Kenya’s presidential race is on/ Kenya: la course aux présidentielles est ouverte

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Selon un article du International Herald Tribune, le Kenya tiendra des élections le 27 décembre prochain. Raila Odinga est un prétendant sérieux pour succéder au président sortant Mwai Kibaki. Odinga laisse entendre que le thème de l’ethnicité n’a pas sa place dans ces élections. C’est une déclaration louable, mais il ne faut pas oublier qu’en 2002, des milices ethniques, dont les Vigilante Luo apparement affiliés à Odinga, sont venues perturber la vie des habitants de Nairobi.

Kenya has changed over the last decade. From the tight grip on the national politics from Daniel Arap Moi, the country has turned into a democracy where we witness the competition between the current president Mwai Kibaki and a long time contender Raila Odinga for the December 27th general elections. This is what a report from the International Herald Tribune says:

The election is Thursday, and for the past several months most polls have predicted that Odinga, 62, will unseat the current president, Mwai Kibaki, though some recent surveys show the president catching up, with the race now too close to call.

Kibaki, 76, is vintage old guard. He is from Kenya’s dominant tribe, the Kikuyu; he has been a member of Parliament ever since Kenya’s independence in 1963; and he is a reliable friend of big business and the United States (his campaign ads are even in red, white and blue.)

OdingaOdinga [left] seems different. For starters, he is Luo, one of the country’s largest tribes, but one that many Kenyans feel has never gotten its fair due. And despite Kenya having one of the most mature democracies in Africa, many people here still vote strictly along tribal lines.

Kenya’s 37 million people are split among some 40 distinct ethnic groups. And unlike many politicians – especially Kikuyu ones – who would rather not acknowledge tribal frictions, Odinga is confronting them head on and has made inclusion and an end to discrimination the cornerstones of his campaign.

“Ethnicity is the disease of the elite,” he said, adding that throughout Kenya’s history, money, land and opportunity have been sprinkled around unequally, based on tribe.

OK, Odinga has a point. But the problem of ethnicity won’t be solved by just saying it’s bad… We’d like to remind that in the presidential elections of 2002, militias were raised in Nairobi to support the presidential candidates: the Mungiki, Bagdad Boys, Jezi La Embakasi and Vigilante Luo (supposedly affiliated with Odinga). These militias stirred up ethnic divide.

We can wonder if a change at the presidency with Odinga will change something. A lot of hope rose when Kibaki succeeded to Arap Moi in 2002. But, because his lack of innovation his party, the NARC (National Rainbow Coalition) was labelled in the streets: “Nothing has Really Changed”. Since September, Kibaki runs under a new party: the PNU (Party of National Unity). Let’s hope the streets won’t find a new meaning for this acronym if he wins. The same goes for Odinga’s party: the ODM (Orange Democratic Movement).

On another note, and before the winner is elected, we can notice the participation of the “first ladies”, according to the Sunday Nation Newspaper.:

…the appeal by First Lady Lucy Kibaki, Mrs Ida Odinga (Raila’s wife) and Mrs Pauline Musyoka (Kalonzo’s wife) to women, who form the majority of the country’s 14.3 million voters, will determine the winner.

For some news on Kenya and the elections see Kenyan Pundit.

 

The International Herald Tribune provides a picture of Odinga’s campaign in the area of the Masai communities (Suswa). The Kenyan TV covered the event, where Odinga addresses the land issue. (See below)

Le International Herald Tribune nous montre une photo d’Odinga en campagne électorale dans la région de Suswa, dans une région où vivent les communautés Masai. Le télévision kenyanne y était aussi et nous montre Odinga traitant de la question de la distribution des terres.

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Amandla Radio Show: “Extraction!” Comix Reportage is out !/ 7ème rencontre africaine de la photographie à Bamako

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 19 décembre 2007 sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Partie anglaise.

Extraction!Critique d’une bande dessinée/reportage intitulée “Extraction!” (des éditions Cumulus Press) sur les conséquences des activités des entreprise minières et pétrolières canadiennes sur les communautés du Guatemala du Canada (Québec, Alberta) et d’Inde – Écoutez les commentaires de Gwen et Moussa ainsi que ceux de Tamara qui a personnellement participé à la réalisation de cet ouvrage. Cliquer ici pour entendre la chronique.

 

 

 

Partie française.

Afrique du Sud: Commentaires sur l’élection de Jacob Zuma à la tête de l’ANC– Élu avec deux tiers des voix, Jacob Zuma (voir photo à la fin du post) est-il une bonne ou une mauvaise nouvelle pour la démocratie sud-africaine?

Écouter les commentaires de Gwen et Moussa en cliquant ici.Malick Sidibé

Mali: Commentaires sur la 7ème rencontre africaine de la photographie à Bamako – Cette nouvelle édition rend hommage au photographe Malick Sidibé (voir photo à droite). Écouter les commentaires de Moussa en cliquant ici.

Les photos de Malick Sidibé peuvent être vues sur les sites suivants:

www.photosapiens.com/Le-rituel-de-la-pose.html.

http://www.holott.org/malicksidibe/msidibe/.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the December 19th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

English part.

Review of the Graphic novel/reportage, entitled “Extraction!”Listen to this topic Extraction (edited by Cumulus Press). It addresses the issue of the consequences of Canadian mining and oil companies’ activities on the communities from Guatemala, Canada (Quebec, Alberta) and India. Listen to the comments by Gwen and Moussa, and especially by Tamara who was personally involved in the realization of this book. Click here to hear the review.

French part.

Jacob ZumaSouth-Africa: Comments on Jacob Zuma’s election for the presidency of the ANC – Elected with two-third of the voices, is Jacob Zuma (see picture, left) good or bad news for south african democracy? Hear the comments by Gwen and Moussa by clicking here.

Mali: Comments on the 7th African photography meeting of Bamako – This new edition pays tribute to Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé (see picture above). Listen to comments by Moussa by clicking here.

Malick Sidibé’s photos can be seen on the following websites:

www.photosapiens.com/Le-rituel-de-la-pose.html.

http://www.holott.org/malicksidibe/msidibe/.

 

Jacob Zuma‘s election on video

La vidéo suivante illustre la joie des membres de l’ANC lorsque Zuma est déclaré vainqueur. Noter, à la fin du vidéo, Thabo Mbeki qui lui donne l’accolade pour le féliciter.

The following video show the joy of the ANC members when the hear the name of Zume, declared the winner of the election. Note, at the end of the video, Thabo Mbecki, congratulating Zuma for his victory:

 

 

La Sierra Leone donne une leçon de démocratie/ Sierra Leone gives a lesson of democracy

Oui, c’est vrai, la démocratie ce n’est pas juste organiser des élections transparentes, mais il de

meure que peu d’obeservateurs auraient envisagés une telle éventualité en Sierra Leone. D’autres pays africians devraient s’inspirer de l’exemple sierra léonais comme l’indique cet article:

Sierra Leone: Elections – Un exemple à méditer

Le Pays (Ouagadougou)

Cheick Beldh’or Sigue

Affublé de sa fantaisiste camisole démocratique qu’il n’a pas réussi à ôter de la vue du reste du monde, notamment lors du premier tour des législatives, le Congo aurait dû mettre, pour ce coup-ci, un point d’honneur à réussir le second tour du scrutin législatif.

Hélas, le sursaut n’aura pas eu lieu, le pays de Denis Sassou N’Guesso venant de prouver, comme il en a l’habitude, qu’il n’est pas encore mûr pour la démocratie, en attestent les nombreuses irrégularités constatées lors de ce second tour.

Alors qu’il se montre toujours incapable de quitter les sentiers de la médiocrité, en termes d’organisation de scrutins, confirmant ainsi tout le mal que d’aucuns disent de la démocratie dans ce pays, voilà qu’un tout petit pays d’Afrique, l’un des plus pauvres au monde, qui vient de se réveiller de son long cauchemar, le double sur ses deux flancs, puisqu’il entame déjà son entrée triomphale dans la cour des grandes nations démocratiques.

De fait, la Sierra Leone qui vient de réussir le pari d’organiser l’une des élections les plus propres jamais tenues sur le continent africain, devrait inspirer tous ces pays, à la tête desquels se trouvent des pseudo-démocrates qui, jusque-là, refusent d’évoluer avec leur temps. Pourvu que les différents candidats aux élections en Sierra Leone soient conséquents jusqu’au bout et acceptent le verdict des urnes.

Il semble aussi que l’ONU est satisfaite des élections:

Sierra Leone: Ambiance sereine pendant les élections, se félicite Ban Ki-moon

United Nations (New York)

14 Août 2007

Le Secrétaire général a exprimé sa satisfaction concernant la tenue des élections en Sierra Leone, qui se sont déroulées le 11 août dans une ambiance calme et ont connu un fort taux de participation.

Ban Ki-moon a félicité les sierra-léonais pour « leur engagement en faveur de la consolidation de la paix et de la démocratie dans leur pays », dans un communiqué publié aujourd’hui à New York.

Il a également loué le travail de la Commission électorale nationale et des agences de sécurité qui ont permis le déroulement satisfaisant du processus électoral.

Par ailleurs, il a remercié les participants nationaux et internationaux qui ont fourni une aide matérielle et technique à la Commission électorale, ainsi que les observateurs des élections.

Il a encouragé la population du Sierra Leone à continuer de respecter le calme et l’ordre, et à résoudre d’éventuels conflits à travers les mécanismes légaux existants.

« Attendez patiemment les résultats, et gardez ce même esprit ce tolérance qui vous avez montré pendant la campagne », a déclaré de son côté Victor Angelo, le Représentant exécutif du Secrétaire général dans le pays, dans un communiqué publié à Freetown.

Par ailleurs, à la suite de questions posées sur l’avancée du décompte des voix dans le district de Kenema, dans l’est du pays, un communiqué de la Mission des Nations Unies en Sierra Leone (MINUSIL) publié aujourd’hui à Freetown assure que tout le processus s’est déroulé comme prévu et dans le respect des procédures établies.

Les 274 bureaux de votes ont été pourvus de 274 enveloppes protégées contre de possibles fraudes. Chaque enveloppe contient les résultats de chaque bureau et contient la signature des officiers électoraux et des représentants des partis politiques.

Ces enveloppes, cachetées, seront centralisées au bureau des élections du district de Kenema avant d’être acheminées à Freetown, comme c’est déjà le cas pour 51 d’entre elles.

Le dépouillement du scrutin se poursuivra dans les prochains jours.

Vous voulez réellement savoir comment se sont déroulées les élections. Visitez “Sweet Sierra Leone“. Ce bloggueur vous fait un descriptif des lieux et événements…En anglais.

Elections in Sierra Leone were peaceful say United Nations:

Sierra Leone: Secretary-General Welcomes Peaceful Staging of Polls

UN News Service (New York)

13 August 2007

New York

Welcoming the successful staging of Sierra Leone’s first presidential and parliamentary elections since United Nations peacekeepers departed at the end of 2005, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the people of the West African country to maintain calm as the votes are counted in the days ahead.

Mr. Ban was pleased to learn that the balloting took place on Saturday “in a generally peaceful atmosphere, with high voter turnout,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Sierra Leone for showing their commitment to the consolidation of peace and democracy in their country, and commends the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Sierra Leone’s security agencies for putting in place security and administrative arrangements that facilitated the efficient conduct of the polling process,” the statement said.

As vote counting continues over the coming days, Mr. Ban called on all Sierra Leoneans “to preserve an atmosphere of calm and public order, and to resolve any potential disputes through the established legal channels.”

The Secretary-General’s views echo earlier remarks by his Executive Representative in Sierra Leone, Victor Angelo, who noted that UN officials were assisting NEC staff and both national and international observers were also monitoring the process.

The UN Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) also issued two statements today after questions were raised in Kailahun and Kenema districts about the processing of election results there.

UNIOSIL said the processing of results was going according to plan, and the tamper-evident envelopes containing the consolidated results for each polling centre “are very safe and cannot be tampered with.”

Saturday’s vote was Sierra Leone’s second since the end of the decade-long civil war in 2002, and the first since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005.

Who are the candidates?

THE TOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Solomon Berewa

SLPP

Berewa, currently Sierra Leone’s vice president, is the candidate of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). He played an active part in the peace negotiations, including the Lome Peace Agreement of 1999, that ended the country’s war.

Ernest Koroma

APC

Koroma, representing the All People’s Congress (APC), is the youngest of the candidates. He currently serves as the minority leader in parliament. During his tenure, the APC won nearly every seat in the Western Area in 2004 local elections. His background is in business and insurance. He was managing director of Reliance Insurance Trust Corporation from 1988 until the March 2002 elections.

Charles Margai

PMDC

The son of Sierra Leone’s second Prime Minister, Margai formed the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) following internal disputes in his previous party, the SLPP. A successful attorney, he led the defense of the 11 accused persons in a high-profile treason trial in 1987. He was elected president of the Sierra Leone Bar Association in 2004.

 

 

If you want to really know how the elections went visit “Sweet Sierra Leone“. The blogger gives a description of how it went.

The english section of Al-Jazeera (yes Al-Jazeera) did a coverage a few days ago on Sierra Leone preparing for the elections:

Émission Amandla du 18 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 18th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 18 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission entièrement en anglais

L’artiste zimbabwéenne Stella Chiweshe (voir photo plus bas) vient à Montréal pour donner un spectacle dans le cadre du festival Nuits d’Afrique. Elle est la première femme du Zimbabwe à diriger son propre groupe et elle joue le mbira (aussi connu sous le nom de kalimba). Nous vous présentons une entrevue qu’elle a donnée à un membre de notre équipe d’Amandla. Sa présence au Festival Nuits d’Afrique à été couvert par le journal “Le Devoir“.

The Ravaging of Africa: Coporate Plunder. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Corporate Plunderdétaille les effets désastreux de la présence de Royal Dutch Shell au Nigeria et ceux de la canadienne Tiomin Resources au Kenya. On souligne aussi les façons dont les entreprises occidentales réussissent à ne payer aucunes taxes en Afrique. Avec Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 18th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show entirely in english Stella Chiweshe

The Zimbabwean artists, Stella Chiweshe (see picture), comes in Montreal to perform at the “Festival Nuits d’Afrique” . She’s the first woman in Zimbabwe to lead her own group and she plays the mbira (also known as kalimba). We air an interview she gave to one of our Amandla crew member. Her presence at the Festival Nuit d’Afrique was alos covered by “Le Devoir” (in french).

The Ravaging of Africa: Corporate Plunder. It is a four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Corporate Plunder” details the disastrous effects of Royal Dutch Shell’s operations in Nigeria and those of Canada’s Tiomin Resources in Kenya. Also highlighted is the massive tax looting of Africa by Western corporations. With Ifieniya Lott, Mwana Siti B. Juma, Charles Abugre and John Christensen.

Voici une petite video d’un spectacle donné par Stella Chiweshe en 2006. Here is a video showing a performance by Stella Chiweshe in 2006:

Émission Amandla du 11 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 11th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 11 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Commentaires sur le film: “God grew tired of us” – en anglais. Documentaire sur les garçons perdus du Sud-Soudan qui lutte pour leur survie dans les camps de réfugiés d’Éthiopie et du nord du Kenya. (voir poster promotionnel plus bas)

The Ravaging of Africa: Economic War – en anglais. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. Economic Warprésente sur la destruction des économies et des sociétés de Guinée, Zambie, Kenya et d’Afrique du Sud par les politiques de la Banque Mondiale et du F.M.I. AvecAlbum Coup de Gueule Bakary Fofana, Sara Longwe, Caroline Adhiambo, Njuki Githethwa et Molefe Pilane

Interview avec Tiken Jah Fakoly dans le cadre du festival Nuits d’Afrique de Montréal – en français. (Ci-contre: album “Coup de Gueule” de Tiken Jah). Plus bas, on vous présente une vidéo live de sa chanson très populaire: “Plus rien ne m’étonne”.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 11th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two God Grew tired of usmonths only).

Comments on the movie: “God grew tired of us” – in english. A documentary on the lost boys of South Sudan struggling while living in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. Story of their odyssey through Africa. (See promotional picture on right)

The Ravaging of Africa: Economic War – in english. It is four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Economic War” focuses on the World Bank’s and IMF’s decimation of the economies and social sectors of Guinea, Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. With Bakary Fofana, Sara Longwe, Caroline Adhiambo, Njuki Githethwa and Molefe Pilane

Interview with Tiken Jah Fakoly – in english. He was present at the “Festival Nuits d’Afrique” de Montréal – in french. (Up: “Coup de Gueule” album from Tiken Jah). We show you here a live performance of Tiken Jah while he sings: “Plus rien ne m’étonne”, one of his most popular song.

Émission Amandla du 4 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 4th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 4 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission en anglais

Enjeux sociaux liés au SIDA au Botswana. Ces enjeux sont très liés à la situation du droit des femmes qui sont les personnes les plus affectées par le SIDA. Des ONG locales de femmes sont impliquées dans l’éducation et la dissémination de l’information sur le VIH/SIDA au sein de la population.Seun Kuti

Commentaires sur la performance du Seun Kuti (fils de Fela Kuti) au festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Voir photo ci-contre et un extrait vidéo de son spectacle plus bas.

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Militarizing Africa” décrit comment les États-Unis ont fomentés la guerre qui a dévasté la République Démocratique du Congo et planifié l’invasion de la Somalie par l’Éthiopie. Avec Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim et Halima Abdi Arush

 

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 4th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show in english.

Social issues related to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. They are closely linked to women rights since they are the most affected by AIDS. Women oriented NGOs are involved in education and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS in the population.

Comments on Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti‘s son), performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Here is a small piece of Kuti’s performance in Montreal:

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. It is four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.


Tombouctou, ville fabuleuse/ Timbuktu, the legendary city

(Lien en anglais/ Link in english)

Puisque la ville de Tombouctou, au Mali, est candidate pour devenir l’une des sept nouvelles merveilles du monde, nous vous présentons un article du Guardian de Londres qui décrit la richesse culturelle que la ville recèle (voir article plus bas):

Since Timbuktu, in Mali, is a candidate city to become one of the new seven wonders of the world, we present an article about that city from the London Guardian:

In fabled city at the end of the earth, a treasury of ancient manuscripts

In Timbuktu the race is on to preserve papers that document a west African golden age

A hot wind stirred up the desert sand. Fida ag Muhammad, a wispy man with a blue-grey turban, hurried across the street. Reaching a mud-brick building, he quickly unlocked its corrugated iron door and pushed it open. A beam of soft early-morning light pierced the darkness. On a metal table covered with a red bath towel sat half a dozen leather-bound manuscripts. Carefully untying the string around a small weathered pouch, Mr Muhammad pulled back its flaps to reveal a sheaf of yellowed papers. Their edges had crumbled away, but the neat Arabic calligraphy was still clear.

“A Qur’an,” he said. “From the 1300s.”

For an outsider, such a remarkable find might seem extraordinary. In Timbuktu and its surrounding villages like Ber, where Mr Muhammad lives, it is commonplace. After centuries of storage in wooden trunks, caves or boxes hidden beneath the sand, tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, covering topics as diverse as astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women’s rights, are surfacing across the legendary Malian city.

Their emergence has caused a stir among academics and researchers, who say they represent some of the earliest examples of written history in sub-Saharan Africa and are a window into a golden age of scholarship in west Africa. Some even believe that the fragile papers, which are now the focus of an African-led preservation effort, may reshape perceptions of the continent’s past.

“It has long been said that there was only oral history in this part of the world,” said Salem Ould Elhadje, 67, a historian in Timbuktu. “But these manuscripts come from an African city, a city of black people.”

The Timbuktu of myth is a place at the end of the earth. In reality its location was the key to its development nearly a thousand years ago. With the Sahara directly north and the Niger river south, it was established as a rest stop for travellers and a trading post for gold and salt. By the late 1500s, however, when it formed part of the powerful Songhai empire, it had become known as a centre of great learning.

Books became hugely prized. Travellers from as far as the Middle East brought manuscripts to Timbuktu to sell. Using paper manufactured in Europe, scholars in the town produced their own original work, which was then copied by their pupils. Commercial transactions were recorded – slaves and ostrich feathers were among the goods traded – as were the pronouncements of learned men on everything from the environment to polygamy and witchcraft.

“Every manuscript contains surprises,” said Shahid Mathee, part of a University of Cape Town team studying the manuscripts. “We have even found texts where scholars offer advice on overcoming erection problems.”

Timbuktu’s decline began in 1591 with a Moroccan invasion. But the practice of writing, copying and storing manuscripts lived on here and in other west African cities such as Gao and Kano.

It was not until 1964, at a Unesco conference, that Timbuktu’s literary wealth was recognised. Still, it took a further 37 years for the campaign to document and preserve them to gain momentum.

On visiting Timbuktu in 2001, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, was shown some of the manuscripts held at the Ahmed Baba Institute, named after the city’s most famous scholar, including a copy of Islamic law dating to 1204. Mr Mbeki was so impressed he declared them to be among the continent’s “most important cultural treasures” and pledged to set up a project to help properly conserve the manuscripts.

After centuries of exposure to the harsh desert climate, abrasive sands and hungry termites, many of the manuscripts are badly damaged. Even those intact, such as Mr Muhammad’s Qur’an, are so fragile the pages may disintegrate when handled. “Every minute, every second, part of a manuscript is being lost,” said Mahmud Muhammad Dadab, a scholar who compares their value to the works of Victor Hugo and William Shakespeare.

With South African money, a £3.5m home for the Ahmed Baba Institute, featuring a museum, archive and rooms for scholars, is being built in the heart of the city, and will open next year. Meanwhile workers are trying to safeguard the institute’s growing stock of 30,000 manuscripts.

In a large room with fans whirring overhead, a team is building made-to-measure cardboard boxes for every manuscript that will provide protection from the dust. Fragile pages are being carefully affixed to special Japanese paper to stop them crumbling.

Across the courtyard, researchers sit in front of computers documenting the contents of each manuscript. Then, with the help of computer scanners, ancient knowledge is uploaded into the 21st century. “We are creating a virtual library,” said Muhammad Diagayete, 37, a researcher who was busy documenting a 1670 text on astronomy written in blue, red and black ink. “We want people all over the world to be able to access these manuscripts online.”

Private collections are also being restored. Outside interest, and funding, has helped to create more than 20 libraries in Timbuktu, from tiny collections with a few hundred documents to Ismael Haidara’s Fondo Kati Bibliothèque, which has more than 7,000 leather-bound manuscripts dating back to 1198. Many were brought from Andalucia, Spain, by his ancestors, who came to Timbuktu in the 15th century.

A few doors down is the Mama Haidara library run by Abdel Kader Haidara, no relation to Ismael, the best-known curator in the city. With funding from US foundations, he is also digitizing his 9,000-document collection, and is building extra rooms for scholars and tourists, as well as an internet cafe.

Before opening the family library, he helped to build up the Ahmed Baba Institute’s collection, travelling all over the region by camel, canoe and car to try to persuade families to part with their manuscripts in exchange for livestock or printed books.

It was a difficult task. Though many families cannot read Arabic, the manuscripts are regarded as precious heirlooms that cannot be sold.

In Ber, a two-hour drive from Timbuktu, Fida ag Muhammad spoke of valuable caches of manuscripts buried in the desert by families fearful that outsiders would try to prise them away.

As a result, experts believe that hundreds of thousands of manuscripts remain in private homes across the region, and the quest to find and conserve them will go on for many years.

“We have to persuade people that they need to be protected and documented,” said Abdel Kader Haidara. “If we don’t read what our ancestors said, we cannot know who we really are.”

Vous n’avez jamais vu Tombouctou? Voici une petite vidéo, assez touristique, de la ville dans ses plus simples attraits, ceux de la vie quotidienne de ses habitants. On y voit, bien sûr, l’architecture typique de la ville, en articulier celle de la mosqué Sankoré. (vidéo de Judith Porter)

Never saw Timbuktu? Here is a small “touristic” video  showing the city and the daily life of its inhabitants. The typical architecture of the city can be seen, particularly the Sankoré Mosque. (video by Judith Porter)

Émissions Amandla du 20 et du 27 juin 2007/ Amandla shows from June 20th and 27th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant les émissions Amandla du 20 et 27 juin dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez les télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Le 27 juin

Entrevue avec Béatrice Umutesi présentant son livre: “Fuir Umutesiou mourir au Zaïre. Le vécu d’une réfugiée rwandaise” – en français. Mme Umutesi est une ancienne réfugiée originaire du Rwanda qui s’enfuit au Zaïre suite au génocide rwandais. Elle travaillait comme coordonnatrice d’ONG avant de fuir au Zaïre. Elle découvre que le Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mouvement de libération qui est aujourd’hui au pouvoir au Rwanda, aurait aussi perpétré des massacres contre les hutus pendant le génocide. La situation rwandaise a donc été plus confuse que ce qu’a bien voulu présenter la presse internationale. Paradoxalement, c’est le FPR que Mme Umutesi dut fuir. Elle quitte pour le Zaïre. Mais la guerre la rejoint avec des soldats du Rwanda qui traversent la frontière pour attaquer les camps de réfugiés. Mme Umutesi dut encore fuir marchant 2000 km dans la jungle congolaise pour trouver la paix.

Décès de Ousmane Sembène (photo plus bas) – en français et anglais. Icône du cinéma africain, né en Casamance (Sénégal). Revue de sa carrière et de sa vie. Il a écrit 5 romans, 5 recueils nouvelles et 14 films.

Les États-Unis cherchent une base pour l’AFRICOM – en anglais. Tel que présenté dans le blog, les pays d’Afrique du Nord refusent d’héberger l’AFRICOM sur leur territoire.

 

L’Union Européenne négocie une entente de libre-échange avec la CEDEAO (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) – en anglais. Une telle entente lierait l’une des plus riches régions du monde avec l’une des plus pauvre. Les négociations ne se font donc surement pas sur une base “d’égal à égal”. L’Europe pourrait avoir un accès total au marché de la CEDEAO.

Comment le monde arabe ignore le Darfour – en anglais. Analyse d’un article paru dans le New Internationalist, intitulé “Salaam Darfur”, et qui critique le silence et même le déni du monde arabe devant les événements du Darfur. Cet article a été écrit par deux activiste arabes: Moataz El Fegiery et Ridwan Ziyada.

 

Le 20 juin

 

Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur les discussions entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc sous les auspices des Nations Unies – en anglais. Les discussions se sont faites sous les regards d’observateurs Algériens et Mauritaniens. Elles se sont tenues à la suite d’une résolution de l’ONU datant d’avril 2007. Jusqu’à maintenant, rien n’a bougé, si ce n’est la décision de continuer les discussions en août 2007. Pendant ce temps, une génération de réfugiés vit toujours en Algérie, et beaucoup d’entre eux n’ont jamais vu le Sahara Occidental.

Découverte du pétrole au Ghana – en anglais. Le Ghana espère exploiter son pétrole sans tomber dans le piège de la mauvaise gestion de la ressource.

SIDA et développement en Afrique – en anglais. SIDA et développement ont mauvaise presse en Afrique. Le SIDA n’est pas qu’un enjeu de santé publique, il bloque le développement économique. Même dans un pays riche comme le Botswana, il peut faire des ravages.

Grèves générales en Afrique du Sud – en anglais. L’Afrique Du Sud entre dans sa 18ème-19ème journée de grève générale alors que les syndicats et le gouvernement n’arrivent pas à s’entendre. Des reportages provenant du terrain sont présentés.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the June 20th and 27th Amandla radio shows on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the shows here (link valid for two months only).

June 27th

United States try to find an african base for AFRICOM – in english. Countries from Northern Africa don’t want the opening of the base. The subject was addressed in a previous post.

European Union wants to build a free trade deal with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) – in english. This agreement could link one of the wealthiest zone of the world with the poorest countries of the world. This deal might not be negotiated in equal terms. Europe could have total access to the ECOWAS countries…

Death of Ousmane Sembène (see picture) – in english and french. Born in Casamance Ousmane Sembène(Senegal), he was the first african film director to have an international recognition. Review of his career and his life. He wrote 5 novels, 5 short story book, and 14 films. He died on June 10th 2007.

How the arab world ignores Darfur – in english. Analysis of an article from the New Internationalist (“Salaam darfur”) who criticizes the heavy silence and denial from the Arab world regarding the events occuring in Darfur. It was written by two arabic human rights activists: Moataz El Fegiery and Ridwan Ziyada.

Interview with Béatrice Umutesi author of the book: “Surviving the slaughter. The ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaïre” – in french. Mrs Umutesi is a former Rwandan refugee who fled the genocide and went to Zaïre (today called Democratic Republic of Congo). She worked for an NGO before fleeing to Zaïre. She discovered that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the liberation movement in Rwanda who’s now in power, also perpetrated mass murders against the Hutus during the genocide. The situation in Rwanda was therefore more complex than what the international medias depicted. Oddly enough, it’s the FPR Mrs Umutesi had to run from. She fled to Zaïre. But the war caught on her with Rwandan troops crossing the border and attacking refugee camps. She had to run into the jungle and walk 2000 km to find a safe place!

June 20th

Show entirely in english.

Comments on the talks between the Polisario and Morocco under United Nations’ auspices – in english. Talks were held between Morocco and Polisario front with observers from Algeria and Mauritania. They were held following a resolution from April 2007. So far, they lead to nothing concrete and they will continue in August 2007. Meanwhile, a generation of refugees still live in Algeria and most of them were born there and have never seen Western Sahara.

Oil found in Ghana – in english. Ghana hopes to exploit its oil without falling into mismanagement.

AIDS and development in Africa – in english. AIDS and development are treated negatively in Africa. AIDS isn’t just a health issue; it hinders economic development and social capabilities. Even in a rich african country like Botswana, it can be a really serious problem.

General strikes in South Africa – english. South Africa enters its 18-19th day of general strike as the unions and the government can’t find an agreement. Reports from the field are presented.

Voici un court vidéo d’Ousmane Sembène recevant “l’Akira Kurosawa” award au Festvial de film de SanFrancisco en 1993. Here is a short video of Ousmane Sembène receiving the Akira Kurosawa award at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival: