Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Been a long time wating for this kid

Freddie Adu

I know football (soccer) is not big in America and that is such a pity. Ghanaian born Adu is one talented soccer player that is on the American team but has to play in Europe if he is to realize his full potential. Still a teenager, he is acknowledged as a prodigy and often compared to the great Brazilian Pele.
I am a little concerned about his maturation in the spotlight. He already has Kobe Bryant as his hero. That is not a good sign.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Did gay Ads cost Ford Jaguar and Landrover?

OK. I still can't get over the fact that Ford sold off Land rover and Jaguar to the Indian Company TATA. Why am I so bothered? The Range Rover is my all time favorite car. My heart misses a beat when I see one. Seriously. I was sad when the British had to sell it and now while I was getting comfortable with the Americans owning it, they now sold it to the Indians and frankly I am a bit nervous about the future of the Range Rover.

I was thinking today, then I remembered that Ford was embroiled in a controversy over advertising the two brands in in Gay publications. I remember seeing the ads on TV and indeed if one has an inkling of conservatism, then the Ads were pretty uncomfortable. So its no surprise that the American Family Association(AFA) lead a two year boycott that succeeded in damaging the Company's bottom line. And now Ford has paid a heavy price to the detriment of some of us that love the brands regardless of where they are advertised.

Ford and the AFA Battle


On her way to Victoria Beckham's 34th Birthday. This is what happens when you don't own you or your hair.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tata buys Jaguar, Land Rover in $2.3b deal

Okay here is a story that I missed as it unfolded. India's TATA has bought Landrover and Jaguar! Why am I a little nervous about this shifting of economic power?
It now makes sense why the Ford stock is in the $6 range.

Ford lets go of luxury brands, hoping to stop growing losses

By Martin Desmarais
MUMBAI, India – Tata Motors snatched up Ford Motor Co.’s luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover in a $2.3 billion deal – less than half of what Ford originally paid for the brands.

The bargain sell is viewed as Ford’s attempt to return to profitability in 2008 after losing $15.3 billion in 2006 and 2007. Industry insiders feel that the dropping demand for luxury vehicles – some Jaguars retail for as much as $80,000 – forced Ford’s hand on the deal.

Ford announced last August it was planning on exploring options for the Jaguar Land Rover business as it moved forward focusing on its “core Ford brand.”

When the deal closed late last month, Tata Motors agreed to pay $2.3 billion in cash on closing. Ford then agreed to contribute $600 million to Jaguar and Land Rover pension plans. The deal is expected to close in the next quarter.

Speaking publicly about the deal, Ford’s brass was outwardly positive.

“Jaguar and Land Rover are terrific brands,” said Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford. “We are confident that they are leaving our fold with the products, plan and team to continue to thrive under Tata’s stewardship. Now, it is time for Ford to concentrate on integrating the Ford brand globally, as we implement our plan to create a strong Ford Motor Company that delivers profitable growth for all.” More

Friday, April 25, 2008

Asian slaves in Africa ?

Before I left Africa, I had always heard of a racket involving Indians. They were rumoured to import their own people in thousands and making them work in their industries in Africa for very little.

With the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade agreement with America, many Asian investors were lured to open up industries in Africa so they could access the American market tax free. Afew tried to use Africans in these industries but this quickly backfired for an African on his own soil is hard to exploit labor wise since civil unrest can be started at the drop of a hat.

So some resorted to exploiting their own people and now the stories are coming to light. However we can't completely blame the need to access American markets for this slavery, rumors existed before AGOA, its the intensity of the practise that may have changed.

By Chris Kiwawulo
& Gladys Kalibbala

SOME Asian businessmen in Uganda have been implicated in a slave trade-like scam. They lure workers from Asia, mostly from India and Pakistan, with promises of good pay. Upon arrival, however, they seize their passports and exploit them shamelessly, forcing them to work long hours with little or no pay.

When the workers start complaining, their employers alert Immigration, which arrests them and deports them as illegal immigrants. They then import a new group of workers and the cycle continues.

Full Story

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here is one African rant (hillariously) about Western Media

German for; Misery Continent Africa , Should the Whites come to rescue?

Africa -- the world's comfort zone. (Western Media/Africa)

Source;The New African

There is more to the persistent negative portrayal of Africa by the Western media than meets the eye. The African mind, wherever it lives around the world, is preyed upon to regard the continent as a lost entity, filled with dying people, with no future, no hope.

I'm one of those people who believes that the millennium started properly on 1 January 2001. On that morning, I opened my window and said out loud, "We survived". After everything that we had been through, after all that had been thrown at us, Africa and Africans were alive to see the beginning of the next one thousand years in their history. I felt a mixture of joy, amazement, and almost unbearable pride.

And yet the attacks come, more ferocious than ever, deadlier than before, because they are cloaked in garments of concern (even friendship), but fooling only the gullible and the self-hating African. The war continues -- this time it's psychological.

The chief weapons of destruction are the use of the word processor, the lens, and the cathode ray: in other words, printed newspapers and magazines, photography, and television news, current affairs and documentary output.

The collateral damage is the psychological state of the African mind. Once the written and verbal shrapnel have lodged there, Africans are likely to self-destruct without any further help.

If proof were needed of the incredible potential of Africans, it is there for all to see in the wealth of material produced daily to strike at Africa, Africans and people of African descent in every way imaginable. Even just a cursory glance at the Western media's output would cause an intake of breath at the strength and constancy of the attacks.

If the media's role is to provide "a window on the world" or write "the first draft of history", then we need to ask whether this is being done in Africa without involving the prejudices, values, fears and distortions of the Western editors in charge of the output.

Television and photography are not new technologies. We now have decades of output which we can analyse to make Judgements on their role in our lives and their effect on our societies. When we include newspapers and magazines, we have centuries of archive material.

In all the decades of Western reporting on Africa, what has really changed in the way the continent is depicted? Is Africa better perceived by the outside world? No.

Has the reporting led to Africa being given its fair share of economic assistance -- aid and private investment -- by the outside world? No.

Has the media's coverage helped to heal the psychological damage caused by centuries of wilful destruction? No.

So, what are the foreign media really doing in Africa? Who are the true beneficiaries of their work?

The Western focus on Africa is rooted in three areas: sex, money (for "corruption" read "where did they get all that money from, and why have they got it and not us?"), and conflict (meaning "at least if they're killing each other, they're not threatening us or doing any work").

Let's look at Aids, the dominant form Africa now takes in the mind of the average non-African because it is now the main way the continent is reported in the European media.

From the typical coverage of Aids and HIV issues in the West, one would think that black people created the Aids virus by having sex. This kind of thinking -- a legacy of the continuing Western obsession (or is it jealousy?) with African sexuality -- means that there is hardly a discussion of Aids without barely concealed speculation about how many times we have sex and with how many people.

Strangely enough, we still do not know what did cause Aids, and most Western scientists don't want to know: the money to be made is in long term maintenance with drugs, not in prevention or cure.

Aids stories are always accompanied by those huge, big-eyed pictures of a dying African (a baby is their favouriet): there is never a problem about this image finding space across rows of columns on the front (and inside) pages of Western newspapers.

There are too many of these pictures, blown up too big (or shown in huge close-ups on TV), for the African reader or viewer to believe that this coverage is based on genuine concern.

Is it not, rather, sensationalism bordering on pornography? Do pictures of dead and dying Africans reassure some unacknowledged part of the Western mind that future generations of Western children will not be challenged for the world's resources by future generations of African children?

Does it not make a European feel better about his or her own personal circumstances when one looks at the living deaths of millions of Africans?

And how those numbers -- millions infected here, millions dying there, millions (all in sub-Saharan Africa) to be wiped out in the years ahead -- have ruined into a mantra.

Africa has become the world's comfort zone -- just look at how people have to live and die there for others elsewhere in the world to feel better!

Then there is the deeply offensive subtext that Africans care little for their own orphaned and dying Aids children: why else the sustained, repetitive coverage of the few Westerners in charge of looking after some of these African children?

The question I would like answered is why the Western media contorts itself into behaving as if a Westerner cares more about an African with Aids than a fellow African would? Especially when the reality is that all the mundane, routine, vital work involved in caring for African HIV and Aids victims is carried out by other Africans. Like in many other spheres, the majority of people helping Africans are other Africans. However, that is not deemed worthy of showing or reporting.

To top it all, an elected and powerful leader's position, President Thabo Mbeki's, is deliberately misrepresented. What is it in their psyche that appears to need to see Westerners in charge and in control of blacks in any situation?

Some Western journalists admit that they collude with this kind of reporting. I have observed in Africa how Western journalists are drawn towards what I call the "3 Ds": Disease, Deprivation and Despair.

They are not interested in anything else -- in fact they actually avert their eyes from signs of progress or modernisation, or evidence of plain, everyday normality: precisely the kind of stories they would go for in their own countries. They don't want to know. If it's Africa, it's got to be abnormal!

In this manner, the African mind, wherever it lives around the world, is preyed upon to regard the continent as a lost entity, filled with dying and dead people, with no future, no prospects, no hope.

So much energy is invested and expended in doing down Africa, that I have spent a great deal of time wondering what fuels these attacks. If the horse is dead (or, at best, dying) as the Western media claim Africa is, why keep flogging it? The conclusion can only be that there is deep fear of the unexplored, unused, suppressed power of Africa.

Is the Western psychological state so fragile that it can only function if it suppresses the truth about the circumstances that black people inhabit? Do they need to maintain deeply distorted images of Africa for their own psychological health and self-esteem?

European identity, throughout its history, has based itself on superiority and monopoly whenever it came face to face with Africa. The enormous historic changes of the second half of the 20th century have hardly affected these feelings of acute paranoid self-delusion and disabling greed.

The history of Western reporting on and about Africa, the lack of real change in modern times, and the immense damage that this reporting has caused Africans and people of African descent, mean that the time has now come to call for Western reporters to behave like responsible journalists (if not people).

We know they are not impartial observers -- they are partial to the whims, biases, negative historic legacies, and obfuscations of their cultural background.

The fact that Western reporters would hate to leave Africa alone -- despite all their outpourings of how lost and hopeless and dying Africa is -- is because they cover Africa the way they do for their own psychological needs -- not ours.

Monday, April 21, 2008

African Americans in Africa

John Amos

Its funny how blog topics come up. I was over at Sid's blog where a fellow villager is thinking about getting a DNA test to trace her ancestry. I encourage her to do so. Then I thought of the many African Americans I have met that have been to Africa and their experiences. So I decided to look through the archives of some of our local papers and came across some interesting stories. I will post them as I find them.

BACK TO THE ROOTS: Amos and Ndere members do their thing

By Fred Ouma and Patrick Munyani

American actor John Amos, known to many Ugandans as Kunta Kinte, has pledged $50,000 (about sh100m) to Ndere Cultural Centre.
An acclaimed film artiste, Amos made the pledge during his visit to the centre at Kigowa on Sunday.

Flanked by Dr. Carol Adams, the director of health in the US state of New Jersey, Amos said he would hand over a $10,000 cheque to the director of the centre, Stephen Rwangenzi on Monday, promising to finish the donation within five years.

He applauded the centre for its talent, saying he would adopt it by giving the little he could afford.

Amos said many Black Americans ‘have not bothered to come home’ because of the negative image the western media deliberately portrayed of Africa.

Amos, who is part of the American delegation in Uganda surveying investment opportunities, promised to redeem Africa’s ‘false’ image by investing in information and communication technology in the country.

“I pledge to bring technology to Uganda to depict the true picture of our origin. There is nothing in the western media that an African can smile about. All we see from here is total misery of wars and diseases yet it’s not true. This negative image has to stop by all of us getting involved,” he said.

Amos danced to Pastor Okudi’s popular Wipolo tune.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

People, I am throwing options out there, a viable alternative to married life.

Born to serve: Andrea on court at the age of 16

Why I became a nun, by former tennis star Andrea Jaeger

She was a troubled young girl ... and the finest tennis player of her generation.
At the age of 14, with her teeth still in braces and her hair in Brady Bunch pigtails, Andrea Jaeger dominated the courts, frightened of no one and confident in a talent that outstripped even Chris Evert and Billie Jean King.
By the age of 16 she was No 2 in the world yet famously appeared to throw her 1983 Wimbledon final against Martina Navratilova, losing 6-0, 6-3 in less than an hour.
Two years later, after a shoulder injury, Andrea left the game forever, debilitated and disillusioned with a world she had grown to despise.

Andrea wanted neither fame or fortune. She retreated from public view and put all her winnings into setting up a charity, The Little Star Foundation, for children suffering from terminal cancer.
It was a decision that few of her former colleagues or family could understand.

Love all: Andrea Jaeger today says she finds happiness she never knew on the courts

Now, The Mail on Sunday can reveal details of Andrea's latest remarkable journey. She has become Sister Andrea after being ordained into the Order of Dominican Nuns.
In a moving interview, the former tennis prodigy explains how her new life in the Episcopalian Church has helped reconcile a past that left her deeply troubled.
Pushed by her father, Andrea lost her childhood and struggled with the ruthlessness of the professional circuit.
It is only now, she says, that she is at peace and has finally found the fulfilment that tennis could never give her.

Speaking from the headquarters of her foundation in Colorado, Andrea, 42, says: "I've always felt called to help those in need. It's just been in my soul since I was a child.
"I think that's why I struggled so much on the tennis circuit because you have to be selfish to succeed in an individual sport.
"My parents didn't go to church. We didn't have a Bible in the house but, for whatever reason, I feel God gave me a gift of faith.
"I always said my prayers when I was little. No one told me to. I didn't learn in school or from TV.
"I just knew that God existed and that we were friends and had a personal relationship. None of my family knew I prayed every day of my life.
"In August 2006, I received an associate degree in Ministry Training & Theology. Then I entered a Dominican Sisterhood Programme.
"It's a strict discipline. I wake at 4am, do my prayers and my spiritual study, then I start work at 5am or 6am fund-raising, scheduling programmes and running those programmes.
"We have something happening for children somewhere in the world every day.
"How often I wear the nun's habit depends on what I'm doing. I have three of them. They get dirty pretty fast. I keep getting the robes stuck in buses and escalators. Once I jumped in a cab and left half of it outside the door.
"The first week I wore it, at a huge global conference in New York City. A bird went to the bathroom on me.
"I thought that was God's way of saying, 'Maybe it's OK to be a little muddy on the edges – you're the one who used to dive for balls on the tennis court.'
"I believe I'll always be a Sister. I have a joy and love of life and it's easier to express that in this field."

Andrea was born in a run-down part of Chicago in 1965. Her German-born father, Roland, was a former boxer and bricklayer who ran a bar and restaurant with her mother Ilse.
The little girl used to watch her parents playing tennis – until she was old enough to try it for herself.
Andrea says: "I wasn't pushed. I actually had to push my family to let me play because I was so bored watching them.
"At nine when I played my first tournament, my parents thought I was too young, but I won. At 13, I was winning collegiate tournaments.
"I saw my parents counting quarters and dollars on the table from their jobs and I thought, 'I'm winning all these tournaments and we're not able to take the money,' so I turned pro."

Giving something back: Andrea with Chris Evert during a visit to a children's cancer ward in America last year

Within 18 months Andrea had become the youngest seeded player in Wimbledon history and reached the semi-final of the US Open.
But with such success came inevitable problems.
With her father as coach, there were temper tantrums on court. He was an extreme disciplinarian and ferociously competitive.
He sometimes physically beat his daughter and once, when she lost a match at the US Open he didn't even let her shower, but packed her into the car and drove 1,000 miles home, berating her all the way.
She says now: "It's very difficult having any parent be your coach because you lose the parental side.
"Dad was German-bred and people growing up in Germany in Dad's era had a different form of discipline. He grew up being beaten by a belt. He wanted to teach me morals and values.
"I learned those from God; I didn't need to learn them from a beating.
"If I did something wrong I'd get in trouble with my father, but I wasn't scared of him. I don't know if I've ever been scared of anything."

Andrea is often cited as an example of classic "burnout". In fact she quickly realised that she hated the competitiveness of professional sport. It was also difficult being so young and yet so sure of herself in an adult world.
She says: "Was I a victim of players' or staff ignorance relating to drugs and other situations on the circuit?
"Did I know players who talked to me about having cocaine and could give me some? Yes. I never took anyone up on that offer.
"Was I told by a trainer that they could get me steroids and who they gave them to already? Yes. Did I take them or request any, ever. No.
"Besides I was looking for a way out, not a way to stay longer.
"My father died never knowing the many difficult things I encountered on the circuit.
"I have received two apologies in the past few years from people who were on the circuit. I was labelled "the brat", yet in reality I was the one suffering.
"There are a lot of things people didn't understand about me. I was a child who was having to process a lot of information and yet having no one to share it with.
"I didn't enjoy locker-rooms. I got in trouble at Wimbledon because I'd hang out in the third players' locker-room when I was supposed to stay in the seeded players' locker-room but I didn't like it up there.
"Everyone seemed to be happier in the lower players' locker-room. They weren't thinking about the semis or the final and weren't focused just on tennis. They were just happy to be at Wimbledon.
"The worst thing was walking in after a match when somebody had lost. I didn't feel good about beating people.
"The second pro tournament I ever played in, I was 14 and beat a few seeded players, one of whom, Wendy Turnbull, took out a bottle of wine in the locker-room and asked me for a corkscrew.
"I thought, 'Oh, she's having a drink because I beat her – I've upset her – I don't want to have to deal with this all the time.'
"That haunted me my entire career. Every time I played her from then on, I tried to give her the match because I felt so bad.
"At Wimbledon in 1983, Billie Jean King beat Wendy Turnbull and whoever beat Wendy, I always had to beat them because it bothered me so much.
"When we were going on Centre Court for our semi-final, a lady offered her a towel and Billie Jean said, 'No, I won't need one. I'm not going to sweat in this match.'
"I thought, 'Not only did you beat Wendy, now you've said this so I have to try hard.'
"So I went out and beat her 6-1, 6-1. And I was through to the final to face Martina Navratilova, who I'd beaten before."

Andrea lost 6-0, 6-3 and there were persistent rumours that she'd thrown the match. No one can ever say whether she would have won had she tried harder, not even Andrea.
Yet she has no regrets and openly admits that she didn't even try to win.
She explains: "The afternoon before the final, I got in a fight with my father. He was going to discipline me and so I ran out knowing he wouldn't do anything in public.
"Martina was staying in the flat next door and I went there to try to order a cab. Martina's trainer got the phone book out for me, but Martina turned and looked at me then turned away again. She didn't get out of her chair.
"It hurt me that a match the next day was much more important than seeing if a kid was going to be OK.
"But it suddenly dawned on me: 'Oh my gosh, she's in her killer-instinct-focus-on-the-match mode and I've just broken her concentration.'
"I felt so bad that I'd interrupted her preparation that I felt I couldn't even go out and try. I even didn't arrange a warm-up so I wouldn't start well.
"Martina's been asked about it in interviews, and she says she saw no reason why I didn't try.

But she's in an awkward position because if she says she knows I didn't try, they'll ask why and where does she go from there?
"Does she say, 'Well, she was afraid her father was going to hurt her that night. My trainer helped her get a taxi, but I didn't get out of my chair'? There's nowhere for her to go that feels good."
The following year Andrea suffered a shoulder injury at the 1984 French Open and by 1987 her career was over.
She saw it as a blessing rather than a burden.
She had already been volunteering in hospitals and in 1990 set up her foundation. It is now an international charity which helps more than 4,000 children a year.
John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Cindy Crawford are all supporters.
Andrea says: "My first children's hospital visit was when I was a teenager on the circuit.

"The kids there had an appreciation of life that I didn't see on the circuit.
"I had millions of dollars. I had a Mercedes Benz at 17. Who needs a Mercedes Benz at 17? I sold it at 19 and gave the money away and used it to buy toys for kids in hospitals.
"My parents were shocked. For six months they thought I was joking. I put all my tennis earnings into the foundation.
"I had enough that I didn't ever have to work again but now I don't have any left.

But she is, she says, happier now than she has ever been.
"For 18 years now, we've worked with children's hospitals including Great Ormond Street and throughout the US.
"Our programmes are at no cost to families or hospitals. We also have a facility in Colorado where kids come for a week and go horseback riding, white-water rafting, play tennis, have talents shows and do arts and crafts.

"The whole thing is to get these kids into an environment, a peer group that's similar to what they're going through."
And as for her spiritual calling, she says: "I was already in the service field. For me to enter a sisterhood was a natural progression.
"I already had the heart to help others. First and foremost I follow God and heed his call, regardless of anything else. For me it was just taking another discipline to a higher level."
Her new life has its own challenges but is ultimately more rewarding.
She says: "I don't have an easy role. Fundraising is not easy. My life was so much easier before: I had a gift for tennis, I trained hard, I won matches, people applauded me and loved watching me play. I got all this money and commercials and praise, but it wasn't fulfilling.

"If you've brought joy to a child, or protected them in their need, if you've lent a hand and put them under your wing, for me there's nothing that compares.
"When I was on the tennis circuit, I wish someone had done that for me: taken me under their arm and said, 'Look, you're great at this sport and talented, but I'm going to help teach you about life, not just about tennis.'"

Friday, April 18, 2008

A top obstetrician on why men should NEVER be at the birth of their child

Ok, here is a kicker. Men should never be in the delivery room. A leading OB in Britain has decided to ruffle some feathers with his professional Opinion. In many ways, I agree with him. Would you want your husband in the delivery room? And if you are a man, would you want to be in the delivery room?


This week, the Mail reported a new survey which said fathers should be allowed to stay overnight in hospital on the day their baby is born.

But how much should a man be involved in his child's birth? Leading obstetrician Michel Odent has been instrumental in influencing childbirth practices for decades.

Here, with a view that will outrage many - but will strike a chord with thousands of others - he describes why he believes that when a woman goes into labour, her partner should stay well away.

For many years, I have not been able to speak openly about my views that the presence of a father in a delivery room is not only unnecessary, but also hinders labour.

To utter such a thing over the past two decades would have been regarded as heresy, and flies in the face of popular convention.

But having been involved in childbirth for 50 years, and having been in charge of 15,000 births, I have reached the stage where I feel it is time to state what I - and many midwives and fellow obstetricians - privately consider the obvious.

That there is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child.

For her, his presence is a hindrance, and a significant factor in why labours are longer, more painful and more likely to result in intervention than ever.

As for the effect on a man - well, was I surprised to hear a friend of mine state that watching his wife giving birth had started a chain of events that led to the couple's divorce?

Women should be left alone to give birth in peace without the distraction of their partner at their bedside

Or another lady describing how the day after her husband had watched her deliver their child, he had fled to his hometown of Rome, and never returned again?
For many men, the emotional fallout of watching their partner have their baby can never be overcome.

When I was first involved in obstetrics in the Fifties, it was unheard of for a man to be present as their child was born.
Childbirth was predominately a woman's business - usually carried out at home - and while a man may be in the vicinity at the time of labour, he would usually be found in the kitchen, boiling copious amounts of water, and therefore would miss the actual event.

However, by 1970, a handful of women started to ask for their husbands to be present at the birth, a shift that began to occur in many Western countries at about the same time.
There are a variety of reasons for this, including the fact that birth was being increasingly concentrated in hospitals rather than at home, and the rise of the smaller nuclear family meant women increasingly turned to their husbands for support in all areas of their life, rather than relying on their mothers or aunts.

What we didn't anticipate at the time was that this occasional demand from a handful of women would, in a matter of years, become doctrine.
By the late Seventies, all pregnant women were saying they could not imagine giving birth without their husband at their side.

And not only was the husband now nearly always present at birth, but with his wife clasping his hand during labour and screaming out for reassurance, he became an active participant.
At the time, it was widely believed there were many benefits to be had from the father's presence.

It was said sharing such an experience would strengthen ties between the couple and help the father bond with his baby.
It was said his reassurance would make birth easier, and that the rate of intervention in pregnancy would decrease as a result.

This shift to having the father in the delivery room was one which was shrouded by optimism.

However, little scientific study was conducted to find out if there was any truth to these claims.

And even at the time, I had my reservations. I didn't want to judge, but I knew from experience that the presence of a man is not always a positive thing.

Fast-forward to today, and there is still a lack of scientific study on this subject.
But having been in charge of thousands of births, at homes, in hospitals, in the UK, in France, with the father present, with him absent, I have reached my own conclusions.
I am more and more convinced that the participation of the father is one of the main reasons for long and difficult labours.

And there are a number of basic physiological reasons for this.

First, a labouring woman needs to be protected against any stimulation of the thinking part of her brain - the neocortex - for labour to proceed with any degree of ease.
This part of the brain needs to take a back seat and allow the primal "unthinking" part of the brain connected to basic vital functions to take over.
A woman in labour needs to be in a private world where she doesn't have to think or talk.

Yet, motivated by a desire to "share the experience", the man asks questions and offers words of reassurance and advice.
In doing so, he denies his partner the quiet mind that she needs.
The second reason is that the father's release of the stress hormone adrenaline as he watches his partner labour causes her anxiety, and prevents her from relaxing.

No matter how much he tries to smile and appear relaxed, he cannot help but feel anxious. And the release of adrenaline is contagious.
It has been proven that it is physically impossible to be in a complete state of relaxation if there is an individual standing next to you who is tense and full of adrenaline.

The effect of this is that, with a man present, a woman cannot be as relaxed as she needs to be during labour, and hence the process becomes longer and more difficult.
We must keep in mind that mammals cannot release oxytocin - the key hormone in childbirth - when they are also being influenced by the stressful effects of hormones of the adrenaline family.

I have been with many women as they struggle to give birth with their partner at their side.
Yet the moment he leaves the room, the baby arrives. Afterwards, they say it was just "bad luck" he wasn't there the moment their child was born.
Luck, however, is little to do with it. The truth is that without him there, the woman is finally able to relax into labour in a way that speeds up delivery.

After birth, too, a woman needs a few moments alone with her baby, particularly between the time the child is born and she delivers the placenta.
And this is not just about her need to bond with her baby.
Physically, in order to deliver the placenta with ease, her levels of oxytocin - the hormone of love - need to peak.

This happens if she has a moment in which she can forget everything about the world, save for her baby, and if she has time in which she can look into the baby's eyes, make contact with its skin and take in its smell without any distractions.
Often, as soon as a baby is born, men cannot help but say something or try to touch the baby.
Their interference at this key moment is more often than not the main cause for a difficult delivery of the placenta, too.

But it is not just the fact that men slow down labour that makes me cautious about their presence at the birth.
There are two other important questions that I would like to see answered scientifically.
The first is, are we sure that all men can easily cope with the strong emotional reaction they have when they participate in the birth?

Over the years, I have seen something akin to post-natal depression in many men who have been present at the birth.
In its mild form, men often take to their bed in the week following the birth, complaining of everything from a stomach ache or migraine to a 24-hour bug.
Their wives, meanwhile, are up and about, caring for their baby and in good spirits, and tell me how unfortunate it is that their husband has been struck down by one ailment or another.

But it is well known by those who study depression that rather than admit a low mood, men often offer up a symptom as a reason to why they have taken to their bed.
There are also men who try to find ways to escape the reality of what they have been through.
This could just be a night at the pub, or a day playing golf when their child is a day old.

I've known of perfectly well-balanced men who held their wife's hand through labour then left the next day never to return again.
And in the most graphic example, one perfectly healthy man had his first experience of schizophrenia two days after watching his wife give birth. Was this his way of escaping reality?
Generally speaking, I have noticed that the more the man has participated at the birth and the worse his wife's labour has been, the higher the risks of post-natal "symptoms" are.

Of course, this is not the case for all men, but it seems without doubt that some men are at risk of being unwell or depressed due to having seen their partners labour.

The final question I would like to see answered is what, if a man is present at birth, will be the effect on the sexual attraction he feels towards his wife over the long term?
When men first started standing at their partner's side during labour, I remember my mother's generation saying, very matter of factly, that the couple's intimate life would be ruined as a result.
And, given that the key to eroticism is a degree of mystery, I am left believing they had a point.

There are many things we do in private in order to preserve a degree of modesty and mystery.
And, for the benefit of our sex lives, it may be worth adding childbirth to this list.

I have three children and wasn't present at any of their births.

My first two were born before it was considered normal for a man to be at the birth of their child. But my youngest son was born in 1985, at home.

As it happens, at the exact moment our son arrived in the world, the midwife was on her way down the street and I, having made my excuses realising he was about to be born, was fiddling with the thermostat on the central heating boiler downstairs.

My partner did not know it, but I had given her the exceptionally rare, but ideal situation in which to give birth: she felt secure, she knew the midwife was minutes away and I was downstairs, yet she had complete privacy and no one was watching her.

If there are any doubts, we only have to look across the rest of the mammal world in order to see that no other female, save the human female, invites her sexual partner to witness her giving birth.
Of course, it would not be possible for women to give birth alone.
But the optimum situation for women is to give birth with an experienced midwife, or another woman - known as a doula.

The key to the perfect birthing partner is finding a mother figure who can help, keep a low profile and remain silent.
It is only 35 years since men first entered the delivery room, yet we have welcomed them in without question.
At the present time, when birth is more difficult and longer than ever, when more women need drugs or Caesareans, we have to dare to smash the limits of political correctness and ask whether men should really be present at birth.

When we take into consideration the effects of this on male and female, it seems the answer is not.
It is time to go back to basics, and turn modern convention on its head.

When it comes to the delivery suite, men would be well advised to stay away.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Would you take a trip to Goree Island ?

I am all for adventure and travelling but a trip to Goree Island would be pushing it.

I once saw a CNN Black American reporter visiting a preserved slave fort and the man got visibly shaken by being in the place that was the last Africans saw of their homeland. This short video clip has something similar.

Goree Island is listed as a world Heritage site under UNESCO. You can find out more about Goree Island at UNESCO's official site

GOREE ISLAND, a tourist destination ?

I have walked through battle fields but I doubt that I could go to Goree Island by myself. I would need a whole village for support. I am still debating on whether to put it on the list of places to visit in my life time yet I feel I must.

Alright, on a side note, I see white tourists in this place and I am wondering, What were they thinking? And how brave are these people ?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Cannibalism

Meiwes makes German legal history by appearing in court for alleged cannibalism.
Full Story

In response to my protests on the stereotyping of Africans as savages, a friend pointed out the fact that what is happening in Africa is recent and therefore makes it easier for people to stereotype. Among the atrocities, are allegations of forced cannibalism.

I don't doubt that cannibalism exists in Africa but like any Westerner my knowledge of it is from what I have heard. No one I know ever saw or witnessed a cannibal at work.

It is a fact that cannibalism existed at one point in almost all human societies and even those that claim to be more civilized have had variations of it. In Europe during the middle ages and the time of the crusades, it was widely practised.

On the other hand while reading up on the subject I came a cross one interesting fact I wasn't aware of. Stories of cannibalism where exaggerated by explorers and told to their Kings and Queens to justify the conquest of indigenous peoples in all parts of the world. The premise was that these great nations were actually saving the "savages" from themselves or their enemy. For such a noble cause, these leaders in turn got the support of their people. Most of these stories had no substantial evidence as research today shows.

The biggest Cannibalism lie is, Idi Amin. To completely demonise him, some unscrupulous western journalist came up with a tale that was fully bought by the world even by Africans themselves.
Cannibalism where practised is particular to a tribe and a clan. Idi Amin's particular group of people ironically were a more cultured lot that have no rumoured cannibalism. So culturally, there is no basis for claiming him a cannibal. As an individual, all those who knew him and worked with him, even those who barely survived his wrath deny that allegation. Murderer he was but not a cannibal.

A good place to start is, cautiously with WIKIPEDIA, from where you can get liked to more credible sources on the real nature of Cannibalising and how it is indeed a Universal issue.

Also here is a PhD Thesis on the subject from a historical perspective and how dealing with cannibalism was biased to actually oppress people of color.

The History of Cannibalism

One thing you will notice in most articles is, when cannibalism in Europe is tackled it is called differently, e.g. 'cannibalism out of necessity ' like the Early Europeans in Australia. Also there are few Historians that go into details about it while you will find extensive mostly unsupported texts about cannibalism in other parts of the world.

Present day cannibal stories do exist in Europe with Germany, Denmark and Ukraine having some very recent headline making stories and very rich ones in recent history. So again, cannibalism is not the specialty of Africans.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is rape during war time unique to Africans?

Alright, the buzz at the moment in BW blogosphere is the on going crisis in Congo. Those who visit this blog may wonder why I never wrote about it being that I am from that region. And my answer to that is, its too close to home. I can not even begin to explain the issues of the Congo. My own village is right between Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

After you get hit several times you start to get numb, and that is my relationship with my neighbors. The Congo Conflict has been referred to as Africa's First World war. This was a while back but no one listened. I worked in the media at the time the conflict started and witnessed it spiral out of control. That seems to be the way of things. There are too many players in there, both African and Foreign players including the one and only.

Anyway the reason I am posting is because, I am simply tired of the hypocrisy of the outside world that wants to make African war crimes like rape as unique only to Africans. This kind of stereotyping needs to be checked and we shouldn't let ignorance prevail.
This is obviously not a justification of rape, but for all those in the struggle for justice it is important not to be persuaded that this is a problem that is unique to Africans. This kind of thinking would not help much with your cause since from the onset one may assume that they are dealing with a problem that is race specific yet its not. Who knew that in this day and age we would have Abu Ghraib courtesy of US forces including women as the perpetrators of the abuse?

Again, what ever is going on is WRONG and alot more effort is needed to stop it but the reason I take issue with the stereotyping is because it has potential to discourage those that are willing to do something if they get convinced that the problem is in the unique savagery of Africans. (I have already heard well meaning people dispair). That is simply the nature of war and whatever supremist justifications for the misery, they are just intended to cover up what the real issues are.

Its rough down there, ugly, unjust but for any well meaning people it is not impossible to end the violence, but it will take tonnes of courage and resistance to defeatist information and forces.

I found this information on a site that lists some good sources of information as regards the rape of Women during war throughout history.


Rape during wartime:

Whenever there is an unbalance of power, the potential for rape increased.

Rape during war appears to have gone through three main stages:

In ancient times: rape was a reward to the victors: The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) describes the rape of the women of conquered tribes as a routine act. Foreign woman were often kidnapped as spoils of war, and forced to marry their captors/rapists. This was probably typical behavior in the Middle East during that era. In ancient times, rape was considered to be a crime against the victim's father or spouse -- whoever owned her. "The ancient Greeks and Romans would rape and enslave women after they had conquered a city."

More modern times: random cases of rape: Random rape by soldiers during wartime has been a common phenomenon, particularly when there has been a lack of army discipline. "From [recent] conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Peru to Rwanda, girls and women have been singled out for rape, imprisonment, torture and execution. Rape, identified by psychologists as the most intrusive of traumatic events, has been documented in many armed conflicts including those in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Haiti, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda."

Recent changes: systematic, organized rape as a tactic of war: Rape is now increasingly being intentionally used as a tactic of terror. "Rape was a weapon of terror as the German Hun marched through Belgium in World War I; gang rape was part of the orchestrated riots of Kristallnacht which marked the beginning of Nazi campaigns against the Jews. It was a weapon of revenge as the Russian Army marched to Berlin in World War II, it was used when the Japanese raped Chinese women in the city of Nanking, when the Pakistani Army battled Bangladesh, and when the American G.I.s made rape in Vietnam a 'standard operating procedure aimed at terrorizing the population into submission'." 4 Numerous recent cases have been seen, mostly in religiously-motivated wars: 1991-1994: Serbian paramilitary troops used rape systematically as a tactic to encourage Bosnian Muslim women to flee from their land.

1994: In Rwanda, Hutu leaders ordered their troops to rape Tutsi women as an integral part of their genocidal campaign.
1997: Secular women were targeted by Muslim revolutionaries in Algeria and reduced to sex slaves.
1998: Indonesian security forces allegedly raped ethnic Chinese women during a spate of major rioting.
Late 1990s: Serbian military and paramilitary units systematically raped ethnic Albanian Muslim women during the unrest in Kosovo.

The evolution of rape from a largely random event into a premeditated, organized act of terrorism during warfare has motivated international action to punish, and thus to hopefully prevent, such activity in the future.

Rape during the World War II era:
There were many such incidences during the World War II era. The most serious were:

In Nanjing, China, during 1937 & 1938, Japanese soldiers were responsible for massive levels of rape among the local Chinese population. There were "over 20,000 rape victims...when the soldiers themselves were not raping the Chinese women, they took great pleasure in forcing fathers to rape their daughters and sons to rape their mothers." 5 One source estimates that over 80,000 women were raped.

Millions of women victims raped by Russian soldiers during the last months of World War II. Anthony Beevor's book "Berlin -- The Downfall 1945" documents rape by Russian soldiers. "Beevor's conclusions are that in response to the vast scale of casualties inflicted on them by the Germans the Soviets responded in kind, and that included rape on a vast scale. It started as soon as the Red Army entered East Prussia and Silesia in 1944, and in many towns and villages every female aged from 10 to 80 was raped." The author "was 'shaken to the core' to discover that even their own Russian and Polish women and girls liberated from German concentration camps were also violated." He estimates that "a 'high proportion' of at least 15 million women who lived in the Soviet zone or were expelled from Germany's eastern provinces were raped." Until recent years, East German women from the World War II era referred to the Red Army war memorial in Berlin as "the Tomb of the Unknown Rapist."

Hundreds of thousands of kidnapped "comfort women" who probably endured in excess of ten million incidences of rape by Japanese soldiers from the mid 1930s to the end of hostilities in 1945. The Japanese military's mass program involving kidnapped "comfort women" during World War II was probably "the largest, most methodical and most deadly mass rape of women in recorded history." More details.

Rape during recent wars:
More than 20,000 Muslim girls and women were raped during the religiously-motivated atrocities in the former Yugoslavia in Bosnia. This was mainly during an organized Serbian program of cultural genocide. One goal was to make the women pregnant, and raising their children as Serbs. 10 Another was to terrorize women so that they would flee from their land.

It has been estimated that Iraqi soldiers raped at least 5,000 Kuwaiti women during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

During the civil war in Rwanda: "One United Nations report estimated that as many as 500,000 women and girls suffered brutal forms of sexual violence , including gang-rape and sexual mutilation, after which many of them were killed."

"In Algeria, the women of entire villages have been raped and killed. The government estimates that about 1,600 girls and young women have been kidnapped to become sexual slaves by roving bands from armed Islamic groups."

One source referred to rape of Tamil women in Sri Lanka and of women in Somalia, Haiti, Kashmir and Peru.

Another source referred to rape "in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cyprus, Haiti, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda."

A resolution of the United Methodist Church mentioned rape in the Republic of Georgia.


"Women are raped in Zion; virgins in the towns of Judah." Lamentations 5:11, from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

For I [God] will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Zechariah 14:2, from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

"I was playing jump-rope in front of my house when an automobile pulled over. I had never seen a car before in my village. When the driver offered me a ride, I, curious and naive, climbed in with my friend. Immediately, that car rolled on with us in it and then kept on going and going, never returning me to my village...." Ms. Kim Yoon Shim, a former "comfort woman," (sex-slave) about her abduction at the age of 14 by the Japanese military."

Books and articles concerning rape during wartime:

Thomas S. Abler, "Scalping, torture, cannibalism and rape: An ethno-historical analysis of conflicting cultural values in war," Anthropologica 34, pp. 3-20, (1992).

Christine Ball, "Women, rape, and war: patriarchal functions and ideologies," Atlantis 12, pp. 83-92, (1986).

Susan Brooks Thistlehwaite, " 'You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies:' rape as a Biblical metaphor for war," Semeia 61, pp. 59, (1993).

Marlene Epp, "The memory of violence: Soviet and East European Mennonite refugees and rape in the Second World War," Journal of Women's History 9, pp. 58-87, (1997-8).
Pamela Gordon, "Women, war and metaphor: language and society in the study of the Hebrew Bible," Semeia 61 (1993).

Anita Grossmann, "A question of silence: the rape of German women by occupation soldiers," October 72, pp. 54-55 (1995).

Gullance Nicoletta, "Sexual violence and family honor: British propaganda and international law during the First World War," American Historical Review 102, pp. 714-747, (1997).

Ruth Harris, "The child of the barbarian: rape, race and nationalism in France during the First World War," Past & Present 141, pp. 170-206, (1993).

Stanley Rosenman, "The spawning grounds of the Japanese rapists on Nanking," Journal of Psychohistory 28: pp. 2-23, (2000).

Louise Ryan, " 'Drunken tans:' Representations of sex and violence in the Anglo-Irish war (1919-1921)," Feminist Review 66: pp. 73-94, (2000).

Ruth Seifert, "The second front: the logic of sexual violence in wars," Women's Studies International Forum 19: pp. 35-43, (1996).

Hsu-ming Teo, "The continuum of sexual violence in occupied Germany," 1945-49," Women's History Review 5: pp. 191-218, (1996).

Site addressing the Subject

Friday, April 11, 2008

Christian Morals, Western Ethics and the Nigerian Dilema

Scams campaign: Launched by Nigerian authorities

First off I am not a supporter of these scammers and don't have any interests in Nigerian con scams. (Just had to make sure we are clear).

This post has been inspired by one at The Field Negro's
Why take the check about mostly Nigerian and Ghanaian Internet scams that we have all seen. They look something like this;

"... Dear friend, TOP SECRET RE: TRANSFER OF ($6.5 USD) SIX MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS) I want to transfer to overseas the sum of ($6.5 USD) SIX Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) from a Prime Bank in Africa . I would like to ask you to quietly look for a reliable and honest person who will be capable and fit to provide either an existing bank account or to set up a new Bank a/c immediately to receive this money...'.

Needless to say there is an interesting debate going on over there. The general impression I get is that people in America laugh them off as obvious and silly attempts by some third world thugs trying to get a piece of their pie. If you spoke to the British, these scums are way bigger than a piece of a pie as per this BBC report;

"...Such scams are thought to cost the UK up to £3.5bn a year and are growing because of abuse of the Internet and mobile phones.
They include such scams as people being offered cash or prizes in exchange for a fee, as well as men being conned out of thousands of pounds by fraudsters on dating websites...". Full report Cost of Nigerian Scams to Britain

The general approach to this discussion by Americans is that the scammers are African thugs, robbers, lowest of the low etc. One thing for sure is they are laughing their way to their banks.

Alright, let us backup abit, what these scammers are doing is wrong?! According to who? Its not Ethical? To whose ethics? Universally acceptable ethics you say. Okay let us define Universal then.

The Nigerian con philosophy is very simple. "The Europeans stole from us, took all our gold and now we have to go to their lands and get back what is owed to us".

I believe the Western part of Africa was the most plundered and exploited before independence of all parts of Africa. Ghana was then known as the Gold Coast and it was. Today is has no gold to boast of courtesy of the Europeans. The coast was so rich in Gold that during Mansa Musa's reign, a trip to Egypt by his entourage caused an inflation that lasted 12 years. All this changed with the arrival of Europeans. West Africa in particular lost more because it became the main source of slaves during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

What were the moral and religious values of the time that let the Europeans plunder a continent so recklessly? For this one has to look at the works of Philosophers and religious values of the time.
All condemned such injustices to human nature. However there is a little problem, In old texts, philosophies and Christianity of old, ( And someone please correct me if I am wrong), the African being (we will stick to being for now) was not prominent/included in these texts and the works of the then greatest advocates for human rights. Africans were indeed a part of the Roman empire but they are close to non existent if you read the history books.
Even the bible is quite unclear except for the infamous Noah fable that is a recent spin.

Later Philosophers like Locke actually justified slavery of the African and it is said that he owned slaves himself. The Christians convinced themselves that the African was not fully human and so it was like owning a horse. The later "scientists" endorsed these beliefs with their "facts".

In short, universal ethical standards were applicable to everyone else except for the African being and this resulted in the complete dehumanization whose effects we still see today.
As a result of the abuse some have decided to 'reimburse' themselves because they know for sure no one will do it with a polite request.

The UK and Nigerian governments are working together to address the problem. I see this as a further waste of resources. Nothing is going to stop these guys.

So to those so quick to slam the scammers, ask, what ethics should the Nigerians be following? Those written by the West that never and still has trouble recognizing them as human beings with the same rights? What is the incentive there?

This is not to say that Africans don't have ethics. Every culture has its own ethical standards. One group may have a strong work ethic, while another is more relaxed and encourages street smarts.

Because of varying ethical values some laws in my country are not complete. For example our Parliament has failed to pass the domestic relations bill because of clashing values between tribes. (e.g. some embrace polygamy while others don't. So there has been a stalemate since independence).

So from a Western perspective with Western values, the Nigerian Scammer is a criminal but to the Nigerian scammer, he is fighting for his right to retrieve his stolen property that built the West and to restore his battered humanity.
And restoring his humanity may be a core value in his ethics. Does he not have the right to do that? How does one follow ethics written by humans that excluded him out of the humanity picture in the first place, exploited him and still won't recognize him as an equal?

Note; These same scammers have some equally talented western partners. We should not pretend that there are no outsiders involved.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Masai Warrior's guide to England

Just leave it to the Brits. 6 Masai Warriors are scheduled to run the London Marathon this weekend after leaving their remote village in Norther Tanzania.

They are running to raise funds to provide their villages with clean water. They are known to run for days in search of water sources and so this time someone came up with idea that they run to raise funds and awareness for their cause. Not a bad idea at all though I reserve my judgement on whether this isn't an evolution of an old racist idea. They will not be running like the other athletes. They are exempt from wearing the numbers and will be running in their traditional dress and shoes made from car tyres and carrying their shields too. I hope I am not being to cynical about this. I will wait and see what the other observors have to say.
In the Meantime, London Telegraph's Andrew Pierce put together a guide for the villager Masais on how to survive being in Britain. Knowing Masais and their potential for indiscriminate violence once annoyed, I hope the Brits can survive them.

The Masai warriors' guide to England
By Andrew Pierce, Telegraph

Six Masai warriors, who are so fierce they kill male lions with their bare hands, have been warned that surviving the perils of the African bush will be child's play compared to what they can expect on their first trip to England.

The warriors, who are leaving their remote Tanzanian village to run in the London Marathon, have been given a detailed four-page guide on how to contend with the most curmudgeonly species they may ever encounter: the English office worker.

The visiting Masai will run the London marathon to raise money for water supplies back home

"You may be surprised by the number of people that there are and they all seem to be rushing around everywhere," the guide says.

"Even though some may look like they have a frown on their face, they are very friendly people - many of them just work in offices, jobs they don't enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should."

The warriors, who are leaving their village of Eluai in northern Tanzania for the first time, will run the 26.2-mile course in their traditional red robes, complete with shields and sticks, to raise money for life-saving water supplies back home.

The four page "Visiting England: A Cultural Briefing for the Warriors" written by volunteers from Greenforce, a British charity which is working in their village of Eluai, also warns about the perils of time keeping.

"You cannot rely on the sun to tell the time accurately and will have to rely on clocks and watches. The sun will rise and set at different times."

There is a whole section on "manners", which are described as very different to the acceptable social behaviour in Tanzania.

"Whereas at home for you it is acceptable to spit, in England it is not but, if you have to, you must do so in a sink or in some trees when no one is looking."

When nature calls they are advised to seek out a public convenience as opposed to using a tree or bush.

While the guide praises the warmth of the English people, the Masai are warned not to take their hosts' generosity for granted.

"If you see something that someone else has, like a bracelet, and you like it, then the person will find it very unusual if you were to take it and wear it."

The Masai men - who become warriors after tracking, running down and killing a male lion - may struggle with Greenforce's interpretation of how English law operates.

"For example, if someone was to see a thief and chase after him and, when they catch him they hurt him, then the person who hurt the thief would go to prison as well as the thief."

The Masai's shields and sticks, although permitted by the race organisers, must be left behind when sightseeing.

They may be tempted to engage in their natural sport of hunting in England, particularly if they spot a cow, sheep or pig in a field.

But the briefing note says: "You may see these animals in a field, seemingly left alone. It is important to remember that these animals are owned by someone and are being looked after."

The warriors, who arrive in Britain next week for the race on Sunday April 13, have also been advised not to be too offended by the brief running attire of their fellow competitors in the marathon.

"You will see many people who are wearing only small clothes and you will wonder why they are cold and may think they are being disrespectful.

"This is normal for England, especially when it is sunny or in the evening. However, it is illegal to show certain parts of the body and for this reason it is important that you wear underpants if you are wearing your blankets."

The guide provides a tour of a typical home, complete with description of what happens in a bathroom and at meal times.

"People in England eat with knives, forks and spoons. If you want to use just a spoon or fork or hands then it is not a worry.

"Many people drink alcohol in England. They do so at bars, at homes or at clubs - the English equivalent to a Masai party.

"When people drink they [seem] sillier or different. I am sure you have seen it with the Greenforce volunteers."

Pirates of the Indian Ocean

This may sound like 17th century literary fiction but it is 21st century Pirate drama as it unfolds constantly in the Indian ocean courtesy of the Somali Pirates.

At the moment there is a Luxury French Yatch that is being held hostage by these bandits. I call it Africans spreading the love.

French Luxury Yatch that has been captured by Somali Pirates
There were reportedly no passengers on board when the ship was seized [File: AFP]

Following is the full story from Al Jazera

France tracks Somali pirates

The French navy is tracking a luxury yacht and its 30-member crew seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast.

Troops are on alert, French authorities said on Saturday, but added that there has been no contact with anyone on board.

Herve Morin, the defence minister, said on France Inter radio: "We have had no contact, neither with the crew of the boat nor with the pirates."

He refused to give any details of the emergency plan which French authorities implemented on Friday to secure the ship's release.

He said that about a dozen pirates seized the vessel and that around 20 of the 30-strong crew were French, and the rest were Ukrainians.

Christophe Prazuck, a spokesman for the French armed forces, said the ship was "hugging the eastern coast of Somalia" and was "being constantly followed" by a French naval vessel.

"It is observing what is going on board the Ponant and is showing that we are present and constantly following what is happening to our nationals."

Late on Friday, Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, said the defence and foreign ministries were working to obtain the release of the hostages, adding: "We have relatively large military means in the area."

France maintains its largest foreign military base in nearby Djibouti.

Ships seized

The 32-cabin yacht, Le Ponant, was sailing between Somalia and Yemen when it was boarded by pirates on Friday.

According to officials from the CMA-CGM, a French maritime transport company that owns the ship, there were no passengers on board at the time.

Somali Pirates
Amid the absence of a functional government and continued conflict since 1991, pirate attacks are frequent off Somalia's 3,700km coastline.

While Somali pirates have mostly targeted cargo vessels, a boat carrying some 600 European tourists narrowly avoided being boarded in November 2005.

"You're looking at a powerful maritime mafia," Olivier Hallaoui, from French security specialists Secopex, said.

"Most are fishermen-turned-bandits, with links to clans, local militias who realise this is a lucrative business because in almost every case ransoms are paid."

Pirates seized more than two dozen ships off Somalia's coast last year.

It has prompted the international maritime bureau to advise sailors not to travel closer than 200 nautical miles to its shore.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Power of images and the Black America I knew growing up

The one and only -Florence Griffith Joyner

Images are so profound. Even the cliche, a picture says a thousand words does not accurately depict the power of images.

I have heard tireless times from AAs that Foreign blacks buy into the negative images of AAs and so come already prejudiced. Speaking for my generation in the interior of East Africa, I grew up when we had one state owned TV station. Our foreign news came via radio from the BBC world service, Voice of America (which never caught on) And Canal France (No one spoke French).

Most of our local TV programs where propaganda programs by the government. The foreign programming in Television that we got came from, suprisingly, Germany's then national TV, Transtel Cologne. For entertainment we had German crime shows and comedy ( yes, germans have a sense of humor) and the occassional sports coverage, mostly athletics from different parts of the world.
Saturday after noon we had the infamous Jimmy Swaggart then for American Sitcoms we had Good times, The Jeffersons and Different Strokes. I think I just covered the whole TV guide.
We considered the blacks in the TV programs as our tribe mates who lived a nice life very far away in Muzungu land.

The most influencial images came from the black athletes. There was one Russian, Sergei Bubka the pole vaulter, that also had an impressive spirit.

Other than that, I was fixated on the black athletes. Carl Lewis, Both the Joyners,and others whose names I can't recall. Is there a greater female athlete than Florence Griffith Joyner? I believe that was the golden age of athletics.
There was not much information out there about them but I remember seeing people with an uncrushable determination and being inspired. These people I believe gave me the determined spirit I needed to survive the wars that plagued our region then.
These were the Black Americans I knew, not the Shaniquas and Tiniquas of today.

Even today when I am faced with a challenge, I visualize those athletes, I see their braveness, their refusal to succumb, their determination to win against any odds. I can never thank them enough. I have been inspired by books written by authors of all backgrounds, but those black athletes racing and jumping hurdles, literary and metaphorically will always rank first.

In my preteens I was good at the 100 and 400m races but upon entering secondary school I met girls that were faster than the wind. I gave up running and took up Tennis and played competitvely but due to lack of resources that dream died a natural one. In Tennis I was mildly inspired by Martina Navratilova. Then the William sisters came way too late but I am still inspired by their fight in a world that will never accept them, yet with as much dignity they can master they still go out and hit the balls.

This whole post was inspired by one single image, the kind of image that not only speaks thousands of words but hits you in the gut. I will let the image speak for itself. Its Jesse Owens at the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics.More on Jesse

Jesse Owens on the podium after winning the long jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics