"Part of the reason why poverty still persists in our continent is governments inability to work in a bi-partisan manner with the opposition to confront the many problems facing us as a continent. In almost all the advanced democracies a government in power works or listens to the opposition in matters of national importance such as education, defence, energy and the economy. However in Africa such matters are always hijacked by the ruling government to the detriment of the nation and its people". Lord Aikins Adusei

LATEST:

Grab the widget  Tech Dreams

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mission to kill: A woman's anger and vengeance after robbers raped her


• I’ve sold AIDS to 4, 640 men after robbers raped me — Angry lady
By HENRY UMAHI [umahi@sunnewsonline.com]
Saturday, April 18, 2009

•Sandra
Photo: Sun News Publishing

An angry Lagos woman is on an evil mission: To infect as many men as possible with the dreaded Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Sandra (surname withheld) told Saturday Sun that she embarked on the deadly mission three years ago after a bitter experience in the hands of armed robbers. According to her, she has become, more or less, a nymphomania, sleeping with men in the bid to spread HIV, mainly, and to eke out a living.

Going by her account, Sandra may have had sex with 4,640 men, including two soldiers who brutally raped her and some other girls recently when they (soldiers) invaded Tarkwa Bay, a Lagos Island, where she lives and plies her trade. Tarkwa Bay is a notorious haven for flesh hawkers, drug peddlers and sundry criminals.

The 21-year-old indigene of Warri, Delta State, told Saturday Sun that she decided to spread HIV because she wanted to pay men back in their coin. Explaining that she hates men with passion, she claimed that she was raped at gunpoint at 17, adding that she contracted the disease as a result of the assault.

Indeed, Sandra story is one that will shock even the coldest of hearts.
She said: “In 2006, I got admission into the Delta State University, Abraka to study Banking and Finance. I was barely 17 years old then. Then I travelled to Asaba, our state capital to inform my elder and only sibling because we are just two children that my parents had. And my father had died when I was a kid. Naturally, my brother was very happy when I told him that I had secured admission into the university. We were very close and he had promised to be there always for me.

“But two days after I arrived, my brother’s station, the worst happened. My brother, Collins, died in a motor accident. When I got to know about it, I was devastated. In fact, for me life had come to an abrupt end. Another tragedy befell me on my way home to tell my poor mother. Our bus was hijacked by five armed men. They took the vehicle into the bush, robbed us and raped the women. I was one of those the bastards raped. At that time, I was still a virgin. I had not known a man.

“It was a very ugly experience and it made me wonder what a cruel world we live in. It was so horrible. I passed out during the gruesome rape. I had pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t let go. Before the attacks, I was already in sorrow and tears. It was the worst thing that could happen to anyone and it made me form an opinion about men.”

Sandra said that she was so ashamed of herself, after the assault, that she couldn’t bring herself to tell anyone what happened, not even her mother.
Meanwhile, her ambition of going to a higher institution was put on hold, following her brother’s death. Secondly, she discovered she was pregnant from the rape. Devastated and without a choice, the traumatized girl had to tell her mother eventually. By then the pregnancy was about four months old.
She continued: “I had to abort the unwanted pregnancy after about 15 weeks. It was not a particularly difficult decision to take because there was no way I could keep such a bastard. I would have hated the baby so much. In fact, if it were a boy, I would have snuffed life out of him one day. So, I aborted the nonsense.

“After the abortion, I did some other tests to be sure that I would still be reproductive. One of the tests revealed that I had been infected with HIV by the men who raped me. In a nutshell, my life collapsed at that stage.”
She said that life became meaningless after the discovery, hence when one of her friends asked Sandra to go with her to Lagos to become a commercial sex worker she did not hesitate. Ever since, she has been having unprotected sex with men for a fee. For her, there are two gains from this line of business: To make money and infect men with HIV.

She said: “For about three years now, I have been distributing the stuff and it makes me really happy. Men are evil; they deserve no mercy. To hell with the men of this world.”
On her modus operandi, the beautiful but street-wise-girl said that most of her customers actually pay more to sleep with her without condoms.

She said: “When any of my customers wants to have sex with me without using condoms, I usually protest. Then we will strike a bargain and we will do it. He won’t know that he is buying his death with his own money.
“However, there are many who will never have sex without using condoms. But I have a way of dealing with them. When I am having sex with such men, I usually shake my buttocks vigorously so as to burst the condom, and if the condom bursts and the man is carried away, he won’t bother about fixing another condom.”

She said that one of her best moments was when two soldiers raped her recently when they raided Tarkwa Bay. According to her, “when the soldiers were raping me, I was shedding tears of joy because such men do not deserve to live. The only thing I regret is that they stole my money and handsets.”

She disclosed that since she became a prostitute three years ago, she has been sleeping with an average of four men on a daily basis.
Would she settle down with a man eventually? Sandra said that marriage is not in her dictionary at present. She said that she can only talk of marriage when she has forgiven men. Until then, any man that comes her way is an enemy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama declares to Africa: End tyranny, corruption

Featured Topics:

ACCRA, Ghana – An American president who has "the blood of Africa within me" praised and scolded the continent of his ancestors Saturday, asserting forces of tyranny and corruption must yield if Africa is to achieve its promise.

"Yes you can," Barack Obama declared, dusting off his campaign slogan and adapting it for his foreign audience. Speaking to the Ghanaian Parliament, he called upon African societies to seize opportunities for peace, democracy and prosperity.

"This is a new moment of great promise," he said. "To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long."

The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black goat herder-turned-academic from Kenya, Obama delivered an unsentimental account of squandered opportunities in postcolonial Africa.

And he reached back to an older legacy, that of slavery, as he toured the cannon-lined redoubt where people were kept in squalid dungeons then shipped in chains to America, through a "Door of No Return" that opens to the sea.

"It reminds us of the capacity of human beings to commit great evil," he said from the stark white stone fortifications of Cape Coast Castle, converted to the slave trade by the British in the 17th century.

He spoke with the ramparts and the sea behind him and in the company of his family. Obama said his girls, in their privileged upbringing, needed to see that history can take such cruel turns.

In his speech to Parliament, America's first black president spoke with a bluntness that perhaps could only come from a member of Africa's extended family.

"No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers," he said.

"No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery.

"That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there," he said, "and now is the time for that style of governance to end."

He added: "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions."

Obama was on a 21-hour visit to the West African nation to highlight that country's democratic tradition and engagement with the West. His visit, his first to sub-Saharan Africa as president, was greeted as a "spiritual reunion" Saturday by Ghanaian legislators.

He, his wife Michelle, their daughters and the first lady's mother toured Cape Coast Castle as a festive crowd of thousands milled outside, pounding drums and dancing in the streets. Obama smiled and waved, pausing after he exited the motorcade, before disappearing with his family and entourage into the courtyard. Michelle Obama is the great-great granddaughter of a slave who lived in South Carolina but whose African origins are unknown.

Earlier, people lined the streets, many waving at every vehicle of Obama's motorcade as it headed toward a meeting at Osu Castle, the storied coastline presidential state house, before his speech to Parliament. "Ghana loves you," said a billboard.

The Obama administration sought a wide African audience for the president's speech, inviting people to watch it at embassies and cultural centers across the continent.

The 33-minute address was in part a splash of cold water for Africans who blame colonialism for their problems.

Obama spoke of the indignities visited upon Africans from the era of European rule. He said his grandfather, a cook for the British in Kenya, was called "boy" by his employers for much of his life despite his being a respected village elder. He said it was a time of artificial borders and unfair trade.

But he said the West is not to blame "for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants." Nor for the corruption that is a daily fact of life for many, he said.

"Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at perpetual war," he said. Yet for "far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes.

"These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck."

Obama started his day with typical calm. Wearing a gray T-shirt and gym pants, he walked through the lobby of his hotel almost unnoticed at 7:30 a.m. local time on his way to the downstairs gym for a workout.

A short time later, his motorcade left the hotel, passed under hovering military helicopters and arrived for a delayed welcome ceremony with Ghanaian President John Atta Mills.

"I can say without any fear of contradiction that all Ghanaians want to see you," Mills said. "I wish it were possible for me to send you to every home in Ghana."

The castle visit mirrored ones paid by Clinton and George W. Bush to the slave-trading post of Goree Island,Senegal — with the added impact of Obama's mixed-race background and history-making election.

In Ghana, too, Obama followed in Clinton's footsteps. In 1998, a surging crowd cheered Clinton in Accra's Independence Square and toppled barricades after his speech. Clinton shouted, "Back up! Back up!", hisSecret Service detail clearly frantic.

Bush's reception last year was less tumultuous, but equally warm. At a welcoming banquet, then-President John Kufuor noted huge increases in U.S. development aid and AIDS relief — and named a highway after Bush.

Obama avoided scheduling large public events, wishing to keep emotions in check in a singular moment in African-American diplomacy.

Obama flew to Ghana after the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, approved a new $20 billion food security plan. It aims to help poor nations in Africa and elsewhere to avert mass starvation during the global recession.

He also had a cordial first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In their half-hour private audience at the Vatican, the two reviewed Mideast peace and anti-poverty efforts, aides reported. They also discussed abortion andstem cell research at length, subjects of disagreement between them

Africa Should Leave President Obama Alone

The whole of Africa and Ghana in particular is in a frenzy mood because the President of the United States of America is paying a visit to Africa between the 10-11 July,2009. Many in the

continent have developed perception that Obama's visit will change every evil thing in Africa including poverty, hunger, starvation, wars, diseases, economic depression, environmental and social chaos. Where those false hopes come from I do not know.

While his visit offers a number of opportunities for Africa, it will be wrong for people to think that all problems will be solved in the 18 hours that Obama is going to spend in Ghana. I want to urge Africans to leave Obama alone because there is very little that he can do the continent. He is yet to fulfill the promises he made to the American people to create 600,000 jobs and improve healthcare and until such promises are met there is no way he will solve the economic and social problems confronting the continent. Besides, Americans themselves now depend on China for financial support so how can President Obama ignore the problems in America and starts solving the huge problems facing Africa today.

Africans should forget it if they are looking for a messial from America. Omar Bongo, Paul Biya,
Denis Sassou Nguesso, Obiang Nguema, Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, Daniel arap Moi, Lansana Conte could have been messiahs for Gabon, Cameroon, Congo, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Egypt, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya but they chosed to steal what belonged to their nations and banked their ill gotten wealth in foreign lands instead of investing the money in their countries.

We love to cling onto our little and insignificant tribal and ethnic groupings and wage war against one another instead of uniting to fight hunger and poverty. Our political leaders love to govern our people with impunity, barbarity, cruelty, extreme brutalities and torture instead of allowing them to enjoy freedoms, rights and democracy. Our leaders and politicians love to steal from the coffers of the treasuries and mismanage what remains of their loot and we expect Obama to pour money into our sick economies.

The leaders have sold their own dignity and birth rights of the people to corrupt multinational corporations and foreign powers for protection betraying their own peoples. Look at how every leader wants to be associated with President Obama but if he had been an opposition candidate in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast,Togo or Cameroon there is no way he would have become president as the incumbent will do eveything possible to win the election. He might have even been in detention or under house arrest or in exile as is happening in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea and Chad.

If Obama wins the 2012 elections he will never be president again but just look around the continent and you will find leaders who have been in power for more than 30 years and still want to rule because they think they alone have brains to rule. For example Gaddafi of Libya has been in power for 39 years now. Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea 28 years, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe 28 years, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt 27 years, Paul Biya of Cameroon 26 years, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda 23 years, Omar Al Bashir of Sudan 19 years, Iddriss Derby of Chad 17 years, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia 14 years.

The 71 year old Mamadou Tandja of Niger wanted to change the constitution to rule for a third. When the court ruled against him, he sacked the judges, appointed new ones and and is now ruling the country through emergency powers. President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria after two terms in office changed the constitution and is now in his third term as president. Ben Ali of Tunisia is no different, they have all concentrated powers in their hands taking their citizens for fools.

Go to Gambia and Ethiopia and see how journalists are being killed, detained and tortured. Visit Nigeria and witness how federal and state government officials are squandering billions of oil revenue while millions of young graduates have no jobs and the infrastructures in the country are crumbling. Go to Cameroon and see how millions continue to live in abject poverty despite huge oil revenue. Go to Equatorial Guinea and see how Obiang Nguema and his circle of friends live in opulence and swimming in oil money while the 600, 000 people in that country live in squalor. Go to Angola and find out who has benefited from the oil proceeds.

Go to Congo-Brazzaville and see how Denis Sassou Nguesso and his family are utilising oil revenue. Denis Nguesso has 112 bank accounts in France alone, plus fleet of expensive mansions and cars while millions scavenge for food in his country.

In Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Angola, Congo, Guinea and Central African Republic the first thing you will witness as you enter the country is corruption. Customs and immigration officials openly demand bribe because that is what they see their political masters doing everyday.

What do Africans want from President Obama? Is it loans, grants and food aid? I do not think we need aid. No we do not. What have we done with all the billions of dollars that we have received from the IMF, World Bank, US, Britain, France and Germany over the years? Have our leaders not stolen and banked it in Switzerland, France, Britain and save haven centers around the world? What have we done with the trillions of dollars that we have received from oil, gas, diamond, gold, cocoa, coffee, cotton and timber? Is it not sitting in Swiss banks?

What has Nigeria done with the over $400 billion she has received from the sale of oil and gas? How about Gabon? How many research institutions did Omar Bongo establish before he and his wife had to die in foreign lands seeking medical attention? What did Omar Bongo do with the billions of oil revenue that flowed into his country? Didn't he open 70 bank accounts in France for himself and bought expensive mansions for himself and his family while 30% of his countrymen live on less than a dollar a day?

I feel ashamed that these corrupt African leaders are crying for President Obama's attention. Is Obama not a blackman like Yar' Dua of Nigeria or Prof Atta Mills of Ghana, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Blaise Campore of Burkina Faso, Mamadou Tandja of Niger, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt or Gaddafi of Libya? What good have these men done for their countries except accumulating power and stealing from their poor nations? Inspite of their massive failures and decades in office they still carry themselves as leaders of the people. They are like blind men driving in darkness. They behave like a child king or the proverbial pig who will always go back to the dirt no matter how well it is washed. They have no sense of shame and see nothing wrong with the poverty in their countries.What can be done for leaders who remain accountable to no one?

What do we want Obama to do? I guess to end the poverty and wars in Africa right? Do we want Obama to come and preach to us that it is time to stop stealing from the people? Do we want him to tell us it is time to invest in education, health, technology, roads and other infrastructures?

Do we want him to tell Paul Kegame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to stop invadding and destabilising Eastern Congo and stop profiting from the illegal looting of that country's resources? We want Obama to arrest the conflict and stalemate in Somalia and Madagascar yet we have leaders some of whom have ruled for over 30 years whose incompetence is the result of hopelessness written in the face of almost every African. Political leaders in the continent have no moral justification to celebrate the election of President Obama and his visit to Africa with the people.

Nigeria could have been the United States of Africa isn't she? She has all the resources: oil, gas, rich soil, a hardworking population but what do we see? Corruption, embezzlement, utter incompetence, political assasination, coups, election violence, environmental destruction, arm robbery, fraud, internet scam, religious conflict and tribal affiliations have eaten the better part of what should have been a great nation.

DRC a nation with a third of the world's natural resources yet what we see in that country are chronic poverty, malnutrition, massive official corruption, scant accountability, dictatorship, destruction of infrastructure, and wars which resulted in over six million deaths between 1998 and 2009.

Gabon could easily have become the Switzerland of Africa but her leaders have turned the oil blessing into a curse with poverty, corruption, embezzlement, waste, mismanagement, dictatorship, sitting very deep in the country.

Equatorial Guinea could easily have become the Singapore of Africa but her leaders have turned it into the usual African story of corruption, embezzlement, waste, mismanagement, dictatorship, poverty.

Libya could easily have become the California of Africa but 39 years of one man's dictatorhip brought nothing but international isolation, wars, terrorism, scant accountability, coersion, fear, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, detention, force imprisonment and what have you.

Kenya was asking IMF for a $100 million loan yet the country loses over $1 billion annually through corruption. So what do Kenyans want Obama to do? To pump money into a rotten country? No way.http://africawatch1.blogspot.com/2009/06/open-letter-to-imf-on-loan-request-by.html

Instead of Rwanda and Uganda helping to maintain peace and stability in DR. Congo they have crossed several times into that country in the name of fighting rebels but we know what they are doing there stealing over $600, 000,000 worth of minerals from that country. Is this what we want Obama to come and help us to do?

Lucky Dube the Reggae legend sung in his album Prisoner that "I asked the Policeman and said how long must I pay for my freedom? He said to me son they won't build no schools anymore, they won't build no hospitals all they build will be prison". How long must Africans pay for freeddom, right to choose their own leaders in Egypt, Libya, E. Guinea, Angola, Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe? How long must they pay for the corruption of the few? How long must they pay for the incompetence, dictatorship and power grabbing of the insensitive politicians? The leaders won't build no roads anymore, they won't build schools what they build is poverty, diseases, corruption, power grabbing, incompetence and mismanagement. Africans are now economic prisoners in a continent full of rich natural resources.

Why trouble Obama when we are own enemies and destructive forces? What do we do with our own intellectuals I mean our own scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, bankers, planners, architects, technicians and accountants? Why are they leaving the shores of the continent in their thousands for greener pastures abroad? Obama's father studied in US and returned to Kenya to contribute to his country's development and what good did Kenya make of him?

What is our own Africa Union doing? Or what has it achieved so far? Has the AU been able to bring peace to Darfur, Somalia, DRC, Chad, or Zimbabwe? Look at how divided we Africans are. Just look at how pathetic the Africa Union is. A body with over 53 members that see no wisdom in unity. A body that has not been able to accomplish anything except producing documents after documents and meetings upon meetings. A body made up of and controlled by corrupt dictators who represent no one except their own interests. What does it say about the leadership in the continent?

President Obama will deliver his policy statement about Africa in Ghana and there is a lot of expectations as to what he intends to do for the continent.But with all the dictators and kleptocrats still in power in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt,Libya, Angola, Congo what do you think will happen if Obama should give Africa all the money that USA has? Wouldn't it be stolen by these same corrupt leaders and their associates? No matter the policy statement that Obama gives in Ghana poverty, diseases and wars will never depart from the continent if the leaders fail to change their corrupt, power grabbibg and incompetent attitude. The tumour that is making the people poor is the leaders and until the tumour is removed the continent will not be healed of poverty, diseases and wars.

I would rather want President Obama to focus his attention on nations that are prepared to change and adopt political and economic reforms and demonstrate their willingness to fight poverty, diseases that continue to plague the continent not those whose leaders are waiting to die while still president. President Obama should focus on nations like Botswana.

We cannot eat our cake and have it again. We cannot steal from the people and think poverty will leave them. We cannot continue to mismanage our economies and think that unemployment will go away. Until we begin to realise that manna will never fall from heaven again and there is nothing like free lunch we will continue to look to foreign countries as children look to their parents for everything.

By Lord Aikins Adusei
Activist and anti-corruption campaigner.

AFRICA - Troubling Signs for Democracy

By David Akana
David Akana, PAV Special Correspondent
At a moment when democracy in Africa got a tremendous boost from key elections in Ghana and South Africa, political events in Niger, Madagascar and Gabon have opened another dark chapter on the continent’s laborious journey towards democracy.

Widely acclaimed for combating poverty in one of the poorest countries on earth, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger has been unable to resist the temptation of perpetuating his stay in power. Since taking over 1999, President Tandja has succeeded in restoring faith in state institutions. On several occasions and as recent as last year when interviewed by French Newspaper, Le Monde, President Tandja pledged to serve only two terms. Now, the man who should have gained a place in history for restoring stability in Niger is contemplating changing the constitution to run for a third term. He has dissolved parliament and told the constitutional court off, insisting that it is legal for him to convene a referendum and change the constitution. Suddenly, Tandja has started acting ruthlessly – and after ten years of fairly commendable civilian rule, the military side of the man who helped orchestrate previous coups seems to be in full display.

The opposition, civil society and the biggest public service trade union in Niger have protested the President’s unilateral decision to dissolve parliament. The constitutional court continues to argue that Tandja is acting in illegality yet the later seems resolved to proceed with his unilateral actions even if it is against the interest and will of Nigeriens and the principles of democracy which he worked hard to restore. Some African governments have condemned Tandja’s decision, but the 71 years old President seems determined to walk the dishonorable path that has in the past humiliated some Presidents such as Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria in 2006. Tandja is presenting the same stale and outdated arguments that he needs more time to complete his agenda as if ten years is not enough and there is no one capable enough to transfer power in Niger. His supporters played the same theatrics that we have seen in other countries calling for the extension of his mandate. And like others before him, Tandja is using such questionable and unrepresentative support as his main pretext for seeking a third term. Whether he would succeed is still unknown at this point.

While Mamadou Tandja has staked his legacy - actively seeking to join the league of shameless African leaders, Madagascar made nonsense of democracy by successfully evicting a democratically elected President – Mark Ravalomanana. Though, the incumbent, President Andry Rajoelina has not been recognized by the African Union and the South African Development Community (SADC), rightly so, Madagascar’s actions sent the wrong signals to those advocating democracy on the African continent.
Uncertainty in Gabon
Pres Omar Bongo of Gabon, passes into eternity, today, 7 June 2009!!! (RIP)
A few weeks ago, the world’s longest serving President, Gabon’s Omar Bongo Odimba temporary surrendered his duties as President of Gabon to his Vice President, Didjob Divungi Di Ndinge for health and personal reasons. Didjob and the entire Gabonese political class have stated unequivocally that there is no Presidential vacancy in the country. This may be true.

But, here is what is troubling about the political situation in Gabon. In the past forty years, Omar Bongo acted as the ‘father of the nation’ and by dint of that fact, he assumed he could rule for eternity. Conducting himself as an immortal, Bongo has often frowned against any discussions about his aftermath. Like Felix Houphouet Boigney of Ivory Coast, Lassana Conte of Guinea and Mobutu Sesse Sekou of ex Zaire, he dodged conversations about the future leadership of Gabon.
With his present illness comes what most Gabonese and Africans feared most – should he be unable to return to power, what would happen to Gabon? Would they respect state institutions and transfer power peacefully to the Speaker of the Assembly as the constitution stipulates? Shall Ali Ben Ondimba, presently Minister of Defense contain the temptation to take over power from his father?
It is hard to give any definite answers to these hypothetical questions. But history reminds us that the death of leaders who installed democracy yet acted as ‘father of the nation’ resulted in blatant disrespect of state institutions. The events after the death of President Gnassimbe Eyadema of Togo and Lassana Conte of Guinea are clear illustrations. Gnassimbe’s son, Faure Gnassimbe took over power after barring the constitutional heir – the Speaker of the Assembly from even returning to the country. In Guinea, little known, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara staged a coup after the death of Lassana Conte subjecting the entire civilian administration under his authority.

Recent happenings in Niger, Madagascar and Gabon are an indication of the long way most African countries have towards achieving sustainable democracy. Many states are still to achieve an arrangement which ensures fluid rotation of power – a system that is not dependent on persons. A few countries have in recent years established a strong and respected democratic tradition such as South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania and Botswana.
Ghana President, H. E.  Attah Mills
Clearly, Niger, Madagascar and Gabon are troubling spots for democracy in Africa. It may be up to the people of Niger to decide whether or not to allow Mamadou Tandja run for another term. In 2006, we saw the Nigerian Parliament defeat Obasanjo’s maneuvers to stand for a third term. The circumstances in Niger may be different as parliament has already been dissolved but it is up to the civil society, opposition and the people of Niger to decide when a referendum is organized in the weeks ahead.
Whatever ends up happening in Niger and Gabon, we are reminded that when democratic institutions are strong, designed to serve national not personal interest – states are more stable and prosperous – investors have confidence and are ready to stake huge and long term investments. Presently, Niger is about to reverse all the gains it made during the last decade while Gabon may return to a failed state except all parties respect and abide by the state institutions in case President Bongo is no more.

Full Text of President Obama's speech in Accra- Ghana



Good morning. It is an honor for me to be in Accra, and to speak to the representatives of the people of Ghana. I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I've received, as are Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama. Ghana's history is rich, the ties between our two countries are strong, and I am proud that this is my first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as President of the United States.

I am speaking to you at the end of a long trip. I began in Russia, for a Summit between two great powers. I traveled to Italy, for a meeting of the world's leading economies. And I have come here, to Ghana, for a simple reason: the 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well.

This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections. Your prosperity can expand America's. Your health and security can contribute to the world's. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.

So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world - as partners with America on behalf of the future that we want for all our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility, and that is what I want to speak with you about today.

We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans.

I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family's own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.

My grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him "boy" for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya's liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn't simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade - it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.

My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at an extraordinary moment of promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father's generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways. History was on the move.

But despite the progress that has been made - and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa - we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea's when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father's generation gave way to cynicism, even despair.

It is easy to point fingers, and to pin the blame for these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense bred conflict, and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father's life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.



Of course, we also know that is not the whole story. Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana's economy has shown impressive rates of growth.

This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century's liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of another nation, it is even more important to build one's own.

So I believe that this moment is just as promising for Ghana - and for Africa - as the moment when my father came of age and new nations were being born. This is a new moment of promise. Only this time, we have learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa's future. Instead, it will be you - the men and women in Ghana's Parliament, and the people you represent. Above all, it will be the young people - brimming with talent and energy and hope - who can claim the future that so many in my father's generation never found.

To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.

As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend. I have pledged substantial increases in our foreign assistance, which is in Africa's interest and America's. But the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by - it is whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.

This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I will focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments.

As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than governments that do not.

This is about more than holding elections - it's also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.

In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success - strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples' lives.

Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously, and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage and participating in the political process.

Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop postelection violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three quarters of the country voted in the recent election - the fourth since the end of apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person's vote is their sacred right.

Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.

America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation - the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance - on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hot lines and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.

As we provide this support, I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights report. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't, and that is exactly what America will do.

This leads directly to our second area of partnership - supporting development that provides opportunity for more people.

With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base for prosperity. The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on commodities - or on a single export - concentrates wealth in the hands of the few and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.

In Ghana, for instance, oil brings great opportunities, and you have been responsible in preparing for new revenue. But as so many Ghanaians know, oil cannot simply become the new cocoa. From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and infrastructure; when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled work force and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.

As Africans reach for this promise, America will be more responsible in extending our hand. By cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, we will put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves. That is why our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers - not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it is no longer needed.

America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way. And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; and financial services that reach poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interest - for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, new markets will open for our own goods.

One area that holds out both undeniable peril and extraordinary promise is energy. Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change. A warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and conflict. All of us - particularly the developed world - have a responsibility to slow these trends - through mitigation, and by changing the way that we use energy. But we can also work with Africans to turn this crisis into opportunity.

Together, we can partner on behalf of our planet and prosperity and help countries increase access to power while skipping the dirtier phase of development. Across Africa, there is bountiful wind and solar power; geothermal energy and bio-fuels. From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coast to South Africa's crops - Africa's boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad.

These steps are about more than growth numbers on a balance sheet. They're about whether a young person with an education can get a job that supports a family; a farmer can transfer their goods to the market; or an entrepreneur with a good idea can start a business. It's about the dignity of work. Its about the opportunity that must exist for Africans in the 21st century.

Just as governance is vital to opportunity, it is also critical to the third area that I will talk about - strengthening public health.

In recent years, enormous progress has been made in parts of Africa. Far more people are living productively with HIV/AIDS, and getting the drugs they need. But too many still die from diseases that shouldn't kill them. When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made.

Yet because of incentives - often provided by donor nations - many African doctors and nurses understandably go overseas, or work for programs that focus on a single disease. This creates gaps in primary care and basic prevention. Meanwhile, individual Africans also have to make responsible choices that prevent the spread of disease, while promoting public health in their communities and countries.

Across Africa, we see examples of people tackling these problems. In Nigeria, an interfaith effort of Christians and Muslims has set an example of cooperation to confront malaria. Here in Ghana and across Africa, we see innovative ideas for filling gaps in care - for instance, through E-Health initiatives that allow doctors in big cities to support those in small towns.

America will support these efforts through a comprehensive, global health strategy. Because in the 21st century, we are called to act by our conscience and our common interest. When a child dies of a preventable illness in Accra, that diminishes us everywhere. And when disease goes unchecked in any corner of the world, we know that it can spread across oceans and continents.

That is why my administration has committed $63 billion to meet these challenges. Building on the strong efforts of President Bush, we will carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS. We will pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis, and eradicating polio. We will fight neglected tropical disease. And we won't confront illnesses in isolation - we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness and focus on the health of mothers and children.

As we partner on behalf of a healthier future, we must also stop the destruction that comes not from illness, but from human beings - and so the final area that I will address is conflict.

Now let me be clear: Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war. But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun. There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes.

These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck. We all have many identities - of tribe and ethnicity; of religion and nationality. But defining oneself in opposition to someone who belongs to a different tribe, or who worships a different prophet, has no place in the 21st century. Africa's diversity should be a source of strength, not a cause for division. We are all God's children. We all share common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to access education and opportunity; to love our families, our communities, and our faith. That is our common humanity.

That is why we must stand up to inhumanity in our midst. It is never justifiable to target innocents in the name of ideology. It is the death sentence of a society to force children to kill in wars. It is the ultimate mark of criminality and cowardice to condemn women to relentless and systematic rape. We must bear witness to the value of every child in Darfur and the dignity of every woman in Congo. No faith or culture should condone the outrages against them. All of us must strive for the peace and security necessary for progress.

Africans are standing up for this future. Here, too, Ghana is helping to point the way forward. Ghanaians should take pride in your contributions to peacekeeping from Congo to Liberia to Lebanon, and in your efforts to resist the scourge of the drug trade. We welcome the steps that are being taken by organizations like the African Union and ECOWAS to better resolve conflicts, keep the peace, and support those in need. And we encourage the vision of a strong, regional security architecture that can bring effective, transnational force to bear when needed.

America has a responsibility to advance this vision, not just with words, but with support that strengthens African capacity. When there is genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems - they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response. That is why we stand ready to partner through diplomacy, technical assistance, and logistical support, and will stand behind efforts to hold war criminals accountable. And let me be clear: our Africa Command is focused not on establishing a foothold in the continent, but on confronting these common challenges to advance the security of America, Africa and the world.

In Moscow, I spoke of the need for an international system where the universal rights of human beings are respected, and violations of those rights are opposed. That must include a commitment to support those who resolve conflicts peacefully, to sanction and stop those who don't, and to help those who have suffered. But ultimately, it will be vibrant democracies like Botswana and Ghana which roll back the causes of conflict, and advance the frontiers of peace and prosperity.

As I said earlier, Africa's future is up to Africans.

The people of Africa are ready to claim that future. In my country, African-Americans - including so many recent immigrants - have thrived in every sector of society. We have done so despite a difficult past, and we have drawn strength from our African heritage. With strong institutions and a strong will, I know that Africans can live their dreams in Nairobi and Lagos; in Kigali and Kinshasa; in Harare and right here in Accra.

Fifty-two years ago, the eyes of the world were on Ghana. And a young preacher named Martin Luther King traveled here, to Accra, to watch the Union Jack come down and the Ghanaian flag go up. This was before the march on Washington or the success of the civil rights movement in my country. Dr. King was asked how he felt while watching the birth of a nation. And he said: "It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice."

Now, that triumph must be won once more, and it must be won by you. And I am particularly speaking to the young people. In places like Ghana, you make up over half of the population. Here is what you must know: the world will be what you make of it.

You have the power to hold your leaders accountable and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world. You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up. You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.

But these things can only be done if you take responsibility for your future. It won't be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend. Opportunity won't come from any other place, though - it must come from the decisions that you make, the things that you do, and the hope that you hold in your hearts.

Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom's foundation. And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say that this was the time when the promise was realized - this was the moment when prosperity was forged; pain was overcome; and a new era of progress began. This can be the time when we witness the triumph of justice once more. Thank you

Africa Watch Updates

There was an error in this gadget

R.I.P.

R.I.P.

AfriGator

AfrigatorAfrigator