International Organisation for Migration  (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, reports that 171,635 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea during 2017, with just under 70 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

The Swiss Federal Council has extended for one year the freeze on the assets of ousted presidents Ben Ali (Tunisia) and Yanukovych (Ukraine) and their entourages. The decision was reached to support the judicial cooperation between Switzerland and the two countries.

 The African Economic Conference, organized by the African Development Bank and partners, convened for its second day of deliberations on Tuesday, to explore the impact of foreign aid on domestic tax collection and the effective utilization of donor aid in Africa.


African researchers have indicated that improved governance and structural transformation on the continent will naturally depend on the advancement of regional integration initiative.

 

The parliament of DRC has adopted a new mining code which should boost taxes and royalties paid by mining firms operating in the country. The news which was disclosed this week-end, was relayed by many international media such as Reuters and BBC Africa.

An international gathering of MPs has called for renewed momentum to conclude international trade negotiations that foster sustainable development, known as the Doha Development Round. The parliamentarians urged all WTO Members to show flexibility and the willingness to compromise in order to conclude this trade round that has already lasted too long.

 

Participants at the 12th African Economic Conference have urged African countries to add value to their exports in order to score a competitive edge when trading with Europe under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).

APO Group has been appointed by World Rugby’s African Association as the Official Partner of Rugby Africa in a release issued by the association.

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By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Windhoek — Incidences of hepatitis E virus (HEV) have been steadily increasing across Havana and Goreangab informal settlements in Windhoek, with 70 new cases reported in four days.

Yesterday the Ministry of Health and Social Services' acting permanent secretary Dr David Uirab confirmed to New Era that the number of cases of hepatitis E now stand at 237, compared to 167 last Thursday.

He said no more lives have been lost apart for the ones previously reported. Uirab said to date four patients have been admitted to the Katutura State Hospital and are being kept in isolation.

Uirab said a team consisting of stakeholders such as the City of Windhoek, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Social Services is currently in Havana and Goreangab working vigorously to contain the disease.

Last week, the deputy representative of UNICEF, Marcus Betts, told New Era that the organisation, together with its development partners, has not been very active in Windhoek's sanitation and water supply projects because access to sanitation is "much worse in rural areas".

The outbreak of hepatitis E was detected in mid-December 2017 and the virus is concentrated in the informal settlements of Havana, Goreangab, Hakahana, Greenwell Matongo, Ombili and the broader Katutura.

"The health ministry is now putting emphasis on hygiene education where community members are being encouraged to maintain cleanliness, boil their water, and to wash their hands.

"We are also distributing water purification tablets to make sure that if people use water from compromised sources the water is safe," Uirab said last week.

Since hepatitis E is a waterborne disease, the health ministry is currently testing water in the affected areas.

According to WHO, hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV) - a small virus with a positive-sense, single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome.

The virus has at least four different types: genotypes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Genotypes 1 and 2 have been found only in humans. Genotype 3 and 4 viruses circulate in several animals (including pigs, wild boars, and deer) without causing any disease, and occasionally infect humans.

The virus is shed in the stools of infected persons, and enters the human body through the intestine. It is transmitted mainly through contaminated drinking water. Usually the infection is self-limiting and resolves within two to six weeks. Occasionally a serious disease, known as fulminant hepatitis (acute liver failure) develops, and a proportion of people with this disease can die.

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN

A man washes his hands during cholera prevention session (file photo).

By Aron Mushaukwa

Katima Mulilo — The Namibian government has resolved to provisionally ban the importation of all perishable food, fruits, unprocessed food and water from neighbouring Zambia - where there is a cholera outbreak that has claimed 66 lives - until further notice.

Those dead are mostly slum dwellers in Zambia, New Era understands.

The ban came into effect on Monday this week - January 8 - and is necessitated by attempts to help contain the current wave of the cholera epidemic in Zambia, where it first surfaced in September last year.

Recently, one case was reported in Livingstone, Zambia, about 200km from that country's border with Namibia. This case seems to have played a part in the government banning the import of food from the neighbouring country.

Many Namibians in the eastern Zambezi Region buy - and in some cases smuggle - maize flour and fruits such as mangoes from Zambia.

Health officers from the Namibian ministry of health held an emergency meeting at the Wenela border post yesterday to inform border officials that no food items should be allowed into Namibia from Zambia.

Speaking to New Era, health officer Lempie Onesmus said health officials are on alert and have taken precautionary measures, including screening people entering Namibia from Zambia.

"When a person arrives, the health officer uses an infrared thermometer to check the body temperature [of that visitor]. If the body temperature is too high, maybe 37 degrees, the device will ring as it has a programmed alarm. It also depends on what symptoms the person has. For instance, if that person has cholera, they will be vomiting and having diarrhoea," she explained.

Onesmus however stressed that the public should not be too alarmed as the stoppage of food imports is only a provisional measure until such time the situation in Zambia returns to normal.

She added that apart from the one case reported in Livingstone, no other case has been reported in areas close to Namibia.

Meanwhile, the media in Zambia reported on Monday that cases of cholera have continued to rise in the capital Lusaka, and currently the number stands at about 2,600, while 66 people have died so far.

The Zambian government has decided to invoke statutory instrument number 79 to ban all public gatherings in affected places - such as church services, funeral gatherings and gatherings to drink at bars, among others, in order to ensure that there are no further transmissions through contact.

Analysts say Zambia should quickly put in place measures to contain cholera as the prolonged outbreak may have a negative impact on the economy and tourism of the copper-exporting nation

Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN

A man washes his hands during cholera prevention session (file photo).

By Aron Mushaukwa

Katima Mulilo — The cholera outbreak in Zambia and the food import ban implemented by Namibia with effect from Monday this week means Namibian fish traders will not be allowed to import boxes of frozen fish from the north-eastern neighbouring country.

Fresh fish traders in the Zambezi Region - whose livelihoods depend on importing fish from a farmer who has several commercial fish ponds in Zambia - have been left in despair after the government's decision to ban the import of perishable and unprocessed food from that country.

The ban came effective on Monday, due to the cholera outbreak that has besieged Zambia for the past three months.

Fishmongers who spoke to New Era were despondent after learning they were no longer allowed to import fresh produce from that country.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is enforcing a moratorium that prohibits fishing in the Zambezi, Linyanti and other perennial rivers in that region to enable fish stocks to recover from overfishing that has decimated fish populations in water bodies such as Lake Liambezi.

Fish traders told New Era they had already ordered fish from the farmer in Zambia, and that they had also already paid the farmer on Friday, only to be told yesterday that they can no longer bring the fish inside the county because there is a ban on all food imports from Zambia because of the deadly outbreak.

They were also worried that the farmer was not going to refund them their money because the fish had already been packed in containers and was ready for transport to Namibia.

"I am very disturbed right now. I feel like dying and being taken to the cemetery. Because that money I paid to the white man is the same money I was supposed to use to pay for my child at school," said one of the fishmongers, Erica Lyamupu.

"Health inspectors in Zambia always inspect them (fish) before we buy, even our health officials here always inspect them, they are healthy. They are not like tomatoes and vegetables, which are in an open place. We transport them in sealed containers, not just openly or in sacks, which means they are protected," lamented another frustrated fishmonger, Vivian Munguli.

The health officer at the Wenela border post, Lempie Onesmus, pleaded with the fishmongers to accept the situation, saying these efforts by the government are for their own wellbeing. She promised to give them letters to take to the farmer explaining that food can no longer enter Namibia.

By Charles Sakala

Copperbelt's largest trading site Chisokone Market has been shut to allow for cleaning as one of the measures to avert a major cholera outbreak in Kitwe.

Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu and Kitwe Mayor Christopher Kang'ombe have taken charge of the cleaning exercise with the help of the Zambia Army, Zambia National Service, Kitwe City Council and Market and Street Vendor Association.

However, the situation has left marketeers stranded with no hope of continuing their business activities for the next few days.

Those talked to complained that the move has turned majority of them into destitutes and will have a negative impact on the country's economy.

They said authorities should have restricted areas that are a risk as opposed to shutting down the entire market.

"We all support the efforts being made by our leaders but this one will not only affect us as marketeers but the economy as well. How many people are turning away after finding that the market is closed? That is all money, I also don't know how they expect us to survive with this situation," Astridah Zulu, a marketeer at Chisokone, said.

She has appealed to authorities to speed up the cleaning exercise and allow business to continue.

"The longer this cleaning process goes, the more we are affected as marketeers. So, they should also consider how we will survive as marketeers, just one day of not trading you have no idea how much has been lost," She added.

And Street Vendors Foundation Representative Paul Mambwe said the exercise will help prevent an outbreak of the disease in the market.

"We are lucky that not even a case has been recorded here but obviously we must sustain that otherwise we would end up losing lives. All of us should be concerned because this is for our own good," he added.

Meanwhile, Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu has disclosed that the cases of cholera reported in Kitwe still stand at three and efforts are still being made to avoid further outbreaks.

Nigeria has authorised Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to start the repayment of $76 million polio eradication facility to Japan.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday when she received a delegation of Japanese House of Councillors Parliamentarians.

She said that the delegates were in Nigeria to assess the level of usage of Overseas Development Assistance (ODAs) extended to Nigeria since 2014.

She added that the authority to trigger repayment was given to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation following the eradication of polio in the country.

She noted that the eradication of polio was made possible as a result of the ODA facility provided by the Japanese Government valued at 76 million dollars in 2014.

She recalled that the ODA was structured for repayment after four years and that by this development, Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation would start repaying the facility to Japan this year.

Mrs. Adeosun while marketing Nigeria to the Japanese delegation noted that Nigeria was fast growing and evolving from negative areas to positive areas through its determined fight against corruption.

She added that "because Nigeria is a middle income country, we will require the expertise of Japanese companies for infrastructure development.

"Nigeria is a good place to invest because it is a rising investment destination.

"I promise that the government will make life easy for Japanese investors wishing to do business in Nigeria."

In his address, the leader of the delegation, Kiyoshi Ejima, described Nigeria as a power house with rich natural resources with which Japan tried to strengthen relationship with.

Nigeria, he said, had set the target of becoming one of the top 20 economies by the year 2020 and he assured that "Japan will support Nigeria toward realising its 2020 target."

(NAN)

By Pete Lewis

Attorneys for the mineworkers and attorneys for the gold mines in the huge silicosis compensation case say they are close to a settlement.

In a joint letter to the Supreme Court of Appeal they have asked that appeal court proceedings be postponed until further notice. This request has been granted.

The mines had lodged an appeal against a 2016 ruling by the South Gauteng High Court which opened the way to the biggest ever class action case under the South African Constitution. The court ruled that former mineworkers all over southern Africa whose lives had been ruined by contracting silicosis and/or TB in SA gold mines over the past 40 or so years could be represented in court by several thousand workers who had come to demand compensation.

The workers accused the mines of negligence and demanded damages for loss of lifetime income.

The court ruled that the miners' dependents were also eligible to sue for damages for their own loss of income.

The appeal by the mines was set down for 19 to 23 March 2018, while negotiations continued between mines' and workers' lawyers over a financial settlement to be overseen by the court. In a joint statement today, lawyers for the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, representing African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater, and attorneys Richard Spoor, Abrahams Kiewietz and the Legal Resources Centre for the miners, announced that "good faith settlement negotiations... have reached an advanced stage".

"In view of that, all parties consider it to be in the best interests of judicial economy and the efficient administration of justice that the matter, currently scheduled to be heard from 19-23 March, be postponed."

By Faith Zvorufura

Zimbabwean artist Takura wrapped up 2017 with a bang following the release of his Extended Play (EP) titled "Relationship Goals" to rave reviews by his adoring fans.

Speaking to 263Chat, Takura said he avoided Hip Hop tracks on the EP as he wanted to explore different genres.

"People that know me from way back know that I have always moved across genres, I don't like to box myself and I was happy working on the love EP with different genres,

"Now I am currently working on my new album which is Trap, sometimes I just feel I want to talk about love and sometimes feel brutal or turn up music,

"Music is like a feeling or language and you cant box art and that's what people think in Africa so we end up doing the same thing when we can do so much more." he said.

"Relationship and Goals was Produced by Youngnash from Anashe Media Group and he did a remarkable job in delivering.

"Youngnash did a remarkable job delivering Afro Beat and RnB productions,

"It took us two-three weeks working on the songs, it was an idea I had and I thought why not release a five track EP real quick because I have not released much music in 2017,

"Moving across genres as an artist helps you know how far you can go, If i had to feature with Yemi Alade, Patoranking or Wizkid I know I will kill it because It's nothing new, I don't limit myself," added Takura.

Speaking to Keabetswe Ncube, an online presenter at Transafrica radio commented on Takura's EP and said it has received really good feedback.

"We recently got Takura's new EP and I listened to it and I really like it, he also reminds me of Maleek Berry, a production from the both of them will be good

"We have received many retweets and likes, so the people out there want to hear more of his songs and the reach so far has been good,

By Eddie Nsabimana

Fans from all walks of life attended the live concert.

"This is an annual show to celebrate Christmas with our fans and our supporters. The year has just begun and we have bigger plans in future, where we want to reach out to all people, especially the youth through gospel music," Mushinzimana explained.

The crowd beamed with satisfaction after a thrilling performance. Other performers of the day included Bright Five Singers, who also put up a great performance and did not disappoint. The concert ended at 9.30pm.

Choeur International et ensemble instrumental de Kigali started in 2006 with its main offices at St Paul in Kigali. It is made up of artistes from different choirs across the country.

By Jayne Augoye

American Gospel sensation, VaShawn Mitchell, was the lead act at a music concert tagged Praise Blast.

The star-studded event held at the Hi-Impact Planet Nigeria, Lagos, on Saturday.

The Grammy award winner was also supported on stage by Nigerian gospel music stars like Bukola Bekes, Tim Godfrey, Tope Alabi, Bola Are, Chioma Jesus and Senwele Jesu.

Others include Baba Erujeje and Yetunde Are, daughter of popular gospel singer, Bola Are.

The wave-making RCCG Praise Team, Day Star Choir, TREM Evangel Voices and The Lagos City Chorale, also supported them.

Hosted by Wazobia FM's on air personality, Yaw, the event was powered by Solution Media & Infotech.

The annual event also featured a special appearance by the former leader of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Mike Okonkwo.

By Sylvester Kumwenda

Lilongwe — After emerging as one of the biggest 2017 Malawi hip hop acts, Fredokiss has avoided going into hibernation as he plans to return onto the scene as early as February.

Fredokiss last year was the talk of the town as far as the rap/hip-hop industry is concerned in the country is concerned.

He spiced up his act with the daring three free concerts he and his crew held across the country.

Eventually, in the Urban Music Party awards; he went home with the best rap/hip-hop, best live act and urban artist of the year.

"It was a blessed year in which God challenged the thinking of most youth through what he was doing through me and my team. This demonstrated that all things are possible through him.

"God does not run out of miracles as he is a God of wonder. He is not just God of 2017, he is God of eternity. This year is unique and way better than last year in so many ways that God is about to reveal," he told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in Lilongwe on Monday.

Fredokiss revealed that his immediate plans for the year have just began.

"There is a lot of content that we will be realizing throughout the year, but to start with; we will be releasing the Amafila Fredo music video next month. This video was shot at the three concerts which we held last year and HD Plus of Sukez is behind the production," he explained.

According to him, one of the setbacks challenging the production of music videos is what he said was the over usage of drones in shooting music videos.

He said the industry is currently coming up with high quality music videos and conceded the need for him and his team to come out with videos that would stand out.

"This video will stand out because it is more participatory and the content is rare. We are planning to release the video online through my YouTube channel and also through local Television stations," the Ghetto King Kong pointed out.

The artist added that the video would be submitted to Trace Africa. Last year, the artist submitted the Dear Jah Jah video on Trace Africa which eventually got a massive airplay.

Being a ghetto youth ambassador, Fredokiss acknowledges that there are a lot of youths in the country who are struggling to break into the music industry.

He said there are several reasons behind this.

"Firstly, there is lack of persistence, patience and faith amongst most of the youth. Some are even in the industry for wrong reasons as all they want is fame. On the other hand, they do not have a business strategy," he viewed.

The Ghetto King subsequently provides advice to all the youth in the music industry saying having a plan is one of the crucial elements.

"It is important for the youth in the industry be business minded and dream bigger. They should think of working smartly and put God first because all things are possible through Christ," Fredokiss suggested.

By Rotimi Agbana

Contrary to allegations that went viral, the management of Trace TV has come out to correct the impression that it demands monetary gratification from artistes to air their music videos on its channels. In a conscious effort aimed at correcting the derogatory notion, the management of the leading African music and youth entertainment channel has revealed its music video selection criteria to the public to forestall further negative suspicions, insinuations or false allegations.

According to Trace's West Africa Managing Director, Mr. Sam Onyemelukwe, in spite of the Channel's openness and transparency, artistes and the public still think otherwise.

"For years, despite constant communication, there has been speculation by artistes and the music industry at large about what it really takes to get a music video on Trace channels. We understand the demand because artistes know that getting their video on high rotation on Trace could change their life and make them a superstar."

Speaking further he said; "A fundamental rule of economics is when there is high demand and low supply, there is an imbalance and the demand will skyrocket. That is true of Trace because there are only about 50 videos in rotation on the channel at any one time; meanwhile, the channels receive over 100 new video submissions a week. As spelt out in the newly released selection guidelines, Trace does not charge for video submission or airplay. On the contrary, royalties are paid to artists and record labels for broadcasting their works."

By Yeukai Karengezeka-Chisepo

American hip-hop and RnB artist Reese Nance better known as G-Shytt in music circles was in Zimbabwe for the first time to shoot a musical video. The video which was shot in different locations like Harare, Vumba, Mutare and Headlands is for his latest song titled "The Vibe Is Right" off the album "As Promised".

It was directed by local videographer Vusa Blaqs of the Bhachura fame. In an interview with The Herald Arts, G-Shytt said he was lured by productions he came across on social media done by Blaqs.

"The sound that we created with the song has an African influence or vibe so we chose to shoot in Africa particularly Zimbabwe because we met Blaqs and he insisted on shooting this video for me.

"After researching Zimbabwe, I felt like it was the perfect place to shoot this video," he said. The excited musician described his maiden visit as a dream come true. For me, it is a dream comes true because I have always dreamt of coming to Africa though I never thought that my first time would be coming here to shoot a music video.

"I felt connected with the people here and Zimbabwe is like my second home. Now I can write more music about Zimbabwe and Africa," said G-Shytt. G-Shytt said he is looking forward to have collaborations with Zimbabwean musicians in the near future.

"I will be returning to Zimbabwe soon to do collaborations with some local artistes. I love the sound and tempo of Zimbabwean music it is very different and it sounds dance driven," he said. The "Last Night" hit-maker has produced over 50 songs in his musical career and some of his popular songs are "Exclusive" and the "Big Fish".

G-Shytt started singing and writing music in 2013. Initially he started out dancing for top hollywood divas Rihanna, Beyonce and Ciara and has also done movies, commercial acting, feature films but later chose to focus on music. He has toured several countries around the world that include in Florida, Canada, Brazil, Greece, and Dominican Republic.

By Nasra Bishumba

Members of the Senatorial Committee for Social Affairs, urged the Ministry of Education to ensure coordination of research in institutions of higher learning.

The Senators said this while meeting the Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, and his team to discuss what the government was doing to promote innovation.

Senator Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo said that if education is the determinant baseline for research in the country, there was need to, for instance, promote mathematics and other sciences more since they are the backbone of quality research.

He pointed out that, for better results, there was need to start with basic research before advancing to applied research.

"For you to be able to do that, you must have skills. Where do we get these skills? In quality education. You cannot talk about a researcher when he has not studied mathematics, physics, biology or chemistry. No matter what you are researching about, you will need mathematics. It will cost us a lot to upgrade the person to an international standard of research to be competitive," he said.

He pointed out lack of internships and funding issues which makes student field trips almost impossible.

"There is no money. Any student who completes a bachelor's degree should be able to write a paper if indeed you want them to get research experience. Dissertations were scrapped but everywhere in the world, a student must write one and be evaluated. We don't have that but we are insisting that education will provide the research baseline. Something needs to be done," he said.

The same sentiments were raised by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Rwanda (UR) in charge of institutional advancement, Dr Charles Murigande, while appearing before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in October.

At the time, Murigande said that University of Rwanda budget constraints were derailing students, especially, those doing sciences pointing out that in some instances, students have had to contribute money to buy fuel so they can go to the field.

"Our students did not study well the last two years. Whoever was supposed to go to a laboratory 10 times was able to do so only once or twice," he said.

Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu said, yesterday that there was need for coordination of research done by different institutions of higher learning.

"When you go to medicine, they are doing their own research. It is the same in agriculture, but who really does the follow-up and coordinates these findings so that there are no overlaps? It is important," he said.

He expressed his concern over the UR's College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Busogo and the Nyagatare campus which he said had not done a lot to improve the lives of those that live around them.

"In Nyagatare, that institution should be helping those around it but it doesn't. In Busogo, they are studying agriculture but soil erosion is still an issue in the area. It's ISAR that is trying to do research that has benefited the residents around it. Let's focus on research that will improve the lives of our people," he said.

Minister talks restructuring

Addressing the Senators, Minister Munyakazi admitted that the number of researchers, especially in agriculture, was still inadequate but a lot was being done to push universities and other higher institutions of learning to invest more time into research.

Addressing the issue of mathematics, Munyakazi said this had already been fixed with changes made to the curriculum to give the subject priority.

"There were gaps in previous years but the curriculum changed last year and mathematics was given the attention it deserves and, so far, we can see some positive changes," he said.

On the issue of internship and fieldwork, Munyakazi said that there had been an overhaul of the entire funding model and the challenge would be history soon.

"There has been restructuring and an overhaul of the funding model. The new one will soon close all the gaps," he said.

Research is still being conducted in various institutions in different areas like agriculture, industries and others, he added.

But he warned that, though there have been some achievements, a lot more needs to be done.

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By Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop — //Kharas education director Johannes //Hoeseb has issued a stern warning to schools operating without the blessings of the education ministry that the ministry will ensure they face the law.

In an interview with New Era yesterday, //Hoeseb said the directorate has learnt with great concern that some people illegally run home schools, or private schools.

He said as the custodian of education in the country, the education ministry is responsible to give approval to anyone that wants to run a school, but he said some have however bypassed this procedure and started home schools without seeking permission from the ministry first, which he said is against the law, and warned those responsible that the law will catch up with them.

"These schools are supposed to be registered with the ministry - so whoever is running such schools should note that it is illegal and we will take the law and involve the police to stop this."

He noted that the problem seems to be rife at the zinc mining town of Rosh Pinah, where 17 home schools are known to be operating illegally, adding that there might be others in different towns which are not yet known.

The //Kharas education head further explained that the exercise is not only illegal, as it goes against the guidelines and policies of the ministry, but also compromises the quality of education, saying some of these schools might not use the approved curriculum and books, while the qualification of the teachers is also questionable.

He therefore stressed the need for anyone who wants to start a school to follow the right procedures and seek approval from the ministry before operating one, so that they get the necessary assistance in enhancing the quality of education.

"We need to see the curriculum of these schools, and ensure that learners attending these schools receive the same quality education as the rest," he stated.

As schools reopen for 2018, //Hoeseb urged teachers to work hard, and respect learners so that the learners can emulate and respect the teachers, while he called on parents to discipline their children, saying ill-discipline is a problem and teachers spend valuable teaching time on solving disciplinary issues, which should come to an end.

By Eveline De Klerk

Swakopmund — Additional classrooms are currently being constructed at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay to accommodate about 1,800 Grade 1 learners that were placed on a waiting list last year, after they could not be accommodate at primary schools at the two coastal towns.

Learners were placed on the waiting list due to a shortage of space last year,

The two coastal towns face challenges in terms of Grade 1 placements yearly, but were thrown a lifeline this year by the government that availed financial assistance to construct 15 classrooms.

Walvis Bay will receive eight classrooms and Swakopmund seven, although the buildings are unlikely to be ready this week. Public schools reopen for the first semester of the year today, countrywide.

The total number of learners enrolled for Grade 1 at Walvis Bay stood at 2,260 in December, while about 1,200 could not secure space at the 10 primary schools at the town.

Swakopmund itself could only place 1,018 learners while a further 620 were placed on a waiting list.

The education ministry says it will by all means try to accommodate the learners who are on the waiting list of Walvis Bay, in four classrooms that were constructed last year after Namport availed N$610,000 to assist with relieving the shortage of classrooms.

Education inspector for the Walvis Bay circuit, Monica Gawises, yesterday told New Era that the construction of the classrooms already started last week at the project school behind Tutaleni Primary School.

She also indicated that the construction of seven classrooms at Swakopmund will start once the contractor is done at Walvis Bay. The classrooms will be constructed at Hanganeni Primary School.

Gawises added that they will first try to accommodate all the learners that are currently on the waiting list before they accept any new applications for Grade 1.

"Even the learners currently on the waiting list have to be divided so that some attend school in the morning and some in the evening, so that we make sure that all learners have access to education," Gawises explained to New Era yesterday.

Gawises earlier also indicated that the intake of Grade 1 learners from private pre-primary schools is much lower than the previous years, due to the fact that primary schools offer compulsory pre-primary classes and should ensure that those learners, alongside those failing Grade 1, also be accommodated.

According to her, five of the primary schools at Walvis Bay cannot enrol any new learners as they have to accommodate their pre-primary learners as well as make way for some of the afternoon learners who will attend Grade 2 this year.

"This is a huge concern for the ministry and that is why the ministry is calling upon the municipalities of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay to provide land to the ministry free of charge, so that more schools can be constructed," said Gawises.

By Loide Jason

Onkaankaa — The directorate of marginalised groups in the office of the vice-president is concerned about 14 learners facing a bleak future in not continuing to the next grade due to the long distance they have to walk to school.

Senia Endjala, the development planner for marginalised communities, visited Onkaankaa on Monday to consult parents on how the VP's office plans to assist the affected San children.

The San children are aged from nine to 15 years and most of them are currently employed at nearby cattle posts as herders.

However, despite the situation, Endjala registered these learners and promised the community that education officials would be urged to find placements for the children at schools with hostels.

Onkaankaa is about 83km from Okahao in the Omusati Region.

Endjala said that the learners include children who completed Grade 4 in 2016 and 2017. Some completed Grade 3 last year but could not continue because they did not find accommodation while they were enrolled at school.

"I am trying my level best to see if I can get placement for these learners. However, I am very much disappointed that officials from education are not willing to put many efforts into these specific learners. Their support matters most this time."

Endjala had informed the inspector of education of Otamanzi circuit but the person refused to accompany them, claiming to be meeting with new teachers at schools.

Endjala said the responsibility of San learners is not the directorate's alone but it needs support from relevant offices.

When New Era visited the office of the inspector Andreas Sebastian on Monday, he said it was a busy day because school had just started for teachers, therefore he would not be able to accompany the team to the field.

He further agreed that children who might not find accommodation at houses close to schools are likely to have a bleak future.

"The nearest school is about 30 kilometres away from that village and parents have to negotiate with others to secure accommodation for their learners," he

said.

The constituency councillor Johannes Iyambo also urged the parents to put more efforts into their children's education in order to motivate them so that they could have a bright future.

Hoërskool Overvaal has denied that it is using Afrikaans as a tool to exclude students from attending the school and that 55 pupils - who need placement - were not placed in the school as a result of racial segregation.

The school's governing body brought an urgent application before the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday in a bid to overturn a Gauteng education department's decision to place an additional 55 pupils at the school.

The school, which uses Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, has claimed that the school is full and cannot accommodate the additional pupils. It also claims that two schools that fall within the feeder zone have the capacity to accommodate the group.

The department however rubbished claims of the Vereeniging school's capacity being reached, saying there was evidence which showed the school had space and that students were denied places based on their language preference.

'Racism'

Parents who live near the high school in Vereeniging claim to pass the school every day in order to take their children to schools much further away, because their children have been excluded on what they claim are racial grounds.

The parents, who were also at the court, also echoed the sentiments of the department, saying that Hoërskool Overvaal was the only high school in the area which covered about six suburbs. They also said sending their children to other schools, which were as far as 15 kilometres away, proved more expensive.

"It's unfortunate that from where we are observing it, it's nothing but a racial issue, there is high racism that is taking place in that area and we believe that they are doing so to deny our children access [to] that school," said parent Thloriso Mofokeng.

In their replying affidavit, Hoërskool Overvaal's governing body chairperson Gerhardus Petrus Visagie said allegations of racial discrimination and the use of language to segregate were devoid of all truth.

"The department is also fully aware that the school has a number of black learners whose choice of language for education has been to be in Afrikaans who have been admitted in the past and have also been admitted for purposes of 2018," said Visagie.

He has also denied that that language was being used as a tool for segregation, saying that the Schools Act and the Gauteng Schools Education Act made provisions for language policy.

"This is not a case where the school intends to deprive English-speaking learners an opportunity to receive a basic education in circumstances where they cannot be accommodated in schools as a result of the fact that the neighbouring schools are full."

Visagie said had it been the case that additional English learners could not be accommodated in neighbouring schools, the approach of the school would have been different in the circumstances where the school had capacity.

Furthermore, Visagie said that he had communication from the headmasters of both Phoenix High School and General Smuts High School, which stated that they had capacity for the 55 pupils.

Both schools use English as a medium of instruction and, to some extent, overlap with the feeder zone of Hoërskool Overvaal, said Visagie.

The department's spokesperson Steve Mabona said the school could not use its language policy to exclude pupils from accessing the school.

"We will work tirelessly to make sure that schools are accessed as per a need, because if one resides in an area and wants to access a school. We don't see why a language needs to be used as a precursor of whether you can access the school or not," said Mabona.

He added that the defence that the school was at maximum capacity was also untrue.

The application was postponed to Thursday after the school's governing body submitted the lengthy replying affidavit on Tuesday.

Source: News24

press release

The South African Democratic Teachers Union in Eastern Cape congratulates the matric class of 2017 for the improved performance in the 2017 NSC examination. As the organisation we welcome the results with a strong belief that the Province has a potential to do better.

We also wish to congratulate all learners who have been successful in the 2017 exam. In the same tone and breath we sympathise with the unsuccessful ones. We are saying to them this is not the end of the road or the world. They should keep in mind that quitters are never winners and they must keep on going on, for there is always the next time.

We further wish to acknowledge and appreciate the following categories of people who have contributed to the province's success:

Office of the SG for all attempts and efforts made to enable learners to perform in the manner in which they have performed ( LAIS, GENN & Last Push). This determination has assisted a great deal.

The teachers, more especially our members(SADTU) who constitute a majority of teachers in the province. We acknowledge and admire their total commitment to this noble cause of educating a child. This we believe has put the Province where it is today. It is imperative to state that their efforts and preparedness to go an extra mile to benefit the society is indeed highly appreciated. These teachers sacrificed their quality time with their families. This we view as true patriotism and is underpinned by the understanding of their revolutionary task which has its place in the classroom, despite the persistent dehumanising conditions.

The Principals of schools who throughout the year (2017) had to endure all sorts of pressures from all fronts. They have soldiered despite the daily frustrations like the shortage of teachers for certain learning areas/subjects, wherein school needs could not be addressed adequately.

We also wish to applaud NASGB for their ever present support to schools and teachers in general.

We wish to make a deliberate effort to humble ourselves and appreciate the work well done by the Union leaders in the year 2017. A lot can be counted but we shall limit ourselves only to the following: carrying their mandate to the fullest in line with the Union's objectives as enshrined in the Constitution of the organisation. These leaders have strived for the realisation of stability in the Province even during times where it seemed inevitable to cause instability. This has indeed been in the interest of the leaders in the making and have successfully protected the teaching time to the dismay of many of our adversaries. We strongly believe that most of the battles we fight are not ours but are of society where schools belong. However, as a caring organisation we take them up as our own. Our focus is not limited on Grade 12 but starts from Grade R.

It is notable that there are persistent challenges that require more attention from the Department for better, sustainable and everlasting change in the Province. We therefore call upon all stakeholders to take their rightful position in the affairs of the DoE in the Eastern Cape Province.

In conclusion, we purport that a lot still has to be done in 2018 to see us going beyond 70%. All possible means be made early enough and not wait till it is towards exams because last minute strategies do not work when it comes to examinations. We call for modularisation to be advocated properly to schools and avoid having NATED 550 casualties in a modified way through the learner progression policy.

As SADTU in Eastern Cape we wish all our members a successful 2018. We remain committed to Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign.

By Seye Olumide

As preparations for the Sierra Leone presidential election scheduled for March 7 heat up, Nigeria business interest has become a major focus of campaign between the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) and the major opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and its splinter faction, the National Grand Coalition (NGC).

While it is being perceived that Nigerian businesses are facing veiled threats from the two leading opposition parties in the country, which has persistently alleged that the ruling party has sold the country's economy to business leaders from Lagos and Abuja, APC has promptly dismissed the allegation as baseless and untrue.

Although, Nigerian banks and trading firms are said to occupy prominent place in the economy of Sierra Leone, on two occasions in recent weeks, top opposition leaders were alleged to have threatened to clip the wings of foreign businesses in the nation's economy, accusing Nigerian businessmen in particular of invading the country.

An NGC opposition leader was quoted accusing the Bai Koroma administration of having sold the economy to foreign business leaders.

During another campaign held in the north of the country last week, an SLPP leader was quoted to have raised the alarm against the domination of the country's economy by Nigerian businesses, assuring that his party would introduce appropriate law to address the development.

While representatives of the opposition parties denied the reports, describing it as a cheap blackmail by the ruling party, clips from campaigns across the country however proved otherwise. A top Nigerian banker in the country, who did not want his name mentioned said the anti-Nigerian rhetoric among opposition, is widely reported in the country.

The APC candidate, Dr. Samura Kamara denied any Nigerian hijack of the Sierra Léone economy, saying, "If anything, Nigeria has been pivotal to the economic growth and recovery of the country.

Kamara, while applauding the involvement of foreign partners contributions to the development and growth of his country's economy said, "It would be unfair to attack Nigerian businesses. Nigerian businesses are safe under an APC government and we pledge to do more in term of deepening the relationship between the two countries."

A man believed to be an Egyptian tourist has been stabbed at least 10 times in an apparent robbery on Noordhoek Beach in Cape Town on Saturday night.

Andre van Schalkwyk, spokesperson for Table Mountain Watch, told News24 that the incident happened at about 20:30 near the Kakapo shipwreck.

He said the man was stabilized by local paramedics and members of neighbourhood watches before he was transported to hospital.

Van Schalkwyk said he was not sure what the robbers managed to take.

"This guy is fighting for his life now. I really hope that he doesn't succumb to his injuries," he said.

He said more than eight muggings have occurred on the same beach in less than two months.

"This is one of many muggings in only a couple of weeks now. An Austrian couple was stabbed in November and they ended up in hospital. There was also a German tourist who was recently attacked at the same beach," he said, adding that there were no rangers from the Table Mountain National Park in the part of the beach where the attacks take place.

Van Schalkwyk said criminals who target unsuspecting tourists around the beach "have become really aggressive".

"They attack and stab their victims for their valuables," he said.

He said they've raised safety issues with the authorities numerous times.

Van Schalkwyk warned tourist to stay away from that area.

"BnBs and hotels must warn people about the crime in the area. They know where the hot spots are. They (tourists) should be warned about these hotspots so that these people's holidays are not spoiled. Tourists must stay away from the beach," he said.

He said a safety plan must immediately be put in place in order to curb such crimes around Noordhoek Beach.

Source: News24

Photo: News24

Police inspect the site of the hot air balloon crash landing in Luxor.

Three South Africans were aboard the sightseeing hot air balloon, which crashed in Luxor, Egypt on Friday, killing one tourist and injuring seven, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has confirmed.

Dirco's Nelson Kgwete confirmed in a statement that the man who had died was 34 years old. His name cannot be confirmed yet.

The remaining two South African citizens - both 24-year-old women - sustained injuries, but were said to be in stable conditions.

SEE: SA tourist killed in Egypt hot air balloon crash

There were 16 people on the balloon trip with the South Africans, which apparently took off at sunrise.

The other persons are 5 from Australia, 4 from France, 2 from Argentina and 1 from Brazil, a statement from the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria said.

"[The pilot] tried to land and unfortunately because of the strong winds he crashed to the ground," it added.

Source: News24

By Bilal Derso

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT) says that the second phase of hotel star rating would play an essential role in enhancing the hospitality sector and boosting international competitiveness.

Ministry's Tourist Services Quality Assurance and Rating Director Tewodros Derebew tells The Ethiopian Herald that hotel raking is one of the key instruments to enable the hotels provide quality service and create a healthy competition among one another.

The Director indicates that the second phase of rating, which is planned to be held this year, does not include the existing star-designated hotels. He further notes "The process incorporates new hotels and lodges for the first time."

According to Tewodros, services such as food and entertainment, room size and additional amenities, spas and fitness centers, ease of access and location are considered in establishing hotel standards.

He states that the rating is beneficial to inform international tourists on basic services and facilities they could obtain from a particular hotel and lodge in a neutral and genuine manner.

The Director says: "The rating is expected to satisfy tourists' demand to get seamless recreational packages and enable them obtain an appropriate service for what they paid for."

Tewodros further points out that the rating would be essential for hotel owners to improve the kind and quality of service they offer for local and foreign customers. Moreover, he adds it would also help them in their marketing platform.

This new system is beneficial for travel agents and tour operators to incorporate clear messages in their recreational packages to travelers, he adds.

According to the Director, the ranking is also essential in enforcing hotels and lodges to have fair price rate depending on their category and to control overpricing.

Tewodros says: "The government, as policy implementing organ, would also benefit from the star rating in consolidating its efforts to develop tourist attraction sites and formulating a consistent supervision of the hospitality sector."

Preparation is well underway to the second phase of hotel star rating and MoCT has been giving trainings and other capacity building programs for local professionals whom solely handle the task, the Director notes.

During the first star rating program, conducted two years ago, some 167 hotels have received official ratings. Addis Ababa alone has 80 hotels rated, of which six are five starred.

By Nasra Bishumba

For the ninth time, Rwanda is showcasing its tourist attractions at the Vakantiebeurs tourism exhibition, the largest tourism exhibition in the Benelux - Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg - this week.

The exhibition, which kicked off Tuesday in Utrecht, the Netherlands, ends on Sunday.

The Rwandan embassy in the Netherlands says the country is among 160 countries participating at the Vakantiebeurs, which has attracted more than 125,000 visitors.

"This years' edition of Remarkable Rwanda at the Vakantiebeurs is all about getting inspired. First, by getting in touch with the local specialists from Rwanda and hearing the stories and experiences from first hand," reads a statement from the embassy.

The Rwanda Development Board, the Embassy of Rwanda in The Hague, RwandAir, Amahoro Tours, Wildlife Tours Rwanda and Mercator Assistance are represented at the six-day event.

According to the embassy, there is cultural inspiration as visitors enjoy traditional dance performances by a Rwandan dance group in addition to a culinary experience due to a barista on the Rwanda stand serving specialty coffee and tea from the country.

"All visitors can enjoy live presentations by the co exhibitors and inspirational video presentations in the RwandaFul Lounge. Included in the programme are the brand new TV episodes of the most famous biologist in the Netherlands, Freek Vonk."

"Vonk visited Rwanda last summer and, thereafter, four TV episodes were broadcast. Due to his enthusiasm, he gave a wonderful impression about nature and wildlife in Rwanda."

RwandAir, Rwanda's national carrier, operates direct flights (on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays) to Brussels.

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By Eveline De Klerk

Walvis Bay — The coastal tourism and hospitality fraternity says there was a notably decline in the number of visitors from South Africa during the festive season, but observed an increase in visitors from Botswana.

There was also an increase in the number of tourists at the coast from other African countries such as Zambia, a positive sign as Namibia positions herself as a prime regional tourism destination.

African tourists visiting Namibia continue to steadily increase, while Namibia remains a major tourist destination for tourists from Germany and the rest of Europe.

Those who spoke to New Era regarding the festive season that officially ends next week indicated Batswana currently top the list of African visitors to Namibia. There were also many visitors from Zambia, Lesotho and Malawi.

The steep decline in South African tourists, according to the coastal tourism industry, could be as a result of the sluggish economic situation experienced during 2017 by South Africa - that has also slowed that country's tourism.

Booking officer and co-owner of Tommy's Living Desert Tours, Kit Collard, yesterday told New Era that they had served more European and German tourists this year, followed by those from Botswana, compared to last year, which was dominated by South Africans.

"We definitely received less South African and Namibian tourists this year. Normally South Africans top our list but they were very few this year," she said. "We nevertheless had quite a busy season once again."

Rauha Amutenya from Desert Explorers also told New Era that the current festive season was also a hive of activity for them, as they also received good numbers of visitors.

"Our camel rides, boat cruises, kayaking and skydiving were once again in demand, so you can imagine how busy we were," she said.

Amutenya added that they also had less South African tourists this year compared to previous years.

"However, what we observed is that more and more Batswana are exploring Namibia. We also had a few African tourists from Zambia which is actually a positive sign that Namibia is reaffirming its position in the tourism industry," she said.

Sharon Swiegers from Sandwich Harbour Tours also told New Era that they had a good festive season, business-wise, and that there was a slight increase in African tourists that visited the coastal areas.

"We were at our busiest during the festive season although it was shorter than usual," she said. She added that they also experienced a decline in South African tourists during the festive season.

Andreas Namene from Walvis Bay Tour Guides also said that they had one of the busiest festive seasons ever.

According to him, Namibia is on the right path in terms of attracting more African tourists. "Even though we did not receive more tourists from Namibia and South Africa during the festive season, we received quite a large number of tourist from Botswana," he said.

Tourism in Namibia is a major industry, contributing N$7.2 billion to the country's gross domestic product. Annually over one million travellers visit Namibia, with roughly one in three coming from South Africa, then Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.

The country is among the prime destinations in Africa and is known for its ecotourism, which features Namibia's extensive wildlife. In December 2010, Lonely Planet named Namibia the fifth best tourism destination in the world in terms of value.

opinion By Christopher Farai Charamba

In the spirit and tradition of making New Year resolutions, this columnist invites you to add to yours the intention to read more in 2018. To aid you on your reading journey, here is a list of 12 categories and suggestions of books you could go through.

The list is not in any specific order and various books can fit into various categories, however the idea is to read 12 books in total, during 2018. At the end of each month, this column will review one of the categories on the list and some of the books that fall under it. So without further ado, here are the categories for the 2018 reading challenge.

A book by a Zimbabwean

This category has a number of options, both classic and contemporary, fiction and non-fiction. For something old, one can turn to Dambudzo Marechera, Charles Mungoshi or Chenjerai Hove. Contemporary writers include Petina Gappah, Tendai Huchu and Brian Chikwava. Specifically, on my list this year is a book written in vernacular.

A classic novel

A throwback to literature in English during high school, this category can be completed by going through anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Harper Lee, Leo Tolstoy and many others. If one has read very little Russian literature so, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina might be on the list this year.

A play

Plays are very interesting reads. There are a variety to choose from, the antiquated works of William Shakespeare or the latest edition to the Harry Potter series, The Cursed Child. My 2018 read will by The Trial of Dedan Kimathi by Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

A book translated from another language

Going through a book in its original text is perhaps the best way to read them but that depends on how many languages one knows. A translated book allows one to get to engage with literature from different parts of the world.

An autobiography or biography

Reading about people is always an interesting experience especially when you are used to experiencing only one side of them. On the list for this year are biographies of comedians as a lot of them have interesting background stories. If one is looking for a biography to read, I recommend The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers, which is a book on Russian leader Vladmir Putin.

A book by a person of colour

The world of books tends to be dominated by white authors yet the world is far more expansive than that. This challenge is therefore to read something by an Asian, South American, Middle Eastern or African author.

A collection of short stories

This is perhaps one of my favourite types of writing. Short stories are quick reads but also often witty and the best one finds end with cliff-hangers or twists. Many writers have such collections, if you're looking for something close to home then Petina Gappah's An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row is where I'd go.

An anthology of poems

Poetry is good for the soul. As a recommendation, I would say Tapiwa Mugabe's Zimbabwe is a great place to start. It is short but also quite touching.

A book by a woman

Again this category is wide open and one can choose from something old or new. There are writers from all over the world who fit into the category, a lot of the acclaimed contemporary African writers are women, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yaa Gyasi, and Taiye Selasi.

A graphic novel or comic book:

Books with pictures are some of the first that we encounter when our reading journey begins. Graphic novels are fun to read and I am specifically looking forward to getting my hands on Kariba by Blue Forest Collective, this year.

A science fiction/fantasy book

Isaac Asimov is perhaps the one that shall make my specific list, but there are different options depending on whether one wants robots and technology or magic and aliens.

A non-fiction book

It could be a self-help book, a book on engineering, a book on understanding how the world works, a book on a historical event -- the options are endless. On my specific list will be reading on the Middle East and Central Africa, with the more specific intention of understanding the conflicts in those regions.

opinion By Tanaka Chidora

I wanted to write about the literary text I am currently reading titled "Rotten Row" (2016) by Petina Gappah, 2016. This is a very interesting text and my promise is that I will talk about it in my next instalment. Because I believe that life itself is a text, today's text is January 1, 2018.

Today is January 1, 2018. Yesterday was December 31, 2017. In fact, yesterday was the last day of the year, the last day of the month and a weekend! Who wouldn't want to go motivational here? Or to send those links with the instruction, Touch here , for the recipient to be motivated and psyched up for 2018? My own WhatsApp profile picture is a very wide, clearly marked and straight road written 2018. There are no potholes on it. It holds promises to a stress-free 2018.

An inventory of WhatsApp and Facebook posts that contain 2018 in them, reveals that the bulk of them are motivational texts, some clichéd, some ingenuous. The most recurring one, another cliché is of 2018 being depicted as a flight. So the post inevitably starts with, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard the 2018 flight. . ."

Another one, an ingenuous one, is of a wall clock whose hours are all the things that made 2017 a burden: darkness, stress, failure, sickness . . . you can fill in the blanks to make them twelve. So as the hour hand clocks 12 midnight on January 1, the second hand starts deleting all the undesirables of 2017 and putting in their stead all the hoped for desirables of 2018.

Every New Year brings hope and optimism. For example, one post in which the account holder expresses boredom with his old self, has these words: "New Year, New Me." Another one in which the account holder is looking forward to a pay rise reads, "New Year, New Salary."

Then of course, the prophetic declarations, "May 2018 Give To You What 2017 Failed To Give!" or "May 2018 Be Your Year", or, "May 2018 Be A Year Of Supernatural Speed", or, "In 2018, May All Your Enemies Be Scattered In 8 Directions" (Type Amen if you believe).

The most hilarious of all 2018 social media texts, for me, came in the form of a Press conference. It features a press release by a general who is flanked by two other generals.

The mood is a very serious one. The general promises us that 2018 is safe and sound, that they are only targeting criminals around him (disappointment, sickness, failure, 2017 etc.), and that once all these criminals are dealt with, things will return to normalcy (in this case, normalcy means the coming of 2018).

Another version of this Press conference features a table on which one can see one bottle of Jack Daniels and another one of Amarula. These two are surrounded by numerous bottles of Castle Lite. So, the general's Press conference is actually a response to the restlessness and massive drinking that characterise the festive season.

According to him, Jack Daniels and Amarula are safe; the generals are only targeting criminals around them, which criminals seem to be the numerous bottles of Castle Lite. Of course he concludes his address by imploring us to stay safe and be responsible during this period before inserting, Asante Sana as his parting shot.

Another group of social media (motivational) writers are those who make their 2018 resolutions public. Some of the resolutions read: Stop drinking; Stop smoking; Lose weight; Start a project; Do away with fake friends; Stop cheating, and a plethora of other resolutions.

The irony is that for many, these will be the same resolutions for 2019! Why? Because the magic is not in the numerical name of the year; the magic is in the person!

The truth is, we think of the New Year as the coming of new beginnings. We think things will magically change. We think all problems will disappear because the name of the year has changed. Some people celebrate so much the coming of the new year that by the time the first day of the new year ends, they would have actually added more problems to those they would have carried over from the previous year.

It is good to have great expectations for each new year. But we should not burden the new year to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The motivational quotes, prophetic slogans and church themes are not bad. But what is bad is when these slogans and themes are not met by action.

You will discover that even though it's a new year, the sun still rises from the east and sets in the west; winter is still biting cold; you still need to pay your fees; you still need to deal with the things that you failed to deal with in the previous year; you still need to take your car for service; you still need to work hard and do something with your life!

Unless something about you improves or changes, the new year is still another number on the calendar that you hang on your wall. Even the things that you blamed for taking you down in 2017 might still be around in 2018. So, unless you change your attitude and habits for the better, you will be shocked to discover that the change in the name of the year does not translate to any change in your fortunes.

Don't leave anything to luck or fortune. As we psyche ourselves for 2018 using all those posts, we should know that it is what we do in 2018, not 2018 itself, that matters. If there is anything special in the coming of the new year, that special something is you.

It is you who can make 2018 what you wish it to be. 2018 is a blank slate upon which you can create your life.

So from me, Tanaka Chidora, Happy 2018! May you dream big and act big!

book review By Elizabeth Uwandu

Often times than not, we forget the aftermath of terrorist attacks, especially on women and children. What becomes the fate of girls forcefully turned into women, what becomes the fate of the likes of Alele Williams, Funmi Ransome Kuti, Chioma Ajunwa , etc who due to insurgency get deprived of education, the hope of the common man?

Rape in the Desert by Olayinka Kadiri and reviewed by Mature Tanko Okoduwa tells story of the family Baba Ahmed and Laraba, blessed with four children, Hauwa, Hadiza, Musa and Shehu that got torn apart by ravaging beasts of Boko Haram in Konduga village in Borno State,

Armed with the desire to educate all his children irrespective of their gender, Baba Ahmed who strongly believes in education sent his daughters to boarding school to allow them mature not only academically but emotionally and physically.

However, the lofty narration of bliss and comfort of the Ahmed family in 226 paged novel, published by Dagamone Nigeria Limited, changed one Friday evening when their village was attacked and that changed the course of their lives. As everyone took safety only to return days later, Hauwa and her siblings could not find their parents already killed by the helmsmen.

Left at the mercy of Uncle Mumuye who they simply called kau, the children's lives got messier as they got separated with Musa going to stay with his mother's cousin in Lagos. While the girls were sent back to boarding school on the meagre income made from the sale of their parents' properties by Kau, until for them to be abducted and sent to Sambedi forest where their dignity was abused and some of them put in the family way against their wish.

Also highlighted in the novel is the inner strength of the girl child who defied odds to come out established as seen by Hauwa, the heroine who got trained to become a secret agent and was of assistance to the villagers and the larger society.

In the words of Okoduwa," the book superbly captured the hostel life of the girls held against their will and wish by the Boko Haram terrorists' group. Its narrative is gripping, revealing and exposing the danger of terrorism and its menace to the society.

" This book will serve as a foundation to those that want to teach Hausa language as the language was carefully integrated into the story like spices. This book will be a good read for secondary school students and tertiary institution General Studies courses, " noted the reviewer.

By Memory Chirere

Legendary Zimbabwean writer Charles Mungoshi turned 70 on December 2, 2017. Charles Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is very rarely surpassed by many in the so called Third World today. His literary profile is compact. He is a novelist, poet, short story writer, playwright, film scriptwriter, actor, editor, translator, and consultant.

While each of the other prominent writers of Zimbabwe like Yvonne Vera, Dambudzo Marechera, Shimmer Chinodya, Aaron Chiundura Moyo and Ndabezinhle S. Sigogo, have tended to write in English or Shona or Ndebele only, Mungoshi has written convincingly and continuously in both Shona and English.

In 1975 alone, for instance, Mungoshi published two books: "Waiting for the Rain" (a novel in English) and "Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva" (a novel in Shona). These two works exude separate amazing qualities that one wonders how they could have been written "back to back."

That ambidexterity was no fluke because later, in 1980, Mungoshi repeated a similar feat, publishing "Inongova Njakenjake" (a play in Shona) and "Some Kinds of Wounds" (a short-story collection in English.)

It is as if Mungoshi writes simultaneously with two pens -- one in the left hand and the other -- in the right hand!

In fact and as shown below, between 1970 and 2000, a period of 30 years, Mungoshi made an average of one major publication in every one and a half years and won a prize of sorts for each of them.

1. "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" (Brooding Breeds Despair) (1970)

2. "Coming of the Dry Season" (1972

3. "Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva" (How Time Passes) (1975)

4. "Waiting For the Rain" (1975)

5. "Inongova Njakenjake" (1980)

6. "Some Kind of Wounds" (1980)

7. "The Milkmen Doesn't Only Deliver Milk" (anthology) (1981)

8. "Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura?" (1985) (Silence is Golden?)

9. "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" (1987)

10. "Stories From A Shona Childhood" (1989)

11. "One Day Long Ago" (1991)

12. "Abide with me" (1992)

13. The Axe (1995)

14. "Gwatakwata" (1995)

15. "Children's Video Picture Book" ((1998)

16. "Walking Still" (1997)

17. "Writing Still" (2003) an anthology in English with Mungoshi's short story "The Sins of the Fathers"

18. "Branching Streams Flow in the Dark" (2013)

Awards

1. International PEN Awards (1975 twice for both Shona and English and 1981)

2. Noma Honourable Awards For Publishing in Africa (1980, 1984, 1990 and 1992)

3. Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book in Africa for "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" (1988)

4. Honorary Fellow in Writing Award in the Creative Activities of the International Writing Programme by The University of Iowa (1991)

5. USIA (United States Information Agency) Award for participating in the International Visitor Program (1991)

6. "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" was a New York Time notable book of the year (1989)

7. Order of Merit Certificate Award by Zimbabwe Writers Union for winning in 1984 and 1992 the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1997)

8. Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book in Africa for "Walking Still" (1997)

9. Charles Mungoshi as 1998 winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, was to be received in audience by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. That year again the Queen graciously agreed to meet the winner at Buckingham (Tuesday May 12, 1998)

10. Received seven awards at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair's 75 Best Books in Zimbabwe for seven of his books (2004, 2005)

11. National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) Silver Jubilee Award (2006)

12. One of Charles Mungoshi's poems has been curated by the William & Melinda Gates Foundation as a permanent display as public art at their new headquarters in Seattle, Washington, in the US in 2011

13. Certificate of Honour Award of the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe International Book Fair for dedicated service (2013).

14. National Arts Merit Award 2014.

In the year 2004 Zimbabwe 75 best books, a project meant to come up with the best books ever to come out of Zimbabwe, Mungoshi appeared in the top five lists in both English and Shona categories -- a feat completed by no other Zimbabwean writer.

The late Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, a short-story writer and essayist, even joked in The Daily Mirror of the same week that had any of Mungoshi's works been translated to Ndebele, he could also have led in that category!

On March 3, 2006, Mungoshi appeared in the final list of the recipients of the Silver Jubilee Literary Awards, alongside Shona novelist Aaron Chiundura Moyo, pathfinder literary critic George Kahari and Ndebele novelists, Ndabezinhle Sigogo and Barbara Nkala.

He had beaten other hot nominees: fellow writers like Chenjerai Hove, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Mordekai Hamutyinei, Thompson Tsodzo, Pathisa Nyathi, Ben Sibenke, the late Dambudzo Marechera, and Yvonne Vera.

As stated before, Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is yet to be surpassed by anyone in Zimbabwe. If the novel as in "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" (1970) or "Waiting for the Rain" (1975) offers the man a wider axis to explore and develop ideas, maybe his shorter bursts of inspiration find acute expression in shorter fiction as in "Coming of the Dry Season" (1972), "Some Kinds of Wounds" (1980) and "Walking Still" (1997).

When that is done, the man does not linger long and suffer for he also broke into poetry in "The Milkman doesn't Only Deliver Milk" (1981). Feeling maybe trapped with traditional literary forms, he could, and as happened in 1992 with "Abide with me" (1995) with "The Axe" and "Gwatakwata", "Children Video Picture Book" (1997), get into writing for the screen.

Not apologising for it, or looking back, he can go into acting itself. For instance he appears in plays as "the journalist" in "Ndabve Zera", "the store-keeper" in "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" and as Trebonius in "Julius Caesar" (produced by Andrew Shaw.)

When it suits him, he can also hit the road and present papers in Zimbabwe and across the globe. The numerous invitations he has received are testimony to his status as an unofficial cultural ambassador of Zimbabwe.

He has been Visiting Lecturer at the University of Florida in the 2000 Spring Semester and Resource Person at Netherlands' Groningen Children's Book Year Workshop in 1996. His profile shows that from 1980, 1990, Mungoshi did not go for a year without giving a paper in places like the University of Florida, Iowa, Durham University, Amsterdam, New Zealand, Australia, Cambridge University and many more.

Mungoshi is not very well known as a poet, arguably because he writes less poetry. However, his single poetry anthology, "The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk" is deep and revealing. He refers to poetry in one interview as "only a sideline, a mere finger exercise" in his continuing endeavour to condense language to a spare state of fine precision.

Mungoshi's poetry exudes the styles and philosophies of his more celebrated prose. The greatest strength of Mungoshi literature is the life-like feel he has for people. He has sympathy for the under-dog, without over-writing. His characters belong to believable circumstances, place and time and are endearing.

With use of deceptively simple language and plot comparable only to Mozambique's Luis Honwana's and maybe South-Africa's Ezekiel Mphahlele's too; Mungoshi tells stories about things you didn't quite know about people you know.

For Mungoshi, writing is not external. It is participatory. It is not a profession or hobby. It is life. He says about writing parts of "Waiting for the Rain": "I was living in it (the story didn't happen in the past. It is a drum. It is happening, it is playing now."

And maybe unknown to him, Charles Mungoshi helped introduce and popularise the techniques of psychological realism and stream of consciousness in Zimbabwean Literatures. At the attainment of Zimbabwe's independence, African scholars in the Department of English of the University of Zimbabwe found Mungoshi's quantity and quality of work very useful in arguing for a course on works by Africans in English language. The Rhodesian academics had often argued that there were not enough of such works to be studied in schools, colleges and at university levels.

A research conducted recently on the same department alone had very interesting revelations. First, Mungoshi's works have been translated to numerous non-European languages; "Waiting for the Rain" from English: to Hungarian (1978), to Norwegian (1980) and to Russian (1983) second, "Coming of the Dry Season" from English: to Russian (1985) third, "The Setting Sun and the Rolling World", from English: to Japanese (1995) "Stories from a Shona Childhood" from English: to Swiss (1996), to German (1988), "Walking Still" from English: to Swiss (2006).

Born to a rural farming community in Chivhu on December 2, 1947, Mungoshi has very humble origins and has remained down to earth, despite his international stature. Until the time he fell ill recently, he had travelled across Zimbabwe, mentoring young and new writers, sometimes for no fee.

Records at the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association can bear testimony. He has mentored or directly influenced younger writers, among them Ignatius Mabasa, Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, Albert Nyathi, Joice Mutiti, Lawrence Hoba, Chiedza Musengezi, Thabisani Ndlovu, myself and others.

His style of writing has become a brand. In honour of his amazing ambidexterity and depth, the University of Zimbabwe -- conferred an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters -- DLitt) on him on Friday November 14, 2003.

The essence of Mungoshi's literature is about grappling with the issues of home, identity and belonging in the changing times. He is constantly asking key questions: Do we truly belong to this land?

Is it possible to belong here and elsewhere? What must we change and what exactly must continue and why? Is there any space for the individual in our quest for collective glory? Are we right? Are we wrong?

In this quest Mungoshi pens "The Accident" a short story from "Coming of the Dry Season", which seems to question and challenge the stance of a people living under minority rules. The book lands him in trouble and is banned in Rhodesia only to reappear later and has been studied in schools ever since. Mungoshi's writings have also tended to evoke that strong sense of Zimbabweanness.

LEGENDARY Zimbabwean writer Charles Mungoshi turned 70 on December 2, 2017. Charles Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is very rarely surpassed by many in the so called Third World today. His literary profile is compact. He is a novelist, poet, short story writer, playwright, film scriptwriter, actor, editor, translator, and consultant. While each of the other prominent writers of Zimbabwe like Yvonne Vera, Dambudzo Marechera, Shimmer Chinodya, Aaron Chiundura Moyo and Ndabezinhle S. Sigogo, have tended to write in English or Shona or Ndebele only, Mungoshi has written convincingly and continuously in both Shona and English. In 1975 alone, for instance, Mungoshi published two books: "Waiting for the Rain" (a novel in English) and "Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva" (a novel in Shona). These two works exude separate amazing qualities that one wonders how they could have been written "back to back."That ambidexterity was no fluke because later, in 1980, Mungoshi repeated a similar feat, publishing "Inongova Njakenjake" (a play in Shona) and "Some Kinds of Wounds" (a short-story collection in English.) It is as if Mungoshi writes simultaneously with two pens -- one in the left hand and the other -- in the right hand!In fact and as shown below, between 1970 and 2000, a period of 30 years, Mungoshi made an average of one major publication in every one and a half years and won a prize of sorts for each of them.1. "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" (Brooding Breeds Despair) (1970)2. "Coming of the Dry Season" (19723. "Ndiko Kupindana Kwemazuva" (How Time Passes) (1975)4. "Waiting For the Rain" (1975)5. "Inongova Njakenjake" (1980)6. "Some Kind of Wounds" (1980)7. "The Milkmen Doesn't Only Deliver Milk" (anthology) (1981)8. "Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura?" (1985) (Silence is Golden?)9. "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" (1987)10. "Stories From A Shona Childhood" (1989)11. "One Day Long Ago" (1991)12. "Abide with me" (1992)13. The Axe (1995)14. "Gwatakwata" (1995)15. "Children's Video Picture Book" ((1998)16. "Walking Still" (1997)17. "Writing Still" (2003) an anthology in English with Mungoshi's short story "The Sins of the Fathers"18. "Branching Streams Flow in the Dark" (2013)Awards1. International PEN Awards (1975 twice for both Shona and English and 1981)2. Noma Honourable Awards For Publishing in Africa (1980, 1984, 1990 and 1992)3. Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book in Africa for "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" (1988) 4. Honorary Fellow in Writing Award in the Creative Activities of the International Writing Programme by The University of Iowa (1991)5. USIA (United States Information Agency) Award for participating in the International Visitor Program (1991)6. "The Setting Sun and The Rolling World" was a New York Time notable book of the year (1989)7. Order of Merit Certificate Award by Zimbabwe Writers Union for winning in 1984 and 1992 the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa (1997)8. Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book in Africa for "Walking Still" (1997)9. Charles Mungoshi as 1998 winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, was to be received in audience by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. That year again the Queen graciously agreed to meet the winner at Buckingham (Tuesday May 12, 1998) 10. Received seven awards at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair's 75 Best Books in Zimbabwe for seven of his books (2004, 2005)11. National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) Silver Jubilee Award (2006)12. One of Charles Mungoshi's poems has been curated by the William & Melinda Gates Foundation as a permanent display as public art at their new headquarters in Seattle, Washington, in the US in 201113. Certificate of Honour Award of the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe International Book Fair for dedicated service (2013).14. National Arts Merit Award 2014.In the year 2004 Zimbabwe 75 best books, a project meant to come up with the best books ever to come out of Zimbabwe, Mungoshi appeared in the top five lists in both English and Shona categories -- a feat completed by no other Zimbabwean writer. The late Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, a short-story writer and essayist, even joked in The Daily Mirror of the same week that had any of Mungoshi's works been translated to Ndebele, he could also have led in that category!On March 3, 2006, Mungoshi appeared in the final list of the recipients of the Silver Jubilee Literary Awards, alongside Shona novelist Aaron Chiundura Moyo, pathfinder literary critic George Kahari and Ndebele novelists, Ndabezinhle Sigogo and Barbara Nkala. He had beaten other hot nominees: fellow writers like Chenjerai Hove, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Mordekai Hamutyinei, Thompson Tsodzo, Pathisa Nyathi, Ben Sibenke, the late Dambudzo Marechera, and Yvonne Vera. As stated before, Mungoshi handles a broad range of literary genres and styles in a way that is yet to be surpassed by anyone in Zimbabwe. If the novel as in "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" (1970) or "Waiting for the Rain" (1975) offers the man a wider axis to explore and develop ideas, maybe his shorter bursts of inspiration find acute expression in shorter fiction as in "Coming of the Dry Season" (1972), "Some Kinds of Wounds" (1980) and "Walking Still" (1997). When that is done, the man does not linger long and suffer for he also broke into poetry in "The Milkman doesn't Only Deliver Milk" (1981). Feeling maybe trapped with traditional literary forms, he could, and as happened in 1992 with "Abide with me" (1995) with "The Axe" and "Gwatakwata", "Children Video Picture Book" (1997), get into writing for the screen. Not apologising for it, or looking back, he can go into acting itself. For instance he appears in plays as "the journalist" in "Ndabve Zera", "the store-keeper" in "Makunun'unu Maodzamoyo" and as Trebonius in "Julius Caesar" (produced by Andrew Shaw.)When it suits him, he can also hit the road and present papers in Zimbabwe and across the globe. The numerous invitations he has received are testimony to his status as an unofficial cultural ambassador of Zimbabwe. He has been Visiting Lecturer at the University of Florida in the 2000 Spring Semester and Resource Person at Netherlands' Groningen Children's Book Year Workshop in 1996. His profile shows that from 1980, 1990, Mungoshi did not go for a year without giving a paper in places like the University of Florida, Iowa, Durham University, Amsterdam, New Zealand, Australia, Cambridge University and many more. Mungoshi is not very well known as a poet, arguably because he writes less poetry. However, his single poetry anthology, "The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk" is deep and revealing. He refers to poetry in one interview as "only a sideline, a mere finger exercise" in his continuing endeavour to condense language to a spare state of fine precision. Read the full article on www.herald.co.zw

Mungoshi's poetry exudes the styles and philosophies of his more celebrated prose.The greatest strength of Mungoshi literature is the life-like feel he has for people. He has sympathy for the under-dog, without over-writing. His characters belong to believable circumstances, place and time and are endearing. With use of deceptively simple language and plot comparable only to Mozambique's Luis Honwana's and maybe South-Africa's Ezekiel Mphahlele's too; Mungoshi tells stories about things you didn't quite know about people you know. For Mungoshi, writing is not external. It is participatory. It is not a profession or hobby. It is life. He says about writing parts of "Waiting for the Rain": "I was living in it (the story didn't happen in the past. It is a drum. It is happening, it is playing now."And maybe unknown to him, Charles Mungoshi helped introduce and popularise the techniques of psychological realism and stream of consciousness in Zimbabwean Literatures. At the attainment of Zimbabwe's independence, African scholars in the Department of English of the University of Zimbabwe found Mungoshi's quantity and quality of work very useful in arguing for a course on works by Africans in English language. The Rhodesian academics had often argued that there were not enough of such works to be studied in schools, colleges and at university levels.A research conducted recently on the same department alone had very interesting revelations. First, Mungoshi's works have been translated to numerous non-European languages; "Waiting for the Rain" from English: to Hungarian (1978), to Norwegian (1980) and to Russian (1983) second, "Coming of the Dry Season" from English: to Russian (1985) third, "The Setting Sun and the Rolling World", from English: to Japanese (1995) "Stories from a Shona Childhood" from English: to Swiss (1996), to German (1988), "Walking Still" from English: to Swiss (2006).Born to a rural farming community in Chivhu on December 2, 1947, Mungoshi has very humble origins and has remained down to earth, despite his international stature. Until the time he fell ill recently, he had travelled across Zimbabwe, mentoring young and new writers, sometimes for no fee. Records at the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association can bear testimony. He has mentored or directly influenced younger writers, among them Ignatius Mabasa, Ruzvidzo Mupfudza, Albert Nyathi, Joice Mutiti, Lawrence Hoba, Chiedza Musengezi, Thabisani Ndlovu, myself and others. His style of writing has become a brand. In honour of his amazing ambidexterity and depth, the University of Zimbabwe -- conferred an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters -- DLitt) on him on Friday November 14, 2003. The essence of Mungoshi's literature is about grappling with the issues of home, identity and belonging in the changing times. He is constantly asking key questions: Do we truly belong to this land? Is it possible to belong here and elsewhere? What must we change and what exactly must continue and why? Is there any space for the individual in our quest for collective glory? Are we right? Are we wrong? In this quest Mungoshi pens "The Accident" a short story from "Coming of the Dry Season", which seems to question and challenge the stance of a people living under minority rules. The book lands him in trouble and is banned in Rhodesia only to reappear later and has been studied in schools ever since. Mungoshi's writings have also tended to evoke that strong sense of Zimbabweanness.

Patrice Nganang was detained earlier this month and accused of threatening President Paul Biya. He is dual Cameroonian-US citizen but authorities have seized his African passport.

A prize-winning New York-based Cameroonian novelist was released from jail Wednesday, and is to be expelled from his native country after being arrested and held since earlier in the month on charges of insulting and threatening the president, according to his lawyer.

Dissident writer Patrice Nganang was due to face trial January 19 after pleading not guilty during an initial hearing December 15, but Wednesday morning he was taken to the courthouse, in the capital Yaounde, where the state prosecutor asked for his release.

The judge agreed, ending the legal proceedings against Nganang and ordering him out of the country, his lawyer, Emmanuel Simh, said.

"We can only be very happy, when we have an unlawfully and arbitrarily detained client, to see him released," Simh said.

He later added that officials have kept Nganang's Cameroonian passport and that he should be put on an afternoon flight to the United States.

"According to (the government), he is an American who does not have a right to this passport," Simh said.

Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary said the Nganung was accused of threatening to shoot President Paul Biya in a Facebook post.

The post was allegedly written after Nganung returned from a visit to the Anglophone west of the largely Francophone country, which has wrestled with the thorny issue of uniting the country's disparate territories since independence in 1960.

Cameroon under fire

His supporters said Nganang had written a critical article for a Paris-based newsmagazine Jeune Afrique (Young Africa) that criticized the Cameroonian government's sometimes violent crackdown on a secessionist movement in English-speaking parts of the country.

Cameroon's English-speaking minority has complained for years about being second-class citizens in the predominantly French-speaking country.

The 37-year-old writer was born in Cameroon and holds dual Cameroonian and US citizenship. He was detained December 6 in the economic capital Douala while planning to leave for Zimbabwe.

Nganang is a literature professor at Stony Brook University on Long Island, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of New York City.

He was educated in both Cameroon and Germany, which was once the African country's colonial overlord. Ngagang is a winner of the Grand Literary Prize of Black Africa (in 2002 for "Temps de Chien", or "Dog Days").

This is not the first time Cameroon has come under fire for clamping down on free speech. Last week, a military appeals court acquitted and freed Ahmed Abba, a correspondent for Radio France International's Hausa service. He had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for not denouncing acts of terrorism and laundering proceeds of terrorist acts.

Cameroon had come under international pressure to release him.

bik/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)

By Vincent Opiyo

Harambee Stars defender Erick 'Marcelo' Ouma and midfielder David King'atua have donated books to Slin Mradi community library which is based in Mathare slums, Nairobi.

Ouma, who plies his trade in Georgia, delivered two cartons of exercise books through his representatives while Sweden-based King'atua presented a bunch of text books to the kids during the library's end-year ceremony on Sunday.

Former Gor Mahia star Ouma challenged the kids to strike a balance between their talent and reading culture.

"In as much as you value your talent, don't forget that the only key to a successful life is through education. I am pleased to have contributed the books and hopefully next year we do this again," said the Kolkheti Poti player.

The exercise books were distributed to some of the underprivileged kids at the end of year ceremony attended by their parents and other well-wishers.

Victor Njoroge, one of the cofounders of the library, applauded the initiative saying it's an inspiration to the slum children.

"Most kids know talent is not enough without education and it's exactly the message Marcelo and King'atua passed," Njoroge told Nation Sport on Tuesday.

"The initiative is inspiring to the kids who see some of the people who've made it in life from the slums. The community has embraced the idea with the library now a hub for everyone from primary, secondary and college students."

The library, founded two years ago, accommodates over 80 children from schools around the area.

Health institutions have been asked to be on the lookout for a man with a severely injured penis after a pregnant woman he had raped, in full view of her 5-year-old son, bit his genitals.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said the woman had been hitchhiking with the 5-year-old, on her way to a clinic on Monday.

The occupants of a white Toyota Tazz offered them a lift. They held her gunpoint while they were driving and ordered her not to scream, he said.

The two then drove her to a plantation on the Spioenkop Road outside White River.

"One of the men forcefully raped her at knifepoint in front of her child. Further information revealed that, during the process, the woman managed to bite the private part of the man, who ran away after the ordeal and [has] currently not [been] found."

Hlathi appealed to health facilities who "[find] a man with an injured private part", to contact Constable Solly Mabuza on 082 730 7590 or phone Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

Source: News24

By Diana Mwango

Women with breast implants are at risk of getting cancer, a new study has shown.

More women with implants are increasingly being diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma and doctors may be missing the signs, according to a research published in Jama Oncology, a medical journal.

Daphne de Jong, a pathologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and one of the authors told the Business Daily in an e-mail interview that textured implants or those with rough surfaces pose a higher cancer risk compared to smooth ones.

RISK WARNING

"We and others have also found lymphoma (cancer) associated with microtextured breast implants. Smooth implants are still somewhat under debate, but likely these bear the least risk. However, it should be noted that market shares and use of implant types have varied over the years and therefore we cannot make strong conclusions on specific risks for lymphoma with specific types," she said.

The researchers who studied women aged between 24 to 68 years said, although the risks are minimal, someone considering putting silicone breast implants for cosmetic reasons or after mastectomy should be warned about the risks and symptoms of cancer.

The cancer which forms around the implant is typically slow-growing and can develop even 14 years after the surgery. Cosmetic surgery has become popular in Kenya as more people with disposable income enhance their looks with implants and fillers.

Surgeons are battling for the growing market, offering reconstruction procedures such as tummy tucks, thighs, neck, cheeks and nose reshaping.

Breast enhancement and butt lifts, for instance, cost about Sh550,000 each. Although an increased risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in patients with breast prostheses has been speculated, no studies had been conducted.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported a link between implants and the disease in 2011, and warnings were added on the product labels.

Since the introduction of breast implants in the 1960s, their safety has sparked debate globally. Silicone-gel implants were temporarily banned between 1992 and 2006 by the FDA.

TOTAL BAN

Saline-filled and silicone-covered implants stayed on the market, but several women reported ruptures, change of shape and hardening of the breast.

In Europe, the national health inspectorates are currently re-discussing the risks and doctors are waiting for recommendations as well as FDA's reaction, Dr Jong said.

Does the cancer risk mean that the breast implants should be banned? Dr Jong adds that for now the most important thing is that women who consider breast implants, and they generally do this for good reasons, should be aware of the risk and the alternatives for breast reconstruction and augmentation so that they can make a well-informed choice.

According to Prof Ronald Wasike, a consultant breast surgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital who is combining cosmetic surgery with breast conservation in women with cancer, other options to implants include creating volume or fullness by using a tissue flap or filling the breast with fat.

Lymphoma symptoms include fluid buildup around the implant and lumpy swellings in the breast and the armpit. In some cases, the lump is not cancerous and may be a hematoma, which is a blood-filled swelling.

This story first appeared in the Business Daily.

By John H. T. Stewart

The election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 as President of Liberia shattered forever what was once considered a glass ceiling. The election of another female, Jewel Howard Taylor in 2017, this time as Vice President is another first. But how have women fared generally over the years, especially during the prolonged civil conflict is a story that still needs to be told. The 2009 Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Report (TRC) provides glimpses in this portion entitled "Women: Survivors and Peacemakers"

Historically, women were generally excluded from participation in political life, as it was only until 1947, a full century after independence that women were accorded the right to vote. There is no mention anywhere in historical accounts of women participation in the political life of the colony, prior to 1947, except for their participation in the making of the Liberian flag at independence.

In gender terms the dichotomy betwee n rural and urban Liberia are even more manifest in present day Liberia. For example, only 31 percent of women in Harper, located in southeastern Liberia and surrounding areas receive birth assistance from trained health professionals; in Monrovia 84 perc ent of such women received birth assistance from trained health professionals.

During the armed conflict, women and girls were by are far more vulnerable to sexual assault and predation than men. Women exposure was due mainly to their daring to move about away from their homes to venture out for food and succor for their families. The further away from their homes they went, the higher the risk of vulnerability.

Many parents hid their young girls (and boys from conscriptions) from the fighters when they entered the town or village and forbid them, the children, from moving about without caution. More than half of victim's testimonies to the TRC alluded to women being vulnerable or victimized during the war in places other than their place of residence , having been displaced internally by the war, suggesting, therefore that displaced women were more vulnerable to sexual assault than those who did not flee their homes.

The TRC also noticed that women are significantly over-represented among rape victims and all victims of sexual slavery and sexual violence, as might be expected. In particular, the proportion of rapes with female victims aged 15 - 19 represents more than five times the proportion of women aged 15 - 19 in the general population. However, we see relatively more male than female victims for sexual abuse.

The definition of sexual abuse included stripping the victim naked and was employed by many perpetrator groups to humiliate the victim. Unfortunately, the data include very few reports of rapes for which the victim's age is known. Still, it is interesting to note that the majority of reported rapes for which the victim's age is known were committed against adolescent women, rather than against socially taboo categories such as older women or very young children.

The distribution of all violations by age is roughly similar for males and females. Similarly, analysis of violations documented with the TRC with complete age and sex information suggests that all ages were equally at risk and that the ge nerality of perpetrators' attack was at random, deliberate and systematic in the instigation of violence against the general armless population.

From the statistical data, women participation in the TRC process was impressive as over fifty percent of stat ements gathered during the statement - taking exercise are attributed to women. Women account for 28 percent of all violations while on the other hand men account for 47 percent. From these statistics, it is clear that as a class of victims, men comprise the larger proportion, although both men and women appeared to have been targeted in about equal proportions.

Forced displacement which accounts for the largest category of violations took a particularly heavy toll on women, many of whom, faced with the los s of their spouses, assumed leadership roles in their families. Given the difficulties and threats to life (increased mortality) that usually accompany forced migration, it can be assumed, in the absence of reliable statistical information, that elderly wo men and very young children especially girls, were at great risk and might have suffered disproportionately as compared to males.

Many found themselves in displaced or refugee camps with little or no coping skills to deal with the harsh realities of thei r new environment. Already victimized by their displacement some, especially young girls, in desperation turned to prostitution including the exchange of relief food for sex.

As the statistics show, all factions routinely targeted women simply on account of their gender. This is strongly reflected in the level of sexual violence perpetrated against women. For example, women account for 63 percent of all cases of rape reported to the TRC, as compared to only 6 percent for men.

It can be concluded thus that women were singled out for abuse simply on account of their gender. For instance, the proportion of rape with female victims aged 15 - 19 represents more than five times the proportion of women 15 - 19 in the general population. Finally, it is important to note that aside from these reported cases of violence directed against women, the data does not account for the marginalization; exclusion and outright denial of opportunities for self actualization women have, for over a century, endured in Liberia.

These age old inequalities find expression in current statistics reflecting the status of women. For example, according to the 2007 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey, HIV prevalence is higher among women than men 224 in both urban and rural areas. School enrolment and retention rates are also low for girls as compared to boys, as well as illiteracy rates which are higher as compared to men.

High teen pregnancy rates, high abortion rates, high infant and maternal mortality rates are all indicators of the long standing prejudice and inequality that have been the lot of Liberian women for well over a century. Additionally, according to the same survey report, vaccination coverage is much higher in urban than in rural areas (53 versus 33 percent). There is marked vari ation in vaccination coverage by region, ranging from 13 percent fully vaccinated in the Southeastern Region to 55 percent in Monrovia.

Such data is but reflective of long standing elitist rule and the policies of over centralization that has served to marginalize and alienate the vast majority of the country's population. As noted earlier, the effects of such alienation and marginalization can be clearly seen and felt in areas outside the coastal urban enclaves along the country's littoral, and are particularly acute in the southeast where local resistance to the expansion of the Liberian state was quelled, only as recently as the 1930s.

The TRC public hearings held in all fifteen political subdivisions around the country provided not only glimpses into the impact of such marginalization but also perceptions of how government is viewed by rural peoples and how such perceptions are shaped by the conduct of public policy. The public hearings also provided good insight into the pattern of violations and abuses that occurred during the period of the civil conflict, the perpetrators as well as the victims.

More importantly, the public hearings, particularly the thematic hearings served as a sounding board for measuring expectations of not only individual victims of abuse but also of communities that are still struggling to come to terms with the effects of the prolonged civil conflict. Women became involved in the peace process and therefore constituted a critical voice for peace.

Despite afflictions of the war, reduced earning potential, single parenting, etc., women had public marches, petitions, prayer crusade, and attended and participated in peace conferences as part of their agenda for peace.

By Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti

Girls dominated the top 10 positions in last year's Ordinary Level national examinations whose results were released Tuesday in Kigali.

While a male student, Josyln Karenzi Manzi, of Kigali Parents School, emerged the best overall, girls swept all the other top five places, with six female candidates featuring in the top ten positions.

Girls also outperformed boys in the category of best performing students in all subjects, officials said.

But boys dominated division one, claiming a 61.9 per cent share.

At least 89.9 per cent of the students who sat the 2017 O-Level exams passed, results announced by the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Isaac Munyakazi, show.

A total of 96,595 candidates sat O-Level exams last year compared to 89,421 the previous year.

At least 51,317 of the candidates were girls while 45,278 were boys.

Up 88 per cent of girls who sat the exams passed while 91 per cent of the male candidates passed.

The general pass rate was 89.9per cent, a slight rise from 89 per cent the previous year.

10,758 candidates, representing 11.14 per cent, passed in the first division.

"A lot of efforts have been put in by REB (Rwanda Education Board) this year to boost efficiency, we are releasing these results almost two weeks ahead of the opening of academic year, which is January 22, and this will help parents prepare their children for school," Munyakazi said.

Results can be accessed through REB website (www.reb.rw, click on 'view exam results' and follow instructions) or by sending a candidate's index number to 489 via a mobile phone.

Results for the 2017 Primary Leaving Examinations were also released yesterday, with girls also beating boys in this category although the latter swept nine of the top 12 positions, including all top four spots.

According to officials, candidates will have only three days to know schools where they will go for their next level of education.

Munyakazi partly attributed the good performance to the school-feeding programme, which he said has addressed the challenge of students having to walk long distances to go for lunch.

He said this has also helped reduce dropout rate.

As has been the case in recent years, REB did not publish the names of the top performing schools.

Nonetheless, Munyakazi said they will this time round rank the schools but only after the publication of the results for 2017 A-Level (Senior Six) exams.

Previously, the ministry attributed the decision to not rank schools to the need to avoid unfair competition among schools.

Best 10 performers in O-Level

1. Josyln Karenzi Manzi

2. Audry Umurerwa Gatera

3. Allen Kayesu

4. Divine Aimée Irakoze

5. Marie Jeanne Gentille Usanase

6. Théogene Twagirimana

7. Abudulkarim Mugisha

8. Ornella Irakoze Ndatabaye

9. Adrien Ndizeye

10. Anaise Marie Réginal

Photo: The Herald

Morgan Tsvangirai.

OPPOSITION MDC-T youth and women's assemblies have come out guns blazing against attempts to railroad former Prime Minister and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai into retiring before this year's general election.

In separate statements Tuesday in the wake of Tsvangirai's hint that he might handover power and the resultant intense jockeying for power y his top lieutenants, the two groups also warned against factional fights now gnawing at the opposition party.

"The MDCT Youth Assembly has noted President Morgan Tsvangirai's new year message and commit ourselves to rally our troops to the work at hand which is to deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe....

"We have also noted the appointment of vice president engineer Elias Mudzuri as the acting president. As true vanguards, we stand guided by the president's proclamation and we wish everyone in the party to focus on the task at hand by fully cooperating with the authority to ensure that our party programmes continue to run," secretary general Lovemore Chinoputsa said in the statement.

Mudzuri and his colleague Nelson Chamisa were appointed as Tsvangirai's deputies in 2015 after the MDC-T leader announced he was battling colon cancer. The two are now seen as frontrunners to succeed the veteran opposition leader.

Amid reports Tsvangirai has indicated his willingness to anoint Chamisa, the youth assembly warned Mudzuri should be given space to exercise power.

"Sabotaging the Acting President or any of the VPs on their assigned tasks will be tantamount to sabotaging our dear leader. Let us all be guided accordingly," the statement said.

"As the last line of defence, we welcome President Tsvangirai's honesty and transparency in communicating with the people of Zimbabwe his affliction with regards to his health status.

"Never before have we witnessed such statesmanship in this country. Indeed, President Tsvangirai is a rare species!!!!"

Tsvangirai, the youth assembly further warned, should "be given an opportunity to recuperate without hurrying him to make lifelong decisions that have a bearing on our chances of wrestling the Presidency from the incompetent Mnangagwa administration."

"We are convinced that with enough rest and proper medication, President Tsvangirai will take us through the elections and deliver the much-needed freedom, democracy and economic emancipation," Chinoputsa added.

The youth assembly declared Tsvangirai remains the party's candidate in the upcoming elections

"Under no circumstances will we allow that situation and position to change. History is replete with a number of people who stood as candidates while still under the weather but went on to recuperate and lead their countries".

The MDC-T's women's wing also weighed in saying: "The Assembly of women expresses its support for Morgan Tsvangirai at a critical time towards ensuring that all party structures rally behind MT and express their support through engaging in mass voter education and registration.

"The Assembly of Women has always stood by MT (Tsvangirai) even when other party members might be tempted to stampede him into making the unfortunate decision to throw in the towel."

By Toweh Alphonso

A local prodemocracy group promoting the rights of women and girls in Liberia is sparing no efforts in advancing gender equality and women empowerment in Sinoe County, southeastern Liberia.

Under sponsorship from Oxfam and Impunity Watch, the National Institute for Public Opinion (NIPO) recently coordinated the celebration of the 16 Days of Activism and completed the formation of one women platform in the county.

The celebration of the 16 Days of Activism began with a month-long sensitization and awareness campaign in four of the seven administrative districts of Sinoe. During this period, NIPO conducted a surgical house-to-house outreach, sensitization and awareness campaign, educating women and girls about their rights under national and international legal frameworks with regards to women's participation in politics and decision making processes and the social, economic and political rights of women.

They also conducted a long standing fight on sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination against women, among others. Districts that benefited from the sensitization, awareness and outreach initiatives included Greenville, Juarzon, Dugbeh River and Kpayan.

At the end of the exercises, 1,050 homes were covered representing a total 5,250 local residents.

In an effort to continue the fight for gender equality and women empowerment (GEWE), NIPO led a number of civil society organizations towards the reformation of one women platform in Sinoe.

The platform is called Amuyan which, in the local Kru Vernacular reads "Let's Move Ahead". The Amuyan Women Platform comprises of twenty local women organizations that cut across the four districts mentioned above.

The Amuyan Women Platform is now a lead voice that advocates for gender equality and women empowerment, coordinates and advances issues relating to women's participation in politics and decision making at the district and county levels and develops programs and strategies aimed at fighting sexual and gender-based violence and discouraging discrimination against women at all levels of the social ladder in the county.

It also leads efforts to facilitate coordination and collaboration among member organizations and seeks the welfare of individual women in and outside the membership of the Platform.

Other civil society organizations involved in the reformation of the Platform were Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI) and WONGOSOL.

Prior to the formation of the Platform, NIPO had earlier this year provided training for40 women in politics and decision making across the targeted districts of the county.

This training contributed immensely to women's political participation in the county. Based on the training and the efforts of other civil society groups, two female candidates participated (for the very first time in post-conflict Liberia) in the just ended 2017 legislative elections and a host of others served as campaign managers and political foot soldiers for their respective political parties and candidates.

All these efforts are part of a program codenamed "Tackling Violence against Women beyond Borders: Burundi, Guatemala & Liberia," implemented by a consortium of national and international non-governmental organizations and composed of OxfamIbis and Impunity Watch.

The National Institute for Public Opinion (NIPO) is a not-for-profit human rights organization established in 1999 as the Movement for Peace and Democracy in Liberia (MOPAL).

It later metamorphosed into NIPO with greater mandate to transcend peace building, conflict resolution and reconciliation to wider human rights and prodemocracy initiatives.

Since its founding, NIPO has immensely contributed to enhancing the human rights landscape, implementing projects in justice and the rule of law, gender equality and women empowerment, democratic governance and the rule of law, general human rights advocacy and fighting sexual and gender based violence, just to name a few.

opinion By Sarah Hurtes | European Climate Foundation

How can we talk about climate without sending people into a downward spiral of depression?

Between 2000 and 2016, the number of vulnerable people exposed to heat wave events has increased by approximately 125 million. This is set to get worse. Dengue fever has doubled every decade since 1990, reaching 50 to 100 million infections annually, in part because of climate change.

As I read the Lancet Countdown 2017 report sitting at my desk, with the task of having to help communicate its findings to the wider public, I can only think of one thing: basically, we're screwed. So how should I tackle my job as a so-called climate communicator, without sending those who care enough to read about this, into a downward spiral of depression?

It's a problem many of us are struggling with. An article published in New York Magazine in the summer of 2017 entitled The Uninhabitable Earth, began: "Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: what climate change could wreck - sooner than you think". It became last year's most widely shared article on climate change, with over 800,000 shares on social media.

Some of my friends, who never once engaged on this topic, posted it on their Facebook channel, their post was infused with panicked comments echoing my initial reaction to the Lancet Countdown report. This makes us climate communicators ask: How effective is such a piece of text in communicating climate change? It makes the issue feel more important, but on its own, it paralyses, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, disempowered.

Additionally, each and every one of us have a limited amount of concern to go round. I for one can't think of a birthday present for my dad. For some such concerns might extend to military threats, access to contraception, or other severe daily problems that take precedence in comparison to the distant humming buzz of climate change.

This is just human nature - but climate communicators have often exacerbated the problem by focusing on events that are going to happen a long way into the future and geographically far away. When looking at NASA´s forecasts, with warnings about the Arctic Ocean likely to become ice free in the summer before mid-century, I feel concerned, but not exactly worried.

I was particularly worried when I moved to Germany, which had recently been shaken by unusual storms and flooding. That storm in Berlin which nearly smashed my window with my own plant, or those floods in the nearby area where my family lives, are a clear reality check of what's to come as extreme weather becomes the norm.

Besides, I'm only just beginning to get the extent to which extreme weather has immediate health impacts: drowning, getting injured by hitting things, catching illnesses from contaminated water and food, or mess with my own mental well-being. Such information about the potential health impacts of climate change creates a powerful way in to talking about climate change.

Health professionals are increasingly being called upon to be champions in this area, encouraged to speak out to their own patients and local policymakers on the health dangers of climate change such as asthma, allergies and the spread of certain diseases.

Organisations such as the Global Climate and Health Alliance, Health and Environment Alliance or Health Care Without Harm are important bodies that already engage with the public around such issues.

An important part of their work, however, is also to show that many of the steps we take to combat climate change have immediate health benefits. The massive increase in wind and solar energy helped prevent the premature deaths of up to 12,700 people over a nine-year period in the United States.

Despite all the interesting research out there, tweaks to language can only do so much. Even when applying the above solutions to making climate change appear relevant and urgent, it might be that the person you're talking to just doesn't care. This is why the social science of human behaviour and communication is just as important as the science of climate change and sustainability.

In a recent book, communication experts Adam Corner and Jamie Clarke argue that using the right language is about starting a productive dialogue, not winning an argument. Using messages and telling stories that speak to people's values.

For example in the United States, research suggests the values of ingenuity, independence, prosperity and leadership matter a great deal, while in India, togetherness, respect for nature and self-reliance are more important. Research also shows that many people intrinsically care about the wellbeing of others and the environment.

As for people like Trump, perhaps our only chance is to show them a recent report that made me laugh out loud in a meeting - "Climate Change: Good for sex, bad for sperm" - about a working paper which shows that 80 degree Fahrenheit days correspond to lowered birth rates nine months later.

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In Gabon as in other African states, rap has become instrumental in constructing political identity.

On August 17, Gabon celebrated 57 years of independence with a massive free concert in the capital, Libreville. The aim: to promote national unity in a festive fashion. An impressive lineup of local hip hop stars - including Ba'Ponga, Tris, Tina and Ndoman - were invited to draw in the younger crowds.

The celebrations held particular significance in light of another, darker anniversary. Last year on August 31, a shockingly violent crisis erupted following President Ali Bongo's contested electoral victory.

One year on, the country is still feeling the social, political and economic effects, as is its rap scene.

In the early 1990s, Gabon's government was shut down by violent demonstrations and a general strike. It forced dictator Omar Bongo, who had been in power since 1967, to set up a national conference reestablishing a multiparty system and granting greater freedom of expression.

Against the backdrop of this popular uprising, the youth of Libreville began writing rap music. Inspired by American hip hop artists like Public Enemy and NWA, and French rappers like NTM and Assassin, they expressed their need for escape, freedom and change.

Yet this subversive scene hasn't been totally exempt from the kinds of ties between music and politics that have existed since the onset of African independence in the 1960s. In fact, some protest rappers have links to the "system" through family ties with political elites. V2A4, for example, is made up of the son of the Interior minister (a close relative to former president Omar Bongo) and the child of a local businessman. Both study in France and live off the wealth of the "system".

Bling Gabon style

From the 2000s on, inspired by gangsta rap, video clips have started to feature more gold chains, souped-up cars, women in suggestive poses and virile displays of masculinity.

Ushered in by bling style rapper Kôba, a new generation of rappers began to write songs that deviated from the protest-driven hip hop of their predecessors. This trend was encouraged by the appearance of new record labels, with close ties to the government and elites, further reinforcing the link between music and politics.

This fusion between music and politics reached new highs during the 2009 election. Presidential candidate Ali Bongo used the popularity of rap artists to attract youth support and distinguish himself from his father, Omar, who had died in June that year.

Following his election in 2009, Ali Bongo brought new faces from the world of hip hop into the government. Due to these kinds of affiliations, Bongo's semi-authoritarian regime has exercised particularly tight control over the hip hop scene, in particular via the media.

Without jobs

Right from the start, Bongo's first seven-year term in office was marked by a decline in living standards and social infrastructure and continuing high unemployment levels - more than 20% of the population, and 35% of young people are without jobs. This, while the Bongo family's spending has reached outrageous highs.

Censorship and the co-option or silencing of opposition have become increasingly common. Dissenting hip hop artists now have to find alternative ways to spread their messages.

Most subversive rap is now produced abroad, with several well-known Gabonese rappers making their music in China, South Africa, the U.S. or France. These artists-in-exile form a highly political network. Their songs reach the streets of Libreville through social media, becoming calls for political debate and action.

Back home, many artists continue the fight in spite of censorship. In 2015, outspoken rapper Keurtyce E became the first to release a song openly opposing the current regime.

Beyond the lyrical content of these songs, Gabonese artists ingeniously use the musical arrangements to subversive ends.

Clever use of sampling

Sampling, cutting and looping allow artists to anchor their music within the local context, by using samples from traditional instruments or famous local songs, for instance. These techniques also carry political meaning, with artists mixing in lyrics, musical samples or slogans from activist musicians who they see as their ideological forebears.

Pierre-Claver Akendengué, for example, an icon of 1960s pan-Africanism and resistor to the authoritarian regime during the one-party system, remains a major source of inspiration for Gabonese musicians today.

Rapper/producer Lord Ekomy Ndong recently demonstrated another means of subversion. In a new song in which he samples excerpts from a speech by President Ali Bongo, juxtaposed with the words of social media activists, to condemn corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

Flareups on social media

During the 2016 election, a great rift appeared in the rap scene between supporters and opponents of the president. A series of flareups on social media and diss-and-response songs deepened the divide.

Bongo had his praise singers: On the one side, rappers aligned with the Bongo family, involved in rallies and producing songs to support the incumbent party.

But Bongo's opponents were as vocal: Rappers who had previously cooperated with Bongo joined opposition movements to demonstrate their disappointment with government failures. It intensified after troops opened fire on demonstrators following the release of the election results. Several people were killed and numerous others disappeared.

Just two months after this crackdown, Kôba, former poster boy for the system, released the song "Odjuku". The title is a reference to Bongo's supposed Nigerian biological father. The rapper reignited the controversy surrounding the president's origins and joined other artists in declaring "On ne te suit pas" (We don't follow you).

One year on in 2017, the government was still trying to make people forget its quagmire with events such as the massive August 17 free concert.

Yet, the protest movement is still active: demonstrations continue within striking government departments and at Libreville University. In the streets of Paris and New York, Gabonese expats rally together.

Through their songs, rappers like Lestat XXL and Lord Ekomy Ndong, commemorate the sorrowful anniversary of the 2016 repression:" Here no one will forget. We'll hoist up the flame... No red on my flag. Nothing will ever be the same".

Alice Aterianus-Owanga is the author of "Rap Was Born Here! Music, Power and Identity in Modern Gabon", published by Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, September 2017. Translated from the French by Alice Heathwood for Fast for Word. She is a Postdoctoral researcher in Anthropology, Université de Lausanne.

Photo: The Conversation

The African Commission has adopted the final draft of a protocol that will protect the rights of persons living with disability.

analysis By Laura-Stella Enonchong

The African Commission has drafted a new protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights that emphasises the importance of the right of people with disability to have equal recognition before the law. It also provides for a range of rights, including the right to education, personal liberty, political participation and the right to live in the community.

This is welcome news, particularly for people living with disabilities.

It includes those with mental illnesses, that have little protection under both domestic and regional African law. Even the African Charter, the continent's flagship human rights instrument, doesn't make specific provisions for them.

The gap became clear in 2001 when the African Commission heard a pivotal case against The Gambia brought by mental health advocates. It was filed on behalf of patients who had been detained in a psychiatric unit in The Gambia.

The Commission found that The Gambia was in violation of several rights that are protected under the African Charter. But, significantly, it decided that the Charter didn't protect the personal liberty of people detained for medical reasons.

The finding endorsed the practice that allows people suffering from mental illness or disability to be forcefully detained if their detention is viewed as necessary for their treatment. The implications of the decision were wide ranging, particularly in Africa where cultural and traditional practices towards people with mental disability are rife with human rights abuses.

The adoption of the draft protocol is therefore a step in the right direction.

Attitudes to mental illness

People with mental illness are often hidden from public view. This is done either to shield them from harm, or to protect their families from shame.

Actions like this stem from the fact that disability in Africa is perceived more as a curse than an illness. People living with mental disability are pitied and protected from society.

People living with mental disability are also frequently detained in traditional healing facilities and religious institutions such as prayer camps. While these practices are purported to be in their interests, human rights abuses such as chaining, beating, forced seclusion and denial of food, are often reported.

Within medical facilities the treatment of people living with mental disability also lacks a human rights approach. They can be detained in medical or psychiatric units without appropriate diagnosis. Abuses including torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments or treatments often occur.

In the Gambia case for instance, some of the abuses in the Campama Pyschiatric Unit included prolonged detention, compulsory treatment, verbal and physical abuse and being forced to live under unsanitary and degrading conditions.

Protecting human rights

The commission's approach to mental disability was unusual. Other international and regional human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights protect the personal liberty of people with mental disability.

These state that detaining people just because they have a mental disability or illness is arbitrary. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities goes even further. It emphasises that the mere existence of a disability is never a sufficient basis for the deprivation of liberty.

The African Commission's draft protocol reflects these provisions by seeking to protect the personal liberty of people living with mental disability. It states that disability is not a sufficient basis for the deprivation of liberty.

If African Union member states adopt and ratify the protocol, it will be illegal to detain or institutionalise mentally ill or disabled people simply on the basis of their illness.

This is good news. But the draft provisions could face resistance from some member states. Governments might have to make significant financial commitments to ensure that people can access their rights.

On top of this, the protocol needs to be fleshed out to guide African governments on how to address and eradicate harmful practices.

Will the protocol see the light of day?

The Commission adopted a final draft of the Protocol in February 2016. It has already been submitted to the African Union to go through the treaty making process. Once this process is completed the draft protocol could become a legal instrument for African Union member states to ratify.

If that happens, people living with disabilities would have an alternative avenue to seek redress when their rights are not effectively protected domestically. In The Gambia for instance, people detained arbitrarily on the basis of their disability would be able to seek protection from the African Commission if domestic courts failed to protect their rights.

Photo: Fabio Bucciarelli/UNHCR

Somali and Eritrean refugees wash at a reception centre at the port of Augusta, Sicily. They had been rescued at sea by the Spanish Coast Guard after setting out from Libya.

The United Nations refugee agency on Tuesday appealed to the Israeli Government to not forcibly send Eritrean and Sudanese refugees or asylum seekers to sub-Saharan Africa.

This appeal came after some 80 cases were identified in which people relocated by Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe.

"Feeling they had no other choice, they travelled many hundreds of kilometres through conflict zones in South Sudan, Sudan and Libya after being relocated by Israel," the spokesperson of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), William Spindler, told reporters in Geneva.

He said that along the way, "they suffered abuse, torture and extortion before risking their lives once again by crossing the Mediterranean to Italy."

UNHCR staff interviewed them in Rome between November 2015 and December 2017 in reception centres and informal settlements. All were adult males, some with family members still in Israel, who had entered via the Sinai.

"In every case," he explained, "they reported torture, mistreatment and extortion before reaching Israel," adding that some said that others travelling with them had died en route to Libya.

The majority maintained that they had been transferred from Israel to a country in Africa and provided with $3,500 dollars.

"However, the situation on arrival was different to what most had expected - and with little further support provided beyond accommodation on the first night. They reported feeling unsafe, as they were known to have money," he said.

UNHCR is seriously concerned over Israel's plans announced on 1 January to forcibly relocate Eritreans and Sudanese to countries in Africa or have them face indefinite detention.

Official statements that the plans may eventually target families and those with pending asylum claims, or that asylum seekers might be taken to the airport in handcuffs, are particularly alarming.

"At a time when UNHCR and partners in the international community are engaged in emergency evacuations from Libya, forced relocation to countries that do not offer effective protection and the onward movement of these people to Libya and Europe is particularly worrisome," Mr. Spindler underscored.

There are some 27,000 Eritreans and 7,700 Sudanese in Israel, however since 2009, when Israel took over refugee status determination from UNHCR, only 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese have been recognized as refugees.

While 200 Sudanese from Darfur were granted humanitarian status in Israel along with an announcement that 300 more will follow, Israel has not received any Eritreans or Sudanese since May 2016.

"UNHCR stands ready to work with Israel to find alternative solutions for the protection needs of asylum seekers, in line with international standards," concluded Mr. Spindler.

By Varsha Saraogi

London — Twitter campaigns can encourage men to shut down degrading "locker room talk" and provide victims with a voice, according to a study of #NotOkay, an online reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump's statements about grabbing women's genitals.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU), who examined hundreds of #NotOkay tweets, found that people used social media to call on boys and men to step in when others made derogatory comments about women or behaved in a predatory way.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people calling boys and men into action," said Megan Maas, a researcher focusing on adolescent sexuality at Michigan State University (MSU) and the study's lead author.

"For the last 20 years it's been about how not to get raped - how to avoid being sexually harassed - but now we're moving toward bystander intervention," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

The #NotOkay Twitter campaign started in 2016 in response to audio recordings of Donald Trump admitting to kissing women without consent and grabbing women by their genitals.

It was followed by the influential #MeToo campaign, a reaction to allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, which Time magazine named as the most influential "person" in 2017.

"These campaigns have been incredibly powerful, particularly because of the organic way they have grown and unleashed so many individual responses on social media," said Brita Schmidt, head of the charity Women for Women International.

"But just hashtags will clearly not end the problem ... We need men to take action. We need men to stand up and say: 'I am a feminist. I will not be silent. I will not be complicit in a culture of violence.'"

The study said that celebrities have the potential to shape attitudes, pointing to the positive attitudes that basketballer Magic Johnson's fans had towards HIV after he spoke about it.

Similarly, footage of National Football League's Ray Rice assaulting and dragging his fiancé Janay Palmer's unconscious body out of an elevator triggered a debate about #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft among survivors of abusive relationships.

"Our findings highlight the potential impact celebrity behaviour can have on lay audiences," the study said.

"Sexual assault prevention programs should be discussing Donald Trump and other celebrities accused of sexual assault to directly target attitudes that may be celebrity-influenced."

Hollywood celebrities dressed in black wore #TimesUp badges at the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday to signal support for sexual harassment victims.

- Reporting by Varsha Saraogi. Editing by Katy Migiro

By David Kwalimwa

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku went against the advice of a witchdoctor when he moved to Old Trafford last July, Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has sensationally claimed.

According to the Daily Mail, the Belgian striker had initially agreed a deal in principle of about Sh80 million a month to extend his three-year stay at the Merseyside club in 2017.

He later changed his mind and moved to Old Trafford in a Sh12 billion deal, despite a long standing interest from Chelsea.

The move to United however, might have angered Lukuku's withcdoctor, if Moshiri is to be believed.

"If I tell you what we offered him you wouldn't believe it but they offered him a better deal," the British businessman explained during Everton's Annual General Meeting.

LIFE IN OLD TRAFFORD

"His agent came to the training ground and was about to sign and the player was on a pilgrimage in Africa and he had a vodoo or something and had to sign for Chelsea."

"The issue with Romelu was not financial. As long as I am a major shareholder financial issues are irrelevant. I wasted two summers to keep him. First summer with his agent, him and his family we managed to keep him."

Following a bright start to life at Old Trafford, Lukaku has struggled to score goals at United in recent times, despite consistent backing by manager Jose Mourinho.

According to Wikipedia, Lukaku was born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Congolese parents and received his football education at Rupel Boom and Lierse.

His father, Roger Lukaku, played professional football and was capped at international level by Zaire (the present day Democratic Republic of Congo).

His younger brother Jordan has progressed through the youth academy at Anderlecht and currently plays for Serie A side Lazio.

Lukaku is reported to be a fluent communicator in English, French and Kiswahili.

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea: His government says there was a coup attempt against him.

By Jan Philipp Wilhelm

In late December, Teodoro Obiang's government reported a border crossing by foreign mercenaries. A UN special envoy has now visited the country and pledged support.

"We are leaving here comforted by the assurances we have received from the President of the Republic, and I can say that the United Nations will continue to support Equatorial Guinea in its stabilization efforts," said UN special envoy, Francois Lounceny Fall, on a visit to Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea is a country that rarely features on international news. On December 27, however, when 40 armed fighters from Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic crossed the border, the small West African country hit the headlines.

The arrest of the fighters was followed by the arrest of perceived dissidents across the country. The government blocked access to social media platforms, including Facebook and WhatsApp.

On January 3, the country's defense minister relayed the following message from President Teodore Obiang Nguema: Foreign mercenaries recruited from "radical opposition parties" within Equatorial Guinea had allegedly tried to attack the president. The coup attempt had, however, been successfully quashed.

Not the first coup attempt

Little else has emerged in the way of concrete information, which may also be down to the restrictive press freedom in the country. What is, however, clear is that this is not the first time that mercenaries have tried to overthrow the world's longest serving president, Teodore Obiang Nguema, who has been in power since 1979.

In 2004, South African mercenaries conspired to replace Obiang with a more business-friendly figure. The group, however, was stopped while in Zimbabwe. The so-called "Wonga coup" caught international attention due to its backing by a prominent British financier, Mark Thatcher, son of Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The latest alleged coup attempt has once again sparked discussion. On social media, some users speculated about a regional conspiracy against the Obiang regime. Others believe the coup attempt could have been staged by the regime itself.

The truth of the matter is probably far more complex, says Alex Vines, who heads the Africa program of the London think-tank Chatham House.

On the one hand, he doesn't believe that a regime change would be in the interests of neighboring states. "Cameroon, Chad and Gabon all have governance [issues] and other problems that are not so dissimilar to those that we see in Equatorial Guinea, so it wouldn't be a state-in-state interest to support a coup for the removal of Mr. Obiang," Vines told DW. "I think this is more about individuals who may be residents in those countries."

According to Vines, however, there are real reasons to suspect a possible coup attempt. "Before this alleged coup attempt, there had been a tightening of any democratic space for debate and discussion in Equatorial Guinea," he said. The country's economic problems, exacerbated by low oil prices, had also increased the tension. "So I was not completely surprised by reports of an alleged coup at the end of 2017," Vines said.

Whether the incident was, in fact, a coup or not, did not stop the government from using it to gain political mileage. "This is a pattern that we do see in Equatorial Guinea over many decades now, which is that real coups and alleged coups are also used as a way of cracking down on opposition," Vines added.

Economic woes add to the tension

Thanks to its oil reserves and its low population, Equatorial Guinea maintains the highest GDP per capita income in sub-Sahara Africa, which stands at US$8,747 (€7,377). Yet the bulk of the population lives below the poverty line.

The main culprit for this division is corruption. In October, a French court sentenced Obiang's son to three years in jail for the embezzlement of funds. The judge said that there was enough evidence to prove that he had used state money to finance his €107 million property in Paris.

Apart from this most recent court case, western governments seem to have done very little to curb the corruption or stop human rights abuses. "Honestly, I think it's about indifference," says Vines. "[Equatorial Guinea] is an oil producer, but it is not a significant oil producer. There are international oil and gas companies there, the biggest being Exxon, the American international oil and gas company. But the country tends to be forgotten; it's small, it's very closed and there are no robust bilateral relations with western countries," he added.

One matter that has ruffled feathers in the country is that Obiang has chosen his son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, as his possible successor. In 2016, he named him vice president. December's attempted coup could, therefore, be a first sign of opposition to this move.

Protests have broken out across Tunisia after anti-austerity measures came into effect on January 1. The country's main opposition party has said it will keep protests going until the government drops its 2018 budget.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Tuesday promised to crack down on rioters after two days of anti-austerity rallies in the country.

"What some Tunisian areas saw overnight could not be considered a way of protest, but acts of theft, looting and attacks on Tunisians' properties," Chahed said. "The only solution for confronting those involved in looting and attacks on Tunisians and their properties is applying the law."

The details

  • Protests broke out in more than 10 towns against price and tax increases put in place by the government in an attempt to stabilize Tunisia's economic crisis.
  • About 300 people demonstrated in the streets of the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, the center of the country's Arab Spring revolution.
  • A 43-year old male protester died in unclear circumstances in the town of Tebourba, 40 kilometers west of the capital Tunis.
  • The Interior Ministry denied that the protester was killed due to police violence, but an autopsy would be carried out to determine the cause of death
  • National Security chief Walid Ben Hkima said 11 officers were wounded in the clashes, some after being hit by stones and Molotov cocktails.
  • Khelifa Chibani, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said 44 people had been arrested for carrying weapons such as knives,´setting government buildings on fire and looting shops.

Austere beginnings

Tunisians have become increasingly frustrated since the government said it would increase the price of gasoil, some goods, and taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items from January 1, as part of austerity measures agreed upon with its foreign lenders.

"What happened had nothing to do with democracy and protests against price hikes ... Yesterday protesters burned down two police stations, they looted shops, banks and damaged property in many cities," Interior Ministry spokesman Chibani said.

The leader of Tunisia's main opposition party Popular Front, Hamma Hammami, said they would increase protests until the government dropped the "unjust" 2018 budget.

"Today we have a meeting with the opposition parties to coordinate our movements, but we will stay on the street and we will increase the pace of the protests until the unjust financial law will be dropped," Hammami told reporters.

Roots in the Arab Spring

Tunisia's economy has been in crisis since the 2011 uprising unseated the government and two major militant attacks in 2015 damaged the country's tourism industry, which accounted for eight percent of gross domestic product.

The January protests are much smaller compared to the previous turmoil seen in Tunisia since the overthrow of autocrat ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, but past confrontations between government, labour unions, Islamists and secular forces have also started small before escalating.

law/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Victims and activists have approached the Bulawayo High Court to compel former president Robert Mugabe and incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa to release the findings of the commission of inquiry into the Gukurahundi atrocities.

The activists also want the British government to release all the classified reports on the 1980s killings.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi and British Prime Minister Theresa May were also cited as the third and fourth respondents, respectively.

Mohadi was recently appointed to head the National Peace and Reconciliation ministry.

Ibhetshu LikaZulu, represented by Secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo, Dumisani Mpofu and Charles Thomas, are represented by Mathonsi Law Chambers.

Following the political disturbances of 1981 involving ZIPRA and ZNLA forces and the large scale killings that followed in Matabeleland and Midlands, the then President Mugabe launched an inquiry in 1983 to investigate the killings.

The findings of the Commission of Inquiry which was chaired by Justice Simplius Chihambakwe were never released.

The Dumbutshena report contains the findings of a commission of inquiry into the disturbances at Entumbane and other demobilisation camps following clashes between Zipra and Zanla cadres in 1981 but was also never made public.

A joint inquiry by the Legal Resources Foundation and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace revealed that thousands of innocent civilians were killed in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces by the government sponsored Fifth Brigade.

This is not the first time that the Zanu PF government has been pressured to release the two reports.

"In 1981, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) opposed Robert Mugabe and violence broke out in areas surrounding guerrilla camps throughout in particular Entumbane.

"Politically motivated violence in Entumbane during 1981 was followed by killings in Matabeleland, a western region in Zimbabwe inhabited by Ndebele, Xhosa, Venda, Kalanga, Suthu, Nambiya people amongst other minorities who were opposed to President Mugabe's rule

"Mugabe's government responded with a series of massive military campaigns in which thousands of civilians were raped, butchered, tortured and lost their property," the activists said in their founding affidavit.

Thomas, in his supporting affidavit, said he was "abducted, beaten with logs, tortured and has a cracked skull and other visible scars" during the atrocities.

The activists implored the government to make the reports public and also facilitate the setting up of a Truth Commission.

"I submit that there would be no prejudice suffered by the respondents if the documents which include the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe reports which are under their custody, in particular Robert Mugabe in his personal capacity, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Kembo Mohadi in their official capacity and Theresa May in her capacity as the Head of State of Britain release all classified information relating to Matabeleland disturbances," reads the affidavit.

"Further, Mnangagwa and Mohadi should set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide redress to the victims and survivors of these disturbances."

The respondents have ten days to file a notice of opposition.

Mugabe and Mnangagwa have been named by Genocide Watch as the main culprits. Mugabe was the prime minister while Mnangagwa was the security minister in charge of the central intelligence unit.

While Mugabe has said the episode which left an estimated 20 000 civilians dead was a "moment of madness", Mnangagwa has denied any involvement.

Speaking on the BBC Panorama programme in 2002, former British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe (1983-85) Sir Martin Ewans said the issue of Gukurahundi was a "side issue".

He said, "We had very much an eye to what was happening in South Africa at the time with apartheid and we were hopeful that Zimbabwe would be something of a contrast, and South Africans would look at Zimbabwe and say ah yes, it is possible to work as a multiracial society. So I think Matabeleland is a side issue. The real issues were much bigger and more positive and more important."

Photo: Flikr

(File photo).

analysis By Amindeh Blaise Atabong

As the crackdown continues, armed secessionist groups may be gaining in strength, support and resolve.

Fifteen months back, when a group of Anglophone lawyers went on strike in Cameroon, few would have predicted how far and how quickly events would escalate.

Back then, in October 2016, the lawyers were objecting to the appointment of French-educated judges to their courts. A few other frustrated groups joined them later in peaceful protest against other government actions they perceived to be discriminating against the country's English-speaking regions.

Fast-forward to today, however, and that initial modest impetus has spiralled into Cameroon's most alarming internal conflict since independence. In recent months, scores of civilians have been killed. Armed attacks have led to the deaths of at least sixteen army and police officers. The government has deployed the elite Rapid Intervention Battalion, which is usually found combatting Boko Haram, to the area. And thousands of refugees have fled to Nigeria, with the UN Refugee Agency expecting up to 40,000 more.

Pushed to extremes

From the start of the crisis, the government's instinct has been to respond to protest and grievances with force. The initial demonstrations in late-2016 were met with mass arrests and the deployment of security forces. In January 2017, there was brief hope that dialogue would lead to a resolution. But these talks fell apart as the government banned the umbrella group with which it was negotiating and detained its leaders.

Since then, the government has not looked like returning to the negotiation table. It has arrested around 1,000 people, according to activists. It has empowered the police, gendarmes and army to use heavy force. And it has shut off the region's Internet for months at a time on at least two occasions.

These actions have had a high human cost. "Cameroonians in the hundreds have lost their lives needlessly while expressing themselves and their ambitions for Cameroon," says Barrister Akere Muna. "Others remain incarcerated under circumstances that might well have been avoided by the simple choice of dialogue over confrontation and repression."

Moreover, many argue that rather than stifling dissent, the government's strategy has made the situation more volatile and extreme.

What began as more specific grievances regarding the perceived imposition of French in courts and schools has escalated into demands for greater autonomy, federalisation and even secession. Meanwhile, the repression of largely peaceful protests has contributed to the emergence of armed groups calling for secession. Even moderate voices have been pushed to more extreme positions, and Cameroon has seen attacks on security forces and growing threats of a violent insurrection.

On 1 October 2017, members of the Southern Cameroonian Ambazonia Consortium United Front declared the independence of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia. The government responded with what the UN criticised as "excessive use of force". Its crackdown along the border with Nigeria caused thousands to flee. In response in November and December, separatists launched a number of attacks against defence forces that resulted in several casualties.

Combating separatists

In his address on 31 December, 2017, President Paul Biya sought to reassure the nation and project strength.

"I have issued instructions that all those who have taken up arms, who perpetrate or encourage violence should be fought relentlessly," he said. "The security operations conducted to that end have already yielded excellent results. They will continue unabated, but without excesses."

However, many Cameroonians are concerned that the conflict will deepen and spread. As the government's crackdown continues, there are suggestions that militant elements within the secessionist groups are gaining in strength, number and resolve. On 5 January, several separatists were arrested across the border in in Abuja, Nigeria.

In December, Brigadier General Donatien Melingui Nouma, commander of the troops in the South West region, revealed that some of his troops had defected to the separatists. He also claimed: "We know that they are trained by foreigners, including some white mercenaries whose nationality I would not mention."

Uncertain times for Cameroon

This ongoing crisis is occurring at a particularly difficult time for Cameroon. In the north, it is still contending with the menace of the Boko Haram insurgency and the thousands of refugees it has created. In the east, it faces a challenge from the presence of displaced persons and rebels from Central African Republic. A drop in commodity prices has contributed to a significant drop in economic growth figures. Meanwhile, the country is set to hold four sets of elections - municipal, parliamentary, senatorial and presidential - this year.

Amidst this uncertainty, many are calling for dialogue to resolve the Anglophone crisis. However, there are few indications that constructive steps are being taken to establish such talks. Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary has said repeatedly that the government is ready to negotiate but only on the condition that issues related to the structure of the state are not discussed. That effectively rules out activists' primary demands for federalism or significant structural change.

As the crisis deepens, international leaders such as UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland have increased pressure on President Biya to engage in talks. It remains to be seen if this will have any effect. If it does not and the government's current military approach continues, many expect activists' demands, grievances and strategies to get increasingly desperate, militant and extreme.

By Gloria T. Tamba

Ambassador Joseph Boakai, the Vice President and political leader of the defeated ruling Unity Party, has told citizens of his home county Lofa that all is not lost for the county and its people though he lost the December 26 presidential runoff election.

VP Boakai vowed to work in the interest of his county to attract investments to improve the livelihood of the citizenry as well as for the betterment of the country.

"I have come to tell you that though we were not preferred by all the Liberian people, I'm prepared to fulfill my promises to you," he said during his appreciation tour of the county. He had gone to thank his kinsmen for standing by him during the elections.

"The purpose of my visit here is to appreciate my people for showing the high level of love and dedication... ensuring that we were successful in the process, because they did what they committed themselves to do by voting in their numbers," he said.

The election has ended, he said, and there is a new government that will continue the work from where the Unity Party led government will stop. "I ask that we all rally around this new administration to bring the desired developments that we all want. We should all know that Liberia has won so let us support each other," he said.

Despite his imminent absence in government, the VP said he is committed to improving the lives of the citizens by helping to construct schools and bring in investments.

He said he will shortly establish a foundation in his name that will cater to the less fortunate, especially women and children in the county.

"Our women and children deserve to live a better life and have access to good health, education and good road connectivity to improve agriculture and feed themselves," he said, adding that his absence from government does not mean the end of his life, but it has given him more courage to fulfill his promises to his people in his capacity as a private citizen.

VP Boakai visited Zorzor, Voinjama, Quardu Gboni, and Salayea where he was greeted by a multitude of supporters, with many of them shouting: "You remain our president despite the result, we promise to serve you to the end for the betterment of our county and children."

VP Boakai arrives in the county capital, Voinjama.

"Election is now behind us, but we can still improve the lives of our people outside of the government for the peace of this country. Remember that all is not lost, so let's be committed to the new government," he said.

The chairman of the Lofa County Peace Committee, William Howard, on behalf of the citizens, lauded the Vice President for his peaceful role in the 2017 elections. "You have demonstrated a true sense of humility, you have shown to the international community how committed and peaceful you are in building a better Liberia," Howard said.

Howard also joined other citizens in calling on the newly elected officials of government to maintain the peace and work in the interest of the country.

analysis By Paul Nantulya

Ramaphosa is now president of a deeply divided party. History suggests he will move cautiously, but effectively.

Cyril Ramaphosa's dramatic election as president of the African National Congress (ANC) last month has raised as many questions as it has answered. Since he defeated rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 18 December party conference, South Africa has effectively had two centres of power: Ramaphosa as ANC president, Jacob Zuma as state president.

There are rumours some members are pushing for President Zuma's departure before the 2019 elections when he will have to retire. This would pave the way for Ramaphosa to become state president. From there, he could enact reforms, take control of policy matters, and put his stamp on government.

However, with the party so finely balanced between pro-Ramaphosa and pro-Zuma factions, this possibility cannot be counted on and would have to be handled very delicately. The National Executive Committee's (NEC) top six positions, for instance, are evenly split. Ramaphosa has only a slender majority in the broader NEC and other sub-bodies.

This means that although Ramaphosa has succeeded in the tough feat of becoming ANC president, for now, he will still have to engage in numerous trade-offs with Zuma allies going forward. At the same time, he will also have to manage some surprise policies imposed by the state president ahead of the conference, such as the promise to provide free higher education for the poor. Also on his plate are a set of radical policies championed by Zuma allies and adopted at the conference. These include increasing the government's shareholding in the Reserve Bank to 100% and expropriating land without compensation.

This will all add to the already tough challenges of ensuring economic stability, restoring credibility, and overhauling state-owned enterprises. The upcoming 2019 elections add a further sense of urgency.

For the moment, Ramaphosa will have to navigate these hurdles dragged down by almost half the party. However, President Zuma has notably had some of his authority stifled by recent rulings. The party, for example, has instructed him to comply with a High Court judgment ordering a judicial inquiry into state capture. The investigation is likely to centre in on how the wealthy Gupta family allegedly came to control various key institutions through its corrupt relationship with Zuma.

Another court ruling demanded that Ramaphosa appoint the new director of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The tenure of Shaun Abrahams, an ally of Zuma, was annulled. It was decided the deputy president should pick his successor due to Zuma's conflicts of interest given the 783 charges of racketeering against him.

And yet another ruling, by the constitutional court, found that Parliament failed to hold the president accountable in a scandal involving the use of public funds for luxury upgrades at his private residence. Parliament was instructed to put in place a mechanism for impeachment, a decision that the new NEC says it will discuss at its first meeting this month.

The negotiator

Ramaphosa thus has a complex web of interests and individuals to manage. But the ANC stalwart may be uniquely well-matched to this unenviable task. The 65-year-old has a long pedigree of negotiating complicated situations with a degree of success.

Under apartheid in 1987, for example, Ramaphosa was instrumental in putting 400,000 miners on the streets for three weeks in South Africa's biggest ever industrial strike. This inflicted massive damage on an economy already reeling from sanctions and forced industry bosses to offer higher wages.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela made Ramaphosa his right hand man in talks to end apartheid. His opponents were intrigued by his guile in the process. "Day in day out I watched how the ANC negotiators wiped the floor with the National Party's inexperienced negotiators and how Ramaphosa as the 'neutral' chairman was calling the tune and determining the direction of every debate," reflected former government delegate Gideon Du Plessis.

This matches Ramaphosa's own descriptions of his political approach. In the memoir of former MP Mario Ambrosini, Ramaphosa is quoted talking of "boiling a frog alive by raising the temperature very slowly". In a similar metaphor, analyst John Kane-Berman describes Ramaphosa's approach as incremental and patient, rather than a "big bang" that "frightens the frogs".

This strategic approach has been on display recently as Ramaphosa has eased his way back into the ANC and now into the presidential position. In last month's conference, he notably persuaded supporters not to go to court over allegedly missing votes in the election for the new secretary-general post. The result of that vote had been unfavourable, but he calculated that it was worth defusing the tense moment and losing the battle in the interests of winning a wider war.

This thinking was reminiscent of that employed at the end of apartheid when the ANC agreed to a Government of National Unity and various other concessions. Ramaphosa and others figured that these compromises would ease negotiations in the short-term, knowing that over time, power would naturally shift to the ANC anyhow.

Shifting sands

Ahead of the crucial 13 January statement of the NEC, trade-offs are clearly being made. It is unlikely the body's directives on the state capture inquiry could have been made without tough bargaining with Zuma allies, for instance. Meanwhile, Ramaphosa's allies would have had to manoeuvre carefully to incorporate key elements of his platform into the final Strategy and Tactics Document, the centrepiece of government policy for the next five years. Three of these strategic priorities are worth mentioning in particular: ending state capture and rooting out corruption; ending patronage in the ANC; and deepening accountability. They are now official government policy.

The balance of forces in the ANC continues, and will continue, to evolve. Speaker of Parliament and outgoing party chairperson, Baleka Mbete, joined Ramaphosa's camp shortly before the conference. In another twist, David Mabuza, the new party deputy president and Zuma ally, allegedly abandoned the state president's faction at the 11th hour by "not instructing" his 708 loyal delegates to vote for Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa appears to have capitalised on these shifts earlier this month by leading a high-powered delegation to Kwazulu-Natal, the heartland of Zuma's support. There, he was received by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, in a symbolic "changing of the guard". Interestingly, his defeated rival Dlamini-Zuma was at his side, a message that will not be lost on her supporters. Ramaphosa has also been preaching unity since winning the presidency. It is still too early to predict the balance of forces ahead of the 13 January statement and beyond, but further shifts towards the rising centre of power in Ramaphosa (and away from Zuma) may well be in the offing.

But however things pan out in the next few months, history suggests that Ramaphosa will be keeping one eye on the long game. Past experience suggests he will not rush, but look to patiently increase the temperature around Zuma and his allies.

Paul Nantulya is a Research Associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. He lived and worked in South Africa where he also closely followed the ANC.

By Business Daily

French company Paris Aeroport, formerly Aeroports de Paris or ADP, has won a contract with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for design of a new passenger terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

The contract involves preliminary design work of the new passenger terminal as well as baggage sorting systems, said Gratien Maire, CEO of ADP Ingenierie, a subsidiary of Groupe ADP that in turn owns Paris Aeroport.

"This project involves a 115,000 square metre expansion, including the merging of three boarding satellite buildings," the company said in a statement.

"ADP Ingénierie will be in charge of the preliminary architectural design of the building, its interior architecture style and the design of baggage sorting systems and air bridges," it added.

Airport capacity

KAA aims to increase the airport's capacity from the existing six million to 10.3 million passengers per year.

The authority has recently unveiled two new terminals at the JKIA.

The two facilities include Terminal 1A and Terminal 1E. KAA is also in the process of remodelling Terminal 1B, 1C, and 1D. The process is at the design stage.

The upgrade will raise JKIA to world class standard, according to KAA.

Terminal 1E is for international arrivals and can handle 2.5 million passengers per year.

It is designed to serve about 1,000 arriving and 800 transferring passengers during peak hours, according to KAA.

It also separates arriving and departing passengers, which is a key security requirement under international aviation rules.

Terminal 1A, with an annual capacity of 2.5 million passengers, has been designed to allow free movement of passengers in a spacious environment.

Customer experience

KAA said the new terminals have improved the customer experience at the airport by enabling operational efficiency and boosting security while improving the quality of services of airport users.

Prior to the expansion and re-organisation of the terminals, JKIA was designed to handle a 2.5 million passengers.

"With KAA's development of Terminal 1A, 1E and 2, JKIA's annual capacity has increased to 7.5 million passengers, closer to her 2020 envisioned handling target of 10.5 million passengers per annum," KAA said.

Terminal 1E is built on 6,200 square metres opposite the parking garage -- previously reserved for international arrivals.

Photo: The Guardian

Oil pipeline.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline is has already been completed and it holds great opportunities businesses can benefit from.

Among the partners that played a role to make the construction successful include China National Offshore Oil Corporation Uganda, Tullow Oil Uganda, Total E&P Uganda and American firm Gulf Interstate Engineering.

Other development partners are Uganda National Oil Company and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation.

The export pipeline will serve the East African Community (EAC) states as an integral component to boost trade.

The firm has invited local companies dealing in engineering, procurement and construction to grab the opportunities that will be available after the conclusion of the project. They will be able to invest in there sectors and enhance their growth.

With the final investment set to be made on the pipeline, Gulf Interstate Engineering has invited firms to a conference to discuss various business opportunities they can invest in to bolster the economy of the country.

The crude oil export pipeline from the Albertine Graben to Tanga Port in Tanzania will as well be improved.

The 1445km long and 24-inch diameter pipeline is set to be the world's longest heated crude oil pipeline, which will effectively serve the country's waxy oil in nature.

By Varsha Saraogi

London — Other countries should follow Iceland which has become the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women, politicians and equal rights campaigners said on Wednesday.

Iceland has been widely praised for introducing legislation on Jan. 1 that imposes fines on any company or government agency with over 25 staff without a government certificate demonstrating pay equality.

Iceland is the world's most gender equal country, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which analysed gaps in education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment. Yemen is the least gender-equal, it found. Here are some facts about the gender pay gap:

* The average pay for women globally is $12,000, compared with $21,000 for men, WEF said last year, forecasting that women will not earn as much as men for 217 years.

* Closing the pay gap could add an extra $250 billion to the GDP of Britain, $1,750 billion to that of the United States and $2.5 trillion to China's GDP, it said.

* The difference between hourly pay rates for men and women in Britain's workforce fell to its lowest in 20 years in 2017, with male full-time employees earning 9.1 percent more than females, government data showed.

* The top ranking countries for economic participation and opportunity are Burundi, Barbados, Bahamas, Benin and Belarus, all with a gap of less than 20 percent, WEF said.

* The five worst are Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran, with an economic gender gap of at least 65 percent.

* Globally, 22 percent of senior managers are women and they are more likely to work in industries with lower pay, WEF says.

* Data shows an under-use of educated women in the workforce, largely because of additional responsibilities at home, discrimination and under-representation in fields like engineering, manufacturing and technology, it said.

* The European Commission proposed in November a two-year plan for closing the gender pay gap after finding little improvement in the past five years, with women in the European Union earning 16.3 percent less per hour on average than men.

* The proposal includes setting minimum sanctions for companies that do not provide equal pay and monitoring the diversity policies of Europe's largest companies.

- Reporting by Varsha Saraogi. Editing by Katy Migiro

Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(File photo).

By Thin Lei Win

Rome — Failure to rein in global temperature rises could cause the marine food web to collapse, devastating the livelihoods of tens of millions of people who rely on fisheries for food and income, scientists have warned.

Warming oceans restrict vital energy flows between different species in the marine ecosystem, reducing the amount of food available for bigger animals - mostly fish - at the top of the marine food web, according to a study in the journal PLOS Biology published on Tuesday.

This could have "serious implications" for fish stocks, said Ivan Nagelkerken, a professor of marine ecology at Australia's University of Adelaide and one of the study's authors.

Globally, about 56.5 million people were engaged in fisheries and aquaculture in 2015, according to the latest data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In addition, almost a fifth of animal protein consumed by 3.2 billion people in 2015 comes from fish, FAO said.

The Adelaide scientists set up 12 large tanks, each holding 1,800 litres of water, in a temperature-controlled room to replicate complex marine food webs, and test the effects of ocean acidification and warming over six months.

Plant productivity increased under warmer temperatures but this was mainly due to an expansion of bacteria which fish do not eat, Nagelkerken said in a phone interview.

The findings show that 2015 Paris agreement on curbing global warming must be met "to safeguard our oceans from collapse, loss of biodiversity and less fishery productivity."

Under the landmark agreement, world leaders agreed to limit the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

The United Nations, however, has warned the world is heading towards a 3-degree increase by 2100.

Recent studies have sounded alarm bells for oceans and its inhabitants as the earth continues to experience record-breaking heat.

A Jan. 4 paper published in the journal Science said 'dead zones' - where oxygen is too low to support most marine life - more than quadrupled in the past 50 years due to human activities.

Another said high ocean temperatures are harming tropical corals, which are nurseries for fish, almost five times more often than in the 1980s..

- Reporting By Thin Lei Win, Editing by Ros Russell

By Emma Batha

London — Honey bees are attracted to a fungicide used in agriculture with "unsettling implications" for global food production, a scientist said on Tuesday.

Tests carried out by a team from the University of Illinois showed bees preferred to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone.

The finding follows other studies linking fungicides to a worldwide plunge in honey bee and wild bee populations which are crucial for pollinating crops.

"Bees are kind of like humans in that they sometimes like things that aren't necessarily good for them," said University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum, who led the research.

She said fungicides were bad news for bees because they could exacerbate the toxicity of pesticides and kill off beneficial fungi in hives.

Her team set up two feeding stations in an enclosure allowing the bees to choose sugar syrup laced with a test chemical or without. The chemicals included three fungicides and two herbicides at various concentrations.

The researchers were taken aback to find the bees choosing one of the fungicides.

"It was a surprise when they actually liked them," Berenbaum told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that it could explain why fungicide contamination in hives was so common.

"This is not anything that anyone had even thought about before so we need to readjust our focus because there certainly could be implications for agriculture ..."

However, she said the bees actively avoided a second tested fungicide and were neutral about a third.

The scientists said the findings were "worrisome" in light of research showing fungicides interfere with honey bees' ability to metabolise pesticides used by beekeepers to kill parasitic mites that infest their hives.

The scientists were also surprised to find the bees showed a taste for the widely used herbicide glyphosate.

A study by the Center for Biological Diversity last year said hundreds of native bee species in North America and Hawaii were sliding towards extinction.

It said bees provided more than $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year in the United States.

Experts have blamed habitat loss, heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanisation for declining numbers.

The United Nations recently announced an annual World Bee Day on May 20 to raise awareness of their importance and declining numbers.

- Reporting by Emma Batha; Editing by Ros Russell

analysis By Mark Shaw

The rapid development of technology improves lives and enables more efficient operations in the private and public sectors. The challenges that have emerged as a direct consequence, however, can also undermine progress and expose users to illicit activities online.

Before 2000, Africa hosted only 4.5 million Internet users. Since then, telecommunications markets have been liberalised and affordable mobile technologies have become increasingly available. Today, there are close to 400 million users online on the continent.

According to a 2016 report by the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, it is estimated that Africa's e-commerce industry will be worth US$75 billion by 2025. But while mobile technologies transform African societies by providing a major form of connectivity, they have also turned Africa into both a source and a target of illicit online activities. According to one report, in 2012, the number of targeted cyberattacks in Africa increased by 42% from previous years.

The number of targeted cyberattacks in Africa increased by 42% from previous years

As opportunity increases on the continent, so too do the associated risks. Africa has become more vulnerable to general online security threats, intellectual property infringement and the theft of personal data. Indeed, it is estimated that 80% of all personal computers on the continent are infected with viruses and other malicious software.

Today's cybercriminals no longer require users' consent or knowledge to access valuable pieces of personal data. Cybercrime is, across the board, becoming bolder and more advanced; not only in how victims are targeted, but also the amount of money sought. In 2016, Serianu ranked the sectors most vulnerable to cybercrime on the continent, and placed banking and government at the top.

In West Africa, for example, two distinct groups of cybercriminals have emerged, namely the 'Yahoo Boys' and the 'Next-Level Cybercriminals'. The two are distinguished by their structure and type of crimes they commit. While the Yahoo Boys mostly operate traditional advance-fee scams, the Next-Level Cybercriminals engage in more complex attacks against corporations and involve tax scams, with connections both in Africa and outside the continent.

As cybercriminals target victims both inside and outside their national boundaries, African countries have struggled to build the technical and financial capacity needed to target, monitor and thwart illicit online activities. There are simply not enough trained professionals, and historically there is little political will in many countries to tackle the issue.

2014 reports said cybercrime was increasing more rapidly in Africa than anywhere else

This stems from a combination of factors, including insufficient budgets and a tendency to overlook the 'invisible' threat. The cybersecurity infrastructure on the continent is in itself weak, with factors like outdated or pirated software leaving African countries vulnerable to serious security risks.

Cybercrime is a global phenomenon, with certain reports contending that it now surpasses drug trafficking as a criminal revenue source. Its impact is particularly pervasive in Africa, given the lack of cohesive cybersecurity policies and inadequate IT infrastructure.

In 2014, it was reported that cybercrime activities were increasing at a more rapid rate in Africa than anywhere else in the world. Again, this points to criminal networks taking advantage of the continent's weak IT infrastructure to proliferate threats from ransomware, social media scams and new malware.

In South Africa alone, 73% of adults reported having experienced cybercrime, at an estimated cost of US$337 million to the economy. Of particular concern is the increase of mobile malware, rising in tandem with the continent's liberalisation of telecommunications markets and widespread availability of mobile technologies.

In Africa and elsewhere, the problem is a lack of understanding about cybercrime and laws to stop it

A fundamental problem in combatting cybercrime - in Africa, and elsewhere - is a general lack of understanding about what cybercrime really is, and of cyber law enforcement mechanisms. This creates a low risk of prosecution, which incentivises criminals and increases the challenge ahead.

Nonetheless, the increasing financial impact of cyberattacks has fuelled an acknowledgment among both the private and public sectors that there is a need for effective responses - even if, for now, attempts to tackle the threat of cybercrime remain inadequate.

Mark Shaw, Director and Laura Adal, Senior Research Analyst, Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

This article draws on an ENACT report: Africa's changing place in the global criminal economy. The ENACT project is funded by the European Union (EU). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the EU.

By Bernard Rotich

Former world junior 5,000 metres champion Augustine Choge hopes to be in the limelight, yet again, this weekend at the National Police Service Cross Country Championships at the Ngong Racecourse.

Choge, who is seeking to retain his title he won last year, has been sharpening his skills in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County, ahead of the big day.

Choge will face it off with Keringet-based athlete Emmanuel Bett, who has won two races in the Athletics Kenya Cross Country Championships series in Sotik and Nyahururu this season.

Bett, who represented Kenya at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Poland and 2014 Africa Cross Country Championships in Kampala, said that he is in top shape and also eying glory on Saturday.

"I have done enough training and having competed in the Athletics Kenya series and won in two, I believe I will do well and be on the podium this weekend," said Bett.

He added that he is "not fearing anyone" given that the race will have big names in athletics and that he will be using the race as a preparation for the Africa Cross Country Championships to be held in Algeria.

"I will be looking forward to be in the team for the Africa Cross Country Championships in Algeria because last time I was in sixth position in the junior category. I want to run well in the trials next month but first I must do well on Saturday," said Bett.

Stiff competition is expected in the race for Choge and Bett, however, as two-time world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor will be using the race to gauge his form this season.

Kamworor is seeking to retain his title at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships for the third time in Valencia, Spain, in March.

"I will be participating in the race this weekend but I will be using it as training because I will be seeking to retain my title for the third time in Valencia," said Kamworor.

The 2018 mountain biking season gets underway in a few short days, on January 20, at the traditional season opener: the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen.

The 121km ultra-marathon - from Chandelier, near Oudtshoorn, to Pine Creek, in Great Brak River - has once again attracted a field of world-class elite riders.

With UCI points towards the world marathon series title up for grabs, as well as R25 000 for the first male and female rider across the line there are enough reasons for elite riders to make the trip to the Klein Karoo for the Attakwas Extreme as a stand-alone event. That being said, the event has become an essential test of the effectiveness of riders' off-season training ahead of the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, and the Absa Cape Epic.

The elite men's field has a distinctly international feel to it with 2016 joint champions, and Team Bulls team-mates, Karl Platt and Tim Böhme leading the line-up. On the two previous occasions when the Bulls have sent more than one rider to the Attakwas Extreme, they have dominated the top steps of the podium. The German bike brand's riders were joint first in 2016, while in 2014 Platt finished second behind his stage race partner, Urs Huber, when Huber shattered the course record.

Huber's record of 4 hours, 47 minutes and 46 seconds was two minutes faster than the 2017 winning time and in order for a record breaking attempt to be made this year the weather and racing conditions have to be perfect from the outset.

The Germans, Platt and Böhme, will be joined by the dark horse French contender: Antonin Marecaille . Marecaille is a marathon specialist and raced to second position in the French XCM Championships in 2017, though just how his European pedigree with convert to African racing results on his first racing visit to the continent remains to be seen.

Heading up the local challenge are the PYGA EuroSteel duo, of Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys . The pair were the most successful South African stage racing combination in 2017 and will be looking to continue their run of great results into the new year. Beukes also has an Attakwas Extreme race win on his palmarès. In fact his victory in 2012 was the last by a South African man in the event.

Joining Beukes and Buys in the bid to become the first local winner in six years are Erik Kleinhans , Gert Heyns and the young guns Dylan Rebello and Marco Joubert . Kleinhans needs no reminding of what it takes to complete the Attakwas Extreme, having earned his status as a Ratel - a title earned upon the completion of one's fifth Attakwas Extreme. Likewise Heyns has ample Attakwas Extreme experience and has excelled at single day racing throughout his career. Rebello meanwhile has just a solitary Attakwas Extreme finish to his name while his Imbuko Wines team-mate, Joubert, will be taking on his first Hell of the South.

In the UCI women's field the Swiss national, but South African resident, Ariane Lüthi will be looking to return to winning ways at an event she has won on five previous occasions. The Team Spur rider struggled to reach the personal heights of 2015/16 last year but looks to be getting back to her best, and with unquestionable winning pedigree and the Attakwas Extreme knowhow she will take some beating.

Lüthi's main rivals are set to be Jennie Stenerhag , Robyn de Groot , Sabine Spitz , Carmen Buchacher, Amy McDougall and Candice Lill . Stenerhag, riding in the colours of Cape Brewing Co, dominated women's stage racing in 2017; winning each of the stage races she entered including the Tankwa Trek, the Absa Cape Epic, the Perskindol Swiss Epic and Wines2Whales. Her former stage racing partner, De Groot had a difficult season last year as she battled a lingering injury - but the Ascendis Health rider is a previous Attakwas Extreme winner and as a Southern Cape resident trains on the notoriously tough rolling roads towards Great Brak River regularly.

De Groot's current stage race team-mate, Spitz, will be taking on her first Attakwas Extreme. The German veteran is one of the most successful mountain bikers in the history of the young sport and will be fired up to add the Attakwas Extreme to her exceptionally impressive palmarès.

Buchacher's power and formidable resolve position her as another likely challenger; while McDougall's superb technical skills could see her establish an unassailable lead in the rugged Attakwaskloof section if the women's race unfolds favourably to her strengths. Lill meanwhile will be starting her first Attakwas Extreme, and is as such somewhat of an unknown across the distance. That said she finished 2017 in the undeniable form of her career thus far and has set herself lofty goals for the 2018 season. A victory at the Attakwas Extreme will get the year off to the best possible start for the dormakaba rider.

For more information, including the full start list for the 2018 Attakwas Extreme, visit www.atta.co.za

Source: Sport24

Ernie Els enjoyed two of his greatest passions at Glendower Golf Club on Tuesday as he spoke about his love for the South African Open , proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, and his work with the Els for Autism organisation.

The five-time winner of the second oldest national Open in golf said he was excited by the young South African stars who had responded to "The Boys are Back" theme of the 107th playing of this championship.

"We have a great field this week. I'm excited to see a lot of the South Africans here. There are so many of them knocking on the door of doing great things," Els said.

The field includes South African Major winners in Els, Retief Goosen , Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel , as well as Branden Grace , Brandon Stone , Dylan Frittelli , Dean Burmester , Haydn Porteous , George Coetzee , Thomas Aiken and Erik van Rooyen .

"There are young players here on the brink of becoming great players, and winning the SA Open could be a really great stepping stone for them," said Els.

And he's equally excited about the prospect of "bringing back some of the old magic" when it comes to his own game this week.

"Last year was a funny year with my daughter Samantha going to College and a couple of injuries that I had. But I feel healthy and I want to play some golf, especially in front of my home crowd. I've also got some new equipment I'm working with. Hopefully I can get some of the old magic back and have a good week."

From his first South African Open title in 1992 to his last in 2010, Els has always had great respect for this championship and what it has meant to his own career.

"I'm fortunate to have won this five times and it's been amazing every single time. I have so many great memories of this tournament, including playing with some of the greatest golfers in the game. It's good to be here as a 48-year-old and still competing in my national Open.

"You look at this tournament, and for a small country like ours so far south, to have this kind of history in our golf is unbelievable. The champions we've produced over the years has been incredible. Golf is ingrained in us. We have great programmes and everybody gives back in some way and that keeps the ball rolling."

Giving back is a major priority for Els this week through his Els for Autism organisation.

"We are doing a lot of work in the US and South Africa, and all of the proceeds from this week's tournament go towards Els for Autism. It's a wonderful way to give back. We're helping a lot of kids and are moving forward with some exciting things. Working with these children changes your life. You think about things differently after you've been with these kids."

Source: Sport24

A thrilling career-best century by Gihahn Cloete helped the Warriors arrest a three-match losing slide with a 60-run victory over the Knights in their One-Day Cup clash at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Tuesday.

The opener blasted 143 (128 balls, 25 fours, 1 six) as the men from the Eastern Cape amassed 335 for nine, before bowling out the hosts for 275 to complete a comfortable win - their first since round one.

Left-hander Cloete was the undoubted star, leading from the front to reach the first List A ton of his career, which surpassed the 85 he made for Griquas against North West in 2012/13.

The Warriors had won the toss and elected to bat first, but no other batsmen crossed even the half-century mark.

Debutant Marco Marais, who earlier this season made world headlines after he recorded the fastest ever triple century, struck a noteworthy 41 off 28 balls on his franchise debut, while Clyde Fortuin also hit 41.

Duanne Olivier was the pick of the Knights bowlers with four for 65.

However, there was no real challenge by the home side with the bat.

Keegan Petersen top-scored with 53 (58 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), with the rest of the top eight all making good starts with 20s and a 37 for Ryan McLaren.

The loss of regular wickets eventually proved to be their Achilles' heel as they were dismissed in 49.1 overs.

Anrich Nortje (2/49), Sisanda Magala (2/54) and Ayabulela Gqamane (2/55) all picked up two wickets apiece as the hosts were left still searching for a first win.

Source: Sport24

NAMIBIA Athletics' national marathon championship, the Rössing Marathon, takes place in Swakopmund at the Vineta North Sports Field on Saturday, 10 February 2018, and includes two running events - the 42,2km full marathon and the shorter 10km run.

For the first time in the event's 27-year history a 21km half-marathon will also be hosted this year.

The first prize for the marathon is N$10 000 each for the men and women's open winners, with cash prizes for runners finishing second (N$5 000), third (N$2 000), fourth (N$1 000) and fifth (N$500) in the marathon.

An extra N$1 000 cash bonus is up for grabs should the marathon records be broken in the open categories.

The first prize for the half-marathon winners is N$3 000 each for the men and women's open winners. It is expected that the half-marathon will become a popular event on the Namibian athletics circuit.

The 10km Uranium Relay for Erongo mine workers and the 5km Fun Walk, with interesting prizes in various categories, are popular events with proceeds collected in both events going to the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) for the fight against cancer in Namibia.

The marathon and half-marathon start at 07h00, while the 10km run starts at 07h15 and the 5km Fun Walk and Uranium Relay at 09h00. Registration is on Friday, 9 February from 18h00 to 21h00 at the Vineta North Sports Field.

Entry forms and more information are available on the Rössing website at www.rossing.com or contact Frank Slabbert of Swakop Striders at 064 - 405788, 081 240 3383 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Alwyn Lubbe of Rössing at tel. 064 - 520 2436, 081122 5201 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Kaino Nghitongo of Rössing at 064 - 520 2286, 081 316 2885 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By Helge Schütz

NAMIBIA's women's indoor hockey team is making fine progress as it prepares for the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin, Germany, from 7 to 11 February.

Last month, Namibia competed at the PSI National tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, where they competed in the Boys u18 B division and comfortably won all their matches. They recently also reached a new peak when they were ranked first in Africa for the first time by the International Hockey Federation.

Namibia's coach Erwin Handura said that the PSI tournament had gone very well.

"We had a brilliant tournament in Cape Town where we played nine games in three days and comfortably won all nine games. It was really good and you could see the mental toughness and the fitness levels of our players were very high. Our tactical awareness was also great and we beat most of those teams with our tactical knowledge of the game," he said.

Since then the players took two weeks off over the festive season and started training on 4 January again, according to Handura.

"Last week we trained four hours per day for three days while we also did fitness tests on Saturday morning, when the players had sore muscles but despite that they did very well," he said.

"We are quite happy with the fitness levels, but it can still improve. We are doing our fitness tests every Saturday and the players are improving with each week," he added.

The team have a number of matches lined up against men's teams over the next few days, with their first one being against Unam at 19h00 at the DTS club on Wednesday night.

Handura said these matches were crucial and would give them valuable preparation before the World Cup.

We hope to improve our tactics and one of the areas that we are working on is off-the-ball running and movement in attack and the lines that our forwards have to run, because we want to try and create more goal-scoring opportunities for our strikers," he said.

"We have a few games lined up against men's teams like Unam, DTS and combined teams - we are only playing against men's teams, because these are the top women in the country which means that there are no other women who can compete against them at this level," he added.

The team will only leave for Europe towards the end of January, but Handura will already leave next week to attend the European Indoor World Championships to get first hand knowledge of their opponents.

"I'm heading off to Prague in the Czech Republic where the European Indoor Championships are taking place, and all the teams that we are playing against at the World Cup will be in action there, namely Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia," he said.

"We are also going to play a friendly match against the Netherlands and all of them will be in action at the European Championships so it will be an opportunity for me to see how they play and record the games and study them. When we get to play them at least we will have the upper hand by knowing them while they won't know us," he added.

Regarding the new rankings, Handura said that it was a remarkable achievement and that South Africa had taken note.

"Since 2015 when I took over we have done very well; we have just grown from strength to strength and I think South Africa also knows it. They are currently playing in Croatia, against Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia and they also played against Zimbabwe recently so they will be keen to beat us at the next qualifier in 2020, but we are also preparing for that. That's why we are going to play friendly matches before the World Cup now as well - we will play Holland and the United States before the World Cup and we will try and get other friendlies afterwards as well," he said.

"In the past we used to prepare with friendly matches against South Africa, but I think that journey has now come to an end, because they are doing their own things and so are we and we will only meet again at the next qualifier in 2020," he added.

[embedded content]

By Stefanie Glinski

Aweil — Part of an in-depth series looking at the enormous scale and range of food crises around the globe heading into 2018

Abuk Moukiir stands barefoot in a dry field, harvesting a few remaining peanuts with her bare, thorn-cut hands.

With South Sudan's harvest season coming to an end and the dry season fast approaching, she is exhausted and hungry, taking longer rests in the shade of a nearby tree where she chews on a few raw peanuts to fill her empty stomach.

She earns less than half a dollar for a day's work labouring for her cousin, who is a local farmer in Aweil, close to the northern border with Sudan.

She has few other options: her village's harvest was ruined by rains earlier this year and her family crossed the border in search of food.

Weak and sick with a constantly bleeding lump in her breast, she was left behind, so came here - a four-day walk - to try to eke out a living. She hopes that one day her children, who left to find work in neighbouring Sudan, will come back to take care of her.

Moukiir has seen many harvests over the years, but this has been one of the worst, in a region that has historically struggled with food insecurity.

"I either work in the fields or collect garbage in exchange for a piece of bread and some tea," she told IRIN. "I'm exhausted and hungry and it's hard to survive, but I can't give up."

Despite its current harvest, South Sudan is facing an extreme food crisis.

Its four-year civil war, with its mass displacement and terrifying violence, has wrecked food production and undermined rural markets.

Almost half of the population - 4.8 million people - are currently severely food insecure. That's 1.4 million more than the same time a year ago.

It's projected to get even worse in 2018, with an estimated 5.1 million people expected to go hungry.

Many of Aweil's men have left in search of work to try to support their families.

Others have joined President Salva Kiir's forces in the battle against rebel militia, or have stayed loyal to the previously powerful former army chief Paul Malong, who is from the area but was sacked earlier in 2017.

Climatically, nearly everything went wrong this past year. Floods inundated Aweil's lowlands while drought afflicted its highlands, spreading desertification further north towards Sudan. Experts are increasingly blaming this deadly combination on the effects of climate change.

Like Moukiir, 1.4 million people in Greater Aweil are trying to cope with failed harvests, crop pests, hunger, disease, and exhaustion.

They have managed to survive the crisis so far, but the hunger gap - the period between when households run out of stored food and the next harvest - is fast approaching, threatening malnutrition and even death.

The lean period usually starts in February in the middle of the dry season and can last until July, when the rains yield a new harvest.

"But even in the current harvest period, millions of people need sustained assistance to survive," the World Food Programme's representative in South Sudan, Adnan Khan, told IRIN.

This is a region where it took a massive humanitarian response to avert famine earlier this year. Much of the food currently available in the local market has been smuggled in from Sudan, but few people can afford it.

Nyanciech Hiieu buried her husband last year and is now left with five seemingly relentlessly hungry children.

Much of her crop was destroyed by striga, a parasitic plant that regularly infests sorghum. Some of the sorghum was saved, but not enough to last through the hunger gap.

The family had only returned to the country three years ago, having initially fled north to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, at the start of the civil war in 2013. They had hoped for a better homecoming.

"I wanted to give my children the chance to grow up here, but it hasn't been easy since my husband's death," said Hiieu.

"Providing food for my family and taking care of them at the same time is almost impossible," she explained, as she stirred a thin vegetable broth over an open fire.

The exhausted mother took a gamble, which she hopes will pay off.

"I joined a women's farming group and it was a big success," she told IRIN. "We were given tools and were taught how to grow vegetables. All produce was shared between the group's members."

She had to spend several weeks in training, with no choice but to leave her children at home under the supervision of her nine-year-old daughter.

"Awel took care of the younger ones and I would cook dinner as soon as I returned home," said Hiieu.

Awel, with her ripped t-shirt and beaded bracelet, looks way too young to be able to take responsibility for a whole household of children.

"It was sometimes scary, but I knew that if something had happened, I had neighbours close by to call for help," she explained. "I knew that mum would bring home vegetables for us to eat."

The family currently survives on two meals of sorghum and dried okra a day. But this will likely fall to one with the progression of the dry season, and there is no money to buy food in the market.

"During the lean season - or hunger gap - [many] cases of malnutrition are observed," said UN Food and Agriculture Organization nutrition specialist Nicholas Kerandi. "[In] places where food is extremely scarce and disease common, deaths of children often occur."

The agency runs resilience programmes for farmers in Greater Aweil, including the women's groups that Hiieu joined, where she receives seeds, tools, and training.

Adut Adak is only in her mid-twenties and has five children. The family eats little more than a plate of cooked sorghum each day, and she makes sure not a single grain goes to waste.

But as every nutritionist knows, a sorghum-only intake is not sustainable. It may fill the stomach, but it's not a balanced diet.

"When proteins, vitamins, and minerals are lacking, the immune system will generally tend to weaken and individuals will be susceptible to disease," FAO's Kerandi explained. "Most children in sorghum-only areas are malnourished and their diet often affects their growth and can lead to stunting."

But Adak has little else. Food is boiling over an open fire in her mud hut, wrapping the small room in thick smoke that slowly escapes through the cracks in the thatched roof.

Holding her youngest daughter, Amiir, on her lap, Adak sits on a wooden bed with an old mosquito net hanging over it.

"I'd like for my five children to go to school, but if we ever have money, it will be spent on food," the young mother explained.

Things were so bad last year she was unable to plant sorghum and has nothing in store. Her husband left a few months ago to live with relatives in Sudan who feed him. She is on her own.

"I spend my mornings collecting firewood to sell in the market and my afternoons making fences out of dried grass. If I don't sell any of it, my family goes hungry. That's why I work as hard as I can," she said quietly.

On a good day, they eat two portions of boiled sorghum, and sometimes Adak finds wild forest fruits, although they also have limited nutritional value.

But giving up is not in the nature of South Sudanese.

"My family might be hungry some days, but next year I will plant sorghum so that I can feed them," Adak said. "Until then, I will work hard to make sure we have enough to survive."

sg/oa/ag

press release

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has become aware of the tendency that has developed to sell water from private boreholes. Any such sale would need a requisite licence to be applied for.

It is therefore imperative to bring to the attention of all South Africans that private boreholes are meant to operate for the benefit of the occupants of the piece of land/property on which the borehole has been drilled.

The recent practice of secondary trade of water particularly as observed currently in the Western Cape is therefore illegal. Private boreholes are for private use, for reasonable domestic use, and therefore not to be commercialised.

Section 22 of the Water Services Act prohibits the transaction on water without authorisation/nomination as a water services intermediary by the relevant Water Services Authority.

In the main the National Water Act remains the principal piece of legislation guiding any use of water in the country.

Issued by: Department of Water and Sanitation

By Girmachew Gashaw

The Ethiopian government has recently signed 470 million USD loan and donation agreement with the World Bank, of which 170 million USD loan goes to livestock and fishery resource development.

The Project aimed at transforming the sector through developing livestock and fishery resources, educating low income farmers and pastoralists towards animal husbandry, and upgrading the status of small livestock cooperatives, Ministry of Livestock and Fishery Project Coordinator Dr. Tomas Cherinet told The Ethiopian Herald.

According to Dr. Tomas, the Project works in four value chain components- dairy, poultry, fishery and red meat.

"The Project is ready to assist all actors at the same time. Primarily cooperatives or common interest group would be created in poultry and dairy. As they are working in an organized manner, they will able to assist others."

Domestic dairy cattle yield from 1.5 to 2.0 liters of milk a day which is below the expected average. Hence, the Project has planned to increase the yield from 8 to 12 liters per day by crossbreeding domesticated cattle with exotic high yielding species.

"The Project is the first in its kind. The previous projects were handled many issues in one. But this Project is focusing on animal issues alone and the government is also dedicated to transform the sector.

As states have potential livestock and fishery resources, the Project will open animal health laboratories, forage production and distribution centers and develop livestock extension, Dr Tomas remarked.

As to him, the Project which aimed at benefiting 1.2 million farmers and pastorialists could not cover all woredas of the country. Hence, it would operate in some selected 58 woredas of the six states, Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, SNNPs, Benishangul and Gambella and embraces 1784 kebeles.

According to the Manager, the Project would be fully operational when the allocated loan is ratified by the Council of Ministers and House of Peoples' Representatives and released. As a tentative schedule, the Project is set to be launched in June.

The Ministry is working aggressively for Project's implementation. In states, project coordination units will be opened to operate accordingly.

The Project will be applicable within five years time and is expected to bring differences in the sector: transforming peoples' nutrition culture, and augmenting livestock product export.

By Bilal Derso

Ethiopia's agriculture, which is still at the early stage in using modern farming technologies, is moving forward and its transformation is well in progress, Agricultural Transformation Agency, (ATA) says.

Ethiopia is in a good shape to transform its traditional and subsistence agriculture to a mechanized and commercial one and the farmers have shown motivation and eagerness for more technology and market linkages, Agency CEO Khalid Bomba tells The Ethiopian Herald.

The CEO says that the country is in momentum of transition from small-scale subsistence farming; low out-put production system for only family consumption into market oriented type.

Stressing the importance to keep up with the farmers' demand for technology and market linkages, Khalid notes that this business oriented mentality encourages them to engage in agro-processing activities thereby benefit both country's agricultural and industrial sectors.

According to him, Ethiopia's agricultural transformation is the major factor in attracting world's flagship agricultural companies to invest in the country.

"Realizing country's agricultural transformation, a lot of giant companies have shown a growing desire to involve in the sector. The companies want to be part of the transformation and to see how they can contribute and also benefit."

The CEO says necessary steps should be undertaken not only to facilitate ways for the benefit of the international companies, but also to create means for the smallholder farmers benefit from the opportunity created by those companies.

Khalid notes that the Ethiopian government carried out successful works to withstand the impacts of climate change and improve country's soil fertility, which in return led to enhance production and productivity.

In terms of climate change, he indicates that Ethiopia understands the challenge is an economy wide issue and has given special consideration, "Now the government of Ethiopia has prioritized a climate resilient green economy, a green perspective for growth as its primary vision for development."

In addition to dealing the climate change under the framework of a Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), Ethiopia also strives to increase production and productivity.

The CEO says the farmers have been provided information about the right types of agro- economic practices and technologies that help them to withstand climatic challenges.

"The Agency, along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been engaging for the past seven years in fertilizer blending activities to replace the importation of the long-serving fertilizers suitable for each soil type thereby improving fertility of the soil."

As part of this initiative, various fertilizer blending facilities, owned and operated by farmers' cooperative unions, are being constructed across the country.

Alongside replacing the imported Urea and DAP, the facilities also provide fertilizers for farmers and serve as a source of revenue for unions, Khalid notes.

Established some seven years ago, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) is primarily engaged in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and transforming the country's traditional subsistence farming to a modern and commercialized one.

By Magdalene Wanja

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has said there is still a challenge in the eradication of plastic bags mainly in the border towns, five months after the ban took effect in Kenya.

This is as most of the countries in the region are still manufacturing the plastic bags making it easy for people to access from across the borders.

Nema's Chief Enforcement Officer Robert Orina said the plastic bags are still finding their way into major towns, a business still going on among a few traders.

"We have information that some business operators are still getting the commodity in bulk from the neighbouring countries, mainly Uganda, despite the ban that took effect in August 2017," said Mr Orina.

SNACKS

He noted that the main target of the illegal business are small scale traders who sell goods like vegetables and snacks in small portions.

"The small bags are in circulation... and are usually in display during odd hours," he added.

Mr Orina was speaking in Nakuru where he led a team of national and county Nema officials in an operation to raid the illegal plastic bags businesses in the town.

This was after a tip-off on operators importing the plastic bags in bulk from Uganda and later distributing them to various traders in the area.

However, the officials did not manage to arrest any culprit in connection to the matter.

"We have information that the plastic bags are still in circulation and that the operators of the businesses are using motorbikes to circulate the product. We shall keep vigilance and ensure that the illegal business comes to an end," said Mr Orina.

ACHIEVE OBJECTIVE

Nakuru County Director of Environment Natural Resources and Energy Mureithi Kiogora said his office is working closely with Nema to ensure they achieve the objective.

"Apart from the small scale traders who are still packing their products in the plastic bags, the level of compliance in Nakuru is encouraging," said Mr Kiogora.

The authority's county director of environment, Mr Omondi Were, said more than 10 people had been charged in court since the ban took effect.

He said majority of those charged are those selling snacks along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

"Our focus is now on the distribution point which is the core challenge," said Mr Were.

opinion

London — Article by British Ambassador to Morocco, Mr Thomas Reilly, on his visit to a dormitory in the Atlas Mountains.

It was raining by the time we got to Marrakesh. The long-threatened storm had held off as we had forged our way across the flat desert that forms the northern hinterland boundary to the magical city. But the rain teemed down as we wound our way slowly through the traffic and out beyond the city towards the dimly-seen Atlas Mountains beyond.

As the rain fell, so did the temperature. In Rabat that morning, it had been a balmy 21 degrees. Now, in the shadow of the Mountains, the temperature was a chilly 8 degrees and the stiff breeze that accompanied the rain made it feel a lot colder.

Fouad parked the car outside the first dormitory. The rain fell in solid slats across the car's windscreen. Pulling my jacket on, I walked down the mud bank towards the door of the dormitory, my feet splashing in the puddles as I slid towards the door.

Inside, a large fire gave a semblance of warmth, but the fact that no one removed their jackets even inside told the real story. The girls were doing their homework, quietly, conscientiously. They looked up and greeted me "Ahlan wa Sahlan".

But I have got ahead of myself...

Ten years ago, a British man set up Education for All in Imlil. A charity whose sole purpose is to try and help girls from poor and isolated rural communities have the opportunity to continue their education beyond 12. Many secondary schools in rural communities are heavily over-subscribed, so the timetable is run on a 'shift' system. Although classes start at 0830, pupils often have periods during the day without classes. Parents, worried about what their daughters would do during those 'down' periods, would frequently prevent their daughters from attending secondary school as a result. EFA builds dormitories near to rural secondary schools, giving the girls a secure, safe environment in which they can live, work and study and to which they can 'retire' during the periods of the day when they do not have lessons at the schools. The girls arrive on a Monday morning and go home on a Friday afternoon. The success rate is phenomenal: 83% of girls who go through the EFA dormitories go on to university. The first year of the dormitories, EFA practically had to beg parents to let their daughters stay in the dormitories. Now demand significantly outstrips supply.

And it was to those dormitories that I had come on that cold, wet December afternoon. The dormitories are well-built and solid, with good kitchens and places for the girls to study, eat, sleep and chat. But they are not luxurious.

As I was shown round the buildings, it dawned on me why the success rate is so high. The girls in the dormitories came from the poorest families in the poorest villages. I saw pictures of some of their houses - whole families living, eating, cooking and sleeping in one room. No one in their families had had an education. These girls were being offered a huge chance and they were seizing it firmly with both hands - it made me embarrassed to think how easily we take a formal education for granted in the UK and how often we waste that opportunity.

And I realised again how vitally important education is. Without it the odds are stacked against you - it is harder for a person to reach their potential; harder to develop as an individual; harder to imagine that they will grow up to make a useful contribution to society. And if girls and women do not receive a full education, then a country immediately loses at least 50% of its potential, with a consequent economic and political loss.

The rain stopped half way through my tour of the dormitories and we went up onto the roof - a roof which was flooded by the downpour. The clouds had lifted and a glorious evening was in prospect. The view was spectacular: freshly-fallen snow was visible on the shoulders of Mount Toubkal who stood like a giant at the end of the valley. The wind was biting.

Back inside, we had a look at the bedrooms. The bunk-beds, originally built for four girls to sleep in each room, had been adapted in response to demand for places and now stood three high - each room sleeping six girls. I could see my breath as we talked. There is no heating in the rooms - and again I thought of shame at the electric heaters at home and how we take such luxuries for granted - so the girls huddle down under blankets every night.

As I walked along the bitterly cold road to visit one of the other dormitories, hugging my down jacket closer around my ears, I thought how truly inspirational those girls are - so grateful for what EFA has offered them; so aware of the chance that they have been given; so determined to make the most of the opportunity they have been offered; so diligent, polite and hard-working. At once an example to us all and a pointed reminder to take nothing in life for granted.

And I reflected how only sustained access to education will enable these girls (and thousands of others like them across the country) to realise their dreams to be the Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers and Leaders of tomorrow: such a future would indeed be a bright one for Morocco.

SOURCE UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

By Ndama Nakashole

In mid-2017, young Namibian Pedro da Fonseca went to Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) to patent his new invention NamLux streetlight.

NamLux is an LED bulb that is not only brighter but more efficient, longer lasting and reduces the usage of energy consumption as it requires minimal power for operation. Another feature of the retrofit is that it is designed to fit into the current streetlights that Windhoek has, making it easy to refit and without hassle to replace the entire light, thus saving in installation costs.

Upon reading his patent documents and papers, Peter Naphtali and Ainna Kaundu from Bipa called him and asked if he was willing to be entered under AICO - African Inventors Corporation Organisation - as a Namibian inventor as they are looking for African Inventors to promote within Africa.

"I was grateful to this opportunity and agreed. A few weeks later, I was contacted by AICO officials for more info into my invention and after careful review of my work, they included me in their September newsletter which is shared across different parts of Africa," he said.

Da Fonseca said he received a lot of replies as a few countries such as Lybia, Zambia and Zimbabwe were interested in the project, he said.

AICO then notified him that they have chosen him and his invention to represent Namibia as well as be their African ambassador at the Seoul International Inventors Fair 2017.

"I was then assisted by Bipa boss Andima and their very competent staff with funding from Bipa and assistance with my Visa application was made smoother when the ministry of international affairs was also lenient enough to liase between the two governments for my application to be successful," he said.

He said he the travelled to Seoul on short notice but managed to arrive on time and still get away with two floor awards for best invention in his category of electrical and an award of excellence.

The event took place between 30 November and 3 December 2017 at the COEX exhibition hall in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea.

Through his company, Black Gold Engineering, Da Fonseca said he is in need of capital investment and a partnership where an investor would join the company as a silent partner guiding them from the inside.

He said they are currently offering 20% shares in the business, which will pay out its shares at quarterly intervals.

"LEDs are widely used for lighting in electronic devices, motor vehicles, traffic lights and now our recently launched NamLuxTM LED streetlights. NamLuxTM LED has the potential to achieve market dominance due to their high efficiency and low energy consumption," he said.

Da Fonseca said they offer this amazing product in hopes of creating an enormous energy saving campaign within Africa.

"Our aim is to help alleviate power losses faced by electrical suppliers," he said.

The benefits of NamLuxTM, he said, include low energy consumption, reduced costs, zero to no maintenance, no change in the current set-up of streetlights Retrofit capabilities, customer satisfaction due to improved lighting, upgrade to new international standards (LED Technology) as well as 60% to 80% guaranteed savings on power.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has launched the South-South Sensitisation Programme on Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap 2030, at Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Mr Abdul-Ganiyu Aminu, Deputy Director of Press in the ministry, who made this known in a statement on Tuesday quoted Onu as saying the effort was to ensure Scientists harnessing innovation by utilizing Roadmap as an Instrument of providing jobs.

He said the Roadmap would also create wealth and reduce poverty in the nation.

He said the ministry would harness invention and innovation in order to catapult the nation towards economic recovery.

According to him, the present administration has accorded priority to science and technology in the economy recovery and growth plan.

He said that with the reduction in the importation of raw materials, Nigeria would save about N3 trillion in the next 5 years.

Onu said that local contents would now be encouraged in all Science and Engineering contracts in the country.

He appealed to staff to study and be guided by the Roadmap in their Scientific and Research endeavours.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Director of Science and Technology Promotion, Mr Ekanem Udoh, said unlike past policy guidelines, the Roadmap was infused with practicable timelines to boost Scientific, and Technological Development of the country.

opinion By Ralph Hamann

Technological advances associated with the fourth industrial revolution -- including artificial intelligence -- allow the automation of an increasingly wide array of processes in increasingly interactive and sophisticated ways. These advances will likely give rise to many opportunities for economic and social development in developing countries, for instance by increasing food production.

But the new technologies also involve important risks, which have special significance in developing countries. They may build upon and exacerbate existing inequalities -- both within developing countries as well as between developing and more developed regions. Three of these inter-related risks are worsening unemployment, increasing concentration of economic power and wealth, and the spread of biases in influential algorithms.

They will manifest in different ways and require different responses in diverse contexts. A cross-cutting problem is that too few developing country governments are giving these risks serious attention.

Risk 1: Worsening unemployment

The concern that new technologies -- especially artificial intelligence -- will lead to widespread job losses has been widely discussed. Of course, the fear that new technologies replace workers is an old one. But it's been pointed out that historically new technologies have often given rise to more new jobs than the ones that have been automated away.

What's perhaps different now is that the new, interconnected digital technologies will likely have a broader and more far-reaching array of abilities. And so the prospect of new kinds of jobs may well be diminished or limited to increasingly sophisticated domains, such as machine learning.

In addition, new technologies are now not just replacing jobs, but they are also enabling the disruption and restructuring of entire industries. For instance, Uber has already pulled the rug from underneath the conventional taxi industry in many places. Imagine the possible consequences of Uber's shift to driver-less cars.

Lower labour costs in many developing countries mean that investments in job replacing technologies will be lower. But other aspects of developing countries' contexts increase the possible severity of this risk.

First, the dearth of effective education systems and skills in countries like South Africa will make it more difficult for people to be retrained for the technology intensive new jobs that will become available. Secondly, all governments are struggling to grapple with the implications of new technologies and associated new business models. This struggle is particularly strong in developing country governments. The case of Uber in South Africa reflects this.

Risk 2: Increasing concentration of wealth

Many developing countries are characterised by high levels of inequality within their populations. Elites within these countries will be more likely to make use of AI and other new technologies. This will further increase returns to capital widening the gap between elites' productive capacity and that of everyone else.

A similar effect is likely at a global level. It's no coincidence that Russia's President Vladimir Putin has identified AI as the new terrain for global competition between nations.

New technologies' advantages for capital are not just due to increasing productivity, but also because they allow new business models that may control or even dominate entire sub-sectors and stifle competition. For instance, it could become possible for a single company to control large fleets of automated vehicles in one or more large areas.

Again, much will depend on whether states can keep up with these developments and respond effectively. Particular attention will need to be paid to intellectual property and competition law. For instance, the strict enforcement of intellectual property rights for AI algorithms may well support increasing economic concentration.

It's also likely that national governments may have less and less influence over such decisions and trends. Even so, many developing country governments are not giving these developments their due attention.

Risk 3: Bias baked into algorithms

Finally, the AI algorithms that are at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution will reflect and perpetuate the contexts and biases of those that create them. Difficulties faced by voice recognition software in recognising particular accents are a relatively innocuous example. Of course, the promise is that AI will enable such systems to learn to address such issues. But the learning process itself might be influenced by racial, gender, or other prejudices.

AI algorithms are developed almost entirely in developed regions. Thus they may not sufficiently reflect the contexts and priorities of developing countries. Ensuring that AI algorithms are appropriately trained and adapted in different contexts is part of the required response. It would be even better if developing countries become more engaged in the development of new technological systems from the get-go.

Governments need to act

These three risks require that academics, businesses, and civil society actors attend to the role of new technologies in developing countries. But a special responsibility lies with governments. For the most part, they seem to be distracted.

Governments ought to carefully assess the above risks in their national context and then establish corresponding policies and programs. This includes national skills development and work placement platforms, intellectual property and competition policies, and local technology adaptation and development.- Conversation Africa

This article was originally published on The Conversation Africa . Ralph Hamann, Professor, University of Cape Town

interview By Jeffrey Gogo

Tawanda Chitiyo boasts neither of a fancy university degree nor any other such tertiary qualification. But the 30-year budding entrepreneur from Mutare has a sharp eye for business. He knows just when the time is right - and now was the right time to turn waste into energy

Chitiyo describes himself simply as "an entrepreneur and a climate change enthusiast," with no prior experience in project development or management. It is easy, and very tempting, to dismiss the youthful entrepreneur as an amateur feigning humility to gain support.

But using his street-horned skills, Chitiyo has put together a team of experts that has come up with a formidable project plan to build what he termed a 'bio-refinery' in Mutare, producing gas, electricity and diesel from human waste, at a cost of $10 million.

Working in partnership with the Harare Institute of Technology's Climate Change Research Centre and Astra Innovations, a German technological firm, Chitiyo has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Mutare to convert thousands of kilogrammes of human excreta at the Sakubva and Yeovil waste treatment plant into something useful.

The project, four years in the making, will be implemented by Tawanda Energy Ltd, a company named after himself, where Chitiyo is managing director, and specialising in "energy, biofuels, petrochemicals, and... community scale bio-refineries."

It has received endorsements and regulatory approval from the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, electricity supplier ZETDC as well as from Rodan Engineering Company, a German engineering firm who are to supply the equipment.

We have got to admit, Chitiyo's project sounds optimistic, too good to be true for something valued at just $10 million. In the interview below, we ask him to explain his project plan in detail, as well as how far he intends to go with similar work.

Tell us, what exactly do you plan to do with Mutare's waste?

We plan to build a bio-refinery. A bio-refinery is a waste to energy plant similar to the oil refinery. The difference is that our products are made from sewage sludge, which are renewable, and not crude oil. Our vision and mission is to be driving force for social, environmental, and economic benefits by producing gaseous, and liquid climate-neutral energy carriers.

Why a bio-refinery?

It's cheap and clean. Raw materials are locally available. At first we were interested in biogas alone. The project expanded after further research and discussions with our partners who advised that we explore all potential opportunities available in the management of sewage sludge as a resource.

How will it work? What will be the outputs

We want to set up a smart city project in the city of Mutare that is adapted to our geographical, cultural, and economic characteristics. The project will convert 48 tonnes of sewage sludge through a process of advanced thermal distillation into the following fuels

9,1 million litres per year of diesel which is one percent of the market share. Potential savings of US$2 million per annum will be achieved from cheaper diesel supplies.

803 tonnes of natural gas per year which is 2,7 percent of the local gas market share. We plan to introduce it as substitute for liquefied petroleum gas. Potential annual savings from gas are estimated at US$500 000.

A combined total of 3 megawatts of electricity will be generated

We will also produce 2 409 tonnes of carbon char to be used as a substitute for firewood, charcoal and coal.

You have already got the money to get the project running?

No. Not yet. We are currently in the process of looking for seed capital. We have approached the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to facilitate the granting of a sovereign guarantee from Government, which would assist us to secure funding without collateral.

How long will it take to build the refinery before bringing it online?

It could take between 6 to 9 months, should we manage to get everything in place. It is a modular plant, so all the components are shipped in complete. Only the assembling takes place here.

In what way does your project respond to the environmental and climate change challenges faced by Zimbabwe today?

This is a waste to energy process, which functions within the non-hazardous waste management hierarchy and all the fuels produced are to the international standard for such fuels.

Our project is sustainable and does not pollute water, land or air. We will not use any chemicals or any other raw material except sewage sludge. So, our final diesel is biodegradable and sulphur-free. We estimate that the biogas part of the project will avoid the equivalent of 10 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. We have contracted experts to determine the full emissions reduction potential of the entire project.

God is faithful.

The use of technology, by business and government, in tax compliance is driving continued simplification and reduction in the burden of tax compliance on businesses, says the latest edition of Paying Taxes 2018, a report by The World Bank Group and PwC.

The report finds that the time to comply declined by 5 hours to 240 hours; and the number of payments by one to 24 payments. On the post-filing index, in 81 economies a corporate income tax audit is triggered by taxpayers voluntarily amending a return for a simple error while in 51 of the economies with a VAT system, no VAT refund is available for our case study company, suggesting that there is significant room for improvement in post-filing processes in many economies.

The Total Tax and Contribution Rate (TTCR) increased by 0.1 percentage points, to 40.5%; with the largest increases resulting from corporate income taxes and turnover taxes.

On the other hand, the Middle East region continues to have the lowest TTCR and time to comply, reflecting the relatively few taxes levied on the case study company and a reliance on other sources of government revenues. The report also finds that the average Total Tax and Contribution Rate is 24.0% in the Middle East region; and it takes the company an average of 154 hours to comply with its tax obligations, a fall of three hours from last year and it makes an average of 17.2 payments.

The Paying Taxes 2018 report examines the ease of paying taxes in 190 economies. The report models business taxation in each economy using a medium-sized domestic case study company.

Both the time and number of payments needed to comply have continued to fall significantly, reflecting the increasing use of technology. Time needed to comply with labour and profit taxes fell by 2 hours (to 61 hours for profit taxes and 87 hours for labour taxes), compared to last year, with labour taxes showing the greatest reduction over the life of the study (since Doing Business 2006). Electronic filing and payment, improved tax and accounting software and pre-populated returns are amongst the key drivers.

The number of tax payments made has fallen by around one payment for the second year in a row, driven largely by increased on-line filing and payments capabilities, new web portals and the greater use by taxpayers of online systems.

Despite sizeable changes in the global average results, many economies, particularly in the lower income range, have been slower to take full advantage of the benefits of technology. The study also notes an increase in the use of real, or near real time information systems by tax authorities to track transactions, for example in Russia, the Republic of Korea and China.

Real time data is giving tax authorities the opportunity to scrutinize transactions on a near real-time basis rather than relying on reviews of annual tax returns. New real-time systems may add to compliance times as they are first implemented, but they have the potential to lead to fewer audits or to faster VAT refunds in the future.

The post-filing processes for value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) returns, which are considered in the study for the second year, can be amongst the most challenging and lengthy processes for businesses to comply with. In some cases, the length of the processes can create cash flow and administrative delays for companies of more than a year.

The report finds that 162 economies have a VAT system, with a VAT refund available to the case study company in 107 economies. There is no VAT refund available in 51 economies, particularly in South America and Africa.

es, the purchase of an industrial machine is exempted from VAT. The EU performs the best for speed of VAT refunds (and corporate income tax processes), whereas it is a mixed picture for Central America and Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with Africa and South America lagging behind.

Photo: Pixabay

Data is key to Africa's development.

By Julius Barigaba

Businesses within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) could save up to $450 million in clearance documentation once the bloc adopts blockchain technology for clearing imports.

Comesa is looking to roll out a digital free trade area - the first in Africa - modelled along the Malaysian Free Trade Zone, where parties to a transaction are connected in real time through a web of ledgers that are secure.

The application also supports generation of an electronic certificate of origin whose authenticity can be verified using national information technology systems.

This will be a marked break from the current practice which involves manual applications and physical presentation of documents to tax bodies and other government agencies that cause businesses delays.

Trade financiers could be the biggest losers once the system is in place.

"We are rolling out the Digital FTA in 2018, beginning with willing member states on the basis of the principle of variable geometry," said Comesa spokesman Mwangi Gakunga.

Last month, Comesa completed the design and action plan of the Digital Free Trade Area, the Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CO) and their draft regulations.

Ending border queues

Piloting of the digital FTA is expected to start in 15 of its 19 member states, enabling large and small enterprises alike to trade using their smartphones and tablets.

"The e-certificate of origin is a good practice around the world but Comesa will be the first regional economic bloc in Africa to have it as a regional FTA instrument," he added.

According to Comesa Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya, the digital economic integration will do away with long queues at border posts for goods and people moving across borders.

"We have developed a mobile application for cross-border traders which shall be launched in the countries that are involved in the simplified trade regime. We shall integrate them to Customs and other agencies and also to the Comesa centre," he said.

The participating countries are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Seychelles, Malawi, Mauritius, Madagascar, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which are all part of Comesa's Simplified Trade Regime that allows traders with goods valued at $1,000 or less to access cross-border markets duty free.

Breakthrough

Exporters from Uganda say this is a breakthrough in regional and international trade, even though it comes with new risks and challenges, especially member states that have not yet provided for e-CO laws.

"The risks are there but they can be mitigated. There must be software to prove that the electronic certificate of origin is authentic so that tax authorities can read it," says Chris Kaijuka, the managing director of grain exporting company AfroKai Ltd.

Mr Kaijuka welcomes the innovation but adds that he is keen to test the effectiveness of the electronic certificate of origin in solving some of the import-export hitches that traders face in the market.

"But I welcome it. We wanted the e-certificate of origin which helps me on taxation," he says. "Someone brings in goods from outside Comesa but declares them as of Comesa origin, which they are not," Mr Kaijuka adds.

Diminished role for banks?

The financial services sector for counterparties makes easy money in international trade deals -- globally totaling to $100 trillion -- because the importing party in most cases does not know or trust the exporting company.

Within the Comesa region alone, some $450 million is paid to commercial banks annually to confirm letters of credit.

But the bloc's chief executive argues that soon this will be a thing of the past because the Comesa digital FTA has "applications that can connect Customs, commercial banks, ministries of finance and central banks in real time, even when it comes to remittances."

"Let's say you are an exporter from Zambia and you are exporting to Egypt, it will be accounted for because all these parties will be able to access that information simultaneously and this is through the block chain application," says Mr Ngwenya.

But a source at KCB Bank Uganda -- one of the largest providers of trade finance -- told The EastAfrican that it is too early for these innovations to reduce the role of commercial banks to the periphery in international trade.

"Customers still rely so much on banks to ensure payment," he said.

Enabling laws

In 2014, the Comesa Council of Ministers decided that member states that were ready to accept and use the e-CO should do so by July 31 of that year.

The Council further directed member states whose legal systems did not provide for e-COs to enact enabling laws as soon as possible with the view to replace the manual certificates of origin with the electronic certificates in a bid to speed up the process of certification and facilitate trade in real time.

The Council also wanted the designed digital applications to ensure that they integrate small and medium enterprises - which make up over 90 per cent of the employment base in Comesa for its 492 million citizens, according to the bloc's data.

In March this year, Malaysia launched its digital free trade zone (DFTZ) - a global first - that is expected to increase SMEs contribution to the country's GDP, which currently stands at 37 per cent, despite 97 per cent of businesses in Malaysia being micro or small and micro enterprises.

According to its website www.mydftz.com, the Malaysian DFTZ has the potential to increase the SME goods export to $38 million, create over 60,000 jobs and support $65 billion worth of goods moving through the DFTZ by 2025.

Observers say, over this period the DFTZ will double the growth rate of Malaysia's SMEs goods export.

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