Rwandans turn toward Islam.
A NY Times
story (reg. req.) describes how Islam has become the fastest-growing religion in Rwanda, partly because people are disgusted with the priests and nuns who helped with the killing ten years ago, partly because Muslims saved many people at that time.
Muslim leaders credit the gains to their ability during the 1994 massacres to shield most Muslims, and many other Rwandans, from certain death. "The Muslims handled themselves well in '94, and I wanted to be like them," said Alex Rutiririza, explaining why he converted to Islam last year.
Food for thought for those who think of Islam
as a "religion of violence
posted by languagehat
on Apr 7, 2004 -
The peace process in the Ivory Coast
has collapsed (again)
. I haven't seen it reported yet but have it first hand from an official stationed there that the UN is evacuating all personnel. The evacuations in 2002 were limited compared to this. How could the Ivory Coast have come to this point? What does this mean for the rest of the region? sigh
posted by Grod
on Mar 29, 2004 -
The Kodak vs. the King
of the the Belgian Congo (aka the Congo Free State) from it's heyday under the personal rule of the very evil King Leopold
. The contrast between the photographs used by Leopolds apologists
and those used by his enemies
(lead by the remorseless E.D. Morel
) is probably unsurprising but interesting as evidence of perhaps the first propaganda war to be dominated by photography. Also, the first genocidal atrocity to be, very partially, documented photographically.
The kodak has been a sore calamity to us. The most powerful enemy that has confronted us, indeed.... Every Yankee missionary and every interrupted trader sent home and got one; and now -- oh, well, the pictures get sneaked around everywhere, in spite of all we can do to ferret them out and suppress them.
Mark Twain, King Leopold's Soliloquy
(most links go to the excellent boondocksnet
site which takes as its starting point Mark Twain and his anti-imperialist campaigns and branches out most impressively from there)
posted by thatwhichfalls
on Mar 20, 2004 -
African AIDS Drug Plan Faces Collapse.
The World Health Organization's Three by Five
programme seeks to supply 3 million Africans with anti-HIV drugs by 2005. But it's in danger, due to lack of cash... and opposition from special interests
who seem to be exerting influence over the U.S. government. According to Stephen Lewis
, U.N. Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, 'If Three by Five fails, as it surely will without the dollars, then there are no excuses left, no rationalisations to hide behind. There will only be the mass graves of the betrayed.'
posted by stonerose
on Mar 17, 2004 -
Neither rags nor riches.
Quite a good human interest story from yesterday's Guardian about what happens to clothes after they go in the recycling bin or off to the charity shop.
posted by biffa
on Feb 26, 2004 -
Michael, aged 25, was abducted by Lord's Resistance Army
rebels in northern Uganda. His captors beat him on the head with rifle-butts when he was no longer able to carry their loot and left him for dead. Government soldiers
found him a week later. "Termites had started eating me alive," he recalls. Michael's is one of many personal testimonies published in When the sun sets, we start to worry...
, a book launched Thursday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in conjunction with its Integrated Regional Information Networks
. Using personal accounts and powerful black-and-white photographs, When the sun sets, we start to
aims to draw attention to the plight of more than a million Ugandan men, women and children whose present existence encompasses a degree of misery and horror seldom seen elsewhere.
posted by mookieproof
on Jan 29, 2004 -
Hollywood? Old. Bollywood? That's soooo 2003. Make room for Nollywood
, Nigeria's own film industry which is growing by leaps and bounds every year, and is currently worth about $45 million dollars
. About 400 Nollywood films are produced every year many on a budget of around $15000 and are distributed almost entirely by VHS and VCD. The stories are very much simplistic
and pulpy (check out 419 Stalk Exchange. Yes, 419 as in the email scam) but are much preferred
by local residents and emigre's than the usual arthouse fair one often thinks of when talking about African cinema. Now if you'll excuse me there's a bucket of popcorn and a copy of GSM Connection
waiting for me in the living room.
posted by PenDevil
on Jan 19, 2004 -
Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou.
'Vodou is Haiti's mirror. Its arts and rituals reflect the difficult, brilliant history of seven million people, whose ancestors were brought from Africa to the Caribbean in bondage. In 1791 these Africans began the only successful national slave revolt in history. In 1804 they succeeded in creating the world's first Black republic: the only one in this hemisphere where all the citizens were free. Their success inspired admiration, fear and scorn in the wider world. Cut off from Euro-American support, Haitians managed to created their own dynamic "Creole" society-one rooted in Africa but responsive to all that was encountered in their new island home.' History, theology
and religious art.
Related :- an essay on the Vodou concept of soul
, Voodoos and Obeahs
on sacred-texts ('required reading if you want to understand the background of Haitian and Jamaican Vodun, and the profound influence of imperialism, slavery and racism on its development').
posted by plep
on Jan 2, 2004 -
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record.
'This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public -- in brief, anyone interested in the experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and the lives of their descendants in the slave societies of the New World. '
posted by plep
on Dec 9, 2003 -
'West Africa's markets are legendary and none more so than the famous Makola market in Ghana's capital, Accra. Run by powerful women traders who sell in the market, Makola is a place where you can buy anything you need - manufactured and imported foods, fresh produce, tools, medicines, shoes, pots and pans etc etc. It's also a place that's good for the soul; its humour and energy will recharge your batteries. If you aren't lucky enough to be in a West African city, you can still imagine you're there. Whether you are in New York, Paris or Sao Paolo, Johannesburg, Nairobi or Cairo, click on the link and join Ofeibea Quist Arcton on a stroll through Makola Market. It will do you good. '
Via allafrica.com's photo pages.
posted by plep
on Dec 6, 2003 -
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention. (NY Times, reg. req.) Amy Smith
teaches MIT students about the politics of delivering technology to poor nations and the nitty-gritty of mechanical engineering and helped start the IDEAS competition
; she herself designed (among other things) a screenless hammer mill
suited to third-world conditions and using "materials available to a blacksmith in Senegal."
Smith's entire life is like one of her inventions, portable and off the grid. At 41, she has no kids, no car, no retirement plan and no desire for a Ph.D. Her official title: instructor. ''I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. Why would I spend six years to get a Ph.D. to be in the position I'm in now, but with a title after my name? M.I.T. loves that I'm doing this work. The support is there. So I don't worry.''...
Likewise, the inventors who most inspire her will never strike it rich. ''There are geniuses in Africa, but they're not getting the press,'' she says. She gushes about Mohammed Bah Abba, a Nigerian teacher who came up with the pot-within-a-pot system. With nothing more than a big terra-cotta bowl, a little pot, some sand and water, Abba created a refrigerator -- the rig uses evaporation rather than electricity to keep vegetables cool. Innovations that target the poorest of the poor don't have to be complicated to make a big difference. The best solution is sometimes the most obvious.
A rare optimistic story for these downbeat times.
posted by languagehat
on Dec 3, 2003 -
"They do not use Western means to tell time. They use the sun.
These drugs have to be administered in certain sequences, at certain times during the day. You say, take it at 10 o'clock, they say, what do you mean, 10 o'clock?" They, of course, refers to "Africans" and the above logic from the head of USAID
was used an explanation for why it's tough to extend AIDS treatment to Africa. The only problem with this argument is that it's wrong.
People with HIV in developing countries are in better compliance with drug regimes than in the US as new research is showing
[RealAudio]. As we've seen throughout the epidemic, it's a lot easier to get funding for researchers in lab coats than for actual treatment . . .
posted by donovan
on Dec 1, 2003 -
But There's No Oil You Say?
The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said. It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, says UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland.
The rebels routinely abduct children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. Thousands of children leave their houses in northern Uganda to sleep rough in the major towns, where they feel more safe from the threat of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The United Nations [should] play a great role in scaling down the violence
The LRA, under shadowy leader Joseph Kony, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments. They often mutilate their victims, by cutting off their lips, noses or ears.
posted by turbanhead
on Nov 10, 2003 -
Ten years of therapy in one night
Could a single trip on a piece of African rootbark help a junkie kick the habit? That was the claim in the 1960s, and now iboga is back in the spotlight. But is it a miracle cure? Daniel Pinchbeck decided to give it a go. And life, he says, will never be the same again...
Any of you junkies at Metafilter care to give it a try?
posted by Postroad
on Nov 7, 2003 -
, an African-American illustrator
, and historian
, has passed
. "I had used the functional form of a narrative without words, it is open to all people, especially those who have difficulty visualizing what Black people describe as racism from the past and its lingering presence in the present."
posted by moonbird
on Aug 29, 2003 -
A Boeing 727 went missing
from Angola on May 25. Some people made immediate, predictable noises
about "terrorists", despite the fact that things are a lot less settled in Africa (from a paperwork and regulatory point of view). It was spotted with a new paint job
on June 28 in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. But, now it's gone again and nobody knows where it is.
posted by Irontom
on Aug 6, 2003 -
Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African.
'According to his famous autobiography, written in 1789, Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) was born in what is now Nigeria. Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood, he was taken as a slave to the New World. As a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker merchant, he eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving. As a seaman, he travelled the world, from the Mediterranean to the North Pole. Coming to London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789) a strongly abolitionist autobiography ... '
Of interest :- Ignatius Sancho: African Man of Letters
; Quobna Ottabah Cugoano: a Former Slave Speaks Out
; American Slave Narratives
('From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration'); Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
; Excerpts from Slave Narratives.
posted by plep
on Jul 17, 2003 -
Did you know that...
Aid fell in the 1990s—by nearly a third on a per capita basis in Sub-Saharan Africa? In Sub Saharan Africa, half the population lives on less than 1$ a day? At current rates Sub-Saharan Africa will not meet the poverty Goal until 2147? If all the food produced worldwide were distributed equally, every person would be able to consume 2,760 calories a day (hunger is defined as consuming fewer than 1,960 calories a day)? These and more facts can be found in the 2003 UN Human Development Report
posted by stonerose
on Jul 8, 2003 -
Photos by Martin
- a gem of a site for vicarious travelers, it features wonderful
, charming photos
and fascinating stories
from a guy who quit his job three years ago to travel the world. He credits global photojournalist Steve McCurry
as an influence. I am such a fan of these photo travel narratives, professional and amateur alike - has anyone else discivered some special favorites?
posted by madamjujujive
on Jul 8, 2003 -
Getting The Hell Out Of Africa:
An excellent article by R.W. Johnson
describes the forces now driving out many African whites and quietly despairs. Post-colonial blues are sad and riddled with guilt and lost hopes. How far does collective guilt impinge on the individual? What if there is no guilt at all? What is the white man and woman's place in 21st Century Africa? I wonder whether it isn't still too early to think clearly about the many delicate issues involved. But then an all-black Africa wouldn't be Africa. Would it?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Jun 25, 2003 -
"Clinton was a good guy, but he did fuck all"
or so says Bob Geldof when it comes to Clinton getting aid to Africa. And he's just as critical about the EU as well ("The EU have been pathetic and appalling, and I thought we had dealt with that 20 years ago when the electorate of our countries said never again..."
) pointing out their tiny contribution to the recent aid shipments to Ethiopia. But what about the Bush government you ask? "You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical -- in a positive sense -- in its approach to Africa since Kennedy."
posted by PenDevil
on May 28, 2003 -
Murder, Mayhem & Disco
Sierra Leone warlord Sam Bockarie - if indeed he is dead - will be remembered for allegedly advocating a particularly horrific tactic of war: the deliberate and widespread practice of hacking off the limbs, lips and ears of his victims.
The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) - the rebel group of which Mr Bockarie was a general - also received world attention for its systematic rape of women and abduction of thousands of children who were forced to fight.
Mr Bockarie who died aged 40 was wanted by the United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal for his alleged part in the atrocities
In his time, he was also a disco dancing champion, diamond miner, hairdresser, electrician and waiter.
posted by turbanhead
on May 7, 2003 -
The Ethnographic Lens: Images from the Realm of a Rain Queen.
Between 1936 and 1938 social anthropologists Eileen and Jack Krige undertook intensive fieldwork in the north-eastern regions of South Africa among the Lobedu people whose chief Modjadji was widely acclaimed as a rainmaker.'
'In 1943 their book 'The Realm of a Rain Queen' was published and has remained in print ever since. Some of the photographs taken by the Kriges were used as illustrations in the book but many remained unpublished and little known ...' Via
of archaeological and anthropological resources from the
South African Museum.
Princess Makobo Modjadji of the Bolobedu
has just been crowned as the new
Rain Queen, Modjadji VI.
greeted the inauguration, which may be
a good sign.
The Rain Queen was the inspiration for H. Rider Haggard's 'She Who Must Be Obeyed'.
More on the world of the Rain Queen - including biographical details on the last Rain Queen, and her relationships with politicians such as Nelson Mandela in a changine South Africa -
posted by plep
on Apr 12, 2003 -
The G.I. Jones Photographic Archive of Southeastern Nigerian Art and Culture.
'This is an archive of digitized photographs depicting the arts and cultures of southeastern Nigeria. The collection includes examples from Ibibio, Igbo, Ijo and Ogoni speaking peoples. All of the photographs were taken in the 1930s by the late G.I. Jones, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. The majority of the images are from the Igbo speaking regions where Jones conducted most of his research. The materials included here represent only a sample of the complete Jones collection. The photographs are unique for the creative brilliance of the art represented, the quality of the photography itself, and the cultural and historical significance of photographic records from this time period in Nigeria.'
Some related links :-
American Museum Congo Expedition 1909-1915.
A truly interesting site, which includes field notes, photographs, watercolours, historical maps, anthropoligical objects, and so forth.
A Clickable Map of the Art of the African Continent
, via Africa: The Art of a Continent.
The Woods Collection of African Art
, with another clickable map.
posted by plep
on Mar 27, 2003 -
to fight AIDS in Africa comes with some strings attached, it turns out. Bush is limiting the funds
that clinics which perform abortions can receive. Is it moral to politicize an epidemic?
posted by hipnerd
on Feb 17, 2003 -
The Tsavo lions
were made famous by the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness
. The stuffed trophies were donated to the Chicago Field Museum, where you can still see them today, in all their maneless glory
. Facinated by stranger-than-fiction stories out of Africa, like the lost tusks of Malima Temboz, the Mountain that Walks
posted by steef
on Jan 16, 2003 -
An undeclared war on latex
is apparently being waged by the Bush administration, which is taking all sorts of steps to avoid condoning their use. This is a patently ridiculous stance to take in the face of a global AIDS epidemic, but this interesting essay also raised my eyebrows:
According to figures in a report on condoms by Population Action International, the average man in Botswana gets less than one condom per year from international donors.
Uhhh...doesn't the idea of condoms as a staple of international relief seem a bit strange? Haven't governments around the world devoted any resources to their own public health? Surely donor-nations can't keep everyon else's penises safely sheathed forever.
posted by subpixel
on Jan 10, 2003 -
The Lost Boys of the Sudan
are a group of nearly 17,000 orphans whose parents were murdered and whose homes were destroyed by a government miltary turned against them. They marched on foot, without food or water, under attack from hungry predators & occasional strafing miltary fire for several years until settling in a squalid refugee camp in Kenya; nearly a decade later, the U.S. began a humanitarian policy of importing them, a few at a time, and resettling the lucky few in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta, and even Fargo, N.D. (NYTimes, reg req'd)
posted by jonson
on Jan 3, 2003 -