to think how to protect its remaining elephant population. The lack of elephants in Ivory Coast has been a sensitive issue for years.
Ivory poaching could be on the increase in the region, experts warnThe Tai forest area is in government hands, but is the stamping ground of some of the armed militia groups which support President Laurent Gbagbo. The other main concentration of elephants is in the Comoe National Park in the north-east, near the border with Burkina Faso. That lies in rebel territory, so government wildlife protection staff currently have no access to it.
Ivory Coast's head of wildlife told Reuters news agency this week that since elephants are shy creatures and hate disturbance and noise, many of them have probably left the country and crossed into neighbouring countries. But other wildlife experts suggested this might be wishful thinking.
Even if elephants have been vanishing from Comoe, a spokesman for the environment ministry in Burkina Faso said there had been no sign of any major arrivals of Ivorian elephants.
What forest guards had reported, he said, was an increase in the number of Ivorian poachers coming across the border since the conflict started.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Dear Family and Friends,
This week I find myself as a stranger in my home town. Familiar faces have gone, familiar stopping places have been demolished. Men and women who would nod, wave and smile as I passed, have disappeared and I feel an overwhelming sadness at what has happened to them and to their struggle to make a decent living in these most desperate of times. Around the corner from my home a woman used to sit on a concrete block with her vegetables laid out for sale on a piece of cardboard in front of her: butternuts, tomatoes and onions. She has gone, chased away by Police. At the end of the road a young woman, sometimes with her little boy in his bright red jersey, sat on the ground under a tree with a few things to sell to passers by. She had pushed four sticks into the ground and fashioned a little table to hold her products: popcorn, matches and vegetables. Often her little boy would smile and wave when I passed by, but they have gone, chased away by the Police. Outside the junior school four women waited every day to sell their wares to parents and children when the last bell of the day rang. They sold frozen drinks, toffees, peppermints and bubble gum balls. They have gone, chased away by Police. Opposite the hospital eight or ten women, many with children at their feet or babies on their backs, stood selling fruits and vegetables to nursing staff, patients and visitors. Their stalls were substantial and made of treated gum poles with thick plastic sheeting overhead to protect them and their produce from the weather. Here you could buy bananas and apples, avocado pears, cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes and almost any fruit or vegetable in season. They have gone, chased away by Police. On the main road through Marondera town there were at least a dozen places where young men stood with pockets of oranges, potatoes and butternuts forsale and on upturned crates they had jars of golden nectar which they were adamant was honey but we all knew was syrup. They too have gone, chased away by Police. Near the main petrol station a group of men used to weave baskets, stools and wicker chairs which they sold on the roadside along with hand woven rugs and mats. For years those men have been there, their fingers twisting and pulling the canes into intricate designs with such skill that it was a delight to watch them work and an insult to bargain with them over their prices when you knew how much work had gone into the finished product. These men too have gone, chased away by Police. Outside the main Post Office the woman with her battered enamel basin crowded with bananas and twisted cones of newspaper filled with ground nuts or nyimo beans has gone, chased away by the Police. In this case out of sight to the authorities is not out of mind to us, the ordinary people. What I am describing is the tip of the iceberg. In towns and cities across the country the Police are embarking on what they call a clean up campaign. It is not only street vendors who are having their stalls demolished and goods confiscated but also people who the police say have built illegal houses in illegal areas. On Thursday night I watched in shock as the main TV news carried film footage of a crowd of riot police standing watching a bulldozer demolishing "illegal houses" . The camera focused on three young children, one with a school satchel on her back,watching the brick house being torn down; the walls were plastered and painted blue and I cried inside knowing exactly how it felt to have the place you call home stolen from you. It is winter here in Zimbabwe. Last night the temperature in Marondera dropped to just seven degrees Centigrade. In Harare last night over 500 families spent their second night out in the open as their homes had been demolished by Police. I have seen such cruelty and such a lack of compassion and humanity this week that I cannot imagine which way now for Zimbabwe. No one can understand what this is about or why it is happening now.There are already so few voices speaking out for the desperate ordinary people in Zimbabwe that it is with overwhelming sadness that we heard this week that Short Wave Radio Africa is about to stop broadcasting as they have run out of money. Through SW Radio Africa ordinary people could tell of their own struggle to survive and for those of us who have listened faithfully every night, I do not know how, now, we will find the courage to go on without our voice of hope. We feel more alone now than ever before. Until next week, with love, cathy.Copyright cathy buckle 28th May 2005.http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ;www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New Zealand:johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au ; Africa: www.kalahari.netwww.exclusivebooks.com
Dont know about everyone else who has read this last letter from Cathy, but I have to say I was in tears for all the good folks trying to make ends meet. How CAN this be happening? Why cant we care enough to actually DO something for them? Why does the United Nations not demand that BASIC human rights are observed? Why does the world turn a BLIND eye to what is going on in Zimbabwe? WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY........

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Pretoria name change is approved and I wonder in the years ahead how will the loss of these parts of their country's heritage be felt. History is history, and to me it should not be just wiped out if you dont like it. We are continually told to remember what Hitler did in Europe and we must not forget what happened. Therefore to remove names, statues etc is wrong for future generations, who will want to know what happened. I wonder how they will think of their politicians of today actions. Many countries deny to their own people the knowledge of what happened in their past past.

Opponents of the change say they feel marginalised. A recommendation that the name of South Africa's capital be changed from Pretoria to Tshwane has been unanimously approved.
The Geographic Names Council took four hours to back the change. Tshwane is the name of a pre-colonial local chief and means "we are the same".

Supporters of the change say the switch will underscore South Africa's break with apartheid in 1994. The city was named after Boer settler and Afrikaner hero Andries Pretorius. At the weekend, hundreds of predominantly white South Africans staged a demonstration against the name change.

The city council approved the switch to Tshwane in March as part of moves to make place names more African. Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan is expected to approve the name change.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005




Egypt arrests 15 on eve of poll. Protesters have held several rallies against previous arrests of Brotherhood members. Police in Egypt have arrested 15 members of the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood on the eve of a referendum on planned electoral changes. They were seized for possessing fliers urging a boycott of the referendum.

More than 800 members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested this month for protesting against the vote. Opposition groups say the proposals allowing multi-candidate elections contain too many constraints for anyone to challenge President Hosni Mubarak.
In a recorded speech on state television on the eve of the poll, Mr Mubarak said the referendum would be "a decisive moment in our contemporary history". "I have full and unlimited confidence that you will turn out to take part, through the referendum, in making a new tomorrow for our country and exploring new and broad horizons in our political life," Mr Mubarak said.

The Muslim brotherhood activists were arrested in the provinces of Kafr el-Sheik and Ismailiya. In the capital, Cairo, police dispersed a small demonstration against the constitutional amendment. Two members of the opposition al-Ghad party were arrested at the rally where about 20 protesters were surrounded by about 100 policemen. "What happened today is a proof of a police state, and the authoritarian regime that muzzles mouths and oppresses the opposition," said Ehab al-Khouli, al-Ghad deputy secretary-general, one of the two held. Under the new proposals political parties have to have been in existence for five years before they can field candidates.

President Mubarak is expected to seek a fifth six-year term. Independent presidential candidates must have the support of at least 65 out of a total of 444 MPs - 90% of whom are from the president's National Democratic Party. The opposition says a non-government candidate would not get this support - he would depend on the ruling party to back his candidacy. Under the existing system, voters could only vote yes or no to a single presidential candidate chosen by parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood - the most popular opposition force in Egypt - is tolerated by the authorities but banned from operating as a political party. It has 17 MPs sitting in parliament as independents. On Sunday, police arrested Mahmud Ezzat, Mr Ezzat the Brotherhood's secretary-general. He was believed to have been the highest-profile arrest from the group since 1996.


Australia warns Japan over whales. Anti-whaling groups say Japan already kills too many whales Australia is stepping up a diplomatic campaign to persuade Japan to drop plans to increase commercial whaling. Under an international agreement, there is a moratorium on the hunting of whales, but some can be killed for scientific research.

Opponents of whale hunting say Japan is exploiting this loophole, killing hundreds and selling the meat. Japan is reported to have said it wants to kill nearly twice the number of whales it hunted last year. Australian Prime Minister John Howard says he has written to his Japanese counterpart, Junichiro Koizumi, to say that new research methods make killing whales unnecessary.

"Our position on research whaling will not change just because of foreign pressure" said
Takanori Nagatomo - Japanese Fisheries Agency. Mr Howard told Mr Koizumi to expect considerable public concern around the world if whale killing was increased. "There is clear evidence of the extent of public interest in the continued health and welfare of whales and considerable public concern could be expected, not only in Australia, but across the globe, were whaling to increase," he wrote.

But Japan's Fisheries Agency said the country would continue its whaling which it says is done for scientific research

Sunday, May 22, 2005




Seven teenage girls on a school trip have drowned off the coast of eastern South Africa, rescue officials say. The girls, aged 16-17, are believed to have gone swimming at the town of Richards Bay before lifeguards came on duty, and were caught in a rip tide. Their bodies were recovered by the National Sea Rescue Institute and a port authority helicopter.
An eighth girl is still missing and the search continues, a spokesman for the institute told the BBC news website. A group of some 300 students accompanied by teachers reportedly arrived at the beach on Saturday evening and spent the night there. When the first lifeguard arrived at the scene, a large group of teenagers had already gone swimming.
The tide was going out and it became clear that some had been caught in a rip current and were struggling to reach the shore. A rescue operation was launched, involving a 12m inflatable boat, a helicopter and the ambulance service. An unspecified number of people were pulled out of the water.
For seven girls it was already too late, and they were declared dead at the scene. The harbour town of Richards Bay is a major tourist attraction due to its lagoon which is home to hippos and aquatic birds.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Zimbabwe ex-minister found guilty.

Critics accuse Mr Mugabe of using the anti-corruption drive as a witch-hunt.Former Zimbabwe Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri has been found guilty of breaking Zimbabwe's citizenship laws.
The country does not recognise dual citizenship, but Mr Kuruneri - who is on trial for corruption - admitted travelling on a Canadian passport.
He is accused of illegally channelling funds abroad to buy a mansion in South Africa, which his lawyers dismiss as "mere speculation".
Mr Kuruneri was arrested last year at the height of an anti-corruption drive. He has spent more than a year in custody and is the most senior official to have been prosecuted during the campaign, launched by President Robert Mugabe.

Thursday, May 19, 2005




'New' giant ape found in DR Congo.

The new ape has some gorilla characteristics. Scientists believe they have discovered a new group of giant apes in the jungles of central Africa. The animals, with characteristics of both gorillas and chimpanzees, have been sighted in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to local villagers, the apes are ferocious, and even capable of killing lions.
A report about the mysterious creatures is published in this week's edition of the UK magazine New Scientist. If they are a new species of primate, it could be one of the most important wildlife discoveries in decades. The discovery of these apes "reveals just how much we still have to learn about our closest living relatives," New Scientist says.
Large, black faces (like gorillas)
Up to two metres tall (6.5ft)
Weigh 85kg-102kg (187lb-224lb)
Males make nests on the ground (like gorillas)
Diet rich in fruit (like chimps) They stand up to two metres tall, the size of gorillas, and like gorillas, they nest on the ground, not in trees.
But they live hundreds of km away from any other known gorilla populations, and their diet is closer to that of chimpanzees


Dolphins offered mobile solution.

If successful, other species of dolphin will be tagged. Dusky dolphins living off the coast of Cape Town are about to be issued with mobile phone technology. It will not be handsets though and, despite their sophisticated ability to communicate, they will not be chatting or texting each other.
Instead they will have collars embedded with a mobile phone SIM card to keep track of their movements. Mobile phone technology is revolutionising the way animals - both on land and sea - are tracked.
Some 200 animals in Africa, including elephants, zebras and baboons, are now tracked via SIM cards, which is a much cheaper technology than using a satellite system.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Monday, May 09, 2005 Zimbabwe Slaughter
A tsunami of blood ... who cares? by Barbara Simpson.

Massive slaughter is old hat for Africa. Living beings mowed down for no good reason with automatic weapons or slashed with machetes. Rivers of blood and bloated bodies.
This time, it's not dead people. This time, it's animals, beginning with big game.
Since the usual reaction of the rest of the world to African bloodbaths is to ignore it or to '"tsk tsk" that nothing was done soon enough, it's not surprising that the current slaughter in Zimbabwe is virtually ignored in the media and the West.
For lovers of African wildlife - giraffes, lions, elephants, hippos, antelopes, cheetahs and more - it's a disaster of unparalleled proportions, being done on government orders.
There is no safe place for wildlife left in Zimbabwe, the era of protection is over.
Robert Mugabe, the just re-elected (in a highly disputed election) communist president of that country has ordered - yes, ordered - the country's national parks and rangers, rural district councils and, in some cases, military, to conduct a wholesale slaughter of all big game.
Reports are that the first week, National Park rangers killed 10 elephants. According to the New Zealand Herald, four of the animals were shot in full view of tourists near Lake Kariba, the largest man-made lake in Africa and a major wildlife haven.
The meat was used for an election celebration barbecue! A giraffe was killed, supposedly for food for hungry peasants, but the meat disappeared, believed appropriated for the police and their buddies.
Robert Mugabe says he ordered the killing to feed his starving people. Yes, the people are starving, but it's because Mugabe's incompetent government, henchmen and corrupt cronies have driven the entire country beyond collapse. He caused the famine and now is decimating the wildlife supposedly to end it. The only thing he'll end is irreplaceable natural treasure.
Consider that barely five years ago the country produced enough food to feed its own and export. Today, it begs food from the world.
Consider that Mugabe prohibits international donors from distributing free food, doing it himself, but denying it to his political opposition - no vote, no food.
Consider that in 2002, it was recorded that 89 percent of E.U. aid money was embezzled by the government.
Consider that under government price-fixing policies, producers were ordered to sell food and goods for less than they cost to make.
Consider that the Zimbabwe dollar was once worth more than the U.S. dollar - now, it takes more than 20,000 to buy one greenback.
Consider that the government takes more than half of wages in taxes and out-of-control inflation makes the rest worthless. Bus fare costs more than the monthly wages of workers.
Consider that life expectancy is 34 years for men, 33 for women. HIV is rampant, leaving some 700,000 AIDS orphans.
Consider that North Korea trained Mugabe's military, Libya had training bases in the interior and there was money to send his army to the Congo to support that Marxist dictator.
Consider that his political opponents were threatened, beaten, tortured or killed and the media controlled or shut down.
Consider that tourism and a network of safari camps were the most vital economic assets of the country. Now, tourism is dead and soon all the animals will be as well.
If you dreamed of visiting Zimbabwe - called Rhodesia, under the British - you know it was a gem. Blessed with temperate climate, spectacular scenery including Victoria Falls, well-stocked game reserves and ancient ruins.
Add to that, the country had fertile soil, one of the most productive agricultural economies on the continent and huge reserves of gold, platinum and other natural resources.
The country operated with an efficient road and rail network, to say nothing of business, manufacturing, banking and media operations. The school system was excellent and the population one of the best educated in Africa.
Then came independence and Robert Mugabe. It's been disaster since. The country is in virtual economic collapse.
Five years ago, under the euphemism of "land reform," Mugabe ordered the seizure of nearly 7,000 private, white-owned farms, operations which grew the food that fed the people and supported the export economy.
His organized mobs looted the properties, beat and killed the white owners - and did the same to blacks who worked on the farms - killed livestock herds and wildlife, and burned homes and crops. The land was left fallow and millions are starving.
Most of those stolen farms were given as perks to government officials and political cronies. The estate of Vice President Joshua Nkomo included 16 farms.
During all of this, government-sanctioned poachers deliberately decimated animals on commercial game farms. Thousands of snares killed everything from sable antelope, wild dogs, cats and zebra to anything else that fell victim.
Estimates are that in three years, 80 percent of all animals on the game farms were killed.
Now big game is the target - they don't stand a chance. Particularly at risk is the trans-frontier park. That's where wildlife from Mozambique and South Africa (Kruger National Park) moves freely into Zimbabwe across borders. Conservationists there are desperate, knowing the wildlife heritage is being irredeemably destroyed.
Where's our anger? Where's our outrage? Where are the animal rights, animal protection and nature-Earth protection organizations? Why don't we hear their furious screams at this murderous rape of nature, just as they do when a fairy shrimp or red-legged frog is perceived in danger?
Is it really all politics?
Consider that just last Wednesday, Zimbabwe was re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Commission! Only three countries protested: Australia, Canada and the United States. Our statement said that the United States is "perplexed and dismayed by the decision."
Perplexed and dismayed?! Why not infuriated? Outraged? Insulted?
What about the animal slaughter? There hasn't been any U.S. statement about that, or one from any other country, for that matter.
Those animals are a world heritage. It's obscene this should take place below media radar.
Put on the pressure! Stop the money. Perhaps if all donations to every animal-environmental-zoo group stopped, they might get the message that we want to hear their international shrieks of outrage over this government ordered, senseless wildlife slaughter.
It's wanton killing to cover up the failure of a communist dictatorship whose leader is still accepted on the international scene.
That's a travesty too, but come to think of it, that's probably why it's being ignored.
See? It is politics. And like most politics, it's bathed in the blood of innocents. It's disgusting.

Barbara Simpson, "The Babe in the Bunker" as she's known to her KSFO 560 radio talk-show audience in San Francisco, has a 20-year radio, television and newspaper career in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Cathy Buckle's Letter From Zimbabwe.

Dear Family and Friends,
Some weeks it is hard to know what to write that best describes the events, atmosphere and topic of conversation in Zimbabwe. This week I thought that the subject matter for my letter would be obvious and easy.On Tuesday 62 men who had allegedly been involved in plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea, were due to be released from Chikurubi prison inHarare. They had come to the end of their one year prison sentence and were to be released and then immediately deported to South Africa. Tuesday came and went without the release of the 62 men and the rather vague explanation offered was that the dates has been incorrectly calculated and the release date was actually only on Wednesday. The alleged mercenaries were not released on either Wednesday or Thursday. Trying to follow the story on state owned radio and TV news broadcasts was almost impossible. On one of those days an announcement was made that the 62 men had now completed their prison term and were to be released into the custody of Immigration officials. On the next day, when nothing had happened I determined to watch the main evening Television news to get an update. It was three or four minutes after 8pm when I switched on what is usually an hour long event but it seemed that there was no main evening news that night in Zimbabwe. There was no news at all just a football game. There was no printed crawl line at the bottom of the screen with summarised news highlights, there was just no news at all. I must admit that I had already listened to the news on Short Wave Radio Africa and knew that there was actually quite a lot of news that day including people being arrested in Mabvuku for trying to protest about having no water.By Friday evening the 62 men had still not been released from Chikurubi. Alitany of reasons had been proffered including "logistical problems","security concerns", an immigration official who was "out of town" and finally the statement that the timing of the release and method of transportation that would be used for the deportation, was "classified information."Hey Ho ! This is clearly one story I am not going to tell but all week an image has stayed imprinted in my mind and it has given me cause to smile.One evening the Zimbabwean lawyer involved in defending the 62 mercenaries was shown on a South African television news program. Behind him there was a poster on the wall which read "Don't follow me I'm lost!" How very appropriate. Until next week, with love, cathy Copyright cathy buckle 14thMay 2005http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ; www.amazon.co.uk; in Australia and New Zealand: johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au ; Africa: www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Aids 'genocide' advert condemned
By Roland Pease BBC Science correspondent.

The UN said the advert was "wrong and misleading". Medical researchers and health organisations have condemned an advert promoting vitamin supplements as a safe and effective way to treat HIV/Aids.

The full-page advert, published in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times, says anti-retroviral drugs are a form of genocide.

Anti-retroviral drugs are the most effective treatment for HIV/Aids.

The advertising campaign started last year in South Africa, where Aids workers were quick to condemn it.


Cannes festival opens with drama.

Indian actress Aishwarya Rai with French star Laetitia Casta. The Cannes film festival has opened with a red carpet screening of surreal French drama Lemming, one of 21 films competing for the Palme d'Or prize.

Indian actress Aishwarya Rai declared the event open after an overhead gymnastic display by a member of Canada's Cirque du Soleil troupe. The 58th festival is the world's most prestigious film industry gathering. Jury president Emir Kusturica joined actress Salma Hayek and fellow jurors at Wednesday's gala opening. Those in the audience included US actor Dennis Hopper, French actress Catherine Deneuve and French model Laetitia Casta.

Cannes film festival attracts more than 40,000 movie industry workers every year.




Zimbabwe to release 'mercenaries'.

Most of the alleged mercenaries are South African. Sixty men linked to an alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea are due to be deported from Zimbabwe to South Africa after more than a year in custody.
Defence lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said they would be taken by bus from Harare to Beit Bridge border crossing, where immigration officials will meet them. They are in good health apart from one with tuberculosis, he added. Coup charges against the men were not proven, but they were convicted of breaking Zimbabwe's immigration laws. They will be reunited with their families before facing possible charges in South Africa, their lawyer said.
The alleged ring-leader of the plot, Briton Simon Mann, and the two pilots of the plane, remain in prison in Zimbabwe on longer sentences.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Help for Kenya's abandoned baby.

Angel is to be put up for adoption. Offers of help have poured in for an abandoned baby girl found being looked after by a dog in Kenya's capital. The two-week old, whom nurses are calling Angel, is being cared for in a Nairobi hospital after two boys heard her crying near their house.
The case is receiving huge media coverage and Kenyan newspapers say they are receiving lots of offers from people wanting to adopt her. Doctors think the baby was left for two days before being discovered. Kenyatta Hospital staff say members of the public have begun donating baby clothes and nappies.

The dog, which has no name, is being given deworming pills and proper dog food by the Kenyan Society for the Protection of Animals, the Daily Nation reports. The dog is thought to have rescued the baby from a nearby forestAngel will be taken to a children's home after she is fully recovered and then put up for adoption in the usual way, say officials. Local residents say the baby was probably abandoned in a nearby forest and the dog then carried her in a bag she had been left in over the main Ngong Road to near where the boys live. The dog's owner then found the baby covered by an old cloth in a plastic bag. She gave her some milk and cleaned her before she was taken to hospital.

Unwanted babies are quite frequently abandoned in Kenya - because of failed relationships or extreme poverty.



Monday, May 09, 2005


Cleaner air makes brighter skies
By Richard Black BBC News environment correspondent.

Human activities put tiny particles into the atmosphere. The amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface is increasing, two new studies in Science magazine suggest. Using different methods, they find that solar radiation at the surface has risen for at least the last decade.
Previous work had found the opposite trend, leading to a popular theory known as "global dimming". But the latest Swiss and US research indicates the dimming in the past has now been reversed, possibly because of reduced atmospheric pollution.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Cathy's letter from Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,
The moon was still up and a handful of stars shone in the sky when I left home before dawn on Friday morning. It didn't take me long to get to the petrol queue and I coasted into place behind an old Peugeot. There were more cars coming in behind me and all were saving precious fuel, switching off their engines and rolling down into the queue. I had bought a book but it was still too dark to read so I locked my car and walked along the line to see how many cars were in front of me and tried to work out how long it might be before I got to the front. There were 22 vehicles ahead of me and in almost all of them the drivers were huddled under jackets and blankets asleep. The petrol station whose big sign boasts "24 hour" service, was actually closed. It would only open at 6 am and even then it wouldn't really be open because they had no fuel to sell anyway. We were all queuing on the back of a rumour that had persisted for over 24 hours that a petrol delivery was imminent. The tanker hadn't arrived yet but still the people waited. The latest rumour was that the tanker driver had a puncture and was delayed in Harare but that had been many many hours earlier but, in true Zimbabwean fashion, we were ever hopeful and so we waited. Just after dawn broke I saw a man walking along the fence line of the petrol station. He was thin and barefoot and his clothes were very dirty but he was intent and kept bending down and carefully picking weeds. He wasn't pulling out the weeds, which I know as Blackjacks, but breaking off the younger leaves at the tops of the plants and collecting them carefully in a bunch. The cooked leaves of young Blackjacks are edible and in amongst the plastic bags, crisp packets, cigarette ends and street litter, the man was obviously collecting food. Soon he had a large bundle of leaves in his hands and left. As the light of day increased, the queue at the petrol station became a jungle. Young men with dreadlocks and backwards baseball caps came in cars with blaring radios. First they cruised the line, looking at faces and spaces, and then they stopped wherever they decided they were going to jump the queue, pointing their cars at the place they intended to squeeze in. Petrol pump attendants, waiting to have something to do, find themselves as the most sought after and popular people and it doesn't take much looking to see money changing hands and notes being tucked into pockets. A momentary diversion from the boredom and the waiting came with four women of the night who strut and swagger alongside the queue in skintight jeans and high heels. The contrast between the man picking Blackjacks and the women with crimson and bright blue highlights in their hair, is stark and surreal. As the day got hotter and the sun higher, still the tanker didn't come and people started giving up. I gave up after three hours. A fruitless line for a few litres of petrol seemed a far cry from the incessant crowing on the propaganda TV and radio all week about our newly acquired Chinese aeroplanes. If the propaganda is to be believed these two new aeroplanes are going to "turnaround" the economy, "revive tourism" and flood the country with foreign currency. I can't help wondering if these Chinese planes also need fuel to operate as frankly the irony of new planes and no fuel is just too staggering.Until next week, love cathy Copyright cathy buckle 7th May 2005 http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" areavailable from: orders@africabookcentre.com ; www.africabookcentre.com ;www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New Zealand: johnmreed@johnreedbooks.com.au; Africa: www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com

Friday, May 06, 2005

Heartfelt Thoughts Of Many.

Within my soul, within my mind,
There lies a place I cannot find.
Home of my heart. Land of my birth.
Smoke-coloured stone and flame-coloured earth.
Electric skies. Shivering heat.
Blood-red clay beneath my feet.
At night when finally alone,
I close my eyes - and I am home.
I kneel and touch the blood-warm sand
And feel the pulse beneath my hand
Of an ancient life too old to name,
In an ancient land too wild to tame.
How can I show you what I feel?
How can I make this essence real?
I search for words in dumb frustration
To try and form some explanation,
But how can heart and soul be caught
In one-dimensional written thought?
If love and longing are a "fire"
And man "consumed" by his desire,
Then this love is no simple flame
That mortal thought can hold or tame.
As deep within the earth's own core
The love of home burns evermore.
But what is home? I hear them say,
This never was yours anyway.
You have no birthright to this place,
Descendant from another race.
An immigrant? A pioneer?
You are no longer welcome here.
Whoever said that love made sense?
"I love" is an "imperfect" tense.
To love in vain has been man's fate
From history to present date.
I have no grounds for dispensation,
I know I have no home or nation.
For just one moment in the night
I am complete, my soul takes flight.
For just one moment....then it's gone
And I am once again undone.
Never complete. Never whole.
White Skin and an African soul.
Written by Michelle Frost.

Thursday, May 05, 2005




Niger anti-slave activist charged.

Mr Weila is the head of Niger's anti-slavery organisation Timidria.An anti-slavery human rights activist in Niger has been charged with attempted fraud after his arrest. Ilguilas Weila is accused of trying to falsely elicit money from foreign donors. He denies any wrongdoing. The charges relate to a ceremony to free 7,000 slaves, cancelled at the last minute in March by the government who maintains slavery does not exist.
London-based Anti-Slavery International has urged the authorities to release Mr Weila and his colleagues immediately. At least 43,000 people are thought to live in subjugation across Niger, which officially banned slavery in May 2003. Mr Weila has been remanded in custody until a bail application is heard. His lawyer told the BBC that charges of spreading false information had been dropped.
Slavery is a significant problem in Niger Four of his colleagues were set free on Wednesday.
The ceremony in March was due to be attended by representatives of the slaves, the government and human rights campaigners at In Ates, near the border with Mali. A local chief had agreed to the release of the slaves, but authorities now say his letter to Timidria, Mr Weila's anti-slavery organisation, asking for financial aid to rehabilitate slaves was a forgery.
"There is not question of any attempt [by Timidria] to swindle money... We see this as another attempt by the government to clamp down on and muzzle Timidria," Romana Cacchioli, Timidria's Africa programme officer told Reuters news agency. Mary Cunneen, director of Anti-Slavery International has condemned the arrest of Mr Weila. "Slavery is a significant problem in Niger and we call on the government to work in co-operation with Timidria to achieve an end to this abuse," she said in a statement.
According to Timidria, males slaves are forced to work in farms and tender cattle, while women are confined to domestic duties. The slave masters take the children from their mothers at two years old - to break the family bond as soon as the child is weaned. And so slavery is perpetuated from one generation to the next. Anti-slavery International says President Mamadou Tandja is embarrassed by any talk of slavery at a time when he is head of the West African regional organisation - Ecowas
Acting under pressure, Niger's parliament made slavery punishable by up to 30 years in prison in 2003.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005



Tuesday, May 03, 2005


How to escape the phishing nets.
Dot life - where technology meets life, every Monday. By Mark Ward.Technology Correspondent, BBC News website.

Phishing is becoming very popular with computer criminals. In the last 18 months the character of the spam reaching your inbox has undergone a subtle change. Slowly but steadily the come-ons for porn and penis pills are making way for bogus warnings about problems with online accounts - aka phishing. The Anti-Phishing Working Group reports that the average monthly growth rate in phishing sites between July 2004 and February 2005 was 26%. These phishing e-mails try to make you enter personal and login details on fake webpages made to resemble real bank sites. The first phishing messages and fake pages were easy to spot because of their mangled grammar and spelling.
But as career criminals have got involved the phishing messages and sites have got harder to distinguish. Now they use all kinds of sophisticated techniques to hide the fact you are not on a bank's website. Some spoof the address bar in your browser to make it look like you are on a legitimate site. It's got more serious because many criminals have realised that phishing is a lucrative trade. The start-up and running costs are low, the chances of being caught are slim and the returns are great.
Ebay and Paypal are the targets of many phishing e-mails. Help to spot phishing sites is coming from firms producing toolbars that tell you when you have strayed on to a bogus website. Ebay was one of the first to produce such a downloadable toolbar. Its toolbar goes green or red depending on whether you are on, or off, an eBay website. It has been produced to try to stop people paying for goods that never arrive.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Egypt denies return to violence. Dr Ahmed Nazif said the attacks targeted tourism. Egyptian authorities have denied that an attack on tourists in Cairo on Saturday signalled a return of Islamist militant violence. They say the incident was a result of an operation against a small group blamed for a bomb attack that killed three tourists in the capital in April. Three suspects were killed and 10 people, including four foreigners, were injured in Saturday's attacks.
Militants carried out several deadly attacks in Egypt in the 1990s.

In Saturday's attack, police said a suicide bomber detonated explosives as officers pursued him near the Egyptian Museum. Soon after, a tourist bus was fired on by two veiled women said to be the sister and fiancee of the bomber. Police said one of the women shot the other before killing herself. Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Nazif said the attack did not signal the return of violent Islamist militancy.