Sunday, April 29, 2007

Big Fat Procrastinator...sorry but I cant help it!

ok ok ....supposedly, I was going to write a couple of posts in the last 2 weeks but I didn't.
I was bzzzz not to mention, a paper due tomorrow (15 pages...not joking!).
My paper is about the press in sudan. Its titled Press coverage during crises.
Sudan went through horrible things in the past few decades (civil war....conflicts...more conflicts....economic difficulties....sanctions (thank you America) and much more.
Not only that, Osama Bin laden lived in my country for a couple of years, our govt supports terrorism ( really?) and it's the 21st century and slave trade is still booming there (truely?)
Wait a minute....slavery...does it really exist in Sudan? ( google it and you will find pictures/interviews/confessions of traumatized "ex-slaves" n ofcourse many reports published by CSI (chrisitian solidarity international).

Here is a little something about slavery in Sudan

A Case Study in Sensationalism: Allegations of "Slavery" and "SlaveRedemption" in Sudan

One of the most damaging and recurring media themes with regard to Sudanhas been allegations of government-sponsored "slavery" and "slavetrade" in Sudan. As "proof" for this, a great number of newspaperarticles have "reported" instances of "slave redemption" in whichalleged "slaves" were said to have been "bought" back from "slavetraders", stories presented to them by the Swiss-based ChristianSolidarity International (CSI). Articles essentially taking ChristianSolidarity International claims about "slavery" and "slave redemption"at face value have appeared throughout the world, and have beenpublished in several reputable newspapers and journals, including'Newsweek' (27), 'Time' (28), CNN (29), 'Reader's Digest' (30), 'TheWall Street Journal' (31), 'The New York Times' (32), 'The WashingtonPost' (33), 'International Herald Tribune' (34), 'USA Today' (35), 'TheTimes' (36), 'The Observer' (37) and 'The Daily Telegraph' (38).Important regional newspapers as far apart as 'The Los Angeles Times'(39) to 'The Houston Chronicle' (40) have also repeated CSI claims.Reputable news agencies such as Reuters has also repeatedly reported CSIclaims seemingly as fact. (41) So have other news agencies such asAgence France Presse (42), Associated Press (43) and UPI (44). Severalregional news agencies have also run with the claims. (45) The BBC alsoconspicuously accepted CSI claims at face value, publishing numerousarticles citing their claims. (46) Christian Solidarity International'snewspaper propaganda outreach extended all the way down to school groupsin Colorado (47), radio talk show hosts (48) through to rock stars. (49)
The Canadian media has also been remarkably unprofessional in acceptingCSI's controversial claims. 'The Ottawa Citizen' ran a five-day serieson "slavery" in Sudan. (50) In 1997, 'The Calgary Sun' ran an eight-part series uncritically citing CSI claims. (51) In April 2000,'Maclean's', Canada's premier magazine, also ran an extensive, front-cover, CSI feature. (52)
Christian Solidarity International was also able to get its anti-Sudanpropaganda "theatre" onto American network television. The 1999 seasonpremiere of the CBS network show, "Touched By An Angel", featured "slaveredemption" in Sudan. (53) By the show's executive producer ownadmission, this episode was intended to influence the passage of anti-Sudanese legislation through Congress. (54) This CSI propaganda piece,based on claims of a CSI-style "slave redemption" of the sortsubsequently seen to be fraudulent, was viewed by an estimated 20million Americans.
The damage done to Sudan's reputation by Christian SolidarityInternational's claims of "slavery" and "slave redemption" in thatcountry is clear. Yet these claims have now been comprehensively exposedas fraudulent and untrustworthy. A Western diplomat in Khartoum statedthat CSI has "zero credibility" among mainstream aid organisations andthe United Nations. (55)
It should be noted that Sir Robert ffolkes, director of the Save theChildren (UK) programme in Sudan, an organisation at the forefront ofthe abductions issue, has publicly stated: "I have seen no evidence atall of slave trading. And believe me, we have looked". (56) Sir Roberthas also said: "I do not believe the government in involved in slave-taking." (57) Exposes of the claims made by CSI began to emerge asearly as 1999. (58) Also in that year, respected Italian priest FatherRenato Kizito Sesana, long active in southern Sudan, questioned CSI'sclaims. Writing in the Kenyan Sunday Nation, he observed: "When you knowthe reality of Sudan on the ground, you cannot believe that it ispossible to come to Nairobi from Switzerland, the following day hire aplane at Wilson Airport, fly somewhere in Sudan with a pocketful ofmoney and redeem 1,050 slaves. Somebody, somewhere, plays a dirtytrick." (59) One month later, Father Renato added that he was "afraid"that CSI "might have fallen victims of some fraud perpetrated by localpeople, possibly with the connivance of elements living abroad who havesome more or less legitimate interests in the area. Only the Swissbranch of CSI is involved in the redemption of slaves. The German andAustrian branches, that were involved at the beginning, have withdrawn.What were their reasons? Did they smell a rat, too?" (60) In 2000, theCanadian government also clearly questioned the credibility of large-scale "slave redemptions" as claimed by CSI: "[R]eports, especially fromCSI, about very large numbers were questioned, and frankly not accepted.Mention was also made to us of evidence that the SPLA were involved in"recycling" abductees..." (61)
In February 2002, in an unprecedented international focus, and as theresult of some excellent investigative journalism, 'The Irish Times',London's 'Independent on Sunday', 'The Washington Post' and'International Herald Tribune', chose to publish, or republish, articlesexposing the deep fraud and corruption at the heart of CSI's claims of"slave redemption" in Sudan. (62) These articles are the culmination oflong-standing concerns about the activities of several organisationsinvolved in what had become a Western-financed "redemption" industry inparts of Sudan. The claims by organisations and people such as JohnEibner and the Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI), andBaroness Cox's Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) themselves, to have"redeemed" tens of thousands of Sudanese "slaves" have been sharplycalled into question. 'The Washington Post' reported that in numerousdocumented instances "the slaves weren't slaves at all, but peoplegathered locally and instructed to pretend they were returning frombondage". (63) 'The Independent on Sunday' reported that it was able to"reveal that 'redemption' has often been a carefully orchestratedfraud". (64) Rev. Cal Bombay, whose Crossroads Christian Communicationsorganisation in Canada had been involved in "slave redemptions" revealedthat SPLA leaders such as Dr Samson Kwaje, in candid comments about"slave redemption", "doubted that even 5%" of the "slaves" had ever beenabducted, and that "they were coached in how to act, and stories totell." (65)
'The Irish Times' reported "According to aid workers, missionaries, andeven the rebel movement that facilitates it, slave redemption in Sudanis often an elaborate scam." 'The Irish Times' article also stated thatin many cases "the process is nothing more than a careful deceit, stage-managed by corrupt officials".
In reality, many of the 'slaves' are fakes. Rebel officials round uplocal villagers to pose for the cameras. They recruit fake slavers - alight skinned soldier, or a passing trader, to 'sell' them. The childrenare coached in stories of abduction and abuse for when the redeemer, ora journalist, asks questions. Interpreters may be instructed to twisttheir answers. The money, however, is very real. CSI can spend more than$300,000 during a week of redemptions at various bush locations. Aftertheir plane takes off, the profits are divvied up - a small cut to the"slaves" and the "trader" but the lion's share to local administratorsand SPLA figures.
In an open letter in 2000 senior SPLA commander Aleu Ayieny Aleu statedthat "slave redemption" had become a "racket of mafia dimensions". Healso revealed, as an example, that one of his lighter-skinned relatives,SPLA captain Akec Tong Aleu, had been "forced several times to pretendas an Arab and simulate the sale of free children to CSI on camera".(66) Aleu declared: "It was a hoax. This thing has been going on for noless than six years". (67) This account, 'The Washington Post' stated,"coincides with descriptions of the scam offered by Sudanese officialsand Western aid workers, who said the sheer volume of money flowing intothe south made corruption inevitable." (68) The newspaper also reportedthat "prevalent fraud is acknowledged by senior rebel officials". Thenewspaper stated: "By many accounts, individual rebel commanders aredeeply involved in redemption scams". 'The Irish Times' observed thatone SPLA commander has earned enough from the scam to acquire fortywives. (69) Other SPLA figures were said to have built houses orfinanced businesses with their cuts. (70)

'The Irish Times' further made clear that:
"[T]he warning signs have been there for years. Within the SPLA,whispers of suspicion have swelled into a chorus of criticism in recentyears. Acrimonious rows have broken out and accusations profiteeringlevelled at individuals. Outside the rebel ranks, aid workers have beenpuzzled. It seems almost incredible that tens of thousands of abductedcivilians could cross a dangerous frontline undetected by governmentforces. Moreover, aid workers north of the line saw no evidence of largemovements south, and their colleagues in the south saw no sudden demandfor extra food or medicines by redeemed salves. Put simply, the numbersdidn't add up. And yet no questions were asked. The dollars rolled inand the redemptions continued. "
The issue of "slave redemption" fraud straddles several themes includingthe ability of pressure groups to get their stories into local andnational media. The self-styled American Anti-Slavery Group, based inBoston, has managed to place a number of questionable articles in localmedia.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Coming up-"The Asian Dragon" n some ranting

I'm going to post something about China and Africa soon!
I usually post while studying or doing something really important, yes, academic books inspire me!

My personal updates:
1-I might be a Justice Africa intern this summer! I applied last night and I really hope they accept me:)
2- I went to a very interesting lecture today, An Egyptian Egyptologist found what many believe is "Cleopatra's" mummy!
3-I was talking to a friend today and we were discussing what happens to women at war and how rape is used as a war weapon.) Then, I did some research about Bosnia and Rwanda, I was horrified. So, I decided to conduct my own research on Darfur!

Representing bilad al Sudan!

The Arrival of the Asian Dragon, is China Africa's new hope?

China's growing trade with Africa

percentage of total trade with Africa

Sudan 68%
Eq. Guinea 22%
Angola 37%
Zimbabwe 6%

-China's trade with Africa increased by over 50% in 10 years (96-06)
-China is now the world's second largest consumer of oil (where does China get oil from? yes, good guess! Africa.)
-China is now Africa's third largest trading partner right after the US and France.

What does all this mean? The Asian dragon woke up!

The 19th century was called the British century , the 20th century was called the American century, the 21st century will be called the .....Asian century! Yes, no, mabye.
Did it ever cross your mind that China might be the next superpower?Is China going to replace America or is it going to compete with America? will the world power shift from the west to the east?
In the last few decades, China changed from Asia's old ill man to the world's fastest growing economy. The Chinese did the unthinkable and lifted 400,000 of their populations from poverty, can they help the Africans do the same thing? ( btw, we are talking about half of Africa's population here)
I'm not going to keep asking questions and I will not answer the questions but I will try my best to figure out how China is good for Africa.

The West spent millions and millions of dollars on Africa in the past few decades, did it really work? I'm not being ungrateful here but Africa is still poor. We African welcomed the millineum armed with poverty, diseases, illiteracy and underdevelopment.

This is a famous Chinese proverb "dont give a man a fish, teach him how to fish". China is teaching Africa how to fish!
They are giving Africans what they need. Trade, Business opportunities and investments. Africa doesn't need more aid money or even loans ( loans we can't afford paying back and sky-high interest rates...Thank you sir!). Trust me, I saw real life evidence of how China is good for Africa in Africa's largest country last summer when I was there. For the first time I felt that my country is an oil-exporter. I felt proud and I only thought to myself "finally al koj (bad luck) will go away and Sudan is on its way to development".

If China is good for Africa then why are people pointing out China's bad human rights records and China's so-called attempt at colonizing Africa?

First of all, the Chinese didn't come to Africa with Flags and a new religion (Buddhism in this case.) and they are not on a mission to "civilize" the Africans. They came to Africa with an idea to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship (trade/investments etc..). In other words, the Chinese are NOT colonizing Africa and the Africans are NOT swaping a master for another master.

Second of all, China cancelled the debt of many African countries . I know that many western governments and organizations did the same thing but China did it without any publicity or international coverage.

Third of all, China was poor before (not long ago!) but after the economic reform program implemented in the late 1970's, China had come a looooong way. Mabye China can export ( no, not democracy:)) their economic reform program to Africa. China can help Africa not only by trade and businness opportunities but also by guiding them to development and economic growth.

Is China Africa's new hope?


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Movies about Africa, Hollywood's new obsession!

Thanks for inspiring this post Dana:)

Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, The Constant Gardener, The last king of Scotland etc..they are not just random movies they are movies about my beloved Africa. Its the begining of the 21st century and the world is still worried about Africa seeing that most African countries greeted the 21st century and the new millenium armed with poverty, illiteracy, war, destructive ethnic or religious conflicts and underdevelopment. In the 1950's and the 1960's, the world wasn't very worried about Africa, they were worried about Asia. Yes, Asia, I am talking about the Middle east, the near east and the far east. However, this century is truely the "Asian century", Asians proved that they can solve their conflicts and problems and started developing their countries (hongkong, Thailand, UAE, China etc...). While America was entering the digital age, Europe was recovering from the destructive WW2, Asians started using their resources, Africa was too involved in pointless ethnic conflicts, corruption and other problems which often lead to humanitarian disasters.
Why is Hollywood soo interested in making 20th century Africa into movies? Because we have plenty of amazing, unbelievable, touching and shocking stories ( not to mention that they are most definitely oscar-winning stories!).
I'm not going to be surprised if I go to the movies in a few weeks to watch a movie about Sudan! wait a minute, they are filming emma's war right now! I'm sure the world will be thrilled by this movie. I mean a sudanese warlord marries a british aid worker and she lives with him in Southern sudan during Africa's longest-running war! How originial! ( drum rolls, drum rolls pleaseeeee.....and the golden globe for best actress goes to ...Nicole Kidman for playing Emma's part in an exquisite way and for turning the horrors of the Sudanese civil war into an eye-opening film ( not that we were aware of the civil war but hey thanks for telling us about it!).
Do I like movies about Africa?
Yes, No, Mabye. I do like watching movies about Africa because hollywood succeeds in making them very real and believable. However, I hate watching such movies, it makes me helpless, it makes Africa seem helpless. Africa is not a helpless sad continent and I hate being helpless.
I'm not in denial, Africa did go through some tough times mabye more than any other continent but is it irreversible? are we never going to rise? are we always going to be a dependant sad continent? did Africa go down for good?
Mabye the 20th century wasn't "africa's" century, mabye the 21st century will not be "africa's" century but mabye the 22nd century will be ours. Africa has so much potential. Atleast, I think so! I believe in her.
Honestly, I'm not against watching hollywood movies about her or any movies about Africa at all but please, stop the afro-pessimism n stop making Africa look helpless.

Moreover, what did they all have in common except hotel rwanda?
The European trying to save the helpless little sad Africans. Europeans come to Africa expecting change and ofcoure they will be the ones responsible for this change. They will come to Africa and all of a sudden, AIDS dissapear, poverty is gone, all people are educated, development is all over the place but wait a minute, this is the real world.
Why is Hotel Rwanda different from the other 3 movies? It is real. It happened. Yes, that one African man, Paul ,saved thousands of lives. Yes, Africans are capable of great things once they get to work.
Europeans did alot for Africa, Europeans are doing alot for Africa right now but what can Africans do for Africa? Alot. Who is going to change Africa? its own people, the Africans. Is there any hope for Africa? Yes, its people.

The hollywood movies are true, I'm not going to lie but its history, history is the past and the future is the present. We should look forward to the future while not forgeting the past, acknowledging it while learning our lesson for it, we can make a brighter future for ourselves, our children and the next generations.

Its April 2007

Yes, its April..FINALLY! No, it's not my birthday, anniversary or anything but its when one of my favorite-book-to-be is going to appear! This April, A Long Day's Dying a book on Darfur written by Eric Reeves, a very significant American author and researcher on Sudan (No, he is not as biased as the ex-american ambassador to sudan!).

check it out

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Poetry from South Africa

I waited for you last night

I waited for your last night
I lay there in my bed
like a plucked rose
its falling petals my tears

the sound that my room
drew in softly
in my ears
was the tapping on the window

getting up
I opened it
and a moth flew in
powdering my neck
I caught its tiny wings
and kissed it
I climbed back into bed
with it
and left it to flutter around my head

I waited for you last night

By: Zindzi Mandela

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Identity Crisis, not the only one!

Here you go,
I posted my very own identity Crisis a couple of weeks ago and I thought that I'm the only sudaniya going through this thing.
But wait a minute, I read several identity crisis posts in sudanese blogs!

so, I'm not the only one after all.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Darfur tree is her newsstand

Ladies and Gentlemen,
She is not just a normal girl, she is a fighter.
A true Darfurian born and raised in the western region of Sudan known as Darfur.
She is currently fightning for her people, the 6 million Darfurians. If you think she is using weapons and violence to earn respect and defend her people, you are wrong. she is using her one and only weapon, her pen!
Let me introduce a heroine, a symbol of hope and a true Darfurian female, Awatif Ahmed Isshag.
Drum rooooolls....

Here is the article:-

Darfur tree is her newsstand
People walk miles to read the sharp reports that 24-year-old Awatif Ahmed Isshag pens and posts outside her home.
By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff WriterMarch 4, 2007

EL FASHER, SUDAN — For Awatif Ahmed Isshag, covering Darfur is the story of her life.Nearly a decade ago, at 14, Isshag started publishing a handwritten community newsletter about local events, arts and religion. Once a month she'd paste decorated pages to a large piece of wood and hang it from a tree outside her family's home for passersby to read.But after western Sudan plunged into bloodshed and suffering in 2003, Isshag's publication took on a decidedly sharper edge, tackling issues such as the plight of refugees, water shortages, government inaction in the face of militia attacks, and sexual violence against women. Her grass-roots periodical has become the closest thing that El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, has to a hometown newspaper. More than 100 people a day stop to check out her latest installments, some walking several miles from nearby displacement camps, she said."I feel I have a message to deliver to the community," said Isshag, now all of 24 years old.The petite reporter is an increasingly common sight around town, her notebook and pen in hand as she interviews local people for her articles. Last week she roamed El Fasher asking people how they felt about the International Criminal Court's recent accusations against two war-crimes suspects in Darfur.Critics have attempted to intimidate her and force her to shut down. Instead, Isshag is expanding this month with a new printed edition, enabling her to circulate for the first time beyond the neighborhood tree. "She represents the only indigenous piece of journalism in Darfur," said Simon Haselock, a media consultant with Africa Union in Khartoum. "She's got energy and drive. It's exactly what they need." Readers say her magazine, called Al Raheel (which roughly translates as "Moving" or "Departing"), is one of the only places they can read locally produced stories about issues touching their lives."It's the best because this magazine shows what is really happening in Darfur," said Mohammed Ameen Slik, 30, an airline supervisor who lives nearby.Isshag complained that despite international attention, the suffering of Darfur remained vastly underreported inside Sudan. There are no television stations in the area, and most newspapers operate under government control or are based hundreds of miles away in Khartoum."The local media don't cover the issue of Darfur," she said. "We hear about it when one child dies in Iraq, but we hear nothing when 50 children die" in Darfur. Through articles, essays and poems, Isshag frequently blames the government for failing to protect the citizens of Darfur. A recent story titled "What's Going On in El Fasher?" compared the government's tightening security vise in the city to checkpoints in Lebanon. A thinly veiled poem told the story of a sultan who blithely tried to reassure his long-suffering subjects.Isshag said government officials had so far largely dismissed her as "just a young girl." But during a recent trip to Khartoum, she received an anonymous phone call from someone who warned her to "stop writing" and "take care of your education" instead.She shrugged off the threat. "I'm not afraid," she said. "Journalism is a profession of risk. I'm not doing something wrong. I'm doing something right." Her passion for giving voice to the region's victims stems in part from her own family's losses. A cousin walked for three days to escape attacks by Arab militias, known as janjaweed, after her village was burned down. Her grandfather died in a displacement camp near Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. About a dozen other relatives still live in the camp, unable for security reasons to return home.Darfur's crisis began in 2003 after rebels attacked government forces. Government officials are accused of responding by hiring the janjaweed to attack Darfur villages and terrorize civilians. The government denies supporting the militias. More than 200,000 have died in the conflict, and 2 million more have been displaced.An advocate for women's education, Isshag credits her parents for allowing her to avoid being tied down by housework and pursue her interest in writing. But she occasionally uses her columns to lecture other women on pet peeves. A recent "For Women Only" article lambasted those who took off their shoes on the bus. "It's wrong," she said with a laugh.Isshag hopes to complete a master's degree in economics at the University of Khartoum and one day to lead a development company, building schools and houses in her long-marginalized homeland. But for now she's focused on improving the magazine.After a local Khartoum-based newspaper profiled her, Isshag received a new computer and printer as a gift from a well-wisher in Qatar. She's also looking into launching a website.She said she would never charge readers for the paper or turn it into a business. "I don't care about the money," she said. "I would fast to get the story.",0,4420036.story?coll=la-home-headlines