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Apr-17-2011 19:50printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

Salem-News.com's weekly update from African nations.

Faces of a Burundi family
Faces of a Burundi family. Courtesy: fiveprime.org

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Unseen, unheard; no one should be the bearer of these two words. Unfortunately, Africa is often in the forefront of this association.

Our common humanity should change this; we should never look away because it is too distant. Our commitment to one another, to human rights, and the ability to learn should always keep us connected no matter the severity and complexity of problems.

Important insights from last week, not to be missed:

Congo Justice: Sick in Their Hearts - Many of the crimes being tried before the Kamituga mobile court took place in the nearby town of Mwenga, a two-hour motorbike ride into the mountains along National Route 2. Like so many towns along the road, Mwenga's recent history is one of extraordinary violence. In conversations with local people, it quickly becomes clear that the experience of the war here is still actively shaping the present. http://blog.soros.org/2011/04/congo-justice-sick-in-their-hearts/

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Another War? - Ethiopia is beating the war drums again. After a lull of more than a decade, the Horn of Africa giant is now threatening to attack its neighbor and foe Eritrea over claims it is working to destabilize the country. When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his country would no longer take a passive stance towards Eritrea, it marked an escalation in the bitter war of words that has ensued since a devastating border spat ended in 2000.

Benin Journalists Protest Attacks - Six associations of media professionals in Benin rallied Tuesday in Cotonou, the capital, in a protest march against what they called "the barbarity of security forces" against journalists.

This West African country is considered a showcase of democracy, but developments in recent weeks have tarnished a tradition of tolerance and respect for human rights, especially freedom of the press. President Thomas Yayi Boni was sworn in for a second five-year term last week in a ceremony boycotted by his challenger Adrien Houngbedji who has refused to recognize him on the grounds that the results of last month's contested presidential elections were rigged. http://cima.ned.org/benin-journalists-protest-attacks

Uganda: Educator, Counselor, Nurse – the many roles of a teacher - Every school morning, Geoffrey Ocira stops his lessons for half an hour, rushing to his office to give his HIV-positive students their antiretroviral (ARV) medication. "The pupils ask me to keep their ARV drugs while in school so that they don't miss their day's treatment," Ocira, a head teacher at a primary school in Layibi, in northern Uganda's Gulu District, told IRIN/PlusNews. http://www.plusnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=92483

Days of unrest by soldiers in Burkina Faso spreads to country’s south, mayor says - The mayor of a town in southern Burkina Faso says soldiers are shooting in the air and causing unrest. Henry Koubizara says soldiers in the town of Po were shooting into the air Sunday following two days of unrest caused by soldiers in the capital, Ouagadougou. He says he does not know what the soldiers in Po want. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/days_of_unrest_by_soldiers_in_burkina_faso_spreads_to_countrys_south_mayor_says/2011/04/17/AFHX5rtD_story.html?wprss=rss_africa

Alarming IDP conditions in Western Cote d’Ivoire; reconciliation needed - In western Côte d'Ivoire, and with the security situation apparently calming, our staff are reporting large groups of internally displaced people (IDPs) living in alarming humanitarian conditions. We believe that major reconciliation efforts will be needed for IDPs and Ivorian refugees in neighboring countries to be able to return home in safety and dignity. http://www.unhcr.org/4da81fbc9.html

Burundi seeks life sentence for Kavumbagu - A Burundi state prosecutor asked a panel of judges on Wednesday to hand journalist Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, who has been imprisoned since July 2010 over a column critical of the country's security forces, the maximum life sentence on a charge of treason, according to local journalists. http://cpj.org/2011/04/burundi-seeks-life-sentence-for-kavumbagu.php

Swaziland: Mass Arrests Block Pro-Democracy Rally - Swaziland police arrested scores of people on Tuesday ahead of a planned march for democracy. Witnesses complained that hundreds of activists were beaten to stop them carrying out the banned protest. http://allafrica.com/stories/201104121139.html

Malawi: A Prying Press Silenced by Injunctions - In Malawi, where half the population survives on a dollar a day, it proves wise for the political elite to keep their exorbitant wealth hidden from public scrutiny. That's why they appear to be running to the courthouse to file injunctions to silence the press. http://cima.ned.org/malawi-prying-press-silenced-injunctions

Kenya: Tears Flow as Truth Team Told of 1980 Atrocities - Emotions ran high in Garissa Town as the truth team opened its first public hearing at a school where hundreds of residents were detained and tortured by security forces 30 years ago. http://allafrica.com/stories/201104111861.html


Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: alyshann78@comcast.net

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