50 years of the "African Unity", but is Africa truly for Africans?

As Africa prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that was created in 1963, the predecessor of today's African Union (AU), it's time to reflect on how much Africa, as a people has benefited from the dreams of the forefathers.



"The main objectives of the OAU were, inter alia, to rid  the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid; to  promote unity and solidarity among African States; to coordinate and intensify  cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial  integrity of Member States and to promote international cooperation within the  framework of the United Nations."
- source: AU in a Nutshell <http://www.au.int/en/about/nutshell>

"The vision of the African  Union is that of: “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,  driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in  global arena.”
- source: AU in a Nutshell <http://www.au.int/en/about/nutshell>


When I look at these two statements - "the main objectives of the OAU" and "the vision of the AU" - I get a sense of optimism and pride, a feeling that those who crafted these statements had in mind an Africa for all Africans. Unfortunately, the reality is different.

Africans travelling to African countries:

When you look at our immigration laws and visa requirements for entry into African countries, you will find that non-Africans are more privileged to travel within the continent than their African counterparts. If you plan to hop from one African country to the next, you are far better off travelling on a non-African passport, preferably on an American or European passport.

You can only obtain a tourist visa on arrival if you carry an "accepted foreign" passport, irrespective of whether your trip is for the good or bad of the country that you're visiting. Your African passport is not allowed irrespective of whether your trip is for the good or bad of the country that you're visiting. You will need to obtain a visa before you can board the plane. If the country that you're travelling to has no embassy in your country, tough luck. Go find one in your neighbourhood. And, by the way, you might need a visa to get to that one as well. So, bottom line, if you're African, stay where you are. You're not expected to explore and contribute to Africa's growth.

The irony is that Ehtiopia, the seat of the OAU and the AU, is also not open to Africans.

ETHIOPIA: TOURIST VISA ON ARRIVAL
Tourist visa, can be issued for three months on arrival at Bole International Airport for nationals and residents of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Democratic people's Republic of Korea (northern Korea), Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea (south Korea), the Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America.

With the exception of South Africa [plus Kenya and Dibouti that are not on this list], no other African country makes this privileged list. Is this our own form of apartheid that the OAU was created to disband? But, before we start pointing fingers, Ethiopia is not alone. The majority of African countries have similar statements on their websites that clearly excludes their African counterparts.

I look forward to the day when we shall have "An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,  driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in  global arena"

If Africa is really serious about this vision, then the AU, and by extension, African countries, should start by reviewing the entry requirements for African citizens. Let Africans be able to travel freely within the continent and be proud to contribute to the growth of this diverse continent, to build "a United and Strong Africa" (the slogan of the AU).



U.N. LAUNCHES NEW APP ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY (check it out)


U.N. LAUNCHES NEW APP ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY
  • Today, International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development, the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) is launching an iPhone app that illustrates the breadth of activities of the UN system around the world.
  • The app is available at https://unp.un.org/calendar
  • The UN Calendar of Observances app, which can be fully integrated into a user’s iPhone calendar, features UN observances as well as ways to get involved. The app provides engaging interactive features on UN achievements, links to videos and photos, and options for sharing information via e-mail and social media.

Creating a culture of peace through Education

Ignorance is a killer. If you fail to educate your child and yourself, you're breeding a potential killer.
Give PEACE a chance by giving EDUCATION a chance.

Think about this...

"The world spends almost twice as much on weapons in one day than the United Nations spends for our global mission of peace, human rights and development in one year." - UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon

"To fundamentally tackle the roots of conflict, we need to promote an understanding of our common humanity. We need a culture that upholds human dignity and human life.

We are here to talk about how to create this culture of peace.
I have a simple, one-word answer: education.
Through education, we teach children not to hate.
Through education, we raise leaders who act with wisdom and compassion.
Through education, we establish a true, lasting culture of peace."

- excerpts from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon's speech to the General Assembly High-Level Forum on the Culture of Peace (14 September 2012)




Islam, the West and Terrorism

Which statement is correct:?
  1. Islam AND the West
  2. Islam VERSUS the West
  3. Islam IN the West
I choose the 3rd statement.

One cannot compare ISLAM (a global religion) to the WEST (a group of nations). By trying to make comparisons between these different entities, we are already creating confusion in people's minds. We are already creating the impression that these are two opposing entities and one has to choose either one or the other, but not both. You are either for ISLAM or you are for the WEST. This view is dangerously misleading. This is not the case and should not be the case.
This fundamentalist view (on Islam versus the West) is the root cause of our modern day problem where religious tolerance is no longer acceptable.

The recent incidence of the release of the movie mocking Muslims around the world and the subsequent reaction from the Muslim world is a case of religious intolerance which borders on fundamentalism and terrorism.


The actions and the reactions should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification for such a provocation and the reaction is also unjustified. However, when a people feel that they are constant targets of mockery, they will react - oftentimes, in very shocking ways. To every action, there is a reaction. People will try to make their voices heard by any means necessary. So, it up to those who are steady-headed and influential to help in addressing these issues. Powerful nations should not be ashamed to hold their citizens accountable when they overstep their boundaries.


Looking at the definitions of "Fundamentalism" and "Terrorism", one can say that the persons behind the movie are also fundamentalists and terrorists - same doctrine, different approach towards implementation.
If a person, knowingly performs an act that he/she knows will result in the death of himself or others, he/she should not be allowed to hide under the protection of "Freedom of Speech" or "Freedom of Expression".

It is shameful and totally inappropriate to exploit our basic freedom of expression in such distasteful ways. Such persons should be brought to justice for the resulting mayhem.

"Provocation can lead to madness: If you tease a mad man and he goes on the rampage, you are guilty of the damage caused".

Respect for other people's belief and way of life is the basis for human existence and in promoting self dignity.

  [Quote: In November 2004, a United Nations Secretary General report described terrorism as any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act".[20]]


Some definitions from Wikipedia:

Fundamentalism is the demand for a strict adherence to specific theological doctrines usually understood as a reaction against Modernist theology, primarily to promote continuity and accuracy. [1] The term "fundamentalism" was originally coined by its supporters to describe a specific package of theological beliefs that developed into a movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century, and that had its roots in the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of that time.[2] The term usually has a religious connotation indicating unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs.[3] "Fundamentalism" is sometimes used as a pejorative term, particularly when combined with other epithets (as in the phrase "right-wing fundamentalists").[4][5]
Non-religious: Some Christian theologians, some fundamentalists, and others pejoratively refer to any philosophy which they see as literal-minded or they believe carries a pretense of being the sole source of objective truth as fundamentalist, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion. For instance, the Archbishop of Wales has criticized "atheistic fundamentalism" broadly[16][17][18] and said "Any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous".[19] He also said, "the new fundamentalism of our age ... leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours."[20]

Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition.[1][2] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or, ideological goal; and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). Some definitions now include acts of unlawful violence and war. The use of similar tactics by criminal organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group. Perhaps,[3] it is less oppressive in itself than through the effects of the precautions taken to protect its likely victims.[4]

In November 2004, a United Nations Secretary General report described terrorism as any act "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act".[20]

Islam (English play /ˈɪzlɑːm/;[note 1] Arabic: الإسلامal-ʾislām  IPA: [ʔɪsˈlæːm] ( listen)[note 2]) is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: اللهAllāh). Adherents consider Muhammad to be the last prophet of God, and follow his sunnah (teachings) through collections in the Hadith. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.
Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to love and serve God.[1][2] Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets.[3] They maintain that previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time,[4] but consider the Qur'an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God.[5] Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment.[6][7]

The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident (from Latin: occidens "sunset, West"; as contrasted with the Orient), is a term referring to different nations depending on the context. There is no agreed upon definition about what all these nations have in common[1] apart from having a significant population of European descent.
The concept of the Western part of the earth has its roots in Greco-Roman civilization in Europe, with the advent of Christianity. In the modern era, Western culture has been heavily influenced by the traditions of Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, Age of Enlightenment, and shaped by the expansive colonialism of the 16th-20th centuries. Its political usage was temporarily informed by a mutual antagonism with the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War in the mid-to-late 20th Century (1945–1991).
Although the term originally had a literal geographic meaning, contrasting Europe with the linked cultures of civilizations of the Near East (Muslim world), South Asia & Southeast Asia (Hindu world, Greater India) and remote Far East (Sinosphere), today it has little geographic relevance.

Malaria Nearly Eliminated in Sri Lanka Despite Decades of Conflict | www.ucsf.edu

"Despite nearly three decades of conflict, Sri Lanka has succeeded in reducing malaria cases by 99.9 percent since 1999 and is on track to eliminate the disease entirely by 2014."
 
Other countries can learn from this positive lesson. Sri Lanka is showing us that it is possible to eliminate malaria. But, please keep the momentum this time and avoid the mistakes of 1963 during the era of global eradication. The lack of commitment lead to failure of eradication in the developing world.

headline image

Read full article here >

Malaria Nearly Eliminated in Sri Lanka Despite Decades of Conflict | www.ucsf.edu

The Beginning of The End of Cash

The Beginning of The End of Cash

The Beginning of The End of Cash
Cash’s role is waning, as mobile, encryption, and other technologies let us plug directly into the digital economy
By Glenn Zorpette  /  June 2012


Quote: "Money is the most important abstraction human beings have ever devised. And yet that abstraction has not been fully embraced. Decades after money began going electronic, we all continue to cling to cash, a quaint vestige from earlier eras when money meant cowrie shells, giant stone disks, and shiny
 gold pieces. Of the many things we could do now with technology, getting rid of cash would be one of the more sublime.
"

Timeline: The Evolution of Modern Money

Timeline: The Evolution of Modern Money




ISD Academic Awards 2012 - Mariama & Bella Bah win awards (again)!

ISD Academic Awards (Monday 11 June 2012)

Mariama & Bella Bah win the President's Education Award:



U.S. President's Education Awards Program:

President's Award for Educational Achievement
presented to Mariama Bah in recognition of
Outstanding Academic Achievement 2012


President's Award for Educational Excellence
presented to Bella Bah in recognition of
Outstanding Academic Excellence 2012

Congratulations to you both!
We're very proud of you. Thank God!

ISD Sports Awards 2012 - Mariama & Bella Bah win awards

ISD Sports Awards 2012 (Thursday 31 May 2012)


Bella won the following awards:
  • Middle School MVP for BasketBall
  • Middle School MVP for Track & Field
  • Middle School Athlete of the Year

Mariama won:
  • High School "Coach's Award" for Soccer
Congratulations to you both for your wonderful achievement!

 



Mobile money in Africa (from the Economist)

Mobile money in Africa

One business where the poorest continent is miles ahead

MANY people know that “mobile money”—financial transactions on mobile phones—has taken off in Africa. How far it has gone, though, still comes as a bit of a shock. Three-quarters of the countries that use mobile money most frequently are in Africa, and mobile banking in some of them has reached extraordinary levels.





For a product to succeed, it must get M.A.D.E. | Catapult Design

For a product to succeed, it must get M.A.D.E. | Catapult Design

Meaningful:

The product fits into the lives of the people who will use it and helps them meet a need they currently have, in a significant way.

Accessible:

People can afford, purchase, understand, maintain/repair, and use the product.

Desirable:

People want the product and are willing to go out of their way, and make sacrifices, to get one.

Effective:

The product does what it was intended to do.

Hunger: The World’s Greatest Solvable Problem

Hunger: The World’s Greatest Solvable Problem


Nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night. But what would it take to put a stop to this?

 
 


Hunger Price Tags


  • It costs US$10 to feed a boy in a Kenya refugee camp for 3 weeks, less than the cost of a lipstick in Manhattan.
  • It would cost US$3.5 billion to feed every hungry schoolchild in the world. That’s around two times the takings from the movie, “Titanic”, which grossed US$1.8 billion worldwide.
  • It costs  US$50 to feed a schoolgirl for one year;  similar to the cost of one iPod shuffle (US$45)
  • One super-healthy ration of Plumpy’Sup for a small child is just 20 cents, less than a US postage stamp (44 cents).

How smart is your right foot? Or your left...


A friend / colleague forwarded this to me and I thought I should share. Interesting...


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Family news: Proud moment - Our daughter Fatmata (Binta) Bah is the proud recipient of the Middle School Ambassador award for 2018

DAA Grade 8 Completion Ceremony (2018): Our daughter Fatmata (Binta) Bah is the proud recipient of the Middle School Ambassador award f...

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