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Basic Facts About Somalia And East Africa Famine—-Please Consider A Donation For Famine Relief

I made a small donation this morning to Oxfam for famine relief assistance in Somalia and East Africa.

Here are some facts on this disaster as it relates to Somalia from the New York Times-

“The Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory.The group is widely blamed for causing a famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food. The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.”

Though this crisis is in some part man-made, it also has a lot to do with a lack of rain in the area. Issues of famine extend beyond Somalia. And while in Somalia there are impediments being placed on the work that can be done to ease the famine, progress can still be made if relief groups have resources.

Not as visible as disaster as the Japanese tsunami and in a more remote part of thew world, donations have been difficult to come by for this crisis.

The link above also has a list of aid agencies taking donations.

There is always a lot going on in the world and there is always a lot of trouble. At the same time, there are often many people willing to help if they are aware of the problems.

The BBC has a full section of online reports detailing the scope of famine in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Here is a BBC article dealing with some of the specifics of this famine.

From that article—

“The UN says East Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, with more than 10 million people threatened by starvation in four countries – Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. It has been caused by the lack of rains and the failure of governments to adequately finance agriculture and irrigation schemes….To make matters worse, al-Shabab forced most Western aid agencies out of the areas they control in 2009, severely hampering the aid effort in much of Somalia.”

It is true that this part of the world has had famine issues in the past, and that some of the problems could have been avoided if better policies had been in place. Yet these views are of cold comfort to the person with no food. Most people impacted by the famine have had no hand in causing the famine.

I ask folks to please consider learning more about this famine problem, and to consider a donation to help alleviate the disaster.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Role Of American Evangelical Christians In Spreading Anti-Gay Hate And Violence In Africa

A story that merits wide public attention is the role of American conservative evangelical groups in promoting brutal homophobia in Africa.

A symbol of this homophobia in Africa is an anti-gay bill in Uganda that if passed could have lead to death sentences for some gays. While the death penalty provisions of the legislation are no longer  part of the bill, a bill remains on the table in Uganda that would do great harm to gays in that country and do great harm to the cause of human rights everywhere.

On July 5, 2010 the severed head of a Ugandan gay rights activist named Pasikali Kashusbe was found on a farm in Uganda.

From the Times of London

Some argue that the African rows over homosexuality are really a proxy skirmish in an American cultural dispute, with both evangelicals and gay rights groups in the US pouring in money and support.In Uganda, attention has focused on a visit by three US evangelicals, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, just before the anti-homosexuality bill was introduced. They held seminars for MPs and officials where homosexuality was described as a disease that could be healed, although they have subsequently disclaimed any responsibility for the bill. Lively, the president of Defend the Family International, told Ugandans that legalising homosexuality would mean legalising “the molestation of children and having sex with animals”.

These folks say being gay is a disease that can be treated. A disease is something you go after and seek to eliminate.

Here are additional links to articles on this subject—

The Economist magazine writes about steps backward for the rights of gays in Africa, and suggests that some American “Christians” may  play a part in these attacks.

From The Economist—

“In many former colonies, denouncing homosexuality as an “unAfrican” Western import has become an easy way for politicians to boost both their popularity and their nationalist credentials. But Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay-rights campaigner, says the real import into Africa is not homosexuality but politicised homophobia…. This has, he argues, coincided with an influx of conservative Christians, mainly from America, who are eager to engage African clergy in their own domestic battle against homosexuality. David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who proposed its horrid bill, is a member of the Fellowship, a conservative American religious and political organisation. “Africa must seem an exciting place for evangelical Christians from places like America,” says Marc Epprecht, a Canadian academic who studies homosexuality in Africa. “They can make much bigger gains in their culture wars there than they can in their own countries.”

The New York Times writes about American evangelical involvement in the terrible Uganda anti-gay bill.

Here is a Nightline report about the Uganda bill. The report runs just under 8 minutes.

Political Research Associates has published an article by Kapya Kaoma of Zambia that discusses research Mr. Kaoma has done about the link between the American Christian right and anti-gay actions in Africa.

From Mr. Kaoma’s work–

“If they had faced strong opposition, U.S. conservatives might not have been so successful in promoting their homophobic politics. Traditionally, evangelical African churches have been biblically and doctrinally orthodox but socially progressive on such issues as national liberation and poverty, making them natural partners of the politically liberal western churches. But their religious orthodoxy also provides the U.S. Right with an opportunity. Africans resonate with the denunciation of homosexuality as a postcolonial plot; their homophobia is as much an expression of resistance to the West as it is a statement about human sexuality. Similarly campaigns for “family values” in Africa rest on rich indigenous notions of the importance of family and procreation. In Africa, “family” expresses the idea that to be human is to be embedded in community, a concept called ubuntu. African traditional values also value procreation, making those hindering this virtue an enemy of life.”

Here is the link to Mr. Kaoma’s full 42 page report called Globalizing the Culture Wars–U.S. Conservatives, African Churches and Homophobia.

Given the brutality of the social and economic positions of the American evangelical right, any vicious viewpoint or act is possible from this element. These groups should be monitored by international human rights groups and by the U.S. government. We know from hard experience in the U.S that religiously motivated hate can spread across international borders.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Video Of Ankole Cattle Chomping Food And Mooing—Heifer International Link

Above you see a video of an Ankole cattle. The video lasts about 25 seconds.  In the video the beast chomps on some trees and at the end makes a mooing noise.

This video was taken at the Houston Zoo. The Houston Zoo is getting better, but still has a way to go to being good enough for a city the size of Houston. When I moved to Houston 11 years ago and saw that the zoo had no admission charge, I figured that could only be bad news for the animals. The adult admission is now $10. I know that’s a lot of money, but I’m not convinced the fee is yet high enough for the good of the animals.

The zoo asserts the animals are well taken care of in captivity.

Here is information about the Ankole cattle from a breeds of livestock web page of Oklahoma State University—

The Ankole cattle are distributed from Lake Mobutu to Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa. The original animals were thought to have been brought to northern Uganda by Hamitic tribes sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Ankole’s susceptiblity to the tsetse fly forced the tribes and their cattle further south. The Hima or Bahima tribe settled on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzani. The Watusi or Tutsi tribe continued to Rwanda and Burundi withtheircattle, some of which have spread to the lake districts of Zaire. Selection in all the tribes is based on horn size. The purer Ankolecattlehave a medium-long head, a short neck with a deep dewlap and a narrow chest. …Although the small-uddered Ankole cows yield meager amounts of milk, milking is an important ritual in some tribes. Bloodletting is a common practice. A few tribes use the cattle for work, none use them for meat. In general the animals are highly prized as status symbols, for ceremonial functions and not for their productivity.

( The OSU site has very comprehensive information on breeds of cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and goats. It is well worth study.)

It’s good to know people in Africa are as dumb-assed as we are here. Keeping these big beasts as a status symbol–Don’t they have better things to do with their resources? Like the $40 I spent at the Astros’ baseball game a few nights  ago including a $7.50 beer and a $4 ice cream item.

Here is the link to Heifer International. If you donate some money to these folks, they’ll buy a useful farm animal for somebody in the world. Do you know why you and I live in a rich nation while some other person lives in a poor place? Dumb luck–That’s why.

A NY Times article from last year says the Ankole is under long-term threat. The article says that they are being cross-bred with Holsteinsin Africa because the Holsteins are of greater use. The excerpt below says that the Ankole have been bred to survive in a harsh African environment and this is why they may not be so useful.

From the article—

“…Indigenous animals like East Africa’s sinewy Ankole, the product of centuries of selection for traits adapted to harsh conditions, are struggling to compete with foreign imports bred for maximal production. This worries some scientists. The world’s food supply is increasingly dependent on a small and narrowing list of highly engineered breeds: the Holstein, the Large White pig and the Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens. There’s a risk that future diseases could ravage these homogeneous animal populations. Poor countries, which possess much of the world’s vanishing biodiversity, may also be discarding breeds that possess undiscovered genetic advantages. But farmers like Mugira say they can’t afford to wait for science. And so, on the African savanna, a competition for survival is underway.”

I guess necessity makes people forget about ornamental and status items all over the world.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Houston | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Facts, Views & Bloggers On The Trouble In Kenya

Family flees violence in Kenya

Folks in Kenya are slaughtering each other.

Straight out the Nazi playbook of burning synagogues, a church full of people was burned in the Kenyan city of Eldoret.  30 people were burned to death.

The pretense is the disputed outcome of the recent Presidential election.

Closer to the heart of the matter may be long standing ethnic and tribal divisions.

From The BBC—

Ethnic tension, which has dogged Kenyan politics since independence in 1963, is widely believed to be behind the violence.

With patronage and corruption still common, many Kenyans believe that if one of their relatives is in power, they will benefit directly, for example through a relative getting a civil service job.

The current tensions can be traced back to the 1990s, when the then President Daniel arap Moi was forced to introduce multi-party politics.

Below is a picture of the President of Kenya—Mwai Kibaki. When Mr Kibaki took office in 2002, he was supposed to bring fresh life to Kenyan democracy after the long and corrupt rule of Daniel arap Moi. 

That has not worked out so well.

Here is profile of opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga does not fully seem like a committed democrat either.

Here is the blog Kenyan Pundit written by Harvard law student Ory Okolloh.

Insight Kenya is a blog written from an oppostion view. It has a number of pictures of the current conflict.

What An African Woman Thinks is done quite well I feel. African Woman is a blogger who does not know what way to turn in the ongoing violence.

Here is the Kenyan Newspaper The Standard.

Here is the beginning of the Amnesty International assessment of Kenya.

The government intensified its intimidation and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders. Impunity for abuses by police was reinforced as the authorities failed to investigate allegations of police brutality. Violence against women and girls, including rape and domestic violence, remained a serious concern, although a new law was passed outlawing sexual offences.

Here is the more comprehensive report from Amnesty.

Here is the beginning of the editorial on the election from The Economist—

THE decision to return Kenya’s 76-year-old incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, to office was not made by the Kenyan people but by a group of hardline Kikuyu leaders. They made up their minds before the result was announced, perhaps even before the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had opened up a lead in early returns from the December 27th election. It was a civil coup.

The planning was meticulous. All that was needed were the extra votes to squeak past Mr Odinga in what had been a closely and decently contested election. That was why returns from Central Province, Mr Kibaki’s fiercely loyal Kikuyu heartland, were inexplicably held back. And why, in some constituencies, a large number of voters mysteriously decided just to vote in the presidential race, ignoring the parliamentary ballot. Real damage was done in Nairobi, the capital, by inflating the number of votes for Mr Kibaki, even after results were publicly announced. Election monitors were turned away in Nairobi while the tallying went on. But European Union (EU) monitors verified tens of thousands of votes pinched in this way. Mr Odinga’s supporters were not innocent either. There were serious irregularities in his home province of Nyanza and probably ballot stuffing on his behalf elsewhere.

Here is the full editorial.

Here are some basic facts about Kenya from the BBC

  • Full name: The Republic of Kenya
  • Population: 34.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Swahili, English
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 46 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products
  • GNI per capita: US $540 (World Bank, 2005)

Below is a map of ethnic and language groups in Kenya. Look at all those colors. You don’t have to know what any of it means—I don’t—to figure out that these folks have to make the call to get along with each other or else terrible things will happen—Such as is happening right now.

These folks have a life-expectancy of 40-something  and still some of them can’t kill each other fast enough. You really wonder about people sometimes.

 

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Elections, History, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment