Saturday, February 28, 2004

A columnist in the East African weekly deplores what he calls the back to Africa crowd. L. Muthoni Wanyeki fumes at various types of black Americans who hold the conservative, distorted and unabashedly patriarchal version of Islam followed by African American groups such as the Nation of Islam. Second, the reverence accorded to the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie by followers of Marcus Garvey. He adds the nuance that there are new back-to-Africa variants. Those unashamedly being capitalised on by states such as Ghana and Senegal who, with their forts and other remnants of the transatlantic slave trade, target African Americans as a niche tourism market. And he notes that the newest troops back to the 'motherland' are those wearing clean-cut, wear crisp suits and head start-up firms, venture capital outfits or African branches of American multinationals, particularly in South Africa. They have no time for nationalist fervour, let alone "traditional spiritual practices." He opines South Africa also continues to provide causes for those with sensitive souls. Children orphaned as a result of Aids, for example - throwing a Christmas party for them is just the thing!

A The Somaliland Times article headlines USAID Official Says Somaliland Is A Good Place For Investment. Somaliland is a self-declared republic in the northwestern third of the former Somalia; it has a function central government but is not officially recognized by the international community. The Times article reports Mr. [Andrew] Sisson [head of USAID for East and Central Africa], who lauded Somaliland for achieving a lot since the end of the war in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, houses and in building democracy. He said they “hope to do more in the future [in Somaliland]”, adding, “from what we have seen and heard from friends, we will encourage our policymakers in Washington to take even more interest in development assistance in Somaliland”.

The World Food programme has begun distributing food aid to survivors of last week's attack on a northern Ugandan refugee camp. The camp, which once housed 4000 people is now empty. [R]ebels from Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) surrounded the camp, lighting the roofs of the cramped huts and creating a fire which lasted all night, according to the BBC.

A senior UN official has condemned a boycott of polio vaccations by several northern Nigerian states. "It is unforgivable to allow still more children to be paralysed because of... baseless rumours," said UN Children's Fund head Carol Bellamy. The BBC says Some Muslim clerics say the vaccine is a western plot to make women infertile.


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