CNNInternational interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues
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My aversion to patronizing 'Save' Africacampaigns by the West
By UZODINMA IWEALA
Special to USAfricaonline.com,USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston CLASSmagazine and TheBlack Business Journal
July 2007: Last fall, shortly after I returned from Nigeria, I wasaccosted by a perky blond college student whoseblue eyes seemed to match the "African" beads around her wrists.
"Save Darfur!" she shouted from behind a table covered withpamphlets urging students to TAKE ACTION NOW! STOP GENOCIDE INDARFUR!
My aversion to college kids jumping onto fashionable social causesnearly caused me to walk on, but her next shout stopped me.
"Don't you want to help us save Africa?" she yelled.
It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitariancrisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned toAfrica for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities suchas Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all madebringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in forinternships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children toadopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take thesubway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.
This is the West's new image of itself: a sexy, politically activegeneration whose preferred means of spreading the word are magazinespreads with celebrities pictured in the foreground, forlorn Africansin the back. Never mind that the stars sent to bring succor to thenatives often are, willingly, as emaciated as those they want tohelp.
Perhaps most interesting is the language used to describe theAfrica being saved. For example, the Keep a Child Alive/" I amAfrican" ad campaign features portraits of primarily white, Westerncelebrities with painted "tribal markings" on their faces above "I AMAFRICAN" in bold letters. Below, smaller print says, "help us stopthe dying."
Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotypeof Africa as a black hole of disease and death. News reportsconstantly focus on the continent's corrupt leaders, warlords,"tribal" conflicts, child laborers, and women disfigured by abuse andgenital mutilation. These descriptions run under headlines like "CanBono Save Africa?" or "Will Brangelina Save Africa?" The relationshipbetween the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racistbeliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heydayof European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa tointroduce us to education, Jesus Christ and "civilization."
There is no African, myself included, who does not appreciate thehelp of the wider world, but we do question whether aid is genuine orgiven in the spirit of affirming one's cultural superiority. My moodis dampened every time I attend a benefit whose host runs through alitany of African disasters before presenting a (usually) wealthy,white person, who often proceeds to list the things he or she hasdone for the poor, starving Africans. Every time a well-meaningcollege student speaks of villagers dancing because they were sograteful for her help, I cringe. Every time a Hollywood directorshoots a film about Africa that features a Western protagonist, Ishake my head -- because Africans, real people though we may be, areused as props in the West's fantasy of itself. And not only do suchdepictions tend to ignore the West's prominent role in creating manyof the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore theincredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix thoseproblems.
Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as havingbeen "granted independence from their colonial masters," as opposedto having fought and shed blood for their freedom? Why do AngelinaJolie and Bono receive overwhelming attention for their work inAfrica while Nwankwo Kanu or Dikembe Mutombo, Africans both, arehardly ever mentioned? How is it that a former mid-level U.S.diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan thando the numerous African Union countries that have sent food andtroops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlementamong all parties in that crisis?
Two years ago I worked in a camp for internally displaced peoplein Nigeria, survivors of an uprising that killed about 1,000 peopleand displaced 200,000. True to form, the Western media reported onthe violence but not on the humanitarian work the state and localgovernments -- without much international help -- did for thesurvivors. Social workers spent their time and in many cases theirown salaries to care for their compatriots. These are the peoplesaving Africa, and others like them across the continent get nocredit for their work.
Last month (June 2007) the Group of Eight industrialized nationsand a host of celebrities met in Germany to discuss, among otherthings, how to save Africa. Before the next such summit, I hopepeople will realize Africa doesn't want to be saved. Africa wants theworld to acknowledge that through fair partnerships with othermembers of the global community, we ourselves are capable ofunprecedented growth.
Uzodinma Iweala is the author of "Beasts of No Nation," a novelabout child soldiers. This commentary was first published in TheWashington Post, Sunday, July 15, 2007
Political tension has been rising in Zambia over the process ofadopting a new constitution with Mwanawasa accused of bulldozing theexercise without consulting major players. The draft constitutioncalls for reducing the powers of the president, which Mwanawasa hasrefused to accept. (AFP).
Chinua Achebe wins Man Booker International Prize 2007. The highly-regarded Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has won the Man Booker International Prize, which is worth £60,000 and awarded only once every two years. Achebe, who was born in 1930, is best known for his first novel, "Things Fall Apart," written in 1958, though he has written more than 20 books. In "Things Fall Apart," Achebe portrays Nigerian tribal life in an Ibo village before and after colonialism.
Judges for the prize were American author and Princeton University professor Elaine Showalter; South African writer and 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Nadine Gordimer; and Irish author Colm Tóibin. In her comment on the prize, Gordimer said, "Chinua Achebe's early work made him the father of modern African literature as an integral part of world literature." Tóibin said, "Chinua Achebe has been one of my heroes since I read his book Things Fall Apart." The Man Booker International Prize can be won by a living author of any nationality, as long as his or her work is available in English. It is given for a body of work rather than one book and is different from the Man Booker Prize. It was first awarded in 2005 to the Albanian writer Ismail Kadaré. NY Newsday/June 13, 2007
USAfricaonline.com INSIGHT: Nigeria and burden of the fraudulent 2007 elections. By Dr. Chidi Amuta. In the unsettling aftermath of the 2007 general elections, we come face to face with a rather uncanny choice: to accept the outcome of an electoral fraud or allow the nation to degenerate into anarchy. Quite understandably, the thrust of domestic political opinion is today is ranged on both sides of this unwholesome divide. Similarly, international impressions about Nigeria are likely to be coloured by the shadow of those bad elections. FULL commentary here
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as the O.J Simpson case. By Chido Nwangwu
A Lott of Racism?
Implications of Obasanjo's late wake up to the challenges of Sharia in Nigeria. By Ken Okorie
Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability. By Chido Nwangwu
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu
Reflections on September 11. By Jonathan Elendu
And the Rocks Cried Out (For Safiyatu). By Effenus Henderson
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
Pope John Paul, Abacha and Nigeria's Christians
Walter Carrington: An African-American diplomat puts principles above self for Nigeria. USAfricaonline.com Founder Chido Nwangwu with the U.S. former Ambassador Carrington (right) at the U.S. embassy in Lagos during a courtesy visit.
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror?
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Arafat's duplicity, terrorism at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian crises. By Barry Rubin
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials
Conflicting emotions, feeling of disappointment, timing of revelation that Rev. Jackson fathered a child with former aide lead to charges of "right-wing orchestration."
Nigeria's Presidential Election: Is it just for the Highest Bidder?
Nigeria at 40: punish financial thuggery, build domestic infrastructure
Is Obasanjo really up to Nigeria's challenge and crises? By USAfricaonline.com contributing editor Ken Okorie. Commentary appears from NigeriaCentral.com
Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (left) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
Wong is wrong on Blacks in Houston city jobs
Why is 4-year old Onyedika carrying a placard against killings in Nigeria?
How Nigeria's Islamic Sharia crises will affect the U.S.
USAfrica INTERVIEW "Why African Catholics are concerned about crises, sex abuse issues in our church" - a frank chat with ICCO's Mike Umeorah
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu The Economics of Elections in Nigeria
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
COUNTERPOINT 'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
Hate groups' spin by Lamar Alexander benefits anti-Blacks, anti-Semites, and racists
Annan, power and burden of the U.N
The Civilianizing of African soldiers into Presidents
At 39, Nigerians still face dishonest stereotypes such as Buckley's, and other self-inflicted wounds.
JFK Jr.: Death of a Good Son
'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
National Summit on Africa, Congresswoman Jackson-Lee hold policy forum in Houston
'100 Black Men are solutions-oriented' says Thomas Dortch, Jr., Richard Johnson and Nick Clayton II as they share perspectives with USAfrica's founder on the national organization.
Community Service Awards bring African-American, American policy and business leaders together with African community at Texas Southern University
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game
Nigeria, Cry My Beloved Country
Will the rash of Ethnic Violence disrupt Nigeria's effort at Democracy?
IN THE HOUSE OF MANDELA: A SILLY CRY FOR REPARATIONS By Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
EndGame in Kinshasa: U.S must boot Mobutu for own interest, future of Zaire and Africa
Why Powell's mission to the Middle East failed. By Jonathan Elendu
General Tunde Idiagbon: A nationalist, an iron-surgeon departs
Abiola's sudden death and the ghost of things to come
Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua's prison death, Nigeria and The Ghost of Things to come .....
Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide. By Chido Nwangwu
USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.
OPINION: Destruction of property and human massacres are always traumatic events in a community, saddening and enraging, but the organizers of the beauty contest, as well as the participants, must understand that they are totally free of guilt. The guilty are the storm troopers of intolerance, the manipulators of feeble-minded but murderous hordes of fanaticism. By Prof. Wole Soyinka
DEMOCRACY WATCH: Obasanjo rapes Nigeria's constitution by suspending Plateau Assembly and Governor. Prof. By Prof. Ben Nwabueze, leading constitutional scholar for almost 45 years, former federal minister and SAN.
A young father writes his One year old son: "If only my heart had a voice...."
Nigeria, a terrible beauty. By Chido Nwangwu
VIEWPOINT: Obasanjo, Go! Just go! Prof. Wole Soyinka
Obasanjo's failed quest for 3rd Term has damaged his reputation. By Prof. Patrick Wilmot
USAfrica VIEWPOINT: Nigeria's flawed 2007 elections and avoiding a tragedy. Nigerians not ready to be governed once again by those they did not give the consent had began to protest and to call for new elections. Click here for an exclusive commentary for USAfricaonline.com by our New York columnist Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo. He is the author of a new book, Children of a retired God.
Why Nigeria and Africa's leaders are leading us to nowhere. By Professor Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com, author of the highly-acclaimed African Literature in Defence of History: An Essay on Chinua Achebe and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics.
Anambra's rigged 2003 elections: Chris Uba's confession at WIC 2004 in Newark, USA. In a matter-of-fact manner, PDP's chieftain in Anambra Chris Uba stood up and astonished all that were present in Newark when he said, "We, the PDP, did not win the election (of 2003). I have gone to church to confess. The election had no document. I called the result before 12 midnight. I gave INEC the money and asked them to call the result." The revelation caused an uproar as well as some applause in the hall. "The person we took his thing is here," Uba said, pointing at Peter Obi (the APGA candidate) who was sitting among the audience, in the back row. There was
OIL in NIGERIA: Liquid Gold or Petro-Dollars Curse?
Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil
Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Read Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATION REPORT for PetroGasWorks.com
How Obasanjo's self-succession charade at his Ota Farm has turned Nigeria to an 'Animal Farm.' By Prof. Mobolaji Aluko
Is Obasanjo ordained by God to rule Nigeria? And, other fallacies. By Prof. Sola Adeyeye
Obasanjo was not sworn in merely to "mean well" for Nigeria. By Obi Nwakanma
Obasanjo's 'prayers' and the Abacha path of staying in power. By Nkem Ekeopara
Creative writing, publishing and the future of Nigerian Literature. By Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post?
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Nnamdi Azikiwe: Statesman, Intellectual and Titan of African politics
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.' Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson
ARTS The Life and Irreverent times of Afrobeat superstar, FELA
Reuben Abati's fallacies on Nigeria's history and secession. By Bayo Arowolaju
How Abati, Adelaja and others fuel the campaign of hatred against Ndigbo. By Jonas Okwara
"Obasanjo, secession and the secessionists": A response to Reuben Abati's Igbophobia. By Josh Arinze, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor.
Abati and other anti-Igbo bigots in Nigeria. By Chuks Iloegbunam, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor and author of Ironsi
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy was livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.
WILL ARINZE BE THE FIRST POPE of RECENT AFRICAN ORIGIN? To our Brother Cardinal Arinze: May your pastoral lineage endure!
The Democratic Party stood for nothing in 2002 election cycle. By Jonathan Elendu
EVA champions efforts to combat AIDS among Nigerian youth. By Jessica Rubin
Pros and cons of the circumcision debate. By Ngozi Ezeji, RN
Prof. Chimere Ikoku: Remembering the legacy of a pan-Africanist, scientist and gentleman. By Prof. Chudi Uwazurike
Can Africa live a future without war? An Open Letter to Mandela. By Fubara David-West, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor
Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela! By Chido Nwangwu
SPORTS: Tiger Woods makes more history with another golf Masters win. He shot 12-under-par 276 and a final round 71 at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club event and collected $1,008,000, on Sunday April 14, 2002. With it, the world's golf phenom added another green jacket to his array of championships and titles, placing him, in this instance, in the same respected Masters' league as Nicklaus (winner 1965 and 1966) and Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990). The three are the only men to win back-to-back Masters. At 26, Woods has since become the youngest golfer to win his seventh professional major championship. He was joined by his parents and his 22 year-old Swedish model girlfriend, Elin Nordegren.
Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."
Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for a population of over 120 million people...." But USAfricaonline.com Founder and recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), Chido Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when (President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100 million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation, however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement." He noted in USAfricaonline.com backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.
Steve Jobs and Apple represent the future of digital living. By Chido Nwangwu
The coup in Cote d'Ivoire and its implications for democracy in Africa. By Chido Nwangwu
(Related commentary) Coup in Cote d'Ivoire has been in the waiting. By Tom Kamara