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Pambazuka News: Review of African Blogs

August 28, 2007 -- Dibussi Tande brings this week's selection which covers: Zambians living abroad; the vulnerabilities of South Africa; identity and belonging in Africa; political invovlement and the younger generation in Malawi; persecution of members of the African LGBTI community in a number of African countries; and the elections held in Cameroon in July 2007.

The New Zambia comments about the exclusion of Zambians living abroad from the planned National Constitution Conference (NCC):

"The Government has responsibility to ensure Zambians abroad were brought into the fold to take part in such crucial issues. Equal responsibility also lie with Zambians abroad who should not wait for Government and other people to 'remember' them! Zambians abroad must seize the initiative to define their destiny - unless they gave up being Zambian long time ago! It is for this reason that I fully support what ZASN is trying to do in creating a framework where Zambians abroad can leverage their skills and expertise back home. Our hope surely must be that may be one day an organisation like ZASN can push for such representation in other areas of decision making e.g. voting (which I currently oppose but maybe future technology will overcome my worries)."

Eliesmith argues that the South Africa has the potential to become another Zimbabwe:

"But the truth is that, if care is not taken, South Africa may become second Zimbabwe in less than two decades. The current economic, political and social ruin in Zimbabwe, engineered by a clique headed by Robert Gabriel Mugabe, has made that country (Zimbabwe), not just to become a metaphor for countries on the highway to economic, political and social oblivion, but, she has also shown the vulnerability of a country like South Africa, which, apparently have stronger institutions than countries on the rest of the continent. Well, that is, in a situation where, people with similar ideologies now leading Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe's ruling ZANUPF, takes over the ANC in South Africa and thus wins political power in 2009.

But South Africa is not yet Zimbabwe and we are all still impressed and bewildered at the same time, how that country, has succeeded to sail through apartheid to a multiracial democracy, without the expected bloodbath baptism. Some say, the South African miracle or political feat happened because, the creation of what is/was labelled the rainbow nation, which bore and wore, the consensus and the no-need-for-revenge-attitude of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. And this question: What will happen after the fatherly figure of Nelson Mandela is gone? Perhaps Frederick Willem De Klerk will take over. However, It is true that, since 1994 and until now, the Mandela effect is there, casting his strong shadow over the country."

Senegal-based blogger Francis Nyamnjoh sheds light on the multiple dimensions of belonging in Africa in a research document for African Americans eager to trace their roots:

"Recently I have been contacted by some African-Americans and agents of African-Americans who have traced their origin to the Tikar of Cameroon and would like to know more about this group of people. I have therefore written up these notes to assist them and interested others in their quest to capture their multiple dimensions of belonging...

What these brief notes on the Tikar tell us is that pre- and post-colonial identities in Cameroon and throughout Africa are complex, negotiated and relational experiences that call for a nuanced rather than an essentialist articulation of identity and belonging (Nyamnjoh 2002; Pelican 2006). With the Tikar, as well as with any other group in Cameroon, Africa, America or elsewhere, being 'authentic' is a function of the way race, place, culture, class and gender define and prescribe, include and exclude.

Being or not being Tikar should thus be understood within this framework of the politics of recognition and representation. It should also be understood in terms of how cosmopolitan communities have been and are being forged in Africa despite colonial and post-colonial politics of strategic essentialism and divide-and-rule. The Tikar experience, both imagined and real, in a way is an invitation to contemplate a deterritorialized mode of belonging where relationships matter more than birthmarks and birthplaces in whether or not one feels at home."

White African commends the efforts of 4 bloggers from Madagascar who have launch a joint online environmental campaign:

"4 African bloggers from there have united on a project to make a difference. They aren't just talking, they are doing something. Their goal is to focus on one village in the Southeastern region of Madagascar, with one of their goals being to help save their forests, you can follow it on their new site called Foko. In their own words:

'The project is multi-pronged with emphases on tackling environmental issues that directly affects the villagers, building sustainable infrastructures, empowering the villagers to seek manageable solutions, especially the women and providing an efficient health care program.

The underlying philosophy behind the project is that all programs initiated in the village will be able to self-sustain in the long run because emphasis will be put on an effective cost-revenue strategy.'"

According to Malawi Politics the young Malawians do not seem interested in playing leading roles in the country's political life:

"When you look at what is happening in Malawi now, one would think there are no fresh faces in our politics. All we hear from are the same recycled tired old politicians all of them groomed by Malawi congress Party.

Why does the young generation refuse to get involved? To serve requires sacrifice. A lot of our brothers are in the Diaspora building a future for themselves and their kids...

It is the intention of Malawi Politics to encourage our readers and contributors to bring up fresh names to this dialogue. Our generation should not so easily concede to the old Gladiators. Their time came and went. Africa and Malawi is looking for economic freedom and fresh ideas.

It is our time to fight for Malawi."

Blacklooks writes about the persecution of members of the African LGBTI community in a number of African countries in recent weeks:

"The African LGBTI community has been under attack this week in Cameroon, Nigeria and in Uganda...In Nigeria there were riots in Bauchi state after some of the men arrested were released on bail and faced a barrage of stone throwers from the crowds... The case for the 4 young men [arrested] in the Cameroon is worrying as only last year 9 men were released after spending a year in prison for charges of homosexuality which were eventually dropped."

Scribbles from the Den comments on the joint communique of the US, UK and Netherlands embassies in Cameroon on the municipal and legislative elections which took place in that country in July:

"Close to 15 years after the [National Democratic Institute] argued that "While several parties were responsible for election irregularities [in the 1992 presidential elections], the overwhelming weight of responsibility for this failed process lies with the government and President Biya", another Cameroonian election has again received a fail grade. As the August 16 2007 joint statement by the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands points out:

'On the whole, however, these elections represent a missed opportunity for Cameroon - a missed opportunity to continue building public confidence in the democratic process as Cameroon looks ahead to its next election.'

... there is every indication that the more things change, the more they stay the same as Cameroon's tumultuous democratization continues its relentless march backwards."

Dibussi Tande produces the blog Scribbles from the Den. This article is reprinted with permission from Pambazuka News, published by Fahamu. Fahamu aims to contribute to social movements and social change in Africa through information and communication technologies, education, media, publishing and advocacy. Fahamu is headquartered in Oxford, with regional offices in South Africa, Kenya and Senegal.

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I love these kinds of blog roundups. I think the thing that it really points to for me is the diversity of (and mostly positive) things happening and how citizen journalism helps illuminate it.

The BBC has had some very interesting, though often more depressing, stuff from Iraqi bloggers, many of whom can no longer write because they've had to leave their homeland.

Posted by: James Wanless on 22 Sep 07



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