“The first transfer of power to the opposition through an election,” is how former American ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell described it in a phone call on Tuesday. For Nigeria, a country with a history of election-related violence and military coups, Jonathan’s phone call to Buhari conceding defeat was a positive sign for the prospects of a peaceful transition. “I think the fact that President Jonathan made a concessionary phone call to Buhari sets the right tone,” said Campbell.
Apartheid-era death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed “Prime Evil” for his role in the torture and murder of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, was granted parole on Friday after 20 years in prison.
“In the interest of nation-building and reconciliation I have decided to place Mr. De Kock on parole,” Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha told a news briefing, adding that the date and location of De Kock’s release would be kept secret.
De Kock was sentenced to two life terms plus 212 years in prison for his activities as head of the infamous Vlakplaas police death squad targeting anti-apartheid activists.
The highly decorated former colonel confessed to more than 100 acts of murder, torture and fraud before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was established in 1995 to consider amnesty for those who confessed their crimes during the apartheid period.
It’s good to be reminded how fortunate we are, how much we take for granted.
Sarah was born and raised in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Now 21, she has become a wife and mother without ever setting foot outside the camp.
“I feel like I am Somali,” she says, tenderly rocking her two-week-old daughter, Somaya. “My parents are Somali. I believe that someday Somalia will be peaceful and I will go there.”
Today, over 1 million Somalis remain displaced outside their country. With the crisis well into its third decade, UNHCR has launched a Global Initiative on Somali Refugees in a bid to find solutions. The aim is to empower Somali refugees so that, one day, they can return home and rebuild their nation.
“Now we are all educated,” says Sarah, proudly. “We have knowledge in all different areas. I think when we go back to Somalia we will develop the country, one way or another.”
Find more stories like this at tracks.unhcr.org
As awful as all that is, it appears that things might finally be looking up for Somalia after 25 years of government collapse, civil war, drought, piracy, and terrorism. See the articles below for more info.
Last night I mentioned an article in Tablet Magazine which described how the mayor of a French town, out of a reflexive fear of jihadists, had banned an anti-jihadist Muslim film titled Timbuktu from being shown, even though he hadn’t bothered to see it for himself. It really annoyed me after all the chest-beating over censorship and free speech. Here’s the trailer for the movie:
Seeing that the film would be released later this month in NYC, I put my annoyance aside and went searching to see if I could pre-order it. No such luck, but I did find another video, this one showing Fatoumata Diawara, a musician & actress in the movie, recording the same song, the sound of which I’d been instantly enchanted by even though I couldn’t understand more than a couple of words of it:
Still undeterred, I went looking for the music CD, which is unfortunately sold out at the moment. Arrrrgh! Not yet ready to admit defeat, I kept poking around Amazon and came across this Kindle book, TIMBUCTOO, which I immediately snapped up—not only did is sound fascinating, but it was also a steal at $2.99 and I happen to already know that the author, Tahir Shah, comes from a well-known family of Anglo-Afghan-Indian Sufis. His elder sister, Saira Shah, is also an author & reporter, though she’s perhaps best known for her work in the documentary films Beneath the Veil (2001), Unholy War (2001), and Death in Gaza (2004) .
Wow, I really went off on a tangent there, didn’t I? Sorry, but if you’ve read my LGF pages before, you’re probably used to it by now, heh.
Back to Timbuktu. So I checked out Tahir Shah’s author page on Amazon and decided to follow him on Twitter. Lo & behold less than a dozen tweets down there was an article about Timbuktu from about a month ago!
Not only is it a fascinating (and frightening) look into what happens in a woman’s world when militant Islamists take over and impose their own foreign “culture” on another by force, but it also provided some closure on a couple of pages posted here at LGF during the time all these events were happening:
- The Price of War: Ancient African Archives Set on Fire in Timbuktu by FNB
- Some Good News About the Library Torched in Timbuktu by yours truly (Psst--be sure not to miss the full-length documentary on that page!)
Below are a few paragraphs from the article this page is named after. It’s not a terribly long piece and should be very interesting (especially to the ladies), so I highly recommend reading the whole thing:
It was a sweet victory for Arby and Mint Mohamed, not least because of their opponents’ sexism. In the first stage of the two-round vote, five male candidates, were ranged against Mint Mohamed; in the second round, when she was running against a member of the president’s RPM party, all four of the men who had lost urged their supporters to vote against her.
“They said, no, a woman cannot be MP for Timbuktu,” says Mint Mohamed, a short but forceful presence whose father was one of Timbuktu’s leading imams. “In the madness of the election campaign, the men of the north said a woman MP could not be good for the city. But if politics had been forbidden for us by Islam, my father wouldn’t have let me go into politics. So I said to them, show me the verse in the Qur’an where it says that a woman cannot be MP. They weren’t able to.”
A year after Mint Mohamed was elected, stories of the suffering and humiliation women experienced under jihadi rule in 2012 are beginning to emerge. In late March that year, a rebellion in the north of Mali sparked by the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya swept across the north of the country. On 1 April the rebels captured the remote desert town. So began a nine-month occupation, first by the secular Tuareg separatists of the MNLA, whose fighters wrecked government buildings and stole what they could, then by the jihadi alliance of Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghbreb (AQIM). […]
One more quick aside, just to tie it all up in a neat little box before you go: You know the page that VB just put up—the one about the Malian Muslim guy who saved a bunch of people in the Kosher deli in Paris and was just awarded French citizenship for it? I don’t know if he’s from Timbuktu, but being that it’s also in Mali I’m sure he has no love for jihadi types, so I’m not really surprised that he made an effort to save those folks.
Small world… the circle of life and all that… we’re all tied together for our time here, whether we like it or not, so… Hakuna matata! ;o)
On Friday, Nigeria’s government announced it had reached a deal with Boko Haram to release the approximately 200 schoolgirls held captive by the Islamist terror group since April.
Here’s something for your viewing pleasure.
This one is located in Laikipia County, Central Kenya. So far this morning I have seen a giraffe (not the Floral type) some Hippos and some other animals. Should be an interesting morning of wildlife viewing.
Looks like the Sudanese woman, Mariam Ibrahim Ishaq, who had been sentenced to death for “apostasy” in Sudan is likely on her way back to the US.
A Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity and then barred from leaving Sudan, has flown into Rome on an Italian government plane, officials say.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishaq, 27, whose sentence and detention stirred international outrage, arrived on Thursday at Rome’s Ciampino airport with her family and Lapo Pistelli, Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, television pictures showed.
There were no details on what led up to Mariam Ishaq’s departure from Khartoum, and there was no immediate comment from the Sudanese authorities.
Mohaned Mostafa, Mariam Ishaq’s lawyer, said he had not been told of her departure.
“I don’t know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Mariam and which prevents her from traveling from Sudan has not been cancelled,” Mostafa told Reuters.
Sounds almost like the US and the Italians cooperated to more-or-less smuggle her out of the country - even her own lawyer didn’t know she was gone.
Kudos; I’m glad she’s out of there and on her way to the United States where she can hopefully have a normal life once the media furor dies down.
There was an explosion of international outrage in late February when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a harsh anti-gay law. The legislation mandates life sentences for people who have gay sex or are in same-sex marriages and criminalizes “promoting” homosexuality, though the harshest provision—the death penalty for gays—was ultimately stripped out.
The United States immediately condemned the bill, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling it “atrocious” and likening the bill to Nazi or apartheid-era laws.
But the Obama administration’s rhetoric masks its strong support for the Ugandan government, support that will likely continue in the months ahead. Like Nigeria, which has also passed anti-gay laws, Uganda, run by an authoritarian president in power for 26 years, is a key U.S. partner in the global war on terror. The East African country also plays host to Western oil and mining companies, like Canada-based Barrick, that profit from the country’s natural resources.
But Cape Town’s gay village doesn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t exist in any other country on this continent, the majority of which outlaw homosexuality. Some have seen a recent increase in penalties for homosexual acts. In these places gay people and other sexual minorities are forced into lives of secrecy and fear. Coming out is an act of bravery and defiance: Far more than social awkwardness is at stake.
Homosexuality is illegal in 36 out of 55 African countries and carries the death penalty in four. The presidents of Nigeria and Uganda recently passed new laws strengthening existing anti-gay legislation. A parliamentary caucus in Kenya is demanding anti-gay laws be applied rigorously and one MP recently said homosexuality is “as serious as terrorism.”
South Africa runs contrary to these currents. The country’s 1996 constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender. Pierre de Vos, a law professor at the University of Cape Town, says South Africa is different “because of the way in which it became a democracy.
“Equality was very important to some of those deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid and they successfully put the argument that the struggle is against the denial of dignity and against all discrimination,” said de Vos. “Part of the struggle was about human rights.”