The world’s largest surviving population of white rhinos suffered its heaviest toll on record last year when poachers killed more than 1,000 of the threatened animals to feed an international market for trinkets and potions made from their horns.
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs reported Friday that it had counted 1,004 rhinos killed by poachers in 2013, mostly in Kruger National Park, along the porous border with Mozambique.
It was the worst year for rhinoceros poaching since the government began tracking the illegal hunting in the early 1900s, National Geographic reported.
South Africa is home to more than 20,000 white rhinos, about 80% of the world’s population of the iconic beasts that numbered 500,000 a century ago, conservation organizations report.
This has to be just about the worst form of “conversion therapy” on the planet.
Clare Carter travelled across South Africa to photograph and interview the victims of this appalling crime. These are their stories…
Mvuleni Fana was walking down a quiet alleyway in Springs - 30 miles east of Johannesburg - on her way home from football practice one evening when four men surrounded her and dragged her back to the football stadium. She recognised her attackers. One by one, the men raped her, beating her unconscious and leaving her for dead.
The next morning, Mvuleni came round, bleeding, battered, in shock, and taunted by one overriding memory - the last thing they said to her before she passed out: “After everything we’re going to do to you, you’re going to be a real woman, and you’re never going to act like this again”.
This is not going to be good at all. These pastors probably couldn’t tell if they actually healed someone to save their own lives. I’m not really completely anti religion, however some of these poor, ignorant, and probably desperate people may die much sooner now thanks to these “faith healers,” who have convinced them that they’ve been cured, when they really haven’t.
NAIROBI, Kenya — At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.
The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.
“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”
And just as I would have expected, unfortunately,
But the controversial ceremonies are raising red flags as believers’ conditions worsen, and a debate has opened over whether science or religion should take the lead in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
It was Saturday September 1, 2007 and I was in Monte Carlo for a friend’s wedding.
We prayed that morning at the local synagogue and later walked to the nearby Hotel de Paris. Entering the lobby, I was surprised at the large security presence. I soon learned that the legendary former South African president Nelson Mandela was a guest in the hotel.
As it happened, he was sitting in one of the stately public rooms on the lobby floor as I passed by.
I instinctively wanted to meet the iconic statesman. The slim chance of gaining access to meet Mandela did not stop me from asking the security guard at the door if I could please step in to bless the former president. Just then, a second member of the security detail approached and asked what I wanted. The first bodyguard explained that I was a rabbi who wanted to bless Madiba on the holy Sabbath. They agreed to let me go over to greet him.
As I approached the former president, he looked up and beamed. I was dressed in the full Chabad Shabbat attire, the flowing black frock and black fedora, and since I had just left the synagogue my white and black tallit was draped over my shoulders.
(My son wrote this reminiscence of his meeting with Mandela)
Despite the constant whining by people like Glenn Greenwald & the Tea Party about the intolerably oppressive government we Americans supposedly live under, all it takes is one article like this to remind me of how extremely fortunate we are to have been born in a place where situations like the ones in this story are so far from anything we’ve ever experienced as to make them nearly incomprehensible.
Dr Hab’s advert runs up to three times a day on Mogadishu’s radio stations.
“He’s gone crazy! He’s running away!” screams the actor. “Chain him down!”
The scenario is familiar in Somalia. A man has become possessed by spirits and the only option for his family is to restrain him and call the sheikh. But as the young man protests, a voice that challenges Somali tradition booms out. […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services.Dr Hab is not actually a real psychiatrist. Rather it’s the persona of Abdirahman Ali Awale, a nurse who after three months of specialist training from the World Health Organization (WHO), has made it his mission to rescue Somalia’s mentally ill. He claims he is able to treat everything from post-natal depression to schizophrenia.
But the alternative to a trip to Hab could be a visit to one of Somalia’s popular herbalists or sheikhs who still advocate traditional - and sometimes barbaric - cures.
“There is a belief in my country that hyenas can see everything including the evil spirits people think cause mental illness,” says Hab. “So in Mogadishu, you will find hyenas that have been brought from the bush and families will pay £350 ($560) to have their loved one locked in the room overnight with the animal.” […]
There were only three practising psychiatrists in the whole of Somalia at the last count, and Hab - despite his lack of advanced qualifications - is head of what has become the country’s leading provider of mental health services. He even carries a letter from the minister of health that says so. […]
I have been following African tech development for years. Many in the West will be unaware that in many areas they are way in advance.
In Nairobi hundreds of buses have Wi-Fi - unlike in New York or London. Africans have been able to use mobile phones to make payments and transfer money for years.
The open source project Ushahidi, which allows users to crowdsource crisis information and began during the disastarous 2007 Kenyan elections, is now used worldwide.
So it does not surprise me that an African has done this:
Kodjo Afate Gnikou has imagination, talent and ambition.
Using rails and belts from old scanners, the case of a discarded desktop computer and even bits of a diskette drive, he has created what is believed to be the first 3D printer made from e-waste.
It has taken him several months to put together his experimental device. Lifting designs off a computer, the 3D printer produces physical objects. He shows us by “printing” a small round container.
And it doesn’t stop there - the 33-year old says he believes this model is only the prototype for something much larger. His aim is to one day transport e-waste to Mars to create homes for mankind.
“My dream is to give young people hope and to show that Africa, too, has its place on the global market when it comes to technology. We are able to create things. Why is Africa always lagging behind when it comes to technology?”, he asks.
Some elements had to be bought new but, in all, his printer cost him 100 US dollars to build.
Gnikou says his printer can also be useful on a daily basis as it can print various utensils needed in any household, that are not always easy to get hold of.
NB: If you’re interested in following African tech development I recommend Eric Hersman,
These are gorgeous, eerie photographs. They’re like something from another planet, or some parallel Dalí-meets-Kafka universe that I never, ever want to visit.
Calcified flamingo ©Nick Brandt 2013
In 2011, when he was traveling to shoot photos for a new book on the disappearing wildlife of East Africa, Across the Ravaged Land, photographer Nick Brandt came across a truly astounding place: A natural lake that seemingly turns all sorts of animals into stone.
“When I saw those creatures for the first time alongside the lake, I was completely blown away,” says Brandt. “The idea for me, instantly, was to take portraits of them as if they were alive.”
The ghastly Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania, is a salt lake—meaning that water flows in, but doesn’t flow out, so it can only escape by evaporation. Over time, as water evaporates, it leaves behind high concentrations of salt and other minerals, like at the Dead Sea and Utah’s Great Salt Lake. […]
As you might expect, few creatures live in the harsh waters, which can reach 140 degrees Fahreinheit—they’re home to just a single fish species (Alcolapia latilabris), some algae and a colony of flamingos that feeds on the algae and breeds on the shore.
Frequently, though, migrating birds crash into the lake’s surface. Brandt theorizes that the highly-reflective, chemical dense waters act like a glass door, fooling birds into thinking they’re flying through empty space (not long ago, a helicopter pilot tragically fell victim to the same illusion, and his crashed aircraft was rapidly corroded by the lake’s waters). During dry season, Brandt discovered, when the water recedes, the birds’ desiccated, chemically-preserved carcasses wash up along the coastline. […]
For the series of photos, titled “The Calcified” and featured in this month’s issue of New Scientist, Brandt posed the carcasses in life-like positions. “But the bodies themselves are exactly the way the birds were found,” he insists. “All I did was position them on the branches, feeding them through their stiff talons.” […]
Madcap & Jaybee - Riverside - Goodlooking Records by Ltj Bukem on SoundCloud - Hear the World’s Sounds
The saga at the Westgate Mall in Kenya continues for another excruciating day. At least 62 people are known to have been killed by the terrorists in the attack.
Gunfire echoed around a Nairobi mall early Tuesday as security forces continued to hunt al Qaeda-linked attackers - believed by Kenya to include “two or three Americans” and a British woman - behind a siege that killed 62 people.
A large explosion was heard from the shopping complex on the fourth day since heavily-armed militants from the Somalia-based al-Shabaab stormed the busy Westgate complex, terrorizing shoppers.
In an unverified Twitter post on Tuesday, the terror group said its members were “still holding their ground” inside, and that some hostages were “still alive.”
The BBC reports that there are mixed reports as to whether the attack is now over, or whether security forces are continuing to carry out operations to clear the mall of remaining terrorists.
Fires at different parts of the mall caused significant damage. One part of a parking garage collapsed from fire damage.
The identities of those terrorists involved is beginning to be known, and again there have been conflicting reports as to whether the attack was carried out by all men, or whether women were involved as well. The woman is believed to be Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, who was the wife of a terrorist involved in the 7/7 terror attacks in London. She’s believed to be a facilitator for terror groups in East Africa.
While Twitter had killed their earlier account, the terror group established another one to tout their ongoing terror campaign in Nairobi.
Kenya’s foreign minister relayed that American and British citizens of Somali or Arab origin are among the perpetrators. That would seem to jibe with the American assessment that some Americans have joined with the terror group. That some Americans would join with the terror group is not without precedent. After all, al Qaeda’s ranks include (or included) Anwar al Awlaki and Adam Gadahn. Jose Padilla is another American who carried out plans to attack the US and its interests while Awlaki exhorted others to carry out attacks against the US and its interests worldwide.
Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was British citizen who later went to Pakistan and Afghanistan to join up with the terror groups there.
The terror attack appears to have been a coordinated effort with two or three teams of terrorists and are quite similar to the attacks by Lashkar-e-Taiba’s attack in Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 200 people and focused on non-Muslims. Some of the terrorists may have been wearing suicide vests. Muslims were separated from non-Muslims who were then executed. Bill Roggio indicates that families of diplomatic personnel are among the hostages.
It is possible that the terrorists at the mall are in contact with outside handlers, again following tactics seen at the Mumbai attacks.
The terror group claims that this attack is in retaliation for Kenya’s military operation against al Shabaab forces in Somalia.
It shouldn’t be surprising to see that al Shabaab is picking up tactics used with success by terror groups elsewhere. What it doesn’t say is whether this is a last-gasp attack indicating that the group needed to carry out a major attack or else fall by the wayside through a lack of support, or whether it signals a new resurgence in the group’s capabilities in the past couple of years.
The attack does once again show the importance of dealing with failed states to prevent them from becoming a safe haven and a terrorist incubator. Somalia continues to be a problem for East Africa and beyond, and some of the deadliest terror attacks have been carried out by terrorists who operated out of the failed state. This includes the US Embassy bombings in 1998.
#Kenya president: Terrorists defeated, 3 mall floors collapsed, 72 dead, more bodies trapped
— Eyewitness News (@eyewitnessnyc) September 24, 2013
American human rights advocates have undercut the work of their African counterparts by insisting on Western-style advocacy of gay rights from African supporters of human rights for all, says a group of prominent religious leaders and human-rights activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
The issue arose this summer when Dartmouth College in New Hampshire chose, then rejected, an African bishop as the new leader of its Tucker Foundation, which “educates Dartmouth students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice.”
After he was announced as the new dean of the Tucker Foundation on July 14, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga resigned from his position as bishop of Southern Malawi.
In a message to the Dartmouth community on July 18, Tengatenga said, “I support marriage equality and equal rights for everyone.”
The NAACP said they were “deeply troubled” by Tengatenga’s appointment, despite his “newfound views on marriage equality and gay rights.” He was subjected to an idiotic and ignorant campaign in the College’s media, local media and this offensive stupidity in Huffington Post.
Dartmouth then cancelled Tengatenga’s appointment.
A group of supporters, led by the legendary Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have condemned Dartmouth and the NAACP. They say:
It reflects badly on western human rights advocates who consciously or unconsciously engage in forms of cultural imperialism that undermine their own success and credibility by demanding proofs identical to their own kind and, in this instance, by also ignoring the voices of Africans and church leaders who have known and worked with Tengatenga in some cases for decades.
Tengatenga had said:
I have risked my life by advocating good and just government. As I told the search committee when I visited Dartmouth this spring, I have expected to die for the past decade because I have dared to speak out against official corruption and in defense of those Jesus called “the least of these.” I joke to my friends that I don’t leave the house after seven o’clock at night because I want to see who kills me.
The well respected global gay supporter the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, writes in SDGLN that:
The Dartmouth saga is the most recent example of American Christian liberalism paying more attention to the symbols of LGBT equality and inclusion rather than actually in the business of forming new moral paradigms for the 21st century.
Most liberal institutions in the USA including academia and the faith community have not taken the time or spent the resources needed to understand global homophobia. We are not paying attention to our own collusion in building up a new faith-based [and anti-gay] industry supported even by funding from the American taxpayer. Dartmouth’s response is only another example that we are really not listening and are prepared to throw good and resourceful people like James Tengatenga under the bus to protect some public persona that we are somehow more inclusive than we really are. Image trumps substance. The Rev. Kapya Kaoma, who was deeply shocked by this sad melodrama, expressed the delineation of battle zones simply as: “America is right. Africa is wrong.”