Friday, July 22, 2005

SOKWANELE! SOKWANELE! SOKWANELE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The powerless poor masses
Robert Mugabe rendered homeless.
Many of them have lost their children
during the demolition of their homes
in Zimbabwe.

Sokwanele! Sokwanele!

Sokwanele!

Enough is enough!
The old African wizard named Robert Mugabe has gone too far!
He has done the worst by violating the sacred confines of the churches in Zimbabwe to drive out the poor masses he made homeless.

Many children have died in questionable circumstances since the wicked tyrannical ruling despot of Zimbabwe sent his storm troopers to use buldozers to demolish thousands of ramshackle houses of the poor and forced them into inhuman transit camps with thousands of them left in the open without shelter in the storm.

The time has come to end the wickedness of the wicked.

ZANU MUST GO! NOW!
Enough is enough!

Zimbabwe anti-riot police force homeless

to leave the shelter of churches

Sokwanele Report: 21 July 2005.

Refugees sheltering in the church grounds with their belongings. Bulawayo. Baton-wielding police in full anti-riot gear descended on a number of churches across the city last night and into the early hours of this morning to forcibly remove several hundred homeless victims of Operation Murambatsvina still sheltering in the churches. The victims of this latest human rights outrage were awakened from sleep and bundled with their few pathetic belongings onto the back of police trucks believed to be headed for the holding camp recently established at Balu Estate just north of Bulawayo.

The first church to feel the brunt of the police assault was Agape Church in the western suburbs which had been offering shelter to over 200 of those whose homes had been destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina. The police arrived there soon after 10 pm, wearing full anti-riot gear including helmets and batons. Witnesses were appalled at the brutal way in which men, women and children were forcibly removed from the premises. The pastor of Agape Church, Pastor Lucky Moyo, was visibly angered and distressed by the unlawful intrusion of the police onto church premises and the ruthless treatment meted out to poor, defenceless people now forcibly removed for the second time within a space of a few weeks.

The police continued the removal operation through the night, only arriving at the City Presbyterian Church at 4 a.m. this morning and the City Baptist Church some hours later. Their objective was clearly to remove all the remaining internally displaced victims of what has been called the "Mugabe Tsunami" from the churches to a holding centre where they are less visible and access to them can be more easily controlled. This move coincides with a recent tightening up of security at the Balu Estate. On Tuesday a Bulawayo pastor who was visiting his parishioners at the holding centre was interrupted in the course of a service of worship and ejected from the site. The authorities administering the camp even refused him permission to return and collect his Bible. The holding centre is now effectively off bounds to pastors and representatives of the Church.

Fr. Barnabas Nqindi, the Rector of the (Anglican) Church of the Ascension, was one of those who witnessed the brutal police action at Agape Church last night. He described it as "cruel, nasty … unbelievable". It was he said "heart rending" to see the innocent victims of the present social upheaval being carted off to face further misery. A few hours later Fr. Barnabas himself was arrested and taken to the Ross Camp police centre where he was subjected to hostile interrogation and verbal abuse by police details, some of whom were so young they could hardly have been out of their teens. It was noticeable that these young interrogators wore ZRP uniforms but did not display any numbers or other identification. A number of other pastors tried to intervene on behalf of Fr Barnabas but they were chased away. Fr Barnabas was released from police custody at about 4 am and told to report back at the police station at 9 am.

Apart from the gross human rights abuses involved in their forcible removal, there are fears for the well-being of those now held at the Balu Estate Centre. The Red Cross had provided temporary accommodation in the form of 100 tents, but this latest influx will take the number of refugees to something in excess of 1100, for whom the facilities are quite inadequate. The refusal of access to the Church and the strict control of those entering and leaving the site are also matters of grave concern.
Another local pastor interviewed during this latest outrage commented, "It is utterly barbaric. If this isn't a crime against humanity, then I don't know what is. It is high time the UN (United Nations) intervened to stop these atrocities."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

THE FALL OF ROBERT MUGABE

The atrocities of Paapa Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe have been condemned all over the world. But the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and many other African leaders are looking dumb and numb like zombies. Except for Thambo Mbeki of South Africa and Professor Wole Soyinka the first African Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature who have openly condemned the draconian tyranny of Mugabe.


Homeless children in Zimbabwe looking gloomy as the future looks bleak.

Prof. Wole Soyinka says Mugabe has fallen from the pedestal of the charismatic liberation leader of the anti-apartheid era to become one the worst African tyrannical despots since independence.

Updated From: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK

Why Africa won't condemn

Zimbabwe blitz

By Elizabeth Blunt BBC News

Foreign ministers from the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.

Some children in Zimbabwe have left school after their homes were demolishedYet many of those other African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.
The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at all unusual.

From one end of Africa to the other, governments have set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them afterwards.
Unsanitary

Nigeria, the current chair of the African Union, was the scene of a huge mass eviction in 1990, when around 300,000 people were bulldozed out of the Maroko neighbourhood in Lagos in a single week to make way for corporate office buildings and executive villas.

Soldiers cleared the Washington area of Abidjan in Ivory Coast at gunpoint in 2002, turning people out of their homes, sometimes with less than an hour's notice.

See before and after images of township clearance in Harare.
Hundreds of families in Bonaberi area of Douala in Cameroon, lost their homes in similar purges.

In every case it was absolutely true that the areas were unsanitary, and the houses built without permission, yet there was never any sense that these exercises were being carried out to give residents a better place to live.

The evicted families inevitably were driven further to the margins and ended up living in even worse conditions.

The victims of the Zimbabwe eviction are lucky that because of the political campaign being run against President Robert Mugabe, both inside and outside the country, there are well-organised and well-funded people calling attention to their plight.
But it seems unlikely that Africa's other leaders will sympathise with the displaced rather than with a fellow president cleaning up his country's city, and will speak out on their behalf.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

KEZIAH JONES: THE ICON OF BLUFUNK



Chima's Exclusive Interview With Keziah Jones: The Icon Of Blufunk Fame.

EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA INTERVIEWED THE CHARISMATIC AND ENIGMATIC NIGERIAN BORN ROCK GUITARIST KEZIAH JONES. AND HE IS ALSO WORKING ON THE KEZIAH JONES BOOK PROJECT WITH FRENCH AND JAPANESE RESEARCHERS AND TRANSLATORS. BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.

1. WHAT IS BLUFUNK?
Blufunk is essentially a method: a means of making one instrument sound like many. This was a necessity during the years I spent playing out and about on the streets of London and Paris. In the guitar, is the bassline, the percussion and the lead guitar line. Weaving in and out of all these is my vocal line. For all these things to be going on it is necessary for the mind to be totally still and fixed on no one thing in particular, therefore Blufunk is also a philosophy of life, which is reflected in my lyrics. You could say the whole theory emerged as a result of long periods of time spent in solitude and cultural isolation whilst I was being ”educated" in British boarding schools from the age of eight. So literally you could break it down like this. The psychic blues/melancholia that I perceived in life in general and the funk: for an individuals physical/dynamic attempt to overcome it. In the dictionary a "blue funk" is defined as a state of mental or emotional agitation.

2. WHY ARE YOU NOT CALLING IT AFROFUNK? SINCE THERE IS A LOT OF AFRICAN BEATS IN THE COMPOSITION OF YOUR MUSIC.
The term afro funk whilst obviously related to me and to some aspects of my music is still too broad and unspecific.

3. WHY ARE YOU NOT VERY WELL KNOWN IN AMERICA?
I am known among the people who look for me, so far I have managed and to prevent my music being totally commercialized in return for mainstream success, there are compromises involved in "being known in America" or even being known anywhere. After 4 albums, it’s so far so good. I believe I can now negotiate being known in America and elsewhere on my own terms. So lookout for the next album.

4. DON'T YOU THINK YOU NEED AN AMERICAN PRODUCER LIKE QUINCY JONES?
I think America and American music business and music production techniques are in some ways far ahead, African- Americans are constantly evolving new ways of sonic effects, e.g most R&B and Hip-Hop and certain avant-garde and R&B with Pop like the Neptunes and Timbaland. I tend to choose producers on account of how we get on with each other, if they are sensitive to my ideas, etc; rather than if they have a name. But at the same time I respect the work of Quincy Jones as a producer and as a musician.

5.WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF BLACK ORPHEUS TO KEZIAH JONES AND "BLUFUNK"?
Black Orpheus is the 4th and final installation in a series of ideas started by the “Blufunk is a Fact” album. It is also the 4th and final attempt in the self-analysis triggered off by my being sent away from home at a very young age. I feel as if the series of questions and enquiries this cultural journey presented have at last found some sort of resolution from the 1st album "Blufunk"(mental agitation/discomfort) to the 2nd called ”African space" (the journey into new and uncharted cultural/psychic territory as a result of the forced break with the past/family/culture) to the3rd "Liquid Sunshine" (which was an attempt to see some sort of beauty nevertheless amongst all the destruction left behind) and finally the "Black Orpheus” album (which was the completion of the broken cycle, an attempt to create new links with the past with the full understanding of my present state and place with the resolution to use it fully to liberate myself and anybody else who might be interested.)

6.WHY ARE YOU NOT BRINGING UP OTHER NIGERIANS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN PLAYING "BLUFUNK"?
After 15 years or so of devising and defining Blufunk, I have only recently found a means of codifying it into a series of instructions and symbols. The idea is to put it out in book form, or DVD at some point. That’s the purely technical side. There is also the philosophical attitude necessary to really "play" it. This I think I express and convey by my live concerts all over the world, and more recently in Nigeria in particular. So interested Nigerians will definitely be seeing more of me.

Thank you KEZIAH JONES.

BY EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA.APRIL 2005.

Link:
keziah Jones

Saturday, July 09, 2005

WHERE WOMEN RULE





REBECCA LOLOSOLI(FROM LEFT) LEADS THE WAY


A Place Where Women Rule

All-Female Village in Kenya

Is a Sign Of Burgeoning Feminism Across Africa


By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 9, 2005; Page A01

UMOJA, Kenya -- Seated cross-legged on tan sisal mats in the shade, Rebecca Lolosoli, matriarch of a village for women only, took the hand of a frightened 13-year-old girl. The child was expected to wed a man nearly three times her age, and Lolosoli told her she didn't have to.

The man was Lolosoli's brother, but that didn't matter. This is a patch of Africa where women rule. "You are a small girl. He is an old man," said Lolosoli, who gives haven to young girls running from forced marriages. "Women don't have to put up with this nonsense anymore."

Ten years ago, a group of women established the village of Umoja, which means unity in Swahili, on an unwanted field of dry grasslands. The women said they had been raped and, as a result, abandoned by their husbands, who claimed they had shamed their community.

Stung by the treatment, Lolosoli, a charismatic and self-assured woman with a crown of puffy dark hair, decided no men would be allowed to live in their circular village of mud-and-dung huts.

In an act of spite, the men of her tribe started their own village across the way, often monitoring activities in Umoja and spying on their female counterparts.
What started as a group of homeless women looking for a place of their own became a successful and happy village. About three dozen women live here and run a cultural center and camping site for tourists visiting the adjacent Samburu National Reserve. Umoja has flourished, eventually attracting so many women seeking help that they even hired men to haul firewood, traditionally women's work.

The men in the rival village also attempted to build a tourist and cultural center, but were not very successful.

But the women felt empowered with the revenue from the camping site and their cultural center, where they sell crafts. They were able to send their children to school for the first time, eat well and reject male demands for their daughters' circumcision
and marriage.

They became so respected that troubled women, some beaten, some trying to get divorced, started showing up in this little village in northern Kenya. Lolosoli was even invited by the United Nations to attend a recent world conference on gender empowerment in New York.

"That's when the very ugly jealous behaviors started," Lolosoli said, adding that her life was threatened by local men right before her trip to New York. "They just said, frankly, that they wanted to kill me," Lolosoli said, laughing because she thought the idea sounded overly dramatic.

Sebastian Lesinik, the chief of the male village, also laughed, describing the clear division he saw between men and women. "The man is the head," he said. "The lady is the neck. A man cannot take, let's call it advice, from his neck."


A Place Where Women Rule

"She's questioning our very culture," Lesinik said in an interview at a bar on a sweltering afternoon. "This seems to be the thing in these modern times. Troublemaking ladies like Rebecca."

In a mix of African women's gumption and the trickling in of influences from the outside world, a version of feminism has grown progressively alongside extreme levels of sexual violence, the battle against HIV-AIDS, and the aftermath of African wars, all of which have changed the role of women in surprising ways. A package of new laws has been presented to Kenya's parliament to give women unprecedented rights to refuse marriage proposals, fight sexual harassment in the workplace, reject genital mutilation and to prosecute rape, an act so frequent that Kenyan leaders call it the nation's biggest human rights issue. The most severe penalty, known as the "chemical castration bill," would castrate repeatedly convicted rapists and send them to prison for life.

In neighboring Uganda, thousands of women are rallying this month for the Domestic Relations Bill, which would give them specific legal rights if their husbands take a second wife, in part because of fear of HIV infection.

Eleven years after the genocide in Rwanda, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, women in the country hold 49 percent of the seats in the lower house of parliament. Many of them are war widows who have said they felt compelled to rise up in protest after male leaders presided over the 1994 slaughter of Tutsi tribal members by the Hutu majority.

Across the continent in West Africa, Nigerian women are lobbying strongly for the nomination of more women politicians, including a president in 2007, saying that men have failed to run the country properly.

Focusing on the meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Scotland this week, female activists said they hoped international aid intended for Africa would include funding for women who are seeking rights in their court systems and more representation in their statehouses.

"We are at the start of something important for African women," said Margaret Auma Odhiambo, a leader of western Kenya's largest group for widows. The members are women whose husbands have died of AIDS complications.

Lolosoli's effort to speak out for change in her patch of the continent shows the difficulties of changing the rhythm and power structure of village life. Before Lolosoli even went to the U.N. conference, she was going house to house in the nearby town of Archer's Post, telling women they had rights, such as to refuse to have sex with their husbands if they were being beaten or ill-treated.

"A woman is nothing in our community," she said, referring to the members of her tribe, including the men in the village across the road.

"You aren't able to answer men or speak in front of them whether you are right or wrong," she said. "That has to change. Women have to demand rights, and then respect will come. But if you remain silent, no one thinks you have anything to say. Then again, I was not popular for what I was saying."

At the U.N. conference in New York, Lolosoli said, she and other women from around the world bonded as they watched an episode of "Oprah" that focused on women, verbal abuse and cheating husbands.

"You just cry and cry," sighed Lolosoli, who said many men in her tribe still take several wives. "Then again, I was really inspired to know that a lot of women face challenges of this nature and make it."

When she came back to Kenya, armed with ideas and empowerment training workbooks, she stood her ground even when some of the men filed a court case against her, seeking to shut down the village.

"I would just ignore the men when they threw stones at me and ask, 'Are you okay? Are your children okay? Are your cows okay?' " she said. Her tactic and calm reaction was disarming, she recalled. "After everything, they weren't going to stop us."
Lolosoli is still battling her brother over his attempt to marry the 13-year-old.
But lately, the residents of the men's village have been admitting defeat. They are no longer trying to attract tourists. Some have moved elsewhere. Others have had trouble getting married because some women in the area are taking Lolosoli's example to heart.

"She has been successful, it's true." sighed Lesinik, who said maybe he is a little bit jealous. He then shrugged and said, "Maybe we can learn from our necks. Maybe just a little bit."