Archive for May, 2011
I read your article re. the renaissance dam on the Nile. I just have a few questions and comments about it.
1) You said the 1993 agreement between Egypt and Our country – paricularly article 5 – is not an issue.
(Each Party Shall refrain from engaging in any activity related to the Nile waters that may cause appreciable harm to the interests of the other party)
A) Doesn’t this depend on the interpretation of Egypt to say ‘this project harms my interest’?
B) Can you explain how Egypt, as a down-stream country, can do anything to harm the flow of the Nile?
(Reminds us of the hyena who was drinking up-stream accusing the donkey at down-strem to have muddied the waters.)
B) If like you said it can’t be taken as an obstacle to Ethiopia why is it there?
C) Why, oh why, sign this agreement in the first place without the other up-stream countries?
2) Given the TPLF/EPRDF’s track record regarding honesty, the 1997 election is one to mention, how do you convince any one to have trust in them? Don’t tell me take my word for it.
3) They said this was called ‘Project X’ and started 2 years before the last election bla bla bla .. Can we see any evidence, documentary or otherwise, if that is so? Why a project of such magnitude is not discussed in
parliament – we know there something called a closed session! No?
4) Again on the trust issue what was done to Ethiopia’s sea port? Badme and the Algiers agreement etc. I am sure you know this issues inside out. Can you enlighten us how this time around the TPLF/EPRDF suddenly changed its nature? Could it, let me guess, ideological mutation?
I have a few more but let me see how you do with the above before I get on the band wagon of ‘Hidassei Gidib’.
Back in 2006, I wrote a short story called The Case of the Criminal Walk in which I lampooned the Meles Zenawi regime’s ridiculous ethnic Bantustanization of Ethiopia. In the story, a man who had walked outside of “his region” was accused of being a criminal and a saboteur. And the prosecutor was interested in the type of walk the man had engaged in. Here is how that prosecutor in the story asked his question:
“Was he strolling arrogantly? Walking briskly? Were his lips curled in disgust as he walked? Were his eyes narrow like a chauvinist? Was he pounding at the pavement or moving surreptitiously like a spy? Did he dodder, falter, lumber, stagger, totter, trudge, hobble or plod? When you saw him walk did you see an innocent man like say someone rushing to church not to miss Mass? Or did you see a suspicious man with a saintly smile like all criminals, puffed up with arrogance, happy at the mere thought of having trampled on yet another sacred law, angrily pounding on our poor road? Did he prowl, tiptoe, slink away or stalk? Was he shuffling, slouching off or creeping? Did he march, surge or meander? A lot depends on that walk…Was it leisurely like a stroll, the pastime of a lazy man propagating unemployment? Was he moving briskly like a criminal trying to distance himself from the scene of his foul crime? Was he lifting his legs up like the parading soldiers of the former regime and pounding hard on our pavement to dig potholes? Or was he trying to be smaller than his shadow and walking stealthily?”
In the end the prosecutor in the story gives his own definition of the criminal walk:
“The criminal walk as we all know combines the rush and the prowl with the swoop and stomp, the trudge and the swagger, and all this accompanied by a maniacal chuckle.”
Did Ugandan opposition leader Dr. Kizza Beisgye wear a maniacal chuckle as he walked to work in opposition to the Museveni regime? Did he just walk or did he trudge and swoop on downtown Kampala? How did the authorities determine his walk was criminal and then resort to arresting and beating him up? By the way did the good doctor, who was Museveni’s personal physician in the past, get the idea of turning a walk into a political protest action from my short story? Seriously though, the intriguing question to most Africans, who are fortunate enough to have a job in the first place, is how come walking to work becomes a protest as more often than not they all walk to work? Early morning Nairobi, a stream of humanity trudges out of the notorious Kibera slum to go to or to search for work. With price of petrol sky-rocketing and the price of transport too expensive to ponder many have been forced to walk not as a protest (heaven forbid) but as a necessity. Have Ugandans turned as rich as Museveni claims and are driving to work or take public transport in their thousands every day? Who cares if Besigye walks to work? For all we know, as a doctor, he may be doing it for health reasons? If walk to work is a protest Ethiopians have been protesting for decades without even knowing it.
But Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a frightened man, haunted by the specter of a popular revolt against his dictatorial rule and his tearing up of the Constitution to be “elected” as fourth time president of Uganda. An Ethiopian proverb says no one dies looking as good as he was. Alas, things and human beings change and in most cases in Africa for the worst. Yoweri Museveni was a progressive militant, a better and promising breed than the Obotes and Amins that Uganda had to bear. In the first years, his rule was not also that bad (in Africa we do not easily say good knowing what we know) despite creeping corruption, ethnic favouritism and alarming demagogy on his part. Museveni’s declared “modernization” drive and his penchant for power clashed with tradition and customs (the place of kings in Uganda for example) and the call for a better deal by Ugandans suffering from economic hardships. Museveni wrote a book in which he identified one of the major malaise of governance in Africa as being the tendency of the rulers to stay in power for long and went on right away to cling to power for 25 years now even by changing the Constitution to run as a presidential candidate for the fourth time. Over the years, Museveni turned into a run of the mill African dictator, relying on his control of the repression apparatus and family circles and engaging in repression of any dissent. Besigye’s call for walk to work as a protest could have been taken as a patriotic gesture to save on fuel but Museveni had to rile and rant against it and turn it into a big cause and thus spurred the opposition leader to come up with walk to prayer calls.
The Museveni clan, much like the Meles Zenawi clan in Ethiopia, is controlling Uganda like their private property. None of them walks to work by the way. Museveni holds absolute power and is involved big time in the economic sector. His wife Janet Museveni, admired for not wearing western wigs ever, is a minister for Karamoja region and the owner of the Gemtel mobile telephone service that has extended its activities into Juba too. His half brother General Caleb Akandwanaho (also known as Salim Saleh) is presidential advisor on defence and a man accused of gross corruption including the plunder of gold and minerals from Eastern Congo. His brother in law, Sam Kutea, is Foreign Affairs Minister while his daughter Natasha Karugire is his private secretary. Janet’s nephew Justus Karuhanga is Museveni’s secretary for legal affairs while his son Lt. Colonel Kainerugaba Muhoozi is commander of the Special Forces guarding the newly discovered oil fields. The colonel also leads the elite presidential guard. As one Kenyan journalist recently commented– Ugandans are not all amused by the “familiarization of the State” as much as Museveni says he is not pleased with walking to work as a sign of protest.
Museveni is bound to be history, the past—perhaps sooner than he may expect. Yet, he owes his ongoing survival, as much as Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, to the fact that he has slavishly bowed to the superpower and became cannon fodder in the so called war against terror. His regime is a minority one and his claim to be a messiah from the Munyankole/Bahima unconvincing to the majority of Bagandans. The LRA still roams murderously uncontrolled filling the pockets of the general who are the real beneficiaries of the ongoing war. Museveni has opened up Uganda for American special troops, has rushed into Somalia to fulfil America’s order (much like Meles Zenawi before him) and proved an ally of the West. That has assured him financial help and security protection and overall backing and support against a Revolution that may turn nationalist/Ugandan and throw out the foreign agenda and diktat. After all, Idi Amin was also an Israeli and British baby before he grew a shark’s teeth and became a nuisance. But will Washington’s backing save Museveni from impending doom? Judging from Egypt and what is happening elsewhere it does not seem likely and Museveni, who has outlived four US presidents, may not outlive Obama. Still, his rule and his ministers have given other tyrants very many valuable lessons. For those tyrants who kill their people and suffer their blame Museveni’s Internal Affairs State Minister, Kirunda Kivejinja, has come out with a gem of a self defense. Admitting that people were killed and hundreds wounded or arrested in the protest demonstrations he, however, said the government is not taking responsibility for those killed and he advised Ugandans to blame the deaths “ on the British and the Americans who manufacture bullets”.
Now we know the real culprits!
Dogs and cats as pets live much better than most Africans—this is no news really. And yet, the depravity and cruelty of it all continues to amaze. Consider one newspaper report below:
“The air kisses were flying, the Italian sparkling wine was flowing, and white hyacinths perfumed the air. Marilyn Riseman, society doyenne, was in attendance, and by 7 p.m. the South End’s beautiful people were packed so thick it was hard to reach the cheese-and-olive platters. What else would you expect at the grand opening of a boutique hotel and day-care center for dogs? Boston may or may not have achieved its dream of being a world class city for humans, but from a canine perspective we have arrived.
The Urban Hound is but one of three new luxury pet hotels, complete with spa services and flat-screen televisions usually tuned to Animal Planet, that have opened in the past few months. Boston Red Dog Pet Resort and Spa, on Southampton Street near the Southeast Expressway, charges as much as $85 a night for a room, and at Fenway Bark in South Boston, the room rates go up to $150. Pricey? Perhaps, but because it is considered a service, at least there is no room tax.
Trade spending figures are hard to come by, but Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association, said these businesses represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the $48 billion pet industry. He credits baby boomers for much of the increasing humanization of pets and everything that has followed: designer leashes, five-figure doghouses, dogs staying in human hotels, and pet hotels that serve Starbucks (to the pets’ owners).
“Their children are growing up and moving out,’’ Vetere said, “and as helicopter parents, they need to find something else to hover over.’’
With 91 percent of owners calling their pet a member of the family and with the economic downturn easing, there is increasing demand for luxury pet lodging, according to a report by Packaged Facts, a Maryland research firm. Many facilities have added upscale amenities, such as customized suites with individualized decor or advanced air purification systems, according to the company’s most recent report.”
A $ 48 billion pet industry! Talk of being a spoilt dog: consider the following report from Japan.
“Merumo, a 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is a top model for dog magazines in Japan. Since she is a model, she is given special treatment such as two expensive haircuts a month, but the pampering doesn’t end there. A reporter visits the apartment where Merumo lives to discover the following luxuries:
The apartment has a special security system that won’t allow visitors to take the elevator to that floor without an invitation.
Merumo doesn’t like being hot, so her owner bought marble flooring for the living room. (estimated cost: 3,000,000 yen)
She drinks out of a silver Gucci dog bowl.
When leaving the house, she can ride in a Louis Vuitton carry bag (236,250 yen).
When going for a walk, she can wear one of several brand name dog collars and leashes: Hermès (65,000 yen + 85,000 yen) or Gucci (69,300).
Merumo’s owner rents another room in the apartment building just to store all of Merumo’s special clothing. Merumo has a fancy kimono (80,000 yen), 10 fur coats (one costs 180,000 yen), and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Total cost: about 3,000,000 yen)
Since Merumo is pretty old in dog years, her owner is determined to give her the finest foods. A typical meal consists of premium vegetables special ordered from a department store prepared alongside some expensive Matsusaka beef (2,500 yen for 100 grams). The humans of the house eat cheap vegetables and chicken from the local grocery store.
Merumo’s owner justifies the money she spends by comparing Merumo to a child. Many parents spend large sums of money to send their children to college, so why can’t she spend a similar amount buying dresses and fancy food for Merumo?”
Is there no responsibility at all? No urge to have a balance in one’s outlook towards other human beings. Consider the following report:
“According to a conservative estimate the pet owning citizens of the European Union spend about 150 million USD daily or 45 billion USD per annum on pet food. This staggering amount that the citizens of the European Union spent to keep their cats and dogs alive is nearly three times as much as the total amount that Sub-Saharan Africa annually gets from the industrialized countries in terms of official development assistance”.
This is no war on dogs but on the humans who own these dogs. Let us not generalize either. The pampered dog in Africa is way down the dog class ladder even if it lives better off than the majority of Africans. It is common knowledge that the status of pampered dogs in the USA and Europe is much higher than that of the pampered dogs in Africa just as the rich in America and Europe are many in number and more wealthy than those in Africa. In Ethiopia, anyone with more than US$200,000 becomes a millionaire Birr wise. The Mobutus, Bongos, Meles and Muabaraks are not really that many—too greedy and restrictive may best explain the situation. And yet, pampered African dogs are now accompanying their masters to Joburg and Bangkok for specialized medical care. Some apologists of the African tyrants proclaim loud and high that the health system has improved (for example in Ethiopia) while no one with real money would be found dreaming of entering an Ethiopian hospital. Why should the dogs trust hospitals their masters have no confidence in? The answer is clear. Dogs have been “humanized” and Africans “dehumanized”—go check the capsized boats and black corpses of Lampadusa for one. The African children in the arms of Madonna, Jolie and others could very well be pets of a sort.
Here is another report:
A British dog owner has splashed out an incredible £20 000 on giving her pampered pooch the perfect wedding day, says a report.
According to orange news, Louise Harris, 32, invited 80 guests to the lavish ceremony to watch her Yorkshire terrier Lola tie the knot with Mugly, a Chinese Crested.
The bash was reportedly held in an outdoor marquee in the grounds of a mansion in Essex, costing £2 500 for the venue alone.
Lola wore a £1 000 wedding dress, customized with 1 800 Swarovski crystals.
Her outfit was finished off with a £400 pearl necklace, Swarovski crystal leg cuffs costing £250, and finally a Swarovski crystal lead costing £350.
Harris also spent £1 000 on flowers, £3 000 on designers to decorate the marquee, £400 on a personal wedding planner, and even £400 for security guards, the report said.
Harris, who owns two other Yorkshire Terriers, Lulu, four, and two-year-old Larry, who acted as bridesmaid and page boy, was quoted as saying: “I wanted Lola to have the perfect day.
“My dogs are my pride and joy so nothing is too good for them. I enjoy spoiling them because it makes me happy.”
Harris, who runs a dog boutique and grooming parlour, ran an online competition on her website and Facebook to find the perfect husband for Lola.
She said she had received hundreds of entries but whittled it down to a final six potential partners and was surprised when Lola’s obvious favourite was Mugly, voted Britain’s ugliest dog.
According to the report, Harris said: “I must admit when I went to meet Bev and Mugly I really didn’t think Lola would like him. She is a bit of a diva and loves her clothes and jewellery so I did think she would go for a dog more like her.
“But they do say opposites attract and they happily played together all day. They seemed to really enjoy being together and had a lot of fun so I thought he was the perfect future husband for Lola.”
No need to mention that most Africans survive on US$ 2 per day. Some do not feel guilty on such spending on their pets as they claim that $26.53 billion is spent on cafes, restaurants and takeaways while dogs (and to a certain extent even cats) at least greet you with joy and act as good and long lasting companions. Moreover, pampering dogs is not as costly or as bad for example as pampering George W. Bush who said recently “I miss being pampered” and Bush was no pet at all. We now have quite a few millionaire dogs and cats thanks to inheritance and laws allowing it. But, I still have no report if these dog or cat millionaires have given some money to charities officially claiming to help African children even though quite a few of such bodies or organizations are known to be merciless swindlers– cruel dogs in the bad sense of the word.
In the end it is obvious that some dogs are more equal than others and possibly much better than some robbers and despots who call themselves human. It’s a sad, sad world we live in and our continent has gone to the dogs.
By Hama Tuma
The much trumpeted death of Osama Bin Laden brings many questions to the fore: where is the body? How come he got buried in the sea? Was he a seaman or a pirate? What is burying people in the sea in accordance with Islamic rituals? Who killed him? Americans or Pakistanis? Did he die in the firefight or was he captured and riddled with bullets making a presentable photo of his corpse impossible? And so and on. The jubilation of Americans in New York and Washington DC could also be understood within the confines of revenge and closure or nationalism of the kind Bin Laden would have understood. However, the fact remains that at the end of the day the vast political hype to benefit Barack Obama can hardly cover the reality of a president who has failed to live up to his words and a continuing condition of terror, war and devastation in many parts of the world. Bin Laden is dead but Bin Ladenism continues with a vengeance.
Osama Bin Laden was first and foremost an American baby, nurtured by the CIA against what Washington called the Evil Empire. The snake eventually turned against its charmer much as the American pampered (anti Iran) Sadam Hussein became the enemy of the superpower. Pakistani intelligence worked with Osama and other fundamentalists to spread radicalism far and wide and not only to harass the Soviets—after all the Talibans are the creation of Pakistani intelligence and if Bin Laden lived in clandestinity so near Islamabad it is sure it was done with the connivance of high level Pakistani officials. Of course these are details that do not interest much the ordinary Joe and Jane in America who function under the assumption that there is a clash of civilization and that brown and black persons and/or Moslems are jealous of America and want to destroy it. If Hizbollah is the party of God Jean d’ Arc was a “ fou de dieu” and there are many American Christian fundamentalists out there in fanatic cuckoo land burning the Quran and insulting other religions and beliefs. The fire burns in almost all houses. But we all know we live in a confused and troubled world where justice and fairness and balance are not to be found that easily. Bin laden is the one that got away, the failed experiment, “our own monster” as the Americans should have said. American ties to Saudi Arabia (Wahabism) and Pakistan (fundamentalism of the Madrasa type) and the urge to be the victor of the cold war gave birth to Osama and all the other anti Soviet mujahedeen praised by Washington but who later rose against America itself. No one is really jealous of America and there is no clash of civilizations as such—in this case just American spawned vermin trying to attack their womb.
The victims of Al Qaeda are understandably happy to hear their enemy is dead but it is clear that real closure does not really come from crude vendetta. The execution of Bin Laden (Obama’s order was “kill him!”) does not also say much about someone who had received the Noble Peace Prize. Obama disappoints big time and the death of Osama is not going to salvage him. The sad part of this entire charade is that whether Bin Laden dies or not the Al Qaeda curse is upon us all. From the Maghreb to Yemen and beyond autonomous Al Qaeda groups have flourished with their own leaders and strategies. The death of Bin Laden will only strengthen their resolve and fanatic determination. The Taliban are alive, well and raising hell. Obama is now forced to face the question of whether America will withdraw from Afghanistan or not? If so much hype is made on the mere fact of the death of Bin Laden (historic, great turning point, the end of Al Qaeda, etc) the next logical strip would be to ask America to withdraw from Afghanistan. Forget Mollah Omar and the Taliban, the devil is dead. Alas, life is complicated. The death of Bin Laden is not the end of Al Qaeda. The problem or danger is still out there, the hydra has many heads. This is why misplaced euphoria is a mistake not to mention that gloating over the death of one person is copying Bin Laden himself and reveling in death in a medieval way. If Obama had ordered the killing and not the capture and trial of Bin Laden the burden is heavy on him and giving him the thumb down will be in order.
Bin Laden’s tactic was to kill innocent civilians under the assumption so long as America bombs innocent people their innocent people have to suffer the consequences. It is not a rationale that can easily be dismissed if one is the victim of the constant outrage and trampling of human rights by arrogant Western powers. Africans subjected to watch America, Britian and France sustain tyrants and then find the opportunity to invade and cause havoc upon our heads are not very sympathetic to an America playing the “I am the victim” tune. Few people said bravo to Al Qaeda for killing all those people in the Twin Towers or killing innocent Africans in Kenya and Tanzania but then again if truth be told few people sympathized with America’s so called war on terror, its intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hypocrisy of it all was plain to see and one had to be a True Believer American to swallow the propaganda hook, line and sinker. Those who kill are not always punished. America and the west shelter many assassins and murderers. The list is long. Baby Doc Duvalier of Haiti and many African tyrants call France home. Many Red Terror criminal from Ethiopia live safely in the USA and it was Washington that organized the exile of butcher Mengistu Haile Mariam to Harare (where he still lives). Just a few examples. Osama killed 3000 in New York while Mengistu killed more than 250,000 in Ethiopia but of course all lives and souls do not weigh the same in Washington’s scale.
For those who had to suffer from Osama Bin Laden’s criminal action proper closure should have come through due process of law and not following Bin Laden in his path of murder and revenge. Moreover, it is proper to point out amidst the euphoria and crude boasting (“an American bullet killed Bin Laden”!) that the demise of Bin Laden may augur worse than was before. The man sought the martyr’s death and he has achieved it. Throwing him into the sea so as to deny him and his followers a shrine is nonsense too as he is now engraved in the hearts of his followers more than ever before. Most people do want to see their enemy dead—this is base and primary feeling. History does teach, however, that death of one man will not be the end of evil. The source of the evil must be sought and America, as it celebrates the death of Bin Laden, should very well look into itself and examine if, surprise surprise, its policies are not one of the mothers of the hatred that send people to such drastic measures and choices.