Investigation:150 peaceful pro-Biafra activists killed in chilling crackdown by Nigerian gov’t
The Nigerian security forces, led by the military, embarked on a chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence resulting in the deaths of at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the south east of the country, according to an investigation by Amnesty International published today, November 24, 2016. Analysis of 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eye witness testimonies relating to demonstrations and other gatherings between August 2015 and August 2016 consistently shows that the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning to disperse crowds. It also finds evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces, including at least 60 people shot dead in the space of two days in connection with events to mark Biafra Remembrance Day.
“This deadly repression of pro-Biafra activists is further stoking tensions in the south east of Nigeria. This reckless and trigger-happy approach to crowd control has caused at least 150 deaths and we fear the actual total might be far higher,” said Makmid Kamara, Interim Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“The Nigerian government’s decision to send in the military to respond to pro-Biafra events seems to be in large part to blame for this excessive bloodshed. The authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to book.”
Since August 2015, there has been a series of protests, marches and gatherings by members and supporters of IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) who have been seeking the creation of a Biafran state. Tensions increased further following the arrest of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu on 14 October 2015. He remains in detention.
By far the largest number of pro-Biafra activists were killed on Biafra Remembrance Day on 30 May 2016 when an estimated 1,000 IPOB members and supporters gathered for a rally in Onitsha, Anambra State. The night before the rally, the security forces raided homes and a church where IPOB members were sleeping.
On Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations. Amnesty International has not been able to verify the exact number of extrajudicial executions, but estimates that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days. The real number is likely to be higher.
Ngozi (not her real name), a 28-year-old mother of one, told Amnesty International that her husband left in the morning to go to work but called her shortly afterwards to say that the military had shot him in his abdomen. He said he was in a military vehicle with six others, four of whom were already dead. She told Amnesty International: “he started whispering and said they just stopped [the vehicle]. He was scared they would kill the remaining three of them that were alive… He paused and told me they were coming closer. I heard gunshots and I did not hear a word from him after that.”
The next day Ngozi searched for her husband and finally found his body in a nearby mortuary. The mortuary attendants told her that the military had brought him and six others. She saw three gunshot wounds: one in his abdomen and two in his chest, which confirmed her fear that the military had executed him.
Amnesty International has also reviewed videos of a peaceful gathering of IPOB members and supporters at Aba National High School on 9 February 2016. The Nigerian military surrounded the group and then fired live ammunition at them without any prior warning.
According to eyewitnesses and local human rights activists, many of the protesters at Aba were rounded up and taken away by the military. On 13 February 13 corpses, including those of men known to have been taken by the military, were discovered in a pit near the Aba highway.
“It is chilling to see how these soldiers gunned down peaceful IPOB members. The video evidence shows that this was a military operation with intent to kill and injure,” said Makmid Kamara.
Eyewitness testimony and video footage of the rallies, marches and meetings demonstrate that the Nigerian military deliberately used deadly force.
In many of the incidents detailed in the report, including the Aba High School protest, the military applied tactics designed to kill and neutralize an enemy, rather than to ensure public order at a peaceful event.
All IPOB gatherings documented by Amnesty International were largely peaceful. In those cases where there were pockets of violence, it was mostly in reaction to shooting by the security forces. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that some protesters threw stones, burned tyres and in one incident shot at the police. Regardless, these acts of violence and disorder did not justify the level of force used against the whole assembly.
Amnesty International’s research also shows a disturbing pattern of hundreds of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment by soldiers during and after IPOB events, including arrests of wounded victims in hospital, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.
Vincent Ogbodo (not his real name), a 26-year-old trader, said he was shot on Remembrance Day in Nkpor and hid in a gutter. When soldiers found him they poured acid on him. He told Amnesty International:
“I covered my face. I would have been blind by now. He poured acid on my hands. My hands and body started burning. The flesh was burning… They dragged me out of the gutter. They said I’ll die slowly.”
A man who was detained in Onitsha Barracks after the Remembrance Day shooting on 30 May 2016 told Amnesty International: “Those in the guard room [detention] were flogged every morning. The soldiers tagged it ‘Morning Tea’.”
No action by authorities to ensure accountability
Despite this overwhelming evidence that the Nigerian security forces committed gross human rights violations including extrajudicial executions and torture, no investigations have been carried out by the authorities.
A similar pattern of lack of accountability for gross violations by the military has been documented in other parts of Nigeria including the north east in the context of operations against Boko Haram.
“Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the government of Nigeria to initiate independent investigations into evidence of crimes under international law, and President Buhari has repeatedly promised that Amnesty International’s reports would be looked into. However, no concrete steps have been taken,” said Makmid Kamara.
In the very rare cases where an investigation is carried out, there is no follow up. As a result of the apparent lack of political will to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of such crimes, the military continues to commit human rights violations and grave crimes with impunity.
In addition to investigations, the Nigerian government must ensure adequate reparations for the victims, including the families. They should end all use of military in policing demonstrations and ensure the police are adequately instructed, trained and equipped to deal with crowd-control situations in line with international law and standards. In particular, firearms must never be used as a tool for crowd control.
The findings of this report involved an analysis of 87 videos and 122 photographs showing IPOB gatherings and members of security forces in the process of committing violations and victims of these violations. 193 interviews were conducted.
On 30 September 2016, Amnesty International shared the key findings of this report with the Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior, Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the state Security Services. Responses were received from the Attorney General and Inspector General of Police but neither answered the questions raised in the report.
IPOB emerged in 2012 and campaigns for an Independent Biafran state. Almost fifty years ago, an attempt to establish Biafra state led to a civil war from 1967 to 1970.
“I’m BLESSED” gospel video Charlie Wilson, ft T.I show timeless skills [USAfrica]
Charlie Wilson’s timeless, creative skills are evident in this new gospel song titled “I’m Blessed” – with superstar rapper T.I coming in to attract more of the younger demographics.
The performance was at a recent 2018 ‘ShowTime at Apollo’ -hosted by Steve Harvey. Wilson gained world-wide respect and recognition as a member of the multiple platinum hits group Gap band.
He has shared his story of moving from being a millionaire to homeless and then picking up, changing his lifestyle and reorganizing….
In many ways, however different our circumstances, join me say to say [and sing] it, again: I’m Blessed! By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com [first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet], is completing a book titled “MLK, MANDELA & ACHEBE: POWER, LEADERSHIP & IDENTITY Follow him @Chido247
USAfricaTV: Icon of History is OWERRI’s 1st Town Clerk, Emma Orji – profile interview by Chido Nwangwu #USAfrica
USAfrica ICON Of HISTORY – OWERRI’s 1st Town Clerk, Mazi Emmanuel AC Orji – profile interview by Chido Nwangwu #USAfrica
USAfrica: Buhari to address Nigerians on Monday, following return from London
Special to USAfrica (Houston) • @USAfricaLIVE • @Chido247
Nigeria’s President retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari will address Nigerians on Monday morning, following his return earlier today from medical treatment in London since May 7, 2017.
The USAfrica News Index of May 15-August 15, 2017 show that non-disclosure to Nigerians about the nature of his illness and complicated by his prolonged absence led many activists, some members of the clergy and a few political leaders demanding for him to either return or resign.
Members of his APC party scoffed at the demand rather arguing that Buhari who is in his late 70s and served as military dictator from 1984 to 1986, will be their flag bearer in 2019.
Buhari first flew to London for treatment of what his media aides said was a persistent “ear infection in 2016. Early in 2017, specifically January, February into early March, he was in London.
One of senior special assistants in the Buhari presidency informed USAfricaonline.com that “our President will work a very light schedule until he recovers fully.”
Following May 30 successes, will Biafra agitators compel restructuring Nigeria? By Olu Ojewale
By Olu Ojewale
Special to USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLIVE
[quote font=”georgia” bgcolor=”#eded9c”]
IT was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come. On Tuesday, May 30, the Ndigbo from different walks of life chose to commemorate the day the agitation for a Biafran state was declared 50 years by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a soldier, politician and statesman.
As it happened, Odumegwu-Ojukwu and fellow agitators after fighting in a civil war that lasted for about 31 months, eventually decided to keep Nigeria as one. Although Ojukwu and probably majority of those who shared his Biafran dreams have all passed away, the younger generation of agitators appear unwilling to let them die.
Hence, all the pressure groups that have been formed over the years came together to declare that all the South East indigenes should participate in the stay home protest to commemorate the day. The protest turned out to be a resounding success as many as 75 countries all over the world participated in the protest. It is now common knowledge that activities, business, social and all others were paralysed in the whole of South East that day. Mercifully, there were no reports of bad incidents throughout the period the protest lasted.
That notwithstanding, the message to the federal government, albeit the political class, was unambiguous: Nigeria needs to change it attitudes to the Igbo nation or give it a country of its own. But it appears that the Ndigbo would need more than such agitation to change the current configuration of the country to suit every segment of the country.
In the past 50 years there appears to be an unending agitation for the realisation of Biafra dream as envisioned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he led the region in a civil war in which more than three million people were killed. Since then, the same old issue of marginalisation of the Ndigbo has almost been turned into a sing-song, no matter which government was or in power.
Articulating those issues recently, many Igbo extractions said when the civil war ended in 1970, the then military government had declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always showed the opposite
as Ndigbo were regarded as a conquered people.
Not only that, the apostles of Biafra State have also said that the Ndigbo have been marginalised in all aspects of the Nigerian polity including the economy and politics. They have similarly pointed that despite the pogrom that they suffered, the promise of the Gowon government of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction were never applied to the people of the South East. Besides, instead of the federal government to harness the industry of the Ndigbo people they are being treated like second class citizens in a country where they should have equal rights.
That, perhaps, gave Uchenna Madu, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to say that: “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt.
“Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria. Political scene without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true.”
Madu said trouble appeared to have started for the Ndigbo as far back as before and after the war. He said: “This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of July 29, 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.
“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.
“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.
“Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.”
Madu argued that the policies of marginalisation were efficiently and effectively carried out throughout the military era which dominated Nigerian politics at the time from 1970 to 1999. “Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalisation of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity,” MASSOB boss said.
According to him, the new Igbo nationalism is anchored on a shared vision that the Ndigbo are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria state.
He vowed: “We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation.”
Supporting the separatist idea, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said that there was not much for him to say because of the grim situation in the country, especially among the youths. He said: “You need no other barometer to feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.
“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination
Similarly, Chilos Godsent, president of the Igbo National Council, INC, said in an interview that the economic policies of Nigeria had made things for the Igbo difficult. Godsent expressed the fear the Igbo would continue to find it difficult until the Nigerian state is liberalised to accommodate every ethnic nationalities in the country. He said he was convinced that the marginalisation of the Igbo people was deliberate.
The INC president said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there. The deliberate marginalisation of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.
“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”
That notwithstanding, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was pleased with the success of the sit-at-home protest, saying the realisation of a Biafra republic was near.
Speaking through Emma Powerful, the IPOB’S media and publicity secretary, Kanu said he was encouraged by the outing, vowing that he would stop at nothing in ensuring that the people of the area were liberated from the stranglehold of their oppressors.
He used the medium to thank “friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world for their tenacious efforts that made our Heroes Day Sit-At-Home Order a resounding success.”
The IPOB leader said the fact that people obeyed the order to sit at home “is confirmation that IPOB which I lead has the mandate of all Biafrans to spearhead the ongoing Biafra restoration effort.”
He added: “With near total compliance with this sit-at-home order I issued when I was still in Kuje Prison Abuja, it has proven to me beyond every conceivable doubt that Biafra restoration is a priority to all and sundry and I promise never to let Biafra down even upon the pain of death because you never let me down.
“We must join hands together, with all genuine and sincere individuals and groups, to restore Biafra with truth and honesty.”
However, rather than join hands with the IPOB leader, the South East Peoples Assembly, SEPA, has asked the federal high court, Abuja, to revoke the bail granted Kanu.
The IPOB in collaboration with other groups, on Tuesday, May 30, organised a successful sit-at-home in South East, an action SEPA regarded as a breach of the bail conditions granted Kanu.
Indeed, the IPOB leader has been facing trial for treason and terrorism, being a major sponsor for the secession of South East from Nigeria on the platform of his group.
He was arrested on October 15, 2015, in Lagos, and eventually granted bail in May this year on health grounds with some conditions.
Justice Binta Nyako said that she was convinced that Kanu was ill and needed more medical attention than the Nigerian Prisons was giving him and therefore, granted him bail on conditions that he must not hold any rally, grant any interview or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
Nyako gave other bail conditions to include three sureties in the sum of N100 million each and ordered that Kanu to deposit both his Nigerian and British passports with the court and that a report on the progress of his health must be made available to her on a monthly basis.
She adjourned the matter till July 11 and 12, for definite commencement of trial.
However, based on the sit-at-home order, the SEPA has accused Kanu of infringing on the bail conditions.
In a letter to Justice Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the high court, Chukwuemeka Okorie, president of the SEPA, asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to revoke Kanu’s bail.
He said that Kanu had continued to conduct himself in a manner that was totally at variance with terms and conditions of his bail.
He listed the infractions to include holding rallies, grant of interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.
“Obviously, the recklessness with which he made media statements and even organised the ‘Sit at Home and Stay Indoor’ protest to mark the so called Biafra heroes day on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017, is a threat to the unity, security and peace of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.
“We have no iota of doubt that he is trying to push our dear country Nigeria into an unnecessary precarious situation for his personal agenda and those of his paymasters.
“Sir, our decision to write this demand letter to your good office at this time is to forestall another civil unrest in Nigeria, particularly around the Igbo speaking region.
“As you well know, the struggle by Kanu to be relevant under the guise of actualisation of Biafra does not enjoy the support of right thinking Igbo people both at home and in diaspora.
“That he suddenly addresses himself as the Supreme Leader of Biafra points to how arrogant and disrespectful he is to legitimately constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The pertinent question on our minds as stakeholders is: Has Kanu been consistent in providing the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis since he was granted bail?
“We fear that if Kanu is not tamed by Your Lordship as a matter of urgency, the IPOB may create a situation where it becomes difficult if not impossible for genuine development to take place in the South East under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“History has taught us that the Civil War of 1967-1970 started gradually and later turned out to be something that caused our people unimaginable losses.
“We cannot afford to fold our arms this time and allow a stooge imported from the United Kingdom by stark enemies of Nigeria to maintain a state of belligerence against the nation and keep the name of Igbo people in the news for the wrong reasons.”
In any case, the SERAP’s opposition has, no doubt, shown that not everyone is in support of the separatist movement of Kanu and his co-travellers.
Monday Ubani, a human rights lawyer and second national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, similarly disagreed with the agitation for Biafran state. Rather, he said that the Igbo cause could be better realised within the context of one Nigeria instead of plunging the whole South East into another avoidable crisis.
He admitted that there had been elements of marginalisation against the Ndigbo in the structure of Nigeria, but it was now left for the Ndigbo to build confidence with other ethnic groups in order to get whatever they want.
Ubani said: “If you say you want Biafra, in asking for Biafra what are the plans in place. Have you consulted your political office holders who are holding offices everywhere? Who is going to be the President and then where is the capital to be located? I don’t have any problem with Biafra but I want to see what the plans are. Let’s agree before you pull out.”
He also said Biafra would be difficult to actualise by being hostile and rebellious to other ethnic groups in the country. According to him, the last Biafran war was a waste of lives and opportunities. “I will not at this level of my education now support the Igbo man to go to that level again, war, because I have kids. I will rather like us to get a larger chunk of our right in a more legitimate way in this country God has blessed.
“If you say Igbo should return home because of war, where are the industries to work. Please you don’t sit down and create problems for others and generations yet unborn because you are frustrated. I will advise if we love our land let’s begin to carry our investment home and attract foreign investors,” he said.
Besides, he said that Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started Biafra, before his death said that Biafra was now a thing of the heart. Hence, Ubani said that if Ndigbo want to achieve Biafra “all of us must sit down and work out the modalities of a Biafra state.”
For Nnia Nwodo, president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the marginalisation of the South East by successive administrations necessitated agitation by the youths for a sovereign state of Biafra. At the forum of leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones earlier in May, Nwodo noted that he aspired for a country where every part would be fully involved and the future generation would have a better country than the current generation.
“Our children are agitating. Our children do not want to be part of this country anymore because they feel that we are second-class citizens and because they feel that their parents are incapable of standing out for them.
“They want the Republic of Biafra because most of them feel they are discriminated against and are not equal with others,” he said. He, however, argued that the country would be better as one, as the impact of war on any country could never be over-emphasised.
“We think that in the African continent, our size is our asset. We have built a brotherhood over the years since 1960 and we cannot break. Consequently, we have to put our heads together and find a better federal structure, a constitutional structure, which gives every part of this country satisfaction. In weeks and few months to come, the socio-cultural organisations will come together to seek an end to this impending catastrophe,” Nwodo said.
On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said engaging in dialogue with those agitating for an independent state of Biafra would be a sure way to resolving the issue.
At the Biafra conference in Abuja, on Thursday, May 25, the former president said Nigerians must treat the country with care. He recalled what happened during the Biafran war and why such should be avoided.
“I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels…
“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it. Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite… Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails,” he said.
“But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go. We should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”
Similarly, Balarabe Musa, a veteran politician and a former of Kaduna State, in a newspaper interview, agreed that the Ndigbo have not had their fair share in the scheme of things in Nigeria since the time of the civil war. Musa, however, disagreed that majority of the Igbo are in support of Biafra.
He said: “Sincerely speaking, the South-East has not had a fair-share since the civil war. Their marginalisation is quite obvious. But if the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of General (Yakubu) Gowon and the late General (Murtala Mohammed) Murtala’s administrations had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalisation that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra.
“If the reconstruction and reconciliation had been sustained, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of those Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent. The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. Majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because they are enterprising in nature.
“As you are aware, people who are enterprising would prefer a big community as against a small one. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time-bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.
“Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There were times in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising and because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And probably the system could marginalise everybody until there is a brutal revolution.”
Perhaps, fearing the untold damages that may result from another civil war in Nigeria, the only popular agitation in the country today is restructuring, which appears to be unpopular among some Northerners. But that has not diminished the debate for the need to restructure Nigeria to speed up its development.
Lending a voice to the argument, Olusegun Adeniyi in his newspaper column of May 25, said: “All said, as we reflect on 50 years after the declaration of Biafra and what might have been, I agree with the proponents of restructuring that there are sufficient grounds to question some of the assumptions on which the unity of Nigeria is predicated, especially in the light of our serial failings. But to beat war drums at the least provocation or to continue to marginalise (in critical appointments and projects) a significant section of our country are signposts that we have not come to terms with our past and that we have not learnt enough lessons from that tragic episode in our history to say NEVER AGAIN!”
Indeed, that was the view of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state on May 30, 1967, known as Biafra, when he gave his candid opinion on the same agitation in a video that had gone viral on social media.
He said in the video: “I led the first one and I can say I led ‘proudly’ the first one I don’t think a second one is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one, otherwise, they would all have been in vain.”
But whether the agitators for a Biafran state are going to heed to the advice is another matter. That notwithstanding, the fear of Biafra state, may after all be the necessary harbinger to reconfigure the country and give everyone a sense of belonging.
USAfrica 25th Anniversary & Best of Africa awards on 07-07-17
USAfrica 25th Anniversary & Best of Africa awards on 07-07-17 at Hilton Westchase in Houston.
USAfrica, the international multimedia company and public policy think-tank, will celebrate its 25 years of professional excellence with its signature ‘BEST OF AFRICA’™ Awards, on FRIDAY JULY 7, 2017. On Saturday July 8 will be the USAfricaFORUM for insights to African and American business interests, democracy debates, immigration issues, and cross-cultural matters.
USAfrica, characterized by the CNN and The New York Times as the largest (and arguably, the most influential) African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks, was founded since 1992 by Dr. Chido Nwangwu. He is author of the soon-to-be-released 2018 book, Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness, and former adviser on Africa business to the ex-Mayor of Houston.
Also, he established the 1st African-owned, U.S.-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com. USAfrica Inc was established May 1992, first print edition of USAfrica magazine published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and several platforms and products. USAfricaonline.com is powered by the global resources of USAfrica, CLASSmagazine, CLASSmagazine.TV, PhotoWorks.Tv, USAfrica.TV, MandelaAchebeChido.com, AchebeBooks.com and ChidoNwangwu.com
On what set the networks on its pedestal, Dr. Chido Nwangwu notes that “USAfrica is respected for its acclaimed dedication to the business and interests of Africans and Americans, record of international community leadership and fluently mainstreaming contemporary African immigrant news and views in the melting-pot of American discourses. It’s not been easy; it has come with a lot sacrifices but I’m blessed by God’s grace and an extraordinary family, extended family, an outstanding team and initial backers.”
Those initial pillars include Emmanuel Okoro, Eni Kanu, Ambassador Chris Chukwu, Rick Sellentin, John Rosenkrans, Emmanuel Odimgbe, Quincy Sintim, James Okorafor, Samson Nwangwu, Prof. Chigbo Ofong, George Nwanguma, Edem Archibong, Kelly Azuike, Dr. Chidi Amuta, Obinwa Nnaji, Kenneth Orji and Dr. Keith Robinson.
He adds “I must make a special mention of Kase Lawal, his brother Kamoru Lawal, former Gov. Donald Duke, Dr. Ralph Ekezie; Gov. Willie Obiano, Dr. Ernest & Mrs. Azudialu, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, Kenneth Yellowe, Emmanuel Diribe who is the person that advertised in almost every magazine and newspaper published by USAfrica; plus almost a hundred others in Houston and across all the major cities in the U.S., Nigeria and South Africa.”
USAfrica honorees include business leaders, creative icons, fashion and music stars who represent the diverse skills and backgrounds of Africans and Americans.
Chido appreciates the fact that “The USAfrica BEST OF AFRICA™ awards bring together our two continents leaders, oil and gas executives, Governors, members of the U.S Congress, Nollywood superstars, key legislators, city officials, business heavyweights, banking executives, students, everyday folks and diverse achievers.”
#Terrorism State of Emergency in #Egypt #ISIS claims Palm Sunday bombing of church; killed 44
By Hamza Hendawi, (AP) Tanta, Egypt — Suicide bombers struck hours apart at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt, killing 44 people and turning Palm Sunday services into scenes of horror and outrage at the government that led the president to call for a three-month state of emergency.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the violence, adding to fears that extremists are shifting their focus to civilians, especially Egypt’s Christian minority.
The attacks in the northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria that also left 126 people wounded came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit.
It was the single deadliest day for Christians in decades and the worst since a bombing at a Cairo church in December killed 30 people.
Late Sunday night, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called for a three-month state of emergency. According to Egypt’s constitution, parliament must vote in favor of such a declaration — a virtual certainty since it is packed with supporters of the president. It cannot exceed six months without a referendum to extend it.
The army chief-turned-president also dispatched elite troops across the country to protect key installations and accused unidentified countries of fueling instability, saying that “Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt.”
The attacks highlighted the difficulties facing el-Sissi’s government in protecting Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
“Where is the government?” screamed an angry Maged Saleh, who rushed to the church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta where his mother escaped the carnage. “There is no government!”
The first bomb exploded inside St. George’s Church in Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said, overturning pews, shattering windows and staining the whitewashed walls with blood.
Video from inside the church broadcast by CBC TV showed people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers. Several doors had been blown off. Women wailed outside.
“After the explosion, everything became dark from the smoke,” said Edmond Edward, attending Mass with his brother, Emil, who suffered head wounds and leaned on him for support at a nearby hospital.
“There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives,” he told The Associated Press. The blast appeared to be centered near the altar, he said.
Susan Mikhail, whose apartment balcony across the street has a clear view of the church and its front yard, said the explosion violently shook her building.
“Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes,” she told the AP. The more seriously wounded then were carried out by other survivors and taken to hospitals in private cars, she said.
Hundreds of residents gathered in the area, and church members blocked people from entering the church as police cordoned off the area.
A few hours later, a suicide bomber rushed toward St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, killing at least 17 people and wounding 48.
CCTV images showed a man with a blue sweater tied over his shoulders approaching the main gate to St. Mark’s and then being turned away by security and directed toward a metal detector. He passed a female police officer talking to another woman, and entered a metal detector before an explosion engulfed the area.
The Health Ministry said six Muslims were among the dead in Alexandria.
Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church leader, had held Palm Sunday services at the cathedral, but his aides said he had escaped unharmed. The timing of the attack raised the question of whether the bomber had sought to assassinate him.
Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt on April 28-29, marked Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square by expressing “deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation.”
Magdy George Youssef, a deacon at St. George’s, said the church was almost full when the blast occurred and threw him under a pew.
“All I could think of was to find my wife, and all I could see was smoke, blood and completely charred bodies,” the distraught 58-year-old said. Youssef, who suffered only an injured ear, later found his wife at home, with burns to her face.
IS said in a statement that two Egyptian suicide bombers named Abu Ishaq al Masri and Abu al Baraa al Masri carried out the church attacks and vowed to continue attacks against Christians. “What happened is a dangerous indicator that shows how easy it is to attack a large gathering of people in different places,” said researcher Ishaq Ibrahim with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “There is a complete government failure in taking the IS threat seriously.”
El-Sissi said in a statement that Sunday’s attacks would only strengthen the resolve of Egyptians against “evil forces.” He held an emergency meeting of the National Defense Council, which includes the prime minister, the defense and interior ministers, the speaker of parliament and top army commanders and security chiefs.
Regional police chief Brig. Gen. Hossam Elddin Khalifa was fired over the Tanta bombing, with Maj. Gen. Tarek Hassouna replacing him, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he is “so sad to hear of the terrorist attack” against the U.S. ally but added that he has “great confidence” that el-Sissi “will handle the situation properly.” The two leaders met at the White House on April 3.
Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam — also condemned the attacks, calling them a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”
Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza condemned the bombings as well.
An Islamic State affiliate claimed the December bombing as well as a string of killings in the northern Sinai that forced hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas. The militants recently vowed to step up attacks against Christians, whom they regard as infidels.
Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.
The Sinai-based IS affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings including the downing of a Russian passenger jetliner in the Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people aboard and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.
Egypt’s Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East and have long complained of discrimination and that the government does not do enough to protect them. Security at churches is routinely increased around religious holidays.
The Copts largely supported the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and incurred the wrath of many of his followers, who attacked churches and other Christian institutions.
While the Copts have stood steadfast alongside the government, an increase in attacks on Christians has tested that support.
Egyptian media had previously reported that the church in Tanta had been targeted before, with a bomb defused there in late March.
As night fell, hundreds of Christians, mostly clad in black, streamed to the church to offer their condolences. Scuffles broke out between the mourners and church volunteers guarding the church’s doors as many pushed and shoved to get in.
USAfrica: President Trump suffers strategic defeat in avoiding healthcare vote. By Chido Nwangwu
U.S President Donald J. Trump suffered a major, strategic defeat with his failure alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan to gather enough votes to support the Republican bill known as the American Health Care Act, a few minutes ago Friday March 24, 2017. They pulled the bill from being voted for or against.
With this collapse of the twin goals of Trump (despite his denying in his initial reaction) to “replace and repeal” Obamacare, Ryan has said “Obamacare is the law of the land, and it will remain the law of the land until it’s replaced.”
Immediate past President Barack Obama successfully passed the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. By Chido Nwangwu, publisher of USAfricaonline.com @Chido247
#Biafra IPOB warns APC against pro-Buhari rally in Anambra
By Chido Nwangwu @Chido247
Amidst all the speculation by millions of Nigerians regarding the health status of the Nigerian president Muhammad Buhari, a retired army General, USAfricaonline.com is reporting the pro-Buhari APC political rally scheduled for March 10, 2017 in the capital of Anambra State, Awka, is likely to run into the countervailing agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement.
The IPOB cites three major events and factors for its planned opposition, in the words of its publicity secretary Emma Powerful, arguing that “it smacks of crass insensitivity that certain Igbo speaking people in desperate need of money… would go as far as planning to shamelessly hold a rally in support of this Buhari administration that has killed and abducted over 1000 Biafran men and women.”
IPOB referenced recently released reports by Amnesty International, Intersociety, Human Rights Watch and Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) on the “militarization of Igbo speaking parts of Biafraland” and what it called “the illegal detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB.”
“It was in the same Anambra State that Buhari ordered his Nigerian Army led by Brigadier General Tukur Buratai to massacre hundreds of defenceless IPOB rally goers at Nkpor and Onitsha Head-bridge with scores missing, presumed dead. Whoever came up with this idea of holding a rally in Anambra State in support of Buhari who has not hidden his hatred and genocidal intent towards Biafrans in general and Igbos in particular, must have his brain examined.”
IPOB which operates and rallies in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States warned in the statement obtained by USAfrica that “Any person or group of persons stupid enough to come out to rally for Buhari on the 10th of March 2017, whatever they see they take…. We know this show of shame was planned by APC in Anambra State as an effort to diminish the the historically significant World Biafra Genocide Exhibition organised by IPOB Worldwide kicking off in Spain on the 10th of March 2017.
“This IPOB organised exhibition in Vittoria Basque Region Spain, is the first of its kind in the history of Biafra restoration and will attract visitors from all over the world including major European media houses. IPOB will feature pictures and video footage of genocide committed by the British and Nigerian governments from 1966 to date.
“The exhibition will feature in every major capital city of the world and is designed to bring home to the world the horrors of the genocide committed and still being committed against the people of Biafra by the likes of [retired Generals and former military rulers] Gowon, Obasanjo, Buhari and lately [the] Tukur Buratai-led Nigerian army.”
USAfrica News Index 2001 to 2013, especially 2015 to date, 2017, show an exponential increase in the worldwide agitation for the “restoration of Biafra” by the younger generation Igbo and some from the areas of 1967-1970 defunct Biafra now known as South South of Nigeria. The late, charismatic Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu served as the Head of State of Biafra. Ojukwu was interviewed 3 times by USAfrica founder & publisher Chido Nwangwu; first in 1988 at his Villaska Lodge residence in Ikoyi, Lagos; and in Houston, Texas. Excerpts from the exclusive interviews and insights from the editors of USAfrica form parts of the special e-book titled BIAFRA: 50 Years on The PATH OF THUNDER, to be released in May 2017 (USAfricaBooks).
USAfrica: President Obama says his 8years made America better, safer
USAfrica: President Obama says his 8years made America better, stronger and safer.
Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston)) and USAfricaonline.com
[President Obama’s farewell address of January 10, 2017 in Chicago; as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House].
It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self- government.
It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self- executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.
In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.
Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.
In other words, it will determine our future.
Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.
That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.
But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well- intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.
Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.
So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not justdishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on fore ign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.
Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.
It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.
It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, noforeign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.
But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.
Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in
1/10/2017 President Obama’s Farewell Address: Full Video and Text – The New York Times
our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.
That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.
You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.
Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.
To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.
And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.
That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain.
For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Soccer: Why Cristiano Ronaldo is hated by many, loved by more
By Michael Hlophe, in South Africa
Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com @USAfricaLive
Hated by many, loved by more, but respected by all. This is normally the case for all the individuals that perform at the highest level.
I have always felt that CR7 has had to prove himself more than most athletes. He is on fire as an exceptional athlete, but gets burnt by haters more often than not. Any individuals that feel that he deserves no respect should google his accolades and use YouTube as a reference of his abilities.
Football lovers are aware that Ronaldo is a goal scoring machine and the most influential player for Portugal and Real Madrid. The same could be said about him in his time as a Manchester United footballer. He has won everything there is to win (except for a FIFA World Cup gold medal) at club and national level. He is labeled selfish when he outscores his counterparts such as Lionel Messi. When the likes of Luis Suarez outscore him in one season, he is ‘old’, ‘losing form’ and apparently no longer as influential as he once was. The haters always find something wrong with his performances and records. I personally don’t understand the logic that Suarez outperformed Ronaldo because of scoring more goals when the same is not said about Ronaldo outperforming Messi as a result of outscoring him in the same season. We hear excuses such as Messi having more of an influence on the overall performance of the team. Is that so?
Ronaldo may seem arrogant to some, but none dare deny the fact that it would quickly be evident if he were omitted from Real Madrid and Portugal’s starting line ups. I may be a bit bias as more of a Ronaldo fan, but I believe that this year’s Ballon D’or undoubtedly belonged to him. I respect CR7 and LM10 for their impact in the past decade, but they have alternatively dominated parts of the last decade. I do not believe that we should be focusing on who the better player is because they have different styles that suit different tastes.
This debate is no different to the debate that basketball fans had when Kobe Bryant and LeBron James played in the same era, when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were in their peak or when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg went tit for tat for the helm. In an ideal world, we would all sit back and enjoy the magic of such individuals in the same eras.
CR7 deserved everything that he achieved over the years! Ronaldo and Messi have a way of pushing each other to new heights. I concede that Lionel Messi is the more naturally talented of the pair, but nobody can take away the hard work and dedication that Ronaldo has put in to get to this level. He will go down as a legend regardless of what his haters think. CR7 is on fire!
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