Monthly Archives: May 2013

I Am African

I am African

By Thabo Mbeki

I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.

My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightning, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.

The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld. The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day.

At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito. A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say – I am an African!

I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape – they who fell victim to the most merciless genocide our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and independence and they who, as a people, perished in the result.

Today, as a country, we keep an audible silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit the horror of a former deed, seeking to obliterate from our memories a cruel occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not and never to be inhuman again.

I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me. In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part of my essence. The stripes they bore on their bodies from the lash of the slave master are a reminder embossed on my consciousness of what should not be done.

I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandhlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.

I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena and the Bahamas, who sees in the mind’s eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk, death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in ruins. I am the child of Nongqause. I am he who made it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold, in the same food for which my stomach yearns.

I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition for that human existence.

Being part of all these people, and in the knowledge that none dare contest that assertion, I shall claim that – I am an African. I have seen our country torn asunder as these, all of whom are my people, engaged one another in a titanic battle, the one redress a wrong that had been caused by one to another and the other, to defend the indefensible.

I have seen what happens when one person has superiority of force over another, when the stronger appropriate to themselves the prerogative even to annul the injunction that God created all men and women in His image. I know what if signifies when race and colour are used to determine who is human and who, sub-human.

I have seen the destruction of all sense of self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what one is not, simply to acquire some of the benefits which those who had improved themselves as masters had ensured that they enjoy. I have experience of the situation in which race and colour is used to enrich some and impoverish the rest.

I have seen the corruption of minds and souls as (word not readable) of the pursuit of an ignoble effort to perpetrate a veritable crime against humanity.I have seen concrete expression of the denial of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious, systemic and systematic oppressive and repressive activities of other human beings.

There the victims parade with no mask to hide the brutish reality – the beggars, the prostitutes, the street children, those who seek solace in substance abuse, those who have to steal to assuage hunger, those who have to lose their sanity because to be sane is to invite pain. Perhaps the worst among these, who are my people, are those who have learnt to kill for a wage. To these the extent of death is directly proportional to their personal welfare.

And so, like pawns in the service of demented souls, they kill in furtherance of the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal. They murder the innocent in the taxi wars. They kill slowly or quickly in order to make profits from the illegal trade in narcotics. They are available for hire when husband wants to murder wife and wife, husband.

Among us prowl the products of our immoral and amoral past – killers who have no sense of the worth of human life, rapists who have absolute disdain for the women of our country, animals who would seek to benefit from the vulnerability of the children, the disabled and the old, the rapacious who brook no obstacle in their quest for self-enrichment.

All this I know and know to be true because I am an African! Because of that, I am also able to state this fundamental truth that I am born of a people who are heroes and heroines. I am born of a people who would not tolerate oppression.I am of a nation that would not allow that fear of death, torture, imprisonment, exile or persecution should result in the perpetuation of injustice.

The great masses who are our mother and father will not permit that the behaviour of the few results in the description of our country and people as barbaric. Patient because history is on their side, these masses do not despair because today the weather is bad. Nor do they turn triumphalist when, tomorrow, the sun shines.

Whatever the circumstances they have lived through and because of that experience, they are determined to define for themselves who they are and who they should be. We are assembled here today to mark their victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their own definition of what it means to be African.

The Constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes and unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour, gender or historical origins. It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, Black and White.

It gives concrete expression to the sentiment we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the people shall govern.It recognises the fact that the dignity of the individual is both an objective which society must pursue, and is a goal which cannot be separated from the material well-being of that individual.

It seeks to create the situation in which all our people shall be free from fear, including the fear of the oppression of one national group by another, the fear of the disempowerment of one social echelon by another, the fear of the use of state power to deny anybody their fundamental human rights and the fear of tyranny.

It aims to open the doors so that those who were disadvantaged can assume their place in society as equals with their fellow human beings without regard to colour, race, gender, age or geographic dispersal. It provides the opportunity to enable each one and all to state their views, promote them, strive for their implementation in the process of governance without fear that a contrary view will be met with repression.

It creates a law-governed society which shall be inimical to arbitrary rule. It enables the resolution of conflicts by peaceful means rather than resort to force.It rejoices in the diversity of our people and creates the space for all of us voluntarily to define ourselves as one people.

As an African, this is an achievement of which I am proud, proud without reservation and proud without any feeling of conceit. Our sense of elevation at this moment also derives from the fact that this magnificent product is the unique creation of African hands and African minds.

But it also constitutes a tribute to our loss of vanity that we could, despite the temptation to treat ourselves as an exceptional fragment of humanity, draw on the accumulated experience and wisdom of all humankind, to define for ourselves what we want to be.

Together with the best in the world, we too are prone to pettiness, petulance, selfishness and short-sightedness. But it seems to have happened that we looked at ourselves and said the time had come that we make a super-human effort to be other than human, to respond to the call to create for ourselves a glorious future, to remind ourselves of the Latin saying: Gloria est consequenda – Glory must be sought after!

Today it feels good to be an African. It feels good that I can stand here as a South African and as a foot soldier of a titanic African army, the African National Congress, to say to all the parties represented here, to the millions who made an input into the processes we are concluding, to our outstanding compatriots who have presided over the birth of our founding document, to the negotiators who pitted their wits one against the other, to the unseen stars who shone unseen as the management and administration of the Constitutional Assembly, the advisers, experts and publicists, to the mass communication media, to our friends across the globe – congratulations and well done!

I am an African. I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa. The pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, Burundi and Algeria is a pain I also bear. The dismal shame of poverty, suffering and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.

The blight on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of the ordering of human affairs leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair. This is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned. This thing that we have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes.

Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace! However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper! Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say – nothing can stop us now!

Thank you.

 

 

CITY OF CARSON APPOINTS 3 NIGERIAN CITY COMMISSIONERS

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The Mayor and the City Council City of Carson at a meeting on 5/7/13 appointed the

following  Nigerian-Americans as Commissioners in City Commissions

1. Chike Nweke

Publisher Life and Times Magazine and Media Director of Nigerian American Public Affairs

Commission -Appointed as Commissioner in the City Public Relations Commission

2. Stephen Anyaka

Educator, Former Candidate for City of Carson Council -Appointed Commissioner in the City Public Utilities and Budget Commission

 3. Engr Anayo Akametalu

Senior Civil Engineer with CALTRANS -Appointed as Commissioner  in the Citywide Planning Commission

 

US plans $250m fertilizer plant in Edo State

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United States Consul-General to Nigeria, Mr. Jeffry Hawkins

According to the Social media & Public Affairs, Governor’s Office in Benin-City, the Consul-General of the United States to Nigeria, Mr. Jeffry Hawkins has disclosed plans by the United States government to establish a $250 million fertilizer plant in Edo State.

Mr. Hawkins, who described Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as one of the most effective governors in Nigeria made the disclosure during a courtesy call and inspection of projects in the state, yesterday.The Consul-General said the $250 million fertilizer plant is being planned by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the United State Government.

“We are here because we are proud that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation of the US government is involved with the Green Petrochemical Company which is making a $250 million investment , and we are happy that this important fertilizer plant will have the support of the United States Government. It will create about one thousand five hundred jobs. That is something we are hoping to take a look at when we are here,” he noted.

According to him “the United States have had a long relationship with you way back before your time in politics and your activities as one of Nigeria’s premier labour leader and we are very happy to continue with that relationship.

“We are happy that people of your state obviously think highly of you and your re-election is what we in America call landslide. You are someone many people point to when answering the question, who is the most effective governor in Nigeria, often the answer is Comrade Adams Oshiomhole”, he added.

The Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole thanked the United State government for the planned investment in the state noting that “We trust we can count on your support.

“I am happy for the good news, that a US agency is supporting a fertilizer plant here and this shows the confidence and we are happy about that. We are also able to attract one of Nigeria’s foremost investors, Dangote group, and they are constructing a factory somewhere in Edo North behind the bank of the river Niger. That is the largest fertilizer plant in this part of the continent.

“In addition, we also believe that we can easily be a hub for power generation, supply and distribution if the Federal Government gets its policies right. Strategically located we have gas which is the resource for power generation. We realize that building institutions rather than strong men, we are already looking at Edo state after my tenure,” he added.

The Governor maintained that, “we think we can strengthen institutions rather than regardless of the character of the person. We are making investment in ICT, trying to deepen transparency and avoid waste in our system.

According to him, “For too long the Nigerian electorate has been taken for granted. This is the only country somebody is elected and has not finished four years in office, you are already predicting you will win the second term as if your performance is irrelevant. When you have a system like that in a democracy you can’t be sure of the future.”

The Consul General later joined the Governor on a tour of some of the projects in Benin metropolis.

Speaking in an interview after the tour of projects, the Consul-General said, “I specially want to thank the Governor for his kind heart. We have seen a number of things that he is doing ranging from roads, health, education and drainages. He has worked hard to develop the infrastructure of the state.”

The Consul General noted that, “by far the most impressive of the projects are the drainages. It is a high prestige project. In a city like Benin it makes all the difference. The state government has paid a lot of attention to it and is working very hard to address the issue of flooding.”

What Nigeria needs is not more strong men, it needs good governance. Without a doubt, Governor Oshiomhole has demonstrated leadership in his commitments to create job opportunities for the people of Edo-State. On behalf of AfriQtalk, we give kudos to ACN, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

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ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT – A hard look at the state of Nigeria’s shipping sector

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A journalist’s account of how the growth of Nigeria’s shipping sector is impaired by politics and inconsistent policies. Arrested Development takes a hard look at the state of Nigeria‘s shipping sector and concludes that the sector has failed to live up to expectation. Inconsistent government policies, mediocrity, poor planning, and a general lack of understanding of the role of shipping in national development have all contributed to the sorry state of the shipping sector.

The author traced the history of Nigeria‘s shipping sector from the precolonial era to the present time and concludes that a lot more needs to be done if meaningful development of the sector is to be attained.  This book is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.de/Arrested-Development-Journalists-Nigerias-Inconsistent/dp/1477238212

For more info about the author, visit http://www.bolajiakinola.com/

Rape-aXe: The Anti-Rape Condom

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A South African woman working as a blood technician with the South African Blood Transfusion Service, during which time she met and treated many rape victims. The device, known as The Rape-aXe, is a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing microscopic barbs that would be worn by a woman in her vagina like a tampon.

If an attacker were to attempt vaginal rape, their penis would enter the latex sheath and be snagged by the barbs, causing the attacker pain during withdrawal and (ideally) giving the victim time to escape.
The condom would remain attached to the attacker’s body when he withdrew and could only be removed surgically, which would alert hospital staff and police. This device could assist in the identification and prosecution of rapist.

South African inventor Sonette Ehlers demonstrates her new anti-rape female condom in Cape Town. The device, concealed inside a woman’s body, hooks onto a rapist during penetration and must be surgically removed. Ms Ehlers said the rape trap would be so painful for a rapist that it would disable him immediately, enabling his victim to escape; but would cause no long-term physical damage and could not injure the woman.

The United Nations says South Africa has the world’s highest per capita rate of reported rapes – 119 per 100,000 people. Analysts say the total, including unreported rapes, could be nine times higher. A majority of women surveyed said they were willing to use the device, which will go into production next year and sell for one rand (20 cents).

 

 

Award winning African-pop duo “Vast of Bracket” Diagnosed with Lymphoma-Cancer

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Award winning and top selling contemporary Nigerian-style African-pop duo “Vast of Bracket ” diagnosed with Lymphoma- cancer of the blood, after suffering from body pains, headaches, non stop coughing, loss of weight and weakness while in Paris for a show. Recently, he was recognized by the City and State of Philadelphia at the African American Museum, U.S.A. African-music-festival-featuring-bracket

 

Prior to his admission in London at the Wellington Hospital in February, he reportedly went to doctors in Nigeria, who were unable to diagnose his ailment, resulting to delays in treatment. Thankfully, he is responding well to  the 4 circles of chemotherapy treatment received. He will do a few more with each circle costing about N1.4million before returning to Nigeria next month. On behalf of AfriQtalk, we wish you a speedy recovery.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- ‘WEDLOCK OF THE GODS’ MAKES ITS DEBUT IN ATLANTA

Wedlock of the Gods

INTRIGUING WEST AFRICAN THEATRE PLAY ‘WEDLOCK OF THE GODS’ MAKES ITS DEBUT IN ATLANTA,GEORGIA DURING AFROXPLOSION 2013

 WRITTEN BY NIGERIA‘S FIRST FEMALE PLAYWRIGHT, DR ZULU SOFOLA;

DIRECTED BY ACCLAIMED BRITISH NOLLYWOOD ACTOR, WALE OJO

 Atlanta, Georgia (April, 2013) — As the ‘Fela on Broadway’ show makes its impact in recent times, US audiences continue to look forward to more of African Theater in the Diaspora.  In light of this, following a very successful London tour, the literal work of Nigeria’s first female Playwright, Dr Zulu Sofola, titled WEDLOCK OF THE GODS comes alive in theatre in Atlanta, Georgia at the SouthWest Arts Center located at 915, New Hope Road SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30331 on May 30 to June 2, 2013 during AfroXplosion 2013.

Brought to Atlanta by Zulu Sofola Productions and Chi Ife Productions and directed by acclaimed British Nollywood Actor, Wale Ojo; WEDLOCK OF THE GODS is a must see for all, for art lovers who seek something different and who yearn for a cultural connection to the continent.

Before Nollywood boomed, (Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world, after Hollywood); there was classic West African theatre, which Nollywood derives its elements from; it is always full of drama, intensity and suspense. Atlanta art lovers and audiences will enjoy a firsthand stage experience of what true and original West African theatre is.

Ife Okwumabua of Chi Ife Productions says of the play – “Wedlock of the Gods is a production that is close to my heart because it was written by my Aunt, Dr. Zulu Sofola, and also it is a wonderful presentation of authentic African theater, something rarely seen on stage in the US. As a second generation Nigerian who grew up in America, it has been hard to find ways to reconnect to the continent. Wedlock of the Gods has been my journey back to my homeland through the arts. It is my hope that audiences will be moved by this West African love story and desire to see more culturally diverse bodies of work that is relatable and reconnects them to the performing arts” 

WEDLOCK OF THE GODS is a dramatic love story about how true love defies all earthly bonds. A story reminiscent of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet tale, WEDLOCK OF THE GODS shows how the story of Romeo and Juliet would have happened if it took place in West Africa during more traditional times. Zulu Sofola’s personal story is very much like the play, in that she broke many barriers in her life as a female playwright and even in love. She passed away in 1998, six months after the loss of her beloved husband Adeyemi Sofola. Their love was inseparable. We invite you to explore the works of this celebrated artist. For Atlanta tickets, please visit – http://wotg.brownpapertickets.com/

ABOUT ZULU SOFOLA

Dr Zulu Sofola is one of Africa’s foremost female writers, renowned for giving a voice to the voiceless through poignant characters and the empowerment of women at grassroots levels. A modern pioneer in her own right, Zulu Sofola’s writing theme embodied the rich African traditions as portrayed through the culture of her people.  Her work also captured the perceived conflicts between the western culture and African value systems.

A prolific Writer and Director, she recorded seventeen plays, fifteen of which are published.  A distinguished Academician, Professor Zulu Sofola wrote numerous articles and presentations, and is still considered one of the great minds of African Literary Arts. Zulu Sofola’s plays challenge the political, spiritual, and traditional norms of Nigerian society.  For more information, visit www.zulusofola.com.  Email: zulusofolaproductions@gmail.com . Facebook – ZuluSofolaProductions, Twitter @ ZSPPro

 ABOUT WALE OJO

Wale’s acting career spans over two decades. Wale Ojo began acting with the first television station in Africa as a child prodigy and star. He turned professional in the United Kingdom at the age of 21. He is the pioneer and founder of the New Nigeria Cinema whose aim is to improve the quality of Nigerian films. To date, he runs a yearly festival titled New Nigeria Cinema day at the British Film Institute in London. A great lover of Shakespeare, he is at the moment researching an African movie adaptation of one of the Bard’s plays.

His recent television credits include The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency with Gill Scott and playing a Niger Delta militant in the new NBC series “The Philantropist” with James Purefoy. He also acted in the British film ‘Johnny English Reborn’.  His other recent screen accomplishments are as the main actor in the Nollywood film – ‘Phone Swap’ and the London TV Series ‘Meet The Adebanjos’,  in the works are the film- ‘The Guard’ with Don Cheadle, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, and a film production about Afro-Beat. Wale Ojo also directed ‘WEDLOCK OF THE GODS’ in London, UK in 2011.

ABOUT AFROXPLOSION 2013

AfroXplosion 2013 is a four day celebration of Afro-cultural Arts in the Diaspora; presented by Chi Ife Productions and DreamWeavers Entertainment in conjunction with the Fulton Arts County South West Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia. AfroXplosion  2013 will present the music concert AFRODREAMFEST on May 31st at 6pm and the theatrical production – WEDLOCK OF THE GODS on May 30 and June 1  at 8pm respectively and 5pm on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

For Ticket information on WEDLOCK OF THE GODS, visit

www.zulusofola.com  – www.afrodreamfest.com

Location: Fulton COunty Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30331

Show times:                          

Thursday, May 30th at 8pm

Saturday, June 1st at 8pm

Sunday, June 2nd at 5pm

Tickets for all shows are only $35 students and $20 Students/Seniors.

Group discounts are available.

 For information or to purchase tickets visit www.zulusofola.com.

To purchase tickets by phone or for group rates and information, please call (678) 995- 3756 or zulusofolaproductions@gmail.com.

Tickets are also available in person at the door.

For Press inquiries and for more information, please contact Chi Ife Okwumabua, 678-662-8889.