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Pambazuka News: Blogging Africa

By Dibussi Tande for Pambazuka News:

blogs_01_zeleza.gifWriting on The Zelela Post Pius Adesami adopts the persona of Sarah Baartman, the so-called "the Hottentot Venus", to ask why no African feminist theorist is included in the recently published Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism: A Norton Reader (by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar) which traces the evolution of feminist writing from the middle ages to the 21st century:

I am interested in the stories told - or untold - by your editorial choices and options, the instinct to include and the impulse to exclude. I am interested in the conscious and the subconscious processes that led you to the conclusion that Africa, an entire continent of fifty-four countries and over a billion people, has contributed nothing, absolutely nothing, to five centuries of feminist theorizing. After all, as seasoned academics in the United States, you both know that exclusions tell much louder stories than inclusions. I know we are on the same page here...Could it be that you imagined that the voices of the African American women you selected adequately speak for those of their continental sisters? Possibly. If this is the case, I must tell you that African American women cannot be made to stand in and speak for continental African women. According to an African proverb, the monkey and the gorilla may claim oneness, monkey is monkey and gorilla gorilla.

blogs_02_kenya.gifIn the first part of an article on the peculiarities of the Kenyan political system, Thinker's room looks at the Kenyan electoral system and political parties:

During elections the incumbent expects to be challenged by the leader of the Official Opposition and h(is/er) Government In Waiting...But in Kenya we have a situation where the official opposition will support the incumbent in the next elections...Political Parties in Kenya are largely meaningless entities. Very few political parties if any actually have a coherent vision and manifesto. Only a handful can actually describe what they are all about. At last count there are 144 currently registered political parties. 144. A good chunk of these are briefcase parties, hoping to cash in at some point in time when the correct political wind blows.

blogs_03_congo.gifStood in the Congo worries that the already unstable situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo will only get worse after recent reports that Hutu militias have teamed up with the Congolese Mai Mai militia to create the Front for the Liberation of North Kivu (FLNK) and that the Congolese army has made incursions into Uganda:

The Congolese military aren't exactly well known for their discipline, but if the FLNK story continues to run in the world's media, and more stories like this emerge about Congolese military raiding Ugandan border towns, then it's goodbye to the, already rather fragile, credibility of the Congolese Government (and MONUC), and hello foreign invasion.

blogs_04_mugabe.gifRosemary Ekosso takes a swipe at the West's vilification of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, arguing that western criticism is less about democracy and more about anger over Mugabe's anti-white land distribution campaign:

Mr. Mugabe is not the most popular man in the world at present. I have previously written on his land reforms and was as a result erroneously considered to be his supporter. In so far as Mr. Mugabe's actions mirror those of other African leaders in terms of his attitude to real democracy, I do not agree with him.
But his vilification, though couched in terms calculated to appeal to all lovers of freedom and democracy (or those who imagine themselves to be so), was and is based on the fact that he took land from white people and gave it to black people. The redistribution may have its problems, but it had to happen. For that alone, I consider him a hero. Shortcomings similar to those he is projected as suffering from are evinced by many other leaders, and yet they are not the victims of the degree of opprobrium that has been visited upon him.

blogs_05_wordsbody.gifThe Literary and Arts blog, Wordsbody, reviews the eagerly-anticipated second edition of the pan-African literary magazine, African Writing, which is now available online:

The new issue of African Writing is now online, in a bumper package that you will read and read and read and hardly ever finish. Literary news, interviews, profiles, fiction, poetry, reviews, and stunning visual art. And where do we start with the contributors? Best not to start.

blogs_06_sotho.gifSotho returns to the controversial and widely condemned decision by officials of the University in St. Thomas to bar South African Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from speaking at that university because he has been critical of Israel:

It is indeed a pity that those who made the decision to bar him from speaking at the school feel Israel cannot be criticized, or that people's faith cannot be questioned.
A professor at the university who was pushing for the invitation to be accepted by the school has been removed as director [of] the university's justice and peace studies program. Someone was very strongly against inviting Tutu to the school, which says that Tutu has been critical of Israel and Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians, so we talked with people in the Jewish community and they said they believed it would be hurtful to the Jewish community, because of things he's said.

blogs_07_scribbles.gifScribbles from the Den joins the Tutu debate by posting the complete transcript of Archbishop Tutu's 2002 speech which sparked off the controversy:

In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders...
What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about...
Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured...
If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land? ...

Dibussi Tande, a writer and activist from Cameroon, 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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