Trouble in Madagascar

Madagascar, is an island off the coast southeast coast of Africa, well known for its wildlife and eco-tourism. However, there is a dark side to the beauty of Madagascar. Madagascar has a history of political unrest and infighting and extreme poverty with more than half of their population living on less than $1 per day.

Over the past week there has been civil unrest in Madagascar resulting in 80 deaths. The current upheaval erupted from a power dispute between Marc Ravalomanana the President and Andre Rajoelina a mayor. Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana of a growing "authoritarianism" as well as "accusing the government of miss-spending public funds and suppressing press freedom".



Off Topic: Thank You President Obama

Barack, is expected to sign the Lily Ledbetter Fair pay bill today. The Associated Press posted a quick Q&A about the act.

Lilly Ledbetter was a supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber’s plant in Gadsden, Alabama, from 1979 until her retirement in 1998. For most of those years, she worked as an area manager, a position largely occupied by men. Initially, Ledbetter’s salary was in line with the salaries of men performing substantially similar work. Over time, however, her pay slipped in comparison to the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority. By the end of 1997, Ledbetter was the only woman working as an area manager and the pay discrepancy between Ledbetter and her 15 male counterparts was stark: Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month, the highest paid, $5,236.

To read more about the story and the bill you can visit the White House Blog here. This is a bill that champions not only equal pay for women but also for minorities.


"I Am African" Campagin

The I am African Campagin spearheaded by Model Iman partners with Keep a Child Alive to provide important life saving antiretrovirals for children across Africa. The program illustrates celebrities and other individulas photographed in traditional tribal paint. The campagin works to bring understanding that the poverty and disease in Africa is a burden that should and must be shared by everyone.


Off Topic: Loc Update

I am a few days shy of three months and I am still loving everyday of my loc journey. The first two pics are prior to me visiting my loctictian. The parts have the usual new growth that needed to be reincorporated back into the loc. I have been using Dr. Bonner's Peppermint soap mixed with olive oil and water and I love it. I have yet to settle on a conditioner that I like yet. The last time I used one some of the locs actually came apart, so I have been sticking with just shampooing.

This pic was right after I left my loctitican. The fuzziness and swelling you see represents the budding stage of the locs. This means I have fully entered into the adolescent stage. There are still about five locs in the front that I am really concerned about and actually may have her combine them in March if they don't thicken up to a size that I feel comfortable with.

After every wash I usually place my hair into bantu knots(or Chinese bumps) overnight. The next day it comes out curly for the rest of the week. The curly look also helps to disguise of all the budding and fuzzies.

My locs are coming along so well that I have decided to retwist myself next month. I have not decided if I am going to try palm-rolling or the interlock method yet either, way it is sure to be a learning experience.


This is Our Day.

Yesterday symbolized the close of the age of Equality. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters (my grandparents generations) fought for that equality. My mother born in 1960 reaped the benefits from their generations fight. This was an age that will never be forgotten but it closed yesterday.

As the sun set on one age it began to rise and brightly shine on the age of Responsibility. I don’t look for Barack and Michelle to solve our community’s problems. However, I look for them to demand that we actively serve one another and that we become the solution. Today, at noon I like so many others will watch the Inauguration of the nations first President of Color. I will shed some tears and hold today in my heart like so many before me held their memories of King and Kennedy.

This age of Responsibility begins within each individual; the Obama’s call to service yesterday was only the beginning. In this age I look and fervently hope that there will be a reduction in the number of incarcerations of black men and women. With responsibility I look for families to tough it out and even when that becomes impossible I look for them to remain active in rearing their children. I have high hopes, for this is my generation and I don’t plan on letting it go without a fight. In saying that I have decided to explore my options and become a teacher. I have yet to decide if I will be a classroom teacher or a community health organizer but either way come August I will begin my service. Thank you to Barack and Michelle for reminding us all that there is no greater sense of self-worth than helping out your fellow man.


The Fate of Divorced African Women

Women who are divorced in Africa are "thrown out of their homes, lose custody [of their children], and many end up destitute." Hisbah (a religious -Muslim Police)are said to strongly suggest the Association of Divorcees, Widows, and Orphans not continue with their planned demonstration on January 29th. The Hisbah is denying demonstration by the women because it is against Muslim law and violates the moral norm for the people of Kano. Kano is the third largest city in Nigeria. Sunday Trust, the Hisbah deputy commander-general operations also stated that the rally would led to the ridicule of Kano in the eyes of the world. The Hisbah believes the divorcees must realized that there are better ways of addressing the issue of divorce.


African Diaspora for Change

Obama’s run and subsequent election has started a movement among young leaders who are African immigrants or were raised by immigrant families. This organization is called African Diaspora for Change (formerly African Diaspora for Obama). It is a grassroots organization focusing on being the change needed locally, nationally, and internationally. The African Diaspora for Change (ACD) will host The African Diaspora Inaugural Ball on Sunday January 18, 2009 with the theme: “I am the Change: Educating, Empowering and Engaging the Next Generation of Leaders.”

Money raised by the event will benefit two organizations the Batonga Foundation and First Book, both nonprofits. The Batonga Foundation is dedicated to providing secondary and higher education to girls. Research finds that the investment of education for young girls greatly reduces the poverty and subsequent marginalization of women in developing countries. “Mark Blacken, [World Bank] one of the bank's lead analysts, said Africa's progress was inextricably linked to the fate of girls.

First Book distributes new books to children in low-income communities throughout the United States and Canada. In honor of Barack Obama our 44th President First Book, has committed to donating and distributing 44,000 books in support of literacy in Africa and America.


War Criminal: Bremba

Jean-Pierre Bremba is a former Vice-President for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bremba was charged by the International Criminal Court with three counts of crimes against humanity and five counts of war crimes. Bremba has denied all charges set against him.

"He [Bremba]chose rape as his main method... rapes against mothers in the presence of their children and rapes of children as their parents were forced to watch."

Rape, interpersonal violence, and domestic abuse unfairly continue the marginalization of women and children especially those in developing countries. The UN has stated that rape is now a war tactic. It is said that in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, some 40 women are raped every day.

"South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said women had become the primary victims of war and civil unrest, and that violence against women was used as a form of ethnic cleansing".

What if anything will deter men from the continued use of rape as a form of terrorism to gain control, power, and wealth? Bremba is a very wealthy man supposedly to the tune of several million dollars. I don't hold hope that he will be convicted but, I am troubled that if found not guilty he will return to continue his path of destruction and crimes against women and children.



Off Topic

Picture of yours truly. If you would like to make your own visit


Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic

Cholera is an intestinal infection generally caused by contaminated food and/or water. WHO counts cholera as a key indicator of social development. Diarrheal diseases rob the body of precious nutrients and electrolytes. In children diarrhea is associated with “impaired cognitive and physical development” (Guerrant, et al., 2005, p.S526). Diarrheal diseases can be attributed to the majority of economic losses in many countries; but the infectious agents that cause diarrhea can fall to a low incidence through the process of good hygienic conditions (Gasana, Morin, Ndikuyeze, and Kamoso, 2002).

Zimbabweis experiencing a cholera epidemic with 34,306 cases since August 2008 resulting in 1,732 deaths recorded as of January 5th. There are concerns that now the rainy season is approaching that the epidemic will spread quicker and further. Successfultreatment consists of an oral rehydration solution mixed and drunk with copious amounts of water.

Zimbabwe is experiencing an economic and food shortage directly blamed on the mismanagement of government funds by Robert Mugabe


Dr. Feel Goods Nathans & Ndulor

It is my fervent belief that healthcare should be a universal human right and not the privilege of a few. Healthcare in Africa has slowly transitioned from traditional medicine to modern technology with university trained medical doctors. However, healthcare is still rudimentary in rural areas. Dr. Ibe Nathans (a medial doctor)and Dr. Lawrence Ndular, (a clinical psychologist)are two UK educated Nigerians, who make the extra effort to return to their homeland to offer their aid to in need Nigerians.Ndulor was robbed and shot in the chest which, has curtailed his trips to Nigeria but not his financial support for the Ibelaw Community Health & Social Care Foundation. Huge thanks, to people like Nathans and Ndulor who work towards helping those with the biggest need.


Fatherhood Involvement

Sorry my Adult ADD is kicking in. This post is off topic but LMAH sent me this vid and I wanted to share.

Now back to our regular scheduled program for the month.


Uganda’s HIV/AIDS Success Story Threatened by U.S. Interference

Uganda has its share of problems yet, Uganda is still THE model for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. However, Uganda’s model and success is currently being threatened. 940,000 people are living with HIV and 1.2 million children are orphaned by AIDS.

First and foremost with any successful health initiative you must gain confidence, trust, and speak to the direct needs of the target population. HIV/AIDS hit Uganda hard in the mid-80s around the same time President Museveni came to power. In President Museveni you had a president that cared that his country men were dying. He knew that a simple message of caution could (and would) save millions of lives. Museveni relaxed the control on media outlets allowing a frank message regarding the transmission of HIV/AIDS to spread through “churches, school, and villages.”

The forthright discussion and ABC programs (abstain, be faithful, use condoms) a comprehensive sex awareness program aided in removing the stigma and fear associated with the virus. Now the success that was once Uganda’s in the fight against HIV/AIDS is now in danger. Uganda’s HIV/AIDS programs are funded by numerous organizations. President Bush’s financial assistance is tied inextricably to "abstinence only" programs. A program which presses Uganda to teach abstinence versus the comprehensive sex awareness that reduced the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the 90s.

Abstinence “only” programs are ineffective and grossly unfeasible. The use of such stipulations tied to government funds in my opinion are a gross breach of the term separation of church and state. President Bush gave Uganda $8 million for the use of abstinence only programs. These programs do not and cannot effectively work alone. While, the concept and ideology is admirable we live in world filled with secular images and secular behaviours.


Stories from Child Soldiers

"They took us as wives straightaway. We had to cook for them. If a cow was killed, we had to cook it...When they came back, they would eat and drink, then they would call for you. They were so many. It was so painful...If they went to attack somewhere or to loot, there was always someone who stayed behind. Then he’d call you. If you refused, they used sticks to whip you...We mostly stayed in the forest but sometimes we had to go with them and carry what they looted...They all had sex with me. I don’t know how many people had sex with me. A man would come, then another and another. I wasn’t even the youngest. Some girls were even younger than me. Even the commanders called for you. You couldn’t refuse...They said they’d kill you if you ran away. Some people fled and didn’t come back. We didn’t know if they’d got away or had been killed."

"I remember the day I decided to join the mayi-mayi. It was after an attack on my village. My parents, and also my grand-father were killed and I was running. I was so scared. I lost everyone; I had nowhere to go and no food to eat. In the mayi-mayi I thought I would be protected, but it was hard. I would see others die in front of me. I was hungry very often, and I was scared. Sometimes they would whip me, sometimes very hard. They used to say that it would make me a better fighter. One day, they whipped my [11-year-old] friend to death because he had not killed the enemy. Also, what I did not like is to hear the girls, our friends, crying because the soldiers would rape them. "

Rita’s life was filled with suffering however; her life line was filled with more flowers than rocks giving, me encouragement for the future of ex-child soldiers.


Genocide in Darfur

Darfur is approximately the size of France. The current conflict in Sudan
is predominately in the Western Region and centered along ethnic and tribal lines. This conflict began in February 2003 and consists of four groups. The Sudanese military and the Janjaweed fight together and are of Arabic descent. The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement are of African descent. The current government of Sudan is strongly Arab based.

The Janjaweed loosely translated to mean “devil on horseback” are one of the major players in the continued decimation of the farmers over precious few resources and land allocation. Millions of people have been displaced since October 2006. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates a 100,000 deaths in the Sudan region for each year because, of the assistance of the Arab- backed Sudanese government.

The United States has called the mass massacre in Darfur genocide but, the United Nations falls short of calling the killings genocide. It is in my opinion that the United Nations falls short of enacting stronger UN sanctions due to China'sinterference. (China receives huge amounts of oil from Sudan) There is an argument as to who supplies more weapons to the Janjaweed China or Russia. What is not in dispute is that at least 90% of the weapons used to continue the genocide in Darfur are imported weapons.

Men are killed or either mutilated, forcing women and children to flee their homes for refugee camps. Women and young girls are often raped and brutalized if they venture too far away from the refugee camps while searching for firewood. Rape and sexual abuse are used as a weapon of terror to continue a cycle of fear. The refugee camps are filled with hundreds of families trying to escape the brutal systematic slaughter carried out by the Janjaweed.

If you would like to aid the victims of a sense less war fought among herders, farmers and the most marginalized of us all women and children; then please click on the following links to find a way you can contribute and help.

Help Darfur Now
Save Darfur
24 hours for Darfur
A message to President Elect Obama


Christmas Day Massacre

Alice Auma an Acholi spirit – medium woman, was a leader of the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) a rebellious movement against the Ugandan government. Alice, claimed to be possessed by a spirit named Lakwena. The HSM, after suffering a sound defeat quickly fell apart, forcing Alice to flee leaving way to what is now the LRA lead by Joseph Kony to form.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group formed in 1987, currently led by Joseph Kony, perpetrated one of the bloodiest massacres over Christmas and the following days. An estimate of 400 people lost their lives while the LRA went from town to town burning, pillaging and abducting children to continue their reign of terror. (It is important to note that LRA has denied any involvement in the Christmas day massacres.)

The LRA is well known for its abduction of children. These children are used as " guards, concubines, and soldiers.” Without the enforced servitude/slavery of child soldiers the LRA’s fighting forces would be tremendously reduced.

An estimate of 20,000 children have been abducted and used in the LRA’s consistent brutal reign of terror over a period of 18 years. The profile reported by BBC found Kony’s philosophy for his continued cruelty came from his desire to cleanse the Acholi people. A more sinister reason for the LRA’s sustained terrors is the secular benefits. Kony and his top officials have first pick of the young girls taken captive to be their wives as well as any looting goods.


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