Saturday, December 31, 2005


UN 'shocked' by violence in Cairo.

Police surrounded the migrants, who included women and children
Enlarge ImageThe UN refugee agency has expressed "shock" after up to 20 Sudanese migrants died during an operation by Egyptian police to break up their camp.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said there was no justification for the violence.
Thousands of police stormed the camp - which was set up near UN offices in September - wielding truncheons and firing water cannon at the protesters.
Several children were reported to be among the dead.
The migrants had been demanding that the UNHCR move them to a third country with better conditions.
Thousands of police armed with sticks and shields stormed the small park where the migrants had been camping, at about 0500 (0300 GMT) on Friday.
Our demands are legitimate - it is our right to protest here, the only right we have
In pictures: Camp cleared
'I was standing on bodies'
Witnesses said some refugees stood defiantly or fought back, while others fled.
"There was a stampede that left 30 of the protesters injured, most of them the elderly and young and they were immediately taken to the hospital where 10 of them died," the interior ministry said.
Later ministry sources raised the death toll to 20, while one of the protest leaders said 26 Sudanese were killed, including two women and seven children.
An official statement from the ministry said 74 police were wounded in the action. It accused migrant leaders of inciting attacks against the police.

Frustrations boil over
Harsh life in protest camp
Witnesses said the migrants, including women and small children, were dragged towards buses as they tried to resist leaving the ramshackle camp, leaving clothes, suitcases and makeshift tents scattered in their wake.
"They want to kill us," shouted one protester. "Our demands are legitimate - it is our right to protest here, the only right we have."
One of the Sudanese asylum-seekers, Napoleon Roberts, said he had been taken to a barracks south of the capital and was being held with about 1,700 others in disgusting conditions.
"We've been kept here since morning in disgust, and no water for drinking and no bathroom... people are staying still with their wounds on their bodies," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
Staff threatened
Up to 3,000 refugees had been living at the camp since it was set up on 29 September, many of them sleeping in the open.
The demonstration began after the UNHCR stopped aid to those who had applied and failed to get refugee status.
Tension rose, with UN staff who approached the camp being threatened, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes from the UNHCR base, Geneva.
A spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Cairo, Astrid Stort, said the agency had tried to be accommodating but some of the migrants' demands were "unrealistic".
Sudan said on Friday the refugees should come home, after a peace deal ended its 21-year war with rebels in the south.
But the protesters say it is not safe to return.
A separate conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur has displaced some two million people and left tens of thousands dead.


Friday, December 30, 2005




Zambia 'Satanic' church ban lifted.

Police have been guarding UCKG buildings to impose the ban. A high court in Zambia's capital has ordered the government to let a religious sect accused of practising Satanism resume operating. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was banned last month after a series of riots. Members of the UCKG are now free to meet until the legal case is settled. The decision temporarily overturns a government decision to de-register the sect and deport its two Brazilian pastors - who can now stay on. They had earlier been given seven days to leave the country.
The BBC's Musonda Chibamba in Lusaka said applause and jubilation greeted the ruling. The church took the government to court shortly after the ban was imposed, saying they had not been allowed to present their side of the story and that they had been the victims of public hatred and persecution.
Several church buildings, including a new cathedral, were damaged in riots after word went round that the church had detained two men against their will for alleged satanic rituals. In 1998, the UCKG was shut down for what was termed "unchristian practices", but the church took the matter to the Supreme Court, which nullified the ban.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Languishing in an Addis embassy. By Peter Biles BBC News.

The Italian embassy in Addis Ababa lies in a peaceful quarter of Ethiopia's bustling capital. In the hills to the north-east, the vast, residential compound can be found at the end of a stony track, surrounded by woods filled with eucalyptus trees. It seems almost idyllic, but it is not a place in which to spend 15 years.
On the night of 27 May, 1991, four members of the Dergue, the murderous regime of the Marxist dictator Col Mengistu Haile Mariam, slipped into the Italian embassy under the cover of darkness, and sought political asylum. In the face of a rebel offensive, Mengistu had fled a country a week earlier. His demoralised conscript army was on the point of collapse, and government ministers were hatching their escape plans. Earlier that same day, the acting head of state, Tesfaye Gebre Kidan, who had held office for just seven days, told the US government that law and order was breaking down and he could no longer control the armed forces.
With peace talks underway in London, Washington then gave the fighters of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by Meles Zenawi, the green light to enter Addis Ababa and take over. At the Italian embassy, Mr Tesfaye was joined by the foreign minister, Berhanu Bayeh, and two other officials, Addis Tedla and Hailu Yimenu. However, little did the four men realise then, that the embassy was to become a place of imprisonment for them, rather than salvation.
For nearly 15 years now, the Italian government has reluctantly played host to the unwanted guests. No-one from outside the embassy is allowed access to them. The Italians have always refused to surrender the men to the current Ethiopian government led by Mr Meles because Ethiopia still maintains the death penalty. Two of the four Dergue officials in the embassy have died in circumstances that have never been fully explained. Hailu Yimenu is reported to have committed suicide in 1993, and Tesfaye Gebre Kidan is rumoured to have been hit over the head with a bottle by one of his colleagues in 2004.
So Berhanu Bayeh and Addis Tedla continue to lead a quiet life of long days, under Italian protection. The two surviving Ethiopians have become a diplomatic embarrassment.
If they ever left the Italian embassy, they would almost certainly be arrested by the Ethiopian authorities and charged, like other members of the old regime. On the streets of Addis Ababa, the younger generation is growing up with few memories of those dramatic events of May 1991. So Mengistu's forgotten men sit tight, with plenty of time to reflect on the night they sought Italian hospitality all those years ago.


John Smith's life was spared, On This Day, after
pleas from his daughter Pocahontas, in 1607 !

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Heart Of The Matter on Callback with Joseph Machenjera.

"Marriages of convenience are never meant to last" 28 January 2005.

We all saw it and we wondered. We all knew it was a matter of time.And people warned Jonathan Moyo that his decision to suddenly abandon an important crusade against a tyrant was both professional and political suicide. The people lost no time to marvel at what had suddenly become a great betrayal. It was weird, to say the least, to hear Jonathan Moyo defending Mugabe's ruthlessness and dictatorship.And some people warned Robert Mugabe too. Mugabe's decision to suddenly embrace Jonathan Moyo, a former ferocious critic of ZANU-PF, the government and particularly of Mugabe himself did not go down well with party supporters. They argued that Moyo was a chameleon that was serving the party without any real conviction. But suddenly, Jonathan Moyo became Mugabe's right hand man with access to Mugabe six times a day without appointments while fellow cabinet ministers and all other so-called ZANU-PF stalwarts had to make an appointment and were lucky to see Mugabe once in two weeks.A Nigerian proverb says that whenever you see a bullfrog in the sun, you know that something is after its life.
Jonathan Moyo embraced ZANU-PF because he was in trouble and he needed protection, which he got. He performed well for his masters, shamelessly lying and sinking his way to the lowest of loathsome depths. Unfortunately, he started to believe his own lies and actually believes that he is strong enough to take ZANU-PF to court.For someone who has spent so much time abusing and lying to fellow citizens and using the same ZANU-PF machinery to oppress, harass and cheat Zimbabweans, I thought Moyo was much more informed than this.Does Moyo really have faith in our judiciary or he now has no choice like the rest of us?
Once again, Moyo finds himself scuffling with the same people he used to denounce in the papers and during debates, seminars and presentations. Only now he is one of them. No wonder cartoonists liken him to the treacherous worm that gnaws inside the apple that houses it.The war of words between Moyo and John Nkomo smacks of fears and jealousies. Both men are not sure if they have any real support among the people. That Nkomo is breathing down so heavily on Moyo's neck is an indication of insecurity. Why should such a senior man, in both the party and in government, worry so such about what he himself has termed a 'mafikizolo?' This whole episode is destroying Nkomo faster than it is doing to Moyo.If he wins in Mugabe's courts, which he helped to tarnish, it would mean that Nkomo, along with the party and Mugabe himself, have all lost? And Moyo really believes he has a chance? Should he win against the party, does he expect Mugabe to behave according to the judgment of the court or has he forgotten that he and Mugabe used to laugh off court decisions handed down against them? Dashed hopes are no fun for the one hoping. Now I know what the word 'delusion' means. Poor Jonathan Moyo!
Although he may change positions more often than a windshield wiper, Jonathan Moyo should not be written off. Moyo was a dangerous man to Mugabe when he was outside ZANU-PF and Moyo is dangerous to Mugabe from within ZANU-PF. Unlike the uninspiring and boring old dead wood like the Mutasas, Jonathan Moyo is an eloquent communicator who loves the media and who knows how to plant himself right in the center of things and always makes it difficult for the media to ignore him.But more importantly, Moyo did something that ZANU-PF members of parliament never dream of doing. Love him or hate him, Jonathan Moyo used state means to pour money, development, computers, agricultural inputs and other things into his constituency. He shared the loot with his people unlike some of the greedy ZANU-PF representatives who keep it all for themselves and end up under arrest for externalizing the ill-gotten monies.Moyo was once a darling of the party who did all the dirty work. He worked hard for Mugabe and ZANU-PF. But they now have no more use for him and they are looking for something to pin on him. They are through with him.
The heart of the matter is that no marriage of convenience is ever meant to last and Jonathan Moyo forgot that. He started believing himself more and ignored the reality binding him to ZANU-PF. What we see is what happens when two con-artistes who have been working together now try to con each other. It might be too late for two would-be-lovers who were bound by marriage vows of convenience to really fall in love and start seeking an authentic marriage bond.ZANU-PF wants to break the bond but Jonathan Moyo keeps snuggling up.
But ZANU-PF must be advised to handle Jonathan Moyo carefully. His confidence to challenge and poke at the might of the party should not be underestimated. Like Emmerson Mnangagwa, Moyo definitely has a lot he can use to protect himself and even destroy a number of people's political careers. The kid from Tsholotsho has an ace up his sleeve and it is only a matter of time before he reveals it.And people are watching with amusement. Will people take sides? Nationally, does a contest between Moyo and Nkomo mean anything? What does it mean to people to see ZANU-PF being taken to court by their most vocal and ferocious propagandist? Does Moyo realize that his lawsuit against the party targets Mugabe as well? Knowing ZANU-PF as much as he does, what really does he expect the outcome to be?But we should leave them to fight it out and cheat each other the same way they did to the rest of us. It's their turn to smell the suffocating insides of their armpits. Although right now they are desperate and dangerous, our struggle must continue.I am Joseph Machenjera saying that we should not be sidetracked by the infighting within ZANU-PF. We have a lot to do yet. A luta continua!

And that, my compatriots, is the way it is today Friday 28 January 2005.


Zimbabwe detains 160 deportees from South Africa.
By Lance Guma 28 December 2005.

State radio reported that 160 Zimbabweans deported from South Africa are in detention pending interrogations by Zimbabwean police. This follows their deportations on Tuesday in which South Africa used air transport for the first time. Illegal immigrants are normally transported by road and railway but Tuesday’s move took everyone by surprise.

Those deported are currently being held by police at the Harare International Airport pending what authorities say is ‘clearance procedures’. Most of those affected do not have travel documents and had been staying at the internationally condemned Lindela Repatriation Centre in South Africa. Other reports suggest some complained of torture on the plane while others deplored the conditions in which they were held in at Lindela.

South African officials deny the move to deport using air transport is unusual and say they normally carry out such removals from time to time. Over-crowding at Lindela had resulted in the deaths of several inmates and they say they found it necessary to carry out such large removals to ease congestion. On the mode of transport, officials say they were not enough trains over the holiday period to be able to transport the deportees.

A crippling economic and political crisis has forced over 3 million Zimbabweans to seek refuge and jobs in neighbouring countries especially South Africa. Most jump the border without proper documentation and even those who seek to claim asylum, have to contend with government’s that are sympathetic towards Robert Mugabe’s regime.


Russian oil smugglers return home.

The sailors were arrested on board the African Pride in 2003. Twelve Russian sailors convicted of smuggling crude oil from Nigeria have arrived back in Moscow from Africa. The men were convicted earlier this month but later released after having spent two years in detention. They were among 15 east European sailors arrested after being caught in possession of 10,000 tonnes of stolen oil worth 2m euros (£1.37m) in 2003.

Correspondents say the incident soured relations between Russia and Nigeria - Africa's largest oil exporter. The tanker - the MT African Pride - mysteriously disappeared from custody last year, causing embarrassment in Nigeria's political circles. Some 30,000 barrels of oil are believed to be lost to fuel thieves each day in Nigeria. The sailors received an emotional welcome from family and friends, and television crews, when they flew into Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport on Wednesday.

"I finally believe that we are back, that I am free. There are no words to express what I am feeling now," the team's captain Valery Pakhomov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Zimbabwe crisis hits game parks.
Richard Hamilton BBC News.

A drought and the continued economic crisis in Zimbabwe are starting to hit the country's largest game reserve. The management of Hwange National Park say most of its watering holes have now dried up and grazing has become scarce. They say 40 three elephants have died, 53 buffaloes and a number of zebras, giraffe and antelope.

There have also been reports of an outbreak of a disease known as blackleg which experts say often occurs when there is a shortage of drinking water. As if that wasn't bad enough, in recent years the illegal poaching of elephants has been on the increase. The elephant population of the park has reached bursting point - it has a capacity for 14,000 elephants but currently has at least 27,000, and official government statistics put the population even higher.

The authorities say the country's fuel shortages are affecting the way they run the park - for example they are struggling to deliver spare parts for the water pumps. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a non-governmental organisation, said he believed the Zimbabwe government was hoping the elephants would starve to death, thus providing a way of culling them.

Zimbabwe's safari and wildlife industry used to be one of the most successful sectors of the country's economy, employing tens of thousands of people and providing a huge source of revenue for the game parks, but recently it has suffered a staggering decline - a victim, it seems, of Zimbabwe's general malaise and misfortunes.

Severe food shortages together with a deepening economic crisis have left millions of Zimbabweans in a desperate situation - now it seems their plight is being shared by the animal population too.

Six die in Kenya Christmas attack !

Cattle is a major commodity in the region.
Kenyan police say armed men shot and killed at least six people at a Christmas party in the west of the country near the Ugandan border. Two of the dead in the weekend attack were said to be police officers. There are no details of a motive for the attack, and Trans Nzoia region police have launched an investigation.
In recent months western areas of Kenya, near the border with Uganda, have seen fighting between rival tribes, largely over cattle-rustling. "We have information that five armed raiders stormed the home and started shooting people who were celebrating Christmas," police official Julius Sunkuli told the AFP news agency.

Cattle raiding has been a common practice for centuries among the nomadic groups of northern Kenya and Uganda, correspondents say. But the raids have become increasingly lethal in recent decades as tribal warriors acquired modern weapons, which flooded the region following conflicts in Uganda, Sudan and Somalia, they say.
BBC NEWS REPORT from AFP news agency.


Zanu PF thuggery in SA.


"This sort of intolerance and violent behaviour characterises Zanu PF from the top down"
Savious KwinikaJohannesburg - About 150 copies of The Zimbabwean were confiscated and torn to pieces by a bearded man, identified as Oliver Chiruka, in an incident in Braamfontein last Friday witnessed by several people. Chiruka, the Zanu PF provincial secretary for youth for Manicaland, grabbed the newspapers from a vendor in full view of other street vendors and passengers boarding buses from Johannesburg to Harare at the terminus on the corner of Wolmarans and Harrison Streets for the Christmas holiday. He accused readers of The Zimbabwean of teaming up in the diaspora to work with the Zimbabwean government's enemies, such as the country's main opposition MDC and the British government, to impose "illegal economic sanctions" on Zimbabwe. "Whoever brings copies of The Zimbabwean here will never ever board the bus to Harare. I am not going to allow British-sponsored newspapers to be read here at the terminus. You forget that Zanu PF gave every Zimbabwean free land, offered free education, free health and free food during times of drought, so why are you betraying your own country when you are abroad? " fumed the man, himself an economic migrant from Mugabe's disastrous economic policies.
Chiruka even boasted that he had been given farming land measuring 495 hectares, free farming inputs, a gun and draught power for tillage by the ruling party. "Why is he then down here doing menial work as a loader for a bus company (name supplied)?" queried an observer. After confiscating the newspapers at the Tudor Hotel bus terminus, Chiruka went to a nearby fast food outlet where he seized another 48 copies.
A student from the university of Wits condemned the thuggish behaviour in the strongest terms. "Zanu PF's foolishness and barbarity amuses me. Even when people are in a foreign land, the party always wants to bully, dictate, and impose its own views upon ours. Right now we are being denied the right to read the newspaper of our choice. It is time we joined hands to deal ruthlessly with such misguided people," he said. The publisher of The Zimbabwean, Wilf Mbanga, said the incident did not surprise him, given the intolerance of alternative viewpoints evidenced by the party at the highest level. "This incident is a microcosm of what is wrong with Zimbabwe today. This sort of intolerance and violent behaviour characterises Zanu PF from the top down and is at the root of the Zimbabwean tragedy," said Mbanga.


Soweto spinners thrill motor fans.
By Barnaby Phillips BBC News, Soweto.

Soweto's spinning craze began on the streets several years ago. It's long after midnight, but more and more people are streaming into a dark and dingy hall on the edge of Soweto. The hot-dog salesmen are doing a roaring trade, and so are the women selling bottles of beer and spirits, which they pull out of a large dustbin full of crushed ice. The crowd is young, and mainly black, although there a few coloured people. There are lots of couples, as well as large groups of men and women who have come on their own.
A huge sound system is pumping out "kwaito" tunes - the dance music of the black townships. People are excited, and many are dancing. Suddenly the music stops, and everyone rushes towards an arena, a circular pit, surrounded by a safety wall and rows of concrete seating.
A white BMW emerges. The driver, Siphiwe Mdluli, is better-known to his fans as "bhubesi", Zulu for lion. "Bhu-Bess-iii! I love you!" screams a large girl besides me, jumping up and down.
Siphiwe MdluliBut Siphiwe cannot hear her. He is sending his BMW into a series of tight spins.
The scream of his tyres is deafening. And the faster he spins, the crazier the crowd becomes.
Great clouds of smoke are coming from his back tyres; within seconds the air is thick with the acrid smell of burning rubber. But Siphiwe is not finished. He leaps out of his spinning car, and walks calmly away from it.
Now the girls cannot control themselves. Some run down to the safety wall, screaming, groaning and waving frantically. Siphiwe smiles, and waves back. The crowds go wild for the spinners and their tricksBehind him, the empty car is still spinning. Siphiwe turns, and timing his leap with perfection, dives back into the car, before driving away in triumph. "Amazing, better than drugs," one man says, pulling hard on his cigarette.
Welcome to the world of spinning, a Soweto craze, fuelled by adrenalin, alcohol, and sex appeal.
Spinning is not about racing, but it is competitive. Not because there is any formal scoring system, but because different drivers are trying to win the approval of their peers and the excitable crowd.
Its protagonists are all men, and their skill in the arena gives them hero status in the townships.
Spinning started illegally, on the streets, several years ago. Public highways were blocked as crowds, several hundred strong, tried to get as close to the action as possible. It was also popular at weddings and funerals. But accidents were common, and the police started to crack down on spinning meetings.
Floyd Malevu, who spins his own black BMW, says: "We decided to organise things a little bit, and that's when we moved into this hall. Now we spin here every Saturday, and hundreds of people come to watch."
Siphiwe's tricks have won him a large number of fansFloyd and his friends charge a small entrance fee to cover some of their expenses. But they have also have to dig deep into their own pockets to fund their expensive hobby, paying for new tyres and frequent repairs to their vehicles. By day Siphiwe makes a living by driving a tow truck round Soweto. He says that his family, and cars, are his whole life. "Michael Schumacher and the others are all white, they had advantages," Siphiwe says, "but we grew up poor- we couldn't get near a car until we were 25. For us spinning is a sport. We are not thugs." But how does Siphiwe do it? How does he make sure his car carries on spinning on the spot, even after he has leaped out of it? I wondered whether he somehow locks the accelerator and the steering wheel, to ensure that the car does not go careering into a wall.
"I can't tell you my secrets," Siphiwe says with a smile. "You just have to watch how I do it".



Saturday, December 24, 2005


Nigeria hits back at US warning.

Obasanjo has yet to say whether he would like to contest polls again. Nigeria's government has told the United States to mind its own business over speculation that the president may stand for a third term. US State Department officials have warned that any constitutional amendment to allow this would undermine Nigeria's democratic advances. But Nigerian presidential spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode said Nigeria did not need lessons in democracy from abroad. He said President Olusegun Obasanjo believed in constitutional rule. "At no point in time has President Obasanjo said that he has any intention of not only staying on but also violating the constitution of Nigeria and neither would he do so," Mr Fani-Kayode told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Mr Fani-Kayode was responding to comments by US State Department officials that Mr Obasanjo should not seek a third term. Herman Cohen, former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said Mr Obasanjo had improved human rights and freedom of speech. "I say he should take that credit and retire and leave it to a new generation of leaders who can take Nigeria a step further and start using those resources for the people - which he has not done," Mr Cohen told the BBC's World Today programme. Mr Fani-Kayode said the US was responding to a hypothetical situation. "We in our country, and certainly our president, does not need lessons in democracy, or in constitutional rule, or indeed in interpreting constitutional rule from anybody, least of all people from outside our shores," he said.
Nigeria's parliament is currently discussing proposed constitutional amendments which, if approved, could allow presidential third terms. "If there is an amendment in regard to tenure of office, we will cross that bridge when we come to it," Mr Fani-Kayode said. Correspondents say the issue has been the subject of heated debate in Nigeria since the amendments were tabled in the National Assembly.
Last month, the leaders of two major ethnic groups - the Yoruba and Igbo - come out strongly against President Obasanjo running in polls in 2007 saying it would cause instability. Any constitutional amendment needs to be approved by parliamentarians and two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.

Friday, December 23, 2005




Canal body 'was Rwandan minister'.

Uwilingiyimana was charged over his alleged role in the 1994 genocide.
A decomposed body found in a canal in Brussels is that of a Rwandan former minister facing charges of genocide, the Belgian justice ministry has said. Juvenal Uwilingiyimana, 54, a former minister for parks, went missing from his home in the city on 21 November. Eight days later, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania indicted him for his alleged part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days. The charges against Mr Uwilingiyimana included genocide, incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and murder.
A badly decomposed, naked body was spotted on 17 December in the central Brussels-Charleroi canal by a passer-by. Belgian lawyer Sven Mary said he had been informed by the investigating magistrate that the body was that of his client, Mr Uwilingiyimana.
"What complicates things is that we have not been given any information on the cause of death. We would like light shed on this," he told the AFP news agency. The former minister had met several times with officials from the ICTR in the three weeks before he disappeared from his home in the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht. ICTR chief investigator Stephen Rapp said the last such meeting had taken place three days before Mr Uwilingiyimana disappeared.
Early in November, a letter purportedly written by Mr Uwilingiyimana and published on the internet accused the ICTR of trying to pressure him into incriminating other high-ranking officials in the former Rwandan Hutu regime.
The ICTR has convicted 22 people in connection with the genocide.


Thursday, December 22, 2005


Nigeria oil attack prompts alert.

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has put security forces on high alert in the Niger Delta region after an attack on a key oil pipeline. He gave the order at a meeting with security and intelligence officials in the capital Abuja. The apparent dynamite attack killed at least eight people and is expected to delay deliveries of more than 180,000 barrels per day for up to a week.
Pipelines have been attacked in the region a number of times before. In other instances, pipelines have been cut by thieves to siphon off the oil. Some local residents have long claimed they do not benefit from the oil wealth.
Mr Obasanjo's spokesman, Remi Oyo, said the president had ordered all defence and security personnel in the region to be placed in a state of high alert. "We will not abandon this country to brigands. Criminals must be chased, caught and punished," the president was quoted in a statement as saying.
The attack occurred 50km (31 miles) west of the oil centre of Port Harcourt, said Shell, hitting its Bonny terminal. Andoni region local government chairman Monwan Etete said youths in four speed-boats had warned residents of local fishing villages to leave their homes shortly before the attack on Monday night. He said 21 villages had been affected, and some of those killed were children. A previously unknown militia group calling itself the Martyrs' Brigade has claimed responsibility for the attack.
After the incident, Anglo-Dutch Shell had to shut down two wells that supply the pipeline in the Niger Delta. The company involved "force majeure" to formally delay the shipments of oil. This is a legal term allowing a company to release itself from a contract due to unforeseen circumstances beyond its control.
Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil producer, and the largest in Africa.



Please Help

Kenyan body stuck in Sweden limbo
By Simon Reeves Sweden.

Arthur always had a book in his hand. Sweden's tiny Kenyan community has launched an appeal for help to pay for the body of a dead compatriot to be flown home for burial.
Journalist Arthur Opot, 56, died on 21 November from head wounds after he fell down a staircase while en route to the birthday party of his ex-wife.
According to the traditions of his Luo tribe, the deceased must be buried in his ancestral village.
But Kenyans in the Swedish capital have only raised a third of the cash needed.
A series of fundraising activities have raised some $1,700, but they need $5,000.
Fundraising committee chairman Dr Otieno Wariaro said the community, numbering about 500, cannot bear this burden alone.
He told the BBC that it would be a great shame to have the burial in Sweden after Mr Opot's family had been promised that the corpse would be flown home.
"Even if it means that we keep the body here for over two months, we must try hard to fulfil that promise," Dr Wariaro noted.
"A new fundraising programme is being planned but in the meantime we have decided to appeal to Kenyans, friends and sympathisers for help," he said.
Dr Wariaro described Mr Opot, who lived in Sweden for more than three decades, as a charming person who loved to read.
"He always carried a novel in his pocket," the doctor added.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005




Christmas trees banned in Burundi.

The influx of foreigners had led to a boom in Christmas tree sales. Burundi's government has banned the cutting down of trees to be used for Christmas festivities. A senior official in the environment ministry told the BBC those found violating the order could be fined as much as $50 or face two months in jail.

Alexis Niyonzima urged people to use artificial trees instead. The country had lost enough of its forest cover and could not afford any more trees to be cut down, he said.

Correspondents say many trees were cut down for fuel during Burundi's 12-year civil war, which officially came to an end this year with the election of Pierre Nkurunziza as president. The influx of foreigners working for organisations overseeing the peace process has led to a boom in selling Christmas trees in urban areas. The majority of Burundi's mainly Christian population lives in the countryside, where trees are not used for Christmas decorations.



African bloggers find their voice.
By Andrew Heavens BBC Focus on Africa magazine

Post-election disturbances triggered the blogging surgeThe first news update appeared at 1030, just over an hour after shots started ringing out in Addis Ababa's crowded open-air market, Merkato.
"I was in a taxi on the way to Central Bus station," wrote one unnamed correspondent.
"The driver got stopped, and then the soldiers arrived immediately. They took him out of the cabin.
"I do not know what he did wrong. They beat and threw him over the police truck."
Later that afternoon, a woman called Mimi posted her story: "I was shopping in Merkato with my friend. All of a sudden I heard people screaming and running around me... we started running as fast as we could with live bullets flying past us."
These eyewitness accounts of Ethiopia's November unrest did not come from the news wires or even on the BBC News website, where thousands of emails were received, but from a small but growing set of citizen journalists - Ethiopia's band of bloggers.
Blossoming blogging
Until recently, blogging - the practice of keeping a journal style website with dated entries - has barely registered in sub-Saharan Africa, with switched-on South Africa as the obvious exception.
The relative scarcity of affordable internet access and the physical distance from the Western epicentre of the online world made blogging an elite pastime for expatriates living in the continent and Diaspora students outside it.
But the situation is starting to change.

Nazret has led the charge of Ethiopian blogsEthiopia is a case in point. In the past few months, the Ethiopian blogging scene has started to blossom.
While this is partly due to the slow but sure spread of internet infrastructure across the country, another reason is the number of seismic events that have taken place since the May elections - which have acted as a powerful recruiting sergeant for the blogging community.
In recent months, the stalwarts of the Ethiopian blogging world - chief among them ethiopundit - have been joined by a whole range of online upstarts, among them Weichegud! ET Politics, Satisfy My Soul (Ego) and Friends of Ethiopia, all of whom use the conveniently free and anonymous Blogger platform for their online musings.
Similar stories are unfolding across Africa.
One website doing its best to keep track of the new explosion is BlogAfrica, which lists the entries of around 100 of the best-read African blogs from Cairo to Cape Town.
That is a fraction of the estimated global blogosphere, but it can still produce a sizable flood of copy for anyone trying to read everything coming out of the continent.
"It can be a bit overwhelming, but it's a great overview of the conversations taking place in and around Africa," says Ethan Zuckerman, one of the people behind BlogAfrica, on his own weblog My Heart's in Accra.
Zuckerman, a resident fellow specialising in the impact of technology on the developing world at Berkman Center for internet and society at Harvard Law school in the US, is also one of the main drivers behind Global Voices - an even more ambitious project to follow interesting blogs from the whole world, with a focus on countries often overlooked by the mainstream media.
In recent months, it has covered everything from the Egyptian elections - via the blog Big Pharaoh - to the opportunities of getting rich on the Nairobi stock exchange on African Bullets and Honey.
Meanwhile Zimbabwean Pundit took on planned protests by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions (ZCTU) while, on a more personal note, the Nigeria-based Kids' Doc in Jos blog celebrated the arrival of much-needed children's medicine.


Deadly blast on Nigeria pipeline.

Nigeria's oil pipelines are often cut by thieves, leading to explosions. Unidentified gunmen have blown up a pipeline in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region, officials say. Eight people have been killed and many more are missing after the pipeline was destroyed with dynamite, said the chairman of the local authority.
Oil company Shell said it had shut down two wells supplying the pipeline. Nigeria is Africa's major oil producer but Niger Delta residents say they have not benefited from their oil wealth. Youths often target oil installations. Pipelines are frequently cut by thieves to siphon off the oil. These have often exploded, killing hundreds of people over the years.
Andoni local government area chairman Monwan Etete said that youths in four speed-boats had warned residents of local fishing villages to leave their homes on Monday night - shortly before the attack. He said that 21 villages had been affected and that a huge fire was still raging. He said some of those killed were children. The blast occurred 50km west of the oil centre of Port Harcourt, Shell said.
Shell said the fire may have been caused by a dynamite attack by unknown persons. Production has been cut by 170,000 barrels a day - 7% of Nigeria's normal output. Mr Etete said he thought a local militia - the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force - may be behind the attacks. The NDPVF say it wants independence for the region. Its leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is in prison on treason charges.
Shell says there have been two other attacks nearby.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005



Another Capsized Boat!

Capsized migrant boat 'kills 30'.

The Canary Islands are seen as a gateway to Europe. Up to 30 West African migrants are thought to have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Mauritania. Rescuers plucked 14 people from the hull of a pirogue, or motorised canoe, which overturned in strong winds in the Atlantic Ocean, marine officials said.
Reports said the migrants were trying to reach the Spanish Canary Islands, off the coast of West Africa. Most were Mauritanian, with passengers from Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau also on board.
Thousands of Africans leave their homes each year in an effort to start a new life in Europe.
Many head for the Canary Islands or trek through the Sahara desert towards Spanish enclaves on the north African coastline.
Several died in September in violence which broke out during attempts to storm the enclave of Ceuta.


Monday, December 19, 2005


Ghana grab Fifa award.
By Ibrahim Sannie - BBC Sport .

Appiah says coach Dujkovic has been instrumental in their rise. Ghana have been awarded Fifa's annual Best Mover of the Year award following their spectacular rise through the Fifa rankings.
The Black Stars, who qualified for their first World Cup two months ago, moved up 27 places to finish 2005 in 50th position. Their almost continual ascent up the rankings gained them 80 points.
They will be presented with the award at the Fifa World Player Gala in Zurich on Monday. "To be given this award by Fifa is a great joy for the people of Ghana," Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah told BBC Sport on Monday. "This award is a big encouragement for us to work harder at next year's African Nations Cup and the World Cup."
The Black Stars topped off a successful year in admirable fashion under the guidance of their Serbian coach Ratomir Dujkovic, beating off such competition as South Africa and DR Congo to qualify for the World Cup. "We thank our coach who has been very instrumental in our successes this year by bringing the much-needed discipline into the squad," Appiah said.
Ghana demonstrated their defensive prowess by conceding just four goals in 12 qualifying matches.
They recorded five wins, including a 2-0 win over continental heavyweights South Africa in Johannesburg, three draws and not a single defeat in matches relevant to Fifa's world rankings.
Also worthy of note is their creditable performance in a friendly against African giants and former World Cup quarter-finalists, Senegal, which ended in a goalless draw.
The Teranga Lions were then ranked some 30 positions ahead of the Black Stars in Fifa's ranking system. Fifa's other team award went to Brazil, who top the rankings. The reigning world champions have been named the Team of the Year, having been defeated only twice in 2005.




Clear leader in Tanzania election.

Jakaya Kikwete looks on course to be next president. Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania's governing party has a huge lead in the race to be the country's next president, the electoral panel said on Saturday. It also said his Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM) was well on course to extend its 44-year grip on parliament. With nearly 6.7 million votes counted, Mr Kikwete had more than 78%, official figures revealed. Despite violence on Zanzibar, Africa Union observers say the poll was mostly peaceful and should be respected.
Mr Kikwete, 55, presently Tanzania's foreign minister, looks set to take over from President Benjamin Mkapa, who is stepping down after two terms, as stipulated in the constitution.
Mr Kikwete collapsed during campaigning on Tuesday, with his party saying he had succumbed to exhaustion. The CCM had taken 92 parliamentary seats, against 13 for the opposition CUF party and four for Chadema, with more than half the results still to come in, electoral officials said on Saturday afternoon.
Correspondents said the 17 poorly-funded opposition parties had struggled to compete with the well-financed campaign run by the CCM. Chadema presidential candidate Freeman Mbowe, in third place so far, said the initial results were "surprising and disappointing". "And it's definitely not good for the whole democratic process of the country," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
The BBC's Vicky Ntetema in Dar-es-Salaam says opposition leaders and supporters have already started accusing the ruling party of fraud. However preliminary reports from local and international observers indicate that although there were some logistic irregularities, the elections were free and fair and that they were conducted in a peaceful manner free from intimidation, she says.
The head of the African Union observer mission, Baleta Mrete, has urged the opposition parties and all peace-loving Tanzanians to accept and respect the results of the elections. The exception to the rule was the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, where opposition protesters were hurt in clashes with police. Zanzibar is a stronghold of the opposition, and most of the declared seats have gone to the CUF, our correspondent says.

BBC NEW REPORT by Vicky Ntetema Dar-es-Salaam

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Bribes paid to join Kenya police.

Mini-bus taxi drivers complain that police officers often ask for bribes. Kenya has cancelled the just-ended police recruitment drive, after allegations of widespread corruption. Anti-Corruption Commission head Aaron Ringera said up to 80% of the candidates had either paid bribes or used their connections to get jobs. He said candidates paid up to 100,000 shillings ($1,400) to be recruited into the police force.
Kenya's president was elected in 2002 on a pledge to fight corruption. But western diplomats say President Mwai Kibaki has failed to curb bribery. As well as cancelling the recruitment of the 3,000 new officers, Police Commissioner Maj Gen Hussein Ali also suspended about 60 senior officers involved in the drive. "I will not waver in confronting sleaze or any other crime regardless of who the perpetrators may be," he said. A stream of law enforcement has been polluted at the source Aaron RingeraAnti-Corruption Commission.
A recent report by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International found that the police service is ranked as one of the most corruption institutions in Kenya. Mr Ringera said he had video evidence of senior police officers openly asking for bribes, which he said would be passed on for possible prosecution. He also said officers had toured the recruitment centres, pushing for their friends and relatives to be given jobs. "From the commission's own observations in those centres, the exercise was riddled with outright bribery, canvassing and influence peddling," he said. "Kenyans cannot expect officers recruited in such a manner to uphold any ethics and integrity in their future careers. A stream of law enforcement has been polluted at the source."
George Simiyu, who tried to get a job with the police, told the Daily Nation newspaper that after undergoing physical tests, he and some others were told to wait.
"We were [then] called into the office one at a time where the recruiting officers asked for a 'letter from your parent'. Some produced such 'letters' and received admission letters. The 'letters from parents' were envelopes containing cash. Those of us without any were told: 'Bye'."
The Daily Nation reports that starting salaries for police officers were recently raised by 115%, to 10,000 shillings ($140) a month.



Saturday, December 17, 2005


The Zimbabwe banned list.
Persons placed under sanctions by the Zimbabwe govt.

1. Tony Blair Prime Minister2. John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister3. Gordon Brown Chancellor of the Exchequer4. Robin Cook President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons5. Lord Irvine Lord Chancellor6. Jack Straw Foreign Secretary7. David Blunkett Home Secretary8. Margaret Beckett Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs9. Clare Short International Development Secretary10. Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Transport11. Alan Milburn Health Secretary12. Paul Murphy Northern Ireland Secretary13. Peter Hain Welsh Secretary14. Geoffrey Hoon Defence Secretary15. Andrew Smith Secretary for Work and Pensions16. Helen Liddell Scottish Secretary17. Lord Williams QC Leader of the House of Lords18. Patricia Hewitt Trade and Industry Secretary19. Charles Clarke Education and Skills Secretary20. Tessa Jowell Culture, Media and Sport Secretary21. Hilary Armstrong Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury22. John Reid Minister without Portfolio and Labour and Chair23. Paul Boateng Chief Secretary to the Treasury

24. Nicholas Brown Minister of State (Work)25. Ian McCartney Minister of State (Pensions)26. Nick Raynsford Minister of State (Local Government and Regions)27. Lord Rooker Minister of State (Housing and Planning)28. Barbara Roche Minister of State (Social Exclusion and Deputy Minister for Women)29. Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary30. Christopher Leslie Parliamentary Under-Secretary31. Lord Macdonald CBE Minister of the Cabinet Officer32. Douglas Alexander Minister of State in the Cabinet Office33. Richard Carborn Minister of State (Sport)34. Baroness Blackstone Minister of State (Arts)35. Kim Howells Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Tourism, Film and Broadcasting)36. Adam Ingram Minister of State (Defence)37. Lord Bach Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence)38. Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence)39. David Miliband Minister of State (School Standards)40. Margaret Hodge Minister of State (Lifelong Learning and Higher Education)41. Baroness Ashton Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Education and Skills)42. Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Education and Skills)43. Stephen Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Education and Skills)44. Michael Meacher Minister of State (Environment)45. Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs)46. Elliot Morley Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)47. Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)48. Baroness Symons Minister of State (Trade and Investment)49. Michael Martin Speaker (House of Commons)50. Denis MacShane Minister of State (Europe)51. Baroness Amos Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (F & CO.)52. Mike O'Brien Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (F & CO)53. Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (F & CO)54. John Hutton Minister of State (Health)55. Jacqui Smith Minister of State (Health)56. Lord Hunt Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Health)57. Hazel Blears Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Health)58. David Lammy Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Health)59. John Denham Minister of State (Police & Crime Reduction and Community Safety)60. The Lord Falconer QC Minister of State (Criminal Justice, Sentencing and Law Reform)61. Beverley Hudges Minister of State (Citizenship & Immigration)62. Hilary Benn Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Home Office)63. Bob Ainsworth Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Home Office)64. Lord Filkin Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Home Office)65. Michael Wills Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Home Office)66. Ms Sally Keeble Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (International Development)67. Lord Goldsmith, QC Attorney General68. Harriet Harman, QC Solicitor General69. Lynda Clark, QC Advocate General for Scotland70. The Baroness Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Office) Scotland, QC71. Yvette Cooper Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Office)72. Rosie Winterton Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Office)73. Jane Kennedy Minister of State (Northern Ireland)74. Desmond Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary75. Ian Pearson Parliamentary Under Secretary (Northern Ireland)76. Angela Smith Parliamentary Under Secretary (Northern Ireland)77. Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under Secretary (Privy Council Office)78. Mrs Ann McGuire Parliamentary Under Secretary (Scotland Office)79. Stephen Timms Minister of State (E-Commerce)80. Baroness Symons Minister of State (Trade and Investment)81. Brian Wilson QC Minister of State (Energy and Construction)82. Alan Johnson Minister of State (Employment, Industry & Regions)83. Lord Sainsbury Parliamentary Under Secretary (Trade & Industry)84. Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under Secretary (Trade & Industry)85. Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Under Secretary (Trade & Industry)86. John Spellar Minister of State (Transport)87. David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Transport)88. Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General89. Ruth Kelly Financial Secretary (Treasury)90. John Healey Economic Secretary (Treasury)91. Don Touhig Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Wales Office)92. Baroness Hollis Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (work and Pensions)93. Malcolm Wicks Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State94. Maria Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Work and Pensions)

95. Gareth Evans (Australia) President of the ICG Board96. John Prendagast (America) Rapporteur of ICG Board

97. Michael Ancram Shadow Chancellor

E. MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PARTIES98. John Corrie MEP - Conservative Party99. Nirj Deva MEP - Conservative Party100. Jacqueline Foster MEP - Conservative Party101. Glenys Kinnock MEP - Labour Party102. Neil Parish MEP - Conservative Party103. Geoffrey Van Orden MEP - Conservative Party104. Chris Pattern

104. Sir John Collins105. Lord Hurd106. Lord Steel of Aikwood107. Lord Taylor108. Mulcom Rifkind


H. SW RADIO AFRICA111. Graeme Counsel (incorrect)112. Gerry Jackson113. Tererai Karimakwenda114. Mandisa Mundawarara115. Violet Gonda116. Georgina Godwin117. Simon Parkinson (incorrect)118. John Matinde

I. VOICE OF THE PEOPLE119. Lodewijk Bouwens Director, Radio Netherlands.

Friday, December 16, 2005




Zimbabwe police raid broadcaster.

President Mugabe's government is pushing for stronger action against independent media. Zimbabwe police have raided the offices of an independent radio station in Harare and arrested three journalists.

The station, Voice of the People, broadcasts via Radio Netherlands. Independent stations not are permitted to transmit from inside Zimbabwe. Police also seized computers during Thursday's raid. "They had a search warrant on which it said they were going to search for broadcasting equipment," managing editor Shorai Kariwa said. Lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe said three staff members had been arrested in an "unprocedural" manner. The three were still being held by police late on Thursday evening.

The raid comes two days after Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya threatened to take action against the independent media, which he accused of representing Western interests.


How safe is it to fly in Africa?
As investigators sift through the wreckage looking for the cause of Nigeria's second air disaster in less than two months we're asking, are Africa's skies safe?
So far this year, there have been 57 air accidents and 1,229 fatalities, according to the Aviation Safety Network which monitors air crashes worldwide. Out of those, 15 happened in Africa and 390 people died.
And in 2004, a quarter of all accidents occurred in Africa - a region where air traffic is growing rapidly but which still accounts for only 4.5% of global traffic, according to the International Air Transport Association.
So, why is Africa prone to air accidents? As air companies rush to take off are they and governments ignoring safety? Should some pilots and planes not even be in the sky?





This is the famous Kariba Wall built on the Zambezi river to harvest electricity. Thousands of animals had to be rescued as the water built up, and people worked round the clock to save as many animals as they could. The animals were terrified and had no idea what was happening, with families getting separated, totally lost or even killed. While the Wall was being built men lost their lives as well. There is a very nice little Italian church here at the top which was built to commemorate those who died. Being in a valley the temperatures reach into the 100's, and in the short Winters it can be cold. Malaria is very prevalent here. The Tsetse Fly is also common, but it had been eradicated. The Lake itself is full of fish and is a paradise for boating. Wildlife is abundant around the many islands and hills of the mainland.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


UN troops bid farewell to Freetown.
By Mark Doyle BBC World Affairs correspondent

The last United Nations troops left Sierra Leone on Thursday following a five-year mission which faced military disaster when it began, but ultimately succeeded in ending one of Africa's most brutal wars. Fighting may be over, but Sierra Leone still faces huge challenges.

Pakistani UN troops are flying home from the capital Freetown following a ceremony at which the UN symbolically handed over some of its equipment to the Sierra Leone government. The near-collapse of the mission in the year 2000 brought into question the viability of UN peacekeeping worldwide, but today the world body points to Sierra Leone as a success story.

Almost as soon as the UN began its operations in 2000, brutal rebels who had been fighting the elected government of Sierra Leone, mounted a mass kidnapping of hundreds of UN troops. Soldiers from India, Zambia and Kenya were rounded up and humiliated by the insurgents in a move which ridiculed the UN in the eyes of the world. British forces ended their mission in 2002,

After its failures in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda, it was almost one blow too many for the very idea of UN peacekeeping. The situation in Sierra Leone was only resolved by a military intervention, separate from the UN mission, by the former colonial power Britain, which faced up to the rebels and allowed the UN to regroup. The British army quickly left, and since then, the UN has successfully completed the task of restoring security and democracy to Sierra Leone.

The country is today peaceful and the UN operation has given it the chance, at least, of developing economically. The UN may have learnt some lessons from the disaster of the humiliation in Sierra Leone in 2000. In Sierra Leone's neighbour Liberia, it has mounted a new peacekeeping force. But this time, unlike in Sierra Leone, it has a core of highly-trained and well-equipped troops which it hopes will get it out of trouble should the need arise.




Nigeria's counting controversy.
By Sola Odunfa BBC Focus on Africa magazine.

The census dictates who really holds power. No-one knows how many Nigerians there are - and the authorities are too afraid to find out. Legend has it that one out of every five black people on Earth is a Nigerian. But that can only be an assumption, for every headcount held in Nigeria in the past 30 years has ended in national controversy and with strong allegations of population inflation.

The last census was carried out in 1991. Its figures - which are regarded only as being marginally less manipulated than the others - put the total population at 88.9 million, almost equally divided between the two sexes.

Since then the population has been projected on an annual growth rate of about 2.9%. The official projected figure for 2003 was 126 million.


UN pulls out Eritrea peacekeepers.
By Susannah Price BBC correspondent at the United Nations here.

The UN peacekeepers are expected to leave on Friday. The UN Security Council has decided to pull US, Canadian and European staff serving in the peacekeeping mission in Eritrea out of the country. Some 180 personnel, who are military observers and civilians, will be temporarily relocated to Ethiopia.

The move follows Eritrea's demand that the UN staff should leave by Friday. Tensions along the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea have risen with reports of troop movements on both sides in recent months.

The UN peacekeepers who mostly come from the developing world are monitoring the border following a war between the two countries that ended in 2000.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Malawi acts against child brides.

Aids has left many children orphaned and vulnerable. The government of Malawi is considering raising the legal age of marriage in the country to 18 as a result of a growing number of cases of young girls being forced to marry much older men. The legal age of marriage in country is currently 15, but many man are illegally marrying girls as young as 11 or 12. As a result, the average age of marriage in Malawi is among the world's lowest, while the percentage of teenage mothers is among the world's highest.

Maxwell Matewere, executive director of The Eye Of The Child organisation which fights for children's rights in Malawi, told BBC World Service's Outlook programme that the issue was forcing the country to question itself. "We strongly believe that the incidents of children being forced into marriage are growing by the day - but for people to report this is a taboo," he explained. "It brings shame to the community, so they prefer to keep the information within the communities. "This really does not help the process of protecting the children."

Last year, Malawi's government trained 230 volunteers in ways to protect children, and began efforts to more vigorously enforce the legal minimum age for marriage. Mr Matewere said that HIV and Aids in the country have greatly increased the number of orphans, as well as increasing the number of vulnerable children. Poverty is also a major factor, he said - something confirmed by one 12-year-old who has married a man aged 43.





Microsoft Swahili speakers launch.

Microsoft launched its Swahili software in Nairobi. Microsoft has launched its software in Swahili targeting more than 110 million speakers of the language. The Swahili Windows and Office programmes are a product of two years of work by language experts from East and Central Africa.

They had to work on the standardisation of the language which is spoken in different dialects across the region. The software giant says this software is intended to bridge a digital divide between developed and emerging markets.

Language experts from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar as well as the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of Congo had to come up with a common glossary. Some 650,000 words have already been translated for the Windows and Office programmes, while another 70,000 words have been translated for the help menus.

There are more than 100 million Swahili-speakers in the region - in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and parts of the Horn of Africa, Great Lakes, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands.

The company argues that in a region with few computer users and high illiteracy rates, the Swahili version of Windows will inspire East African governments to expand their IT economies, encourage literacy campaigns and attract more computer users.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Goodluck for Nigeria's oil state.

Mr Alamieyeseigha says his prosecution is political. Jonathan Goodluck has been sworn in as the new governor for Nigeria's oil-rich Bayelsa state after the previous governor was impeached last week. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was arrested after his impeachment and could be sent back to the UK to face charges of money-laundering up to £1.8m ($3.2m).

Mr Goodluck was the deputy governor and is to stay in office until 2007 polls. He promised to reduce poverty in what is one of Nigeria's most deprived areas, despite its oil wealth. ThisDay newspaper reports that security was tight for the swearing-in ceremony. "I enjoined my fellow Bayelsans, and indeed all people of the south, not to be dampened by the sad events of the recent past," Mr Goodluck said in his inaugural speech. "On the contrary, I urge old and young to use this incident to reposition the state for a better future. "

Mr Alamieyeseigha skipped bail in the UK to return home to Bayelsa, hoping to benefit from the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by governors. But he was widely condemned. President Olusegun Obasanjo said he had brought "shame" on Nigeria.


Zimbabwe releases S African spy.

Mr Kasrils recently signed a co-operation agreement with Zimbabwe. South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils has returned from Zimbabwe with a South African spy after securing his release. The man, Aubrey Welken, was arrested a year ago and accused of spying on senior members of the governing party for the South African government. Both men arrived in Johannesburg on a chartered plane from Harare. "I did it because of operational needs - I had a job to do," Mr Welken said.
Shortly after Mr Welken's arrest, six members of the governing party, Zanu-PF, were accused of spying on behalf of the South African government. Five were arrested - three received jail sentences, one is awaiting trial and one was acquitted. The sixth is reported to have evaded capture.
Mr Kasrils described the release as a "test of the maturity in the relationship between South Africa and Zimbabwe". Mr Welken was arrested in the western Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls in December last year, after being lured into a trap by agents of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation.
Observers say the spy scandal was an attempt by South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to keep a close watch over the internal workings of Zanu-PF, and to influence its future direction.
Last month, South Africa and Zimbabwe signed an accord on co-operation in the area of intelligence.




Catholics urge DR Congo 'No' vote.

The transitional team led by President Kabila has been in place for three years. A senior Roman Catholic has said voters in Democratic Republic of Congo should reject a draft constitution in next Sunday's vote. A "No" vote would delay elections due next year under a deal ending DR Congo's five-year civil war. A BBC correspondent in DR Congo says 55% of the population is Catholic and church leaders are seen as influential. Pierre Anatole Matusila said the constitution had not been explained properly to the population. "When I do not know what it is about, I say 'No'," said a statement released by Mr Matusila's Congress of Congolese Catholic laymen. It added that the 'No' would be a sanction against the way politicians use lies and manipulation to rule the country.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in the capital, Kinshasa, says Mr Matusila is an influential Catholic leader. The head of the Catholic church, Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo, however, called on people to turn out and cast their votes in the 40,000 polling stations, without saying which way they should vote.

If passed, the constitution would set the rules for the elections due before the end of June 2006.
It would introduce a limit of two five-year terms for the president and the post of prime minister, named by the party with a majority in parliament.
Three years after the deal to end the war, a transitional government led by President Joseph Kabila and the former warring parties remains in power. However, armed gangs continue to roam in much of the east, killing, looting and raping. Some of the 15,000 UN troops in DR Congo have been helping the new Congolese army to flush out the rebel groups.
BBC NEWS REPORT By Arnaud Zajtman

Monday, December 12, 2005




Defiant Kibaki's cabinet sworn in.

The referendum result was seen as a protest vote against the president.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's cabinet has been sworn in despite many nominees refusing to take up their posts. Three prospective ministers and 13 deputies, including two key allies, refused to accept positions. Mr Kibaki dismissed his entire team two weeks ago after he lost a referendum on a new constitution - a vote seen as a protest against him. Those snubbing Mr Kibaki say he is failing to consult coalition partners and ignoring the people's wishes.
The swearing-in at State House was broadcast live on Kenyan television.
You are my chosen team and we must not cower or hesitate said President Mwai Kibaki.
"In (naming) the cabinet, I was guided by the fact that the government must not only be broad-based and drawn from all corners of the country, but that it must also be cohesive and united enough to deliver on promises made to Kenyans," Mr Kibaki said.
The new cabinet Mr Kibaki announced on Wednesday evening was said to be made up mostly of old friends and colleagues. He rejected all the leading politicians who stood against him and backed the successful "no" campaign in the referendum.
The BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi says Mr Kibaki is fighting to survive his country's biggest political crisis.

Sunday, December 11, 2005



Britain has announced additional funding of more than US $12 million to address the growing food needs in drought-stricken Malawi and Zambia.

A fourth year of drought has left more than six million people battling food shortages that will continue until April 2006 in parts of both southern African countries.Responding to a new food shortage assessment, which indicates that almost five million Malawians are in need of food aid, Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development, told the House of Commons on Thursday that the government was boosting its aid to almost $32 million. "This additional money will be used to assist the Malawi government's emergency feeding operation, buying pulses and oil to ensure that people get enough micro-nutrients and protein in their food rations," he said.
The funds will also support UN agencies and NGOs in identifying and treating acute malnutrition in children aged under five. Benn confirmed an additional amount of about $7 million for humanitarian support to Zambia, where 1.4 million people in the Southern, Western and Eastern provinces face food shortages until the next harvest in March/April 2006. Most of the new funding - about $5 million - will go to the UN's World Food Programme for emergency food aid distributions to 200,000 households. More than $800,000 will help NGOs distribute urgently needed vegetable seeds to 20,000 households, and a similar amount will be used to identify and treat acute malnutrition, said Benn.
The latest contribution brings the UK Department for International Development's commitment to tackling food shortages and other emergency needs in Southern Africa to over $112 million this year. More than 11.4 million people in Southern Africa are likely to face food shortages and will be in need of assistance until April 2006.




Mugabe party endorses crackdown.
By Justin Pearce BBC News, South Africa.

Delegates backed President Robert Mugabe's latest moves. Zimbabwe's ruling party has held its annual conference, backing government moves to clamp down on critics. The resolutions were yet more bad news for the country's political opposition, civil rights groups and other critics. The Zanu-PF meeting called for action against civic groups and NGOs it said were sponsored by Western countries. It urged the government to implement a constitutional amendment allowing the authorities to confiscate the passports of those who it sees as a threat.

In fact officials began putting that law into practice just a few days ago. On Thursday newspaper owner Trevor Ncube had his passport seized after he arrived at Bulawayo Airport on a flight from South Africa. Mr Ncube's newspapers, both in Zimbabwe and in South Africa, have been critical of President Mugabe's government. For several years he has been based in South Africa and travelled regularly to Zimbabwe. Now he will not be able to leave his home country.

Then on Friday an official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Paul Themba Nyathi, also had his passport confiscated as he too returned from a trip to South Africa. Mr Themba Nyathi was reportedly told by officials that his name was on a list of 64 people whose passports were to be seized.

Opposition and civil rights activists in Zimbabwe have been fearing for some months now that a clampdown is on the way. Events of the last few days suggest that the government has now embarked on a programme of tougher action against its opponents.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Viewpoint: Kenyan campaigner.

Peter and Michael testing and tasting the ice in their workshop. As the UN meets in the Canadian city of Montreal to discuss climate change, the BBC's Michael Kaloki explains how he became concerned about global warming. As a young boy growing up in Kenya, I used to look forward to the school holidays, when my family would travel down to our rural home in the country's Eastern Province.

I would savour the sight of the snow-covered top of Mount Kilimanjaro, glistening in the clear early morning sunlight. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. However, as the years went by, the mornings did not seem that clear anymore and the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro seemed to lose part of its glory. The memories of the mountain are now just that, memories.

I think that those early mornings, where the mountain and I stared at each other, perhaps played a role in giving me the drive to start a snow and ice-sculpting team with my colleague Peter Walala. While representing Kenya at the international snow-sculpting edition of the 2003 Quebec Winter Carnival, part of our team's mission was to create awareness about climate change, specifically focusing on the depleting snow and ice caps on Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro. In subsequent events that we have participated in, we often speak about the worrying state of the snow and ice on these two mountains in our regions.

Africa's highest mountain Kilimanjaro has lost 85% of its ice cap over the past 100 years. Some people take us seriously, while others just stare at us with a questioning look. It is my wish that people in Africa and the rest of the world would take climate change seriously. Perhaps, if they see the look on my mother's face, when she worries about losing her crops, due to the erratic changes in the rain patterns, they would think again.

Perhaps, if they see the herds of cattle struggling through the long dry seasons, and the tears of my neighbours when they lose a cow each season to the parched scorched earth, they would ask why. Perhaps, then, all of us in Africa and the rest of the world will realise, that we need to pay close attention to climate change and the effects that it is having on us.

Who can save our mountains, land, animals and beautiful oceans? The answer lies with us all.



Chad forces open fire on pupils.
By Stephanie Hancock BBC News, Chad.

Security forces in Chad have opened fire on secondary school pupils who were holding a demonstration in the south of the country. There are conflicting reports about casualties, but at least eight people are confirmed to have been injured. Thursday's protest in the town of Pala, 300km (186 miles) south of the capital, is the second of its kind in two weeks. Students held a similar protest in nearby Bongor and a military helicopter had to be deployed to restore calm.

Secondary school students in Pala were angry that their teachers have not been paid for three months. They held a demonstration to support their teachers, who have announced they want to go on strike. It is not known exactly how the violence erupted.

The government spokesman said the children began the incident by kicking at members of the security forces and breaking the window of a military vehicle. At that point the gendarmes opened fire on the young demonstrators, he said. Initially, state radio reported that eight people were injured - two seriously - and two had also died after being hit by stray bullets.

But in an interview on Friday, the government spokesman told the BBC there had not been any deaths. However, eyewitness accounts and other unofficial reports suggest the casualties may have been much higher, with as many as two people dead and 17 injured.



Friday, December 09, 2005

African Rift Develops in Ethiopia.

Geologists witness 'ocean birth'.

By Roland Pease BBC science unit, San Francisco.

Scientists say they have witnessed the possible birth of a future ocean basin growing in north-eastern Ethiopia. The team watched an 8m rift develop in the ground in just three weeks in the Afar desert region last September. It is one small step in a long-term split that is tearing the east of the country from the rest of Africa and should eventually create a huge sea.

The UK-Ethiopian group says it was astonished at the speed with which the 60km-long fissure developed. "It's the first large event we've seen like this in a rift zone since the advent of some of the space-based techniques we're now using, and which give us a resolution and a detail to see what's really going on and how the earth processes work; it's amazing," said Cindy Ebinger, from Royal Holloway University of London.

Thursday, December 08, 2005




Zimbabwe is in "meltdown" says United Nations humanitarian chief Jan Egeland following a visit to the country. He also said President Robert Mugabe's rejection of tents for hundreds of thousands of people evicted and made homeless this year is "puzzling". Some 700,000 people lost their jobs or homes in a government demolition programme, an earlier UN report says. "This disastrous eviction campaign was the worst possible thing, at the worst possible time," Mr Egeland said. The government disputes the 700,000 UN figure and says it carried out slum clearances to reduce crime and overcrowding.
"The situation is very serious in Zimbabwe when life expectancy goes from more than 60 years to just over 30 years in a 15-year span - it's a meltdown, it's not just a crisis, it's a meltdown," Mr Egeland told the BBC in Johannesburg, immediately after his four-day trip to Zimbabwe.
He pointed to "the Aids pandemic, the food insecurity, the total collapse in social services".
Mr Egeland, the UN under secretary for humanitarian affairs, said donors had an obligation to help despite disagreements with the government - of which the offer of tents was the most notable. "If they [tents] are good enough for people in Europe and the United States who have lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?" he said.

Life expectancy 30 years
3m expecting food aid
20% adult HIV prevalence
3,000 Aids deaths each week
500,000 left homeless this year
200,000 lost livelihoods
Inflation has reached 400%

Crisis compounded by drought Mr Mugabe's spokesman said Zimbabweans were "not tent people" and they wanted the UN to build permanent homes. Mr Egeland said the government's rationale for the eviction campaign was deeply flawed. "The eviction campaign seems to me wholly irrational in all of its aspects - you lowered the standard of living rather than increasing it."
Mr Mugabe last week agreed to let the UN provide food aid to some three million people over the next year. "The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious and it is deteriorating," Mr Egeland said. After "frank" talks with Mr Mugabe on Tuesday, Mr Egeland said they had agreed that the international community should do more to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe. "Our message to the government was to help us, to help you, to help your people." And when asked why donors should fund the $276m being requested to save lives in Zimbabwe, Mr Egeland said "it is in no way punishing the government, to not help women and children in great need". Mr Egeland spent Monday meeting people living in camps and said some of them were living in inadequate conditions - much worse than before.
When questioned on whether UN staff on the ground were negligent by failing to help Zimbabweans by seeking to avoid confrontation, he said he had raised the issue of criminal behaviour with Mr Mugabe. "It's a criminal act to bulldoze someone's home who owned their land - there should be prosecutions."


Wednesday, December 07, 2005



The L.W.W. vs L o t R

Chronicles 'different' from Rings.
By Neil Smith BBC News entertainment reporter.

With its New Zealand locations, state-of-the-art effects and epic fantasy narrative, the latest film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe inevitably begs comparison with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Tilda Swinton described the White Witch as "a psychopathic killer"CS Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles, and Lord of the Rings creator JRR Tolkien were contemporaries who both took inspiration from the Scriptures, Greek mythology, Anglo-Saxon literature and traditional fairy-tales. In addition, both series unfold in make-believe worlds populated by fantastical creatures locked in timeless battles between good and evil. At a recent press junket for the film, however, cast and crew members were at pains to stress the differences between Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning threesome and their venture, reported to have cost $150m (£87m) to bring to the screen. "There are worse things to be compared to, but ultimately they're very different," said Andrew Adamson, the Auckland-born director best known for the computer-animated Shrek films.
"The Rings trilogy was about a dying world, while this is a story about a family from our world who step into a fantasy land. "I see this as an intimate family drama taken to epic proportions, as opposed to an epic fantasy story."
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four siblings who have been evacuated from wartorn London to the countryside stumble upon a portal that transports them to the magical land of Narnia. There they join forces with its rightful leader, the wise lion Aslan, to free the fairy-tale realm from the tyranny of the White Witch Jadis, played by Tilda Swinton. Aslan the lion was created using computers and animatronic models"They're both series, they were both shot in New Zealand and they're both available to a certain age group, so the parallels are there," said the British actress Swinton. "But I'm one of those rare people who's never seen the Lord of the Rings, so it doesn't mean anything to me."
"The Rings trilogy seems to allude to a world that was perhaps ours at one time," adds Scottish actor James McAvoy, whose role as Mr Tumnus - a kind-hearted 'faun' with the torso of a human and the legs of a goat - required three hours of make-up every day. "Narnia is very different. It's very definitely a world that's never been ours."
That said, Adamson does concede the box-office triumph of the Rings trilogy paved the way for his first live-action feature. "The Lord of the Rings showed you could remain faithful to a piece of English literature and still be commercially viable," he told the BBC News website.
"It allowed me to make this true to the book in a way we wouldn't have been able to 10 years ago." For actor William Moseley, though, the current plethora of fantasy titles is rooted in more practical concerns. "The only reason they're being made now is because they can be," said the British 18-year-old cast as Peter, the oldest of the Pevensie children.
William Moseley plays Peter, the eldest of the Pevensie children"Visual effects and technology have moved on to such a high degree that we're able to see a photorealistic lion walking across the screen. Five years ago we couldn't have done that." With Wardrobe ready for its UK release on 8 December, discussions are underway for a follow-up based on Lewis' second Narnia story, Prince Caspian.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005




Zuma is under increasing pressure.
Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has been charged with rape which he has vehemently denied. Mr Zuma was sacked as deputy president in June, and charged with corruption, which he also denies. In the last month, public support for Mr Zuma has waned amid reports that police were investigating rape charges. Mr Zuma is still deputy leader of the governing ANC party, but says he will suspend his participation in party structures during the trial.
Mr Zuma appeared briefly in court early on Tuesday and was released on bail of 20,000 rand ($3,000). "I wish to state clearly that I am innocent of these charges," Mr Zuma said in a statement issued after the court appearance. "Given the nature and the seriousness of these allegations, I have voluntarily decided to suspend my participation in the leading structures of my organisation for the duration of this trial," the statement added.
"These structures are the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, the officials' meetings and the National Deployment Committee. "I will however carry on with the general activities of the ANC as expected of all members of our organisation. This decision does not affect my position as ANC Deputy President." Mr Zuma is to appear in the magistrate's court again on 13 February, and it is likely that the case will then be transferred to the High Court. The ANC National Working Committee is to discuss the charges on Tuesday evening and is expected to issue a "comprehensive statement" on Wednesday.
Mr Zuma was previously seen as the natural successor to President Thabo Mbeki. While Mr Zuma's many supporters within the ANC and its allies stood by him as he was charged with corruption, his support has ebbed since the rape allegations first emerged in the press last month. A woman in her 30s reportedly told the police she was raped at Mr Zuma's house in Johannesburg. Mr Zuma is reported to have told friends and supporters that he did have sex with the woman, but that it was consensual. The incidence of sexual violence in South Africa is among the highest in the world, and at the political level is regarded very seriously.
The South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - both ANC allies whose supporters cheered Mr Zuma at his court appearances on corruption charges - said recently they did not support him as successor to Mr Mbeki. The corruption case has caused the party its biggest internal crisis since it was elected to power in 1994. The corruption charges stem from the trial of Mr Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who is appealing against a 15-year jail sentence for fraud and corruption.

Monday, December 05, 2005




Anti-women songs banned in CAR.

Men still rule the roost in the Central African Republic. There has been some criticism in the Central African Republic of a ban on misogynistic songs which came into force over the weekend. Communication Minister Fidel Ngouandjika threatened action against the broadcasting of songs that portrayed women as inferior to men. He said they undermined the role of women and contravened their rights. Women only got the vote in the former French colony 20 years ago and men are allowed to marry up to four wives.
The BBC's Joseph Benamse in Bangui says the minister has been condemned by many for acting beyond his authority. However, he says, most people feel it will help reinforce women's rights in the country, where they are still subjected to abuses, violence and ill-treatment.
Some well-known songs, such as one which suggests men are suffering in the world because of women, are believed to be behind the minister's anger. Mr Ngouandjika also expressed his disappointment at newspapers that print articles that are misogynistic. "Any radio or newspaper that violates this decision will be seriously dealt with," he warned. "It is out of the question that music of misogynist character should be allowed to ride roughshod over questions of equality and the respect of the Central African woman," he said.
"The Central African woman is a key part of the country's development."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

An Africa Sunset!

Dusk in Namibia ! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 03, 2005




There are only two things a child will share willingly -
communicable deseases and his mothers age!


Malawi rejects 'pro-gay' bishop.

Reverend Nicholas Henderson is said to be in a state of shock. African Anglican bishops have blocked the appointment of a "pro-gay" bishop in Malawi. Liberal British vicar, Rev Nicholas Henderson, was rejected for his support for gay rights, the Anglican Church of Central Africa said in a statement. He was bishop-elect of the Lake Malawi diocese, but his association with the theologically liberal Modern Church People's Union made him "unsuitable". The Anglican Church in Africa takes a conservative view of homosexuality.
Rev Henderson was elected by the local diocese in July to serve as bishop for the Lake Malawi region, but conservative members challenged the move. The bishops from Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe met this week to consider these reservations. "He has actively demonstrated that he was not of sound faith - that's what the Court of Confirmation decided," Archbishop Bernard Malango, who leads the Anglican church in central Africa, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
Despite working with the Lake Malawi diocese for the last 18 years, the bishops felt Rev Henderson's involvement with the MCU proved a problem, he said. He went on to explain that African culture does not approve of same-sex relationships. "I already informed him about his rejection yesterday and he is in a state of shock," Archbishop Malango told Reuters.
African Anglican Church leaders have been vocal opponents of moves by other Anglican groups to extend broader recognition of homosexual rights. The US ordination in 2003 of the first openly gay Anglican bishop, Gene Robinson, threatened to split the worldwide church.

Friday, December 02, 2005