Review of African Blogs, 2007-11-08
By Dibussi Tande
Chika Okeke-Agulu comments on the death of pioneer Nigerian novelist Cyprian Ekwensi:
I am deeply saddened by this news of the death of the pioneer Nigerian novelist Cyprian Ekwensi this week. He was 86. Ekwensi, the author of arguably the earliest major novel in Nigeria (People of the City, 1954) and other vastly popular novels--Passport of Mallam Illya, African Night's Entertainment, Lokotown, Jagua Nana, The Drummer Boy, etc--that, as secondary students in Nigeria in the 1980s, captured, intrigued, and liberated our fertile imaginations and youthful fantasies. His simple, uncomplicated plots, while a subject of longstanding critique by literary scholars, was the very reason we read, and re-read his incomparably entertaining works. He was the people's novelist... a man who used his unpretentious yet prodigious fictive imagination to instill in me and a zillion others the love for the novel and for literature. Rest, Old Man; travel safely.
Amodudu writes about Africans who make the treacherous journey across the Sahara and the Mediterranean in search of the European Eldorado:
This is Africa's story; a people in desperate need of a solution. An enterprising people held down by socio-economic conditions on the continent who would not take this situation anymore. In 2006, over 6000 bodies of African migrants were picked up trying to make it across the Mediterranean to the Canaries Island. This figure is up by 600% from 2005....
What makes a man leave his home, a land overflowing with natural resources, perfect weather and the distinctively cheerful rhythm of the African continent, and then move to the frigid clime where hopes of survival rest on the number of knock-off sunglasses he is able to hawk on the streets of Europe. What makes a man make these choices? Poverty in Africa does not make the headline of the evening news anymore. However the reality of poverty is stark and hope is grim in some parts of Africa. The immigrants feel the need to leave whatever memories they have of their dear homeland and move to another continent where there is a faint shimmer of hope.
I picked up blogging late 2005 when I saw pictures of African migrants left in the Sahara desert to die. For many they speak to, there's a palpable sadness -- even regret -- over the decision to come to Europe. The reality rarely lives up to the dream, and the sacrifices they made are rarely offset by their new life.
Congolese blogger Alex Ngwete criticizes what he considers President Idriss Deby's exploitation of the alleged kidnapping of Chadian kids by the French NGO Zoe's arc:
...in a country where the whims of the head-of-state have oftentimes force of law (where the court system has no jury of peers), President IDRISS DEBY, in a rush of hot blood into his brains, hurled vile abuse at the suspects in front of the world media, accusing them, without one iota of evidence, of being part of a vast network of criminals specialized in supplying new flesh to pedophiles and body parts to rogue organ banks! The spectacle at the Airport of N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, just showed the world how so-called conspiracies by opposition leaders are cooked by paranoid African heads of states to justify the extra-judicial elimination of their political enemies. In the meantime, Chadians are cheering their president for having thumbed his nose at the whites, all the while forgetting about the ongoing rebellion and the government's lack of transparency in managing the oil royalty revenues.
Qatar-based blogger Abdurahman Warsame however views the situation differently, or at least from a different perspective:
One of the most demeaning things for Africa - and Africans - is the growing trend in the West to adopt African children, and justifying it as an act of "charity" for Africa. Now, a French charity took this a bit further, they kidnapped 100 kids from villages in Chad to be sold to French families (or may be even worse)...
The people who did this will eventually be freed, France will interfere on their behalf saying that the whole thing was a well intentioned misunderstanding (and perhaps pay some money). The "charity" will also have many chances to repeat the same in other poor African countries...
The kids were obviously Muslims but were going to be sold to non-Muslim families, adding to the gravity of what might have been waiting for these poor kids. This is a sad, but expected, climax to the "adopting an African child" fashion in the West.
NamForum, one of the rare blogs that focus on Namibia, reports that less that than 4% of Africans are online:
While these overall figures look indeed quite daunting, overall growth in Internet use is exceptionally high in Africa: while the figures of Internet World Stats currently show only 34 million Internet users in the entire African continent, that figure is currently also growing at a more than just "healthy" 874.6% - putting it way ahead of Asia with "just" a 302% growth rate, effectively making it the fastest growing market for Internet technology in the world.
Benin Mwangi fears that the new restrictions placed on airfreight produce imports to the UK would hurt African farmers:
When I read this story my heart became heavy for the Kenyan and Ghanaian farmers who will likely lose income and might ultimately be forced to sell or reorganize their farms as a result of the harsh new standards imposed upon agricultural products flown into the UK from abroad... Up until very recently I'd always seen the growth of the international organic food market to be the best thing to happen to farmers in countries like Kenya or Ghana. Organic produce farmers in these and other African nations appear to have a comparative advantage over their European counterparts within this small, but growing agricultural sector. And indeed over time this industry did in fact become an African farmers' success story. However, according the UK Soil Association the air freighted produce imported into the country threatens to increase the country's carbon dioxide emissions. As a result, they are making extreme efforts to tighten controls on air freighted produce imports.
Scribbles from the Den explains why President Biya's 25-yeat rule has divided Cameroon along ethno-regional and linguistic lines:
Unlike [former President] Ahidjo who was able to frustrate somewhat the appetite of Northerners in order to stabilize his personal power by carefully cultivating ties with every ethnic group and by placating all the provincial elites with access to state resources, Biya demonstrated less ability to control corruption and rent-seeking than Ahidjo had. He therefore allowed the "Beti barons" to increase "rent-seeking, corruption, and patronage beyond what Ahidjo ever allowed," and in the process, established a political system based on "ethnoclientelism".
Thus, rather than enlarging his public support, Biya narrowed it by his politics of exclusion. The result was an exacerbation of ethnic consciousness in the country, and systematic attacks against the political system by ethno-linguistic and regional forces which became commonplace during the multiparty years.
* Dibussi Tande, a writer and activist from Cameroon, produces the blog Scribbles from the Den, www.dibussi.com
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.