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Great Concern As Parents of Missing #Chibok Schoolgirls Tragically Pass Away.

This headline is so shocking and heartbreaking it’s almost unbelievable. 11 parents of the missing Chibok schoolgirls have died or have been killed in the three months since their abduction.

According to a report by AP, seven of the girls’ fathers were among over 50 bodies that were brought to a hospital in the area after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month. Four more parents are said to have died from heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses many blame on the trauma sustained from this incident.

Speaking out on this issue, community leader Pogo Bitrus has said, “one father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been heavily criticized for his slow response and the ineffective manner in which he has been handling both this situation and the greater Boko Haram threat, met with some of the victim’s parents and their classmates on Tuesday where he promised to continue efforts to bring back the girls alive.

Meanwhile, the town of Chibok seems to be in more and more danger as Boko Haram continue to gain ground in the surrounding area. Over the weekend, the terrorist group launched several raids in northeastern Nigerian towns and villages where they also attacked an army base in the strategic town of Damboa. This particular attack saw as many as 15, 000 civilians fleeing the area as a result.

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Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Must Leave, says ANCYL.

Following the recent deadly attacks on Gaza by Israeli forces, the ANCYL arm in the Western Cape sent out a notice on Saturday to Israel’s ambassador to South Africa saying that Arthur Lenk should “pack his bags and prepare for travel to avoid unnecessary trauma,” in the words of provincial convenor Muhammad Khalid Saye.

This warning was made in support of the ANC’s parliamentary caucus statement that South Africa’s ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, be recalled, and that Lenk be removed from the country with immediate effect.

South Africa and ANC have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestine and is one of the countries that participates in the annual Israeli Apartheid Week which seeks to create awareness, educate and foster discussion surrounding the conflict in this part of the Middle East.

On Friday, which was International Mandela Day, South Africans marched to the Israeli Trade Offices in Johannesburg in solidarity with Palestine and to protest Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Capetonians held their own pro-Palestine march on Wednesday, organised by the Muslim Judicial Council, who handed over a memorandum to Siphosezwe Masango, chairperson of Parliament’s international relations portfolio committee.

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Current Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Deadliest on Record.

The first wave of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa first occurred earlier this year with reported cases in Guinea and Liberia. Now, currently in its second wave, a senior official at Doctors Without Borders has described the outbreak as being ‘totally out of control’.

With over 300 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, linked to this outbreak, according to the World Health Organization, it is so far the most deadliest ebola outbreak on record. There is no cure or vaccine for the disease therefore it essential that governments and health officials work together in order to safely contain the it. However, with the outbreak spread over multiple locations and the lack of education surrounding the disease, efforts to stop its spread have not been very successful. 

(image source)

Missing for 70 Days, What is the Status on the Nigerian Schoolgirls from Chibok? #BringBackOurGirls.

Today marks the 70th day* that these young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, have been missing. Despite reports from the Nigerian government saying that they are aware of the whereabouts of these girls, assistance through US military intervention, and even with a few of the girls managing to escape, it seems as though news of missing girls is beginning to lose momentum in popular news media. Whilst there are scattered reports here and there, the citizen response once ignited through the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has not been maintained with same amount of vigor that saw people from all around the world show concern for the situation. 

As a result, we decided to do some researching of our own to find out what the latest media reports are saying about the missing Chibok girls in recent days.

  • Out of the 276 girls that went missing in April, 219 are still missing according to Nigeria’s Federal Government. 57 girls have managed to escape while 219 are still unaccounted for. During the siege on the school, 119 students escaped from the school premises, before the insurgents took away their classmates. (x)
  • The girls were said to have been forced to convert to Islam and reports stated that the leader of Boko Haram was preparing to sell them into the illicit world of human trafficking. (x)
  • The Wednesday following the attack, the Nigerian military fabricated a story telling the public hat only eight of the girls were still missing and that more than 80 of them had returned to their families. (x)
  • The claim by military officials in Abuja on Wednesday that same Wednesday that 107 abducted girls of Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok were freed is a huge lie, Borno  government officials, the management of the school and residents said. (x)
  • Boko Haram released a video showing footage of the missing schoolgirls of which its authenticity was uncertain by officials. (x)
  • In May, the Nigerian government had announced that it had located where the missing girls were being held hostage but it would not locate them. (x)
  • The Nigerian military has said that it would not use force to rescue the girls as it feared that this would compromise the safety of the girls. (x)
  • A paper in Nigeria recently released the names of the missing Chibok schoolgirls. (x)
  • Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the missing girls may never return as the odds of them all being in one location is not likely. He also said the president had acted too slowly during the golden hour of the crisis. (x)
  • Protesters have petitioned the UN Security Council and US Secretary of State for the release of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls. (x)
  • After US military support was rounded up in May to aid the Nigerian government in finding and rescuing the girls, it was recently announced that a military operation to rescue the over 200 abducted Chibok girls may soon be carried out. The military is awaiting the approval of the government of Nigeria and the United States before undertaking any action in this regard. (x)
  • Earlier this month, Nigeria banned then unbanned protests in the country. (x)
  • At least 10 people were killed Saturday (June 21st) in raids by suspected Boko Haram gunmen on two villages near the town of Chibok, residents and local leaders said. (x)
  • According to this article, at least, 40 people were killed on Sunday (June 22nd), when suspected militants attacked Chuha A, Chuha B and Korongilim, villages in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. (x)
  • Fresh reports say that Boko Haram have kidnapped more women from a village near Chibok. (x)

*presuming the girls went missing on the night of April 14th, 2014.


The Oscar Pistorius trial for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp has begun. 

This morning in Pretoria, Oscar Pistorius’ trial for the murder of his then girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, who was killed by Pistorius on 14th February, 2013, began at the North Gauteng high court.

Pistorius has plead not guilty to all charges, including that of premeditated murder, and claims he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder.

Parts of the trial, which can be livestreamed here and here, will be televised live - a first for South Africa, and the entire audio will be made available for the public to hear. According to the BBC, “The testimony of the accused and his witnesses is exempt.”

Media interest is high as both local and international news and information agencies gathered outside the court buildings this morning. Protesters from the ANC Women’s League were seen outside the court were they called for harsher sentences for men who commit crimes against women. 

There are no jurors at South African trials. His fate will ultimately be decided by Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, which, according to the Guardian could pan out like this:

Criminal law experts believe that if the prosecution fails to prove premeditated murder, firing several shots through a closed door could bring a conviction for the lesser charge of culpable homicide, a South African equivalent of manslaughter covering unintentional deaths through negligence. Sentences in such cases range from fines to prison. They are left to courts to determine and are not set by fixed guidelines.

So far, testimony from the state’s first witness Michelle Burger, who lives about 177m away from Pistorius’ home but did not know him personally, has been given in court. Burger stated that she heard screams from a woman followed by four gun shots. Her witness testimony was not televised.

Court has adjourned and will be back later this afternoon but the streams are broadcasting recaps of today’s opening trial session.

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All Africa, All the time.

Ugandan Tabloid Paper Publishes List of ‘Top 200 Homos’ in the Country.

A day after President Musoveni signed a controversial anti-gay law in Uganda, ‘Red Pepper’, a local tabloid paper - one of the country’s biggest - has published a list of Uganda’s ‘Top 200 Homos’.

Concerns about this leading to a ‘witch-hunt’ against the named individuals are high as this bares a striking similarity to what we saw four years ago in the now defunct Ugandan tabloid newspaper ‘Rolling Stone’. Many say Rolling Stone’s actions led to the brutal murder of leading Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato months later.

In Nigeria, following the recent enactment of a law that criminalizes homosexuality, many reports have surfaced that claim that gay men in various parts of the country have been attacked and arrested as a result of this measure. 

"Jomaa Meter" Set Up by Tunisian Group to Track Leader’s Performance.

In a similar fashion to Egypt’s “Morsi Meter" that tracked the performance of Mohammed Morsi’s short-lived presidency, the founders of the Morsi meter have helped Tunisian organization "I Watch set-up up a “Jomaa Meter" to evaluate the progress and promises of their leader Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa.

The founders of the Jomaa meter hope this initiative will help foster a greater sense and culture of accountability in Tunisian politics.

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All Africa, All the time.

Pic of the day: Journalists around the world are uniting for the release of Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Egypt under the hashtag:  #FREEAJSTAFF 

If you want to know what’s going on concerning the latest news headlines of the racism against Africans happening in India, this op-ed from the NYTimes will put a lot of it into perspective.

NEW DELHI — The Africans — Nigerians, Ghanaians, Ugandans — began leaving my neighborhood in New Delhi around December. Each week, more and more families exited. Some went to parts of Delhi considered more accepting of Africans; others to areas where the residents were thought to be less interfering in general. I have heard that some of the Ghanaian families had gone back to Africa, but I don’t know that for sure.

For years, they had been a part of the swirl of cultures, languages and races that makes up this part of the capital. The Nigerian women in their bright dresses out for evening strolls and the Cameroonian family with the curious-eyed baby at the ice-cream van had made a life for themselves alongside the Afghans, Tamils and Iranians.

On Oct. 31, about a month before the departures started, a Nigerian national, rumored to have been in the drug trade, was found dead in Goa. Nigerians in the coastal state protested his murder as an act of racism, while posters read: “We want peace in Goa. Say no to Nigerians. Say no to drugs.” One state minister threatened to throw out Nigerians living illegally. Another equated them with a cancer. He later apologized, adding that he hadn’t imagined there would be a “problem” with his statement.

The controversy has reverberated across the country, including in Delhi, 1,200 miles away, where the tolerance of African neighbors has turned into suspicion and even hostility.

One night, a police constable rang my doorbell. “Have you seen any man from the Congo entering and leaving the building?” he asked. “African man,” he clarified. He said he had received a report that a local resident was friendly with Africans, and he wanted to know, was this true? The question surprised me; neighborhood battles here are waged over water and parking spaces, not over ethnicity. Now neighbors had become nervous of neighbors.

Once the African communities had been singled out, complaints against them bubbled up like filthy water, in Jangpura, in Khirki Extension, in the alleyways off Paharganj, anywhere in Delhi they lived.

The fragile hospitality gave way to a familiar litany of intolerance: They were too loud, exuberant and dirty; the women were loose, the men looked you directly in the eye, they were drug takers and traffickers, and worse.

Residents of Khirki Extension, whose rambling lanes had seen an influx of artists, journalists and migrants, conducted their own investigation of their African neighbors, which they called the “black beauty” sting.

Coinciding with the city’s darkening mood, the newly elected Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi started a wave of cleanups as part of its mission to control “lawlessness.” The city’s law minister, Somnath Bharti, led a raid into Khirki Extension, claiming to be acting on residents’ complaints that Nigerians and Ugandans were involved in prostitution and drug trafficking. Media reports suggest that on the night of Jan. 15, he entered Africans’ homes with a group of vigilantes, without a warrant. In the fracas, a Ugandan woman was allegedly forced to give a urine sample, on the street, in the middle of the crowd. After she filed a complaint, Delhi’s court ordered the Police Department to pursue her case against Mr. Bharti.

These recent events have awakened dormant prejudices against Africans in India, aggravated by our tendency to prize fair skin over dark. “Habshi,” derived from the word “Abyssinian,” has become a common epithet for people of African descent.

So, on one hand, the racist turn in Delhi and Goa is unsurprising. On the other hand, we have a long, and neglected, history of cross-migration with Africa. While Indians have been settling on that continent since at least the 15th century, African roots in India run even deeper. Africans were brought over in numbers around the 13th century as slaves, but also as generals, guards, merchants, bodyguards and craftsmen. Many never went back. Now tens of thousands are here to study, and others work as chefs and in the garment and textile businesses, among other industries.

Despite our close ties and the shared history of colonialism, Africa doesn’t figure on the Indian map of curiosity and desire. Our admiration of China’s economic prowess is commonplace and unabashed; we are obsessed with the West, in terms of education, ideals of beauty and economic might. But Africa is invisible. Racist views can be spouted without consequence. Africa simply doesn’t matter.

There will be few repercussions for the Aam Aadmi Party if it continues with blanket policies against Africans. The party won on the promise of change, yet here it is, proving that it shares the same blindness as other, older parties.

These days, the Afghans and Indians stroll in my neighborhood park, enjoying the winter breeze. The Ghanaian and Cameroonian families moved away when their landlords doubled the rent only for them; the young Nigerian women left after one police visit too many.

Delhi’s residents say that the city belongs to everybody, because it belongs to nobody. As Bangalore and Mumbai became insular possessions, with political parties often driving out anyone who was from elsewhere, the capital claimed that it had room for all kinds of migrants, expats and outsiders. If the Aam Aadmi Party continues the divisiveness that older parties have excelled at, we’ll soon find reasons to go after all the people who live differently from “us,” who don’t belong here, who should go back to the places they came from.

Nilanjana S. Roy is an essayist and critic, and author of the novel “The Wildings.”

Central African Republic elects first woman president.

After the country’s first Muslim leader and former interim president stepped down on January 10th after both internal and external pressure over his failure to curb the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), an election was held to determine who the country’s next interim president would be.

With six candidates knocked out in the first round, lawyer, businesswoman and now former mayor of the capital city of Bangui Catherine Samba-Panza went to head-to-head against Desire Kolingbe, the son of a former president Andre Kolingba, winning 75 votes against Kolingba’s 53 in the second round of voting. 

In her victory speech, Samba-Penza called on her fellow citizens to ‘put down their arms and stop all the fighting’.

Although a Christian, the BBC reports that President Samba-Penza is seen as ‘politically neutral’ at a time where tensions are high between CAR’s Muslim and Christian population.

Made up of mostly of people of Eritrean and Sudanese descent, thousands of Africans living in Israel marched through the country’s capital to protest the ill-treatment of African migrants.

According to BBC Africa, the protest was spurred by “a law that allows illegal immigrants to be detained for a year without trial.”

Full story on the BBC’s website.

Egypt is a dangerous place for African immigrants, mostly from the horn of Africa, either in transit to seeking a better life elsewhere, or those kidnapped from their homes and brought there by traffickers.

Here, Al Jazeera English talks to Eritrean victims of heinous torture committed by ruthless traffickers in Egypt’s Sinai region. Read story with caution, best not for sensitive readers.

Here are a few testimonies:

"I just want to leave Egypt. I hate it here," says Mohamed. He was shot in the leg a year ago, months after he arrived in Cairo. As Mohamed lay in the street with blood soaking his pants, he heard the shooter’s friend say as they walked away, "Leave him. He’s just an African."

""Sometimes when I walk down the streets, people throw stones at me," says Nabiet, a 15-year-old girl with tightly woven braids and a small picture of Jesus hanging from a chain around her neck. Nabiet, who says she never wanted to leave Eritrea in the first place, was kidnapped from her home country and brought to the Sinai, then held for ransom. Full of energy yet shy, she grins when she speaks about her memories of English class in school. But the smile disappears when she recounts her challenges in Egypt."

A South African court began sentencing on Monday 20 right-wing extremists convicted of high treason for a plot to kill Nelson Mandela and drive blacks out of the country.

The “Boeremag” organisation had planned a right-wing coup in 2002 to overthrow the post-apartheid government.

The trial lasted almost a decade until the organisation’s members were convicted in August last year, the first guilty verdicts for treason since the end of apartheid in 1994.

"The accused had aimed to overthrow the government through unconstitutional methods that included violence," said High Court judge Eben Jordaan as he began the two-day sentencing hearing.

"They planned a violent attack against people of colour that would certainly be followed by retaliation attacks against whites as a result," Jordaan said at the hearing taking place in the same Pretoria courtroom where Mandela was convicted of treason in 1964.

One woman died and dozens of people were injured in blasts that shook the Johannesburg township of Soweto in October 2002.

All 20 accused were convicted of treason, but only five of murder and the plot to kill Nobel peace laureate Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.

The state is seeking life sentences for the group’s leaders and bomb specialists, and 10 to 15 years in prison for the other defendants.

South Africa does not have the death sentence.

"We are hoping for a good conviction," said Paul Ramoloka, spokesman for specialist police unit the Hawks, who investigated the plot.

Security was tight around the courtroom, with police carrying out body searches of the public.

The Boeremag, Afrikaans for “Boer Force”, a reference to the descendants of the first Dutch colonisers, had planned to sow chaos through bomb blasts then take over military bases, replace the government with white military rule and chase all blacks and Indians from the country.

Far-right organisation the Boer Republicans bussed in its members to support the defendants during sentencing.

"I support them 100 percent because their plan was right," the group’s leader Piet Rudolph told AFP.

"Our people are being oppressed, we are servants, and people should revolt against that."

The sentences are expected to be handed down on Tuesday.



The Contentious Egg

Article :Nebras elHidili 
Illustration :Amro okacha

 Tunisia’s Minister of Culture Mehdi Mabrouk had his own taste of egg diplomacy when filmmaker Nasreddine Shili pelted the minister with one single egg.

Danger in knowing the truth

The Minister of Culture was attending a 40-day memorial ceremony for Azzouz Chennaoui on August 16 at the Ibn Khaldun House of Culture in Tunis. Najib al-Obeidi, who witnessed the incident, said that Shili tried to approach the minister to express his condemnation of the ministry’s negligence of artists and its lack of support for them, which were allegedly among the reasons that led to the death of Cehnnaoui. 

"Your support to Chennaoui now has no value," Shili told the minister in a protesting tone. "We have been asking you to help him when he was being treated in the hospital.  But you did nothing." 

The minister allegedly refused to speak to Shili and asked his escorts to push Shili away, telling them that he didn’t want to see him.   

Nasreddine quickly left and came back carrying an egg, which he hurled at the minister’s face.   

In the meantime, Mourad Meherzi, a cameraman, was covering the memorial and his camera was quick to capture the egg-throwing event.

The footage quickly become a source of trouble for Mourad and a source of embarrassment for the minister.

Aftermath of the egg

Shortly after the incident, several media outlets started to spread news about the minister’s statements in which he spoke about physical violence against him.  He also claimed that he was punched on the face. The Minister, after this incident, was allegedly taken to the hospital. 

However, the video clip of Mourad’s lens, which accurately shows the details of the incident, made the media correct the previously broadcasted news.   

Less than two days after the incident, the anti-crime force knocked on the door of Mourad’s home late one night. Mourad opened the door and asked the force members to give him some time to bring with him some essential personal items.  As Mourad was preparing himself, the force stormed the house and took Mourad’s camera and personal computer.

Najib al-Obeidi, a political activist, said that Mourad was arrested because he gave evidence about the false statements made by Mehdi Mabrouk, the Culture Minister. The evidence caused the minister, the prime ministry and everyone who supported him embarrassment and made it difficult for the minister to take revenge.  

After three more days, the major actor of this incident, Shili, was arrested. The security forces were able to tighten their grip and to follow Shili, who was accused of a premeditated and deliberate attack on the minister. Shili, who left his house and sought shelter at the house of Ibrahim Raouf, his fellow artist, in the coastal city of Sousse, soon discovered that Mourad has been imprisoned in one of the Tunis’ civil prisons.

"This is a political incident par excellence," said Obeidi.

"The Minister of Culture has provoked artists with his double standards. He has recently bought one of the paintings of the Abdelliya exhibition. When he was personally attacked by the Salafists, he started to criticize the artistic nature of the exhibition.  This time, he ignored all our calls to save the life of Shinawi before his death," he said. 

"We were surprised to see him attending the memorial. If given the opportunity, I would throw eggs at the members of this failed government without any hesitation." 

A penalty of five years imprisonment

Ayoub Gdhemsi, one of the lawyers on Mehrezi’s and Shili’s case, said that there is a lawsuit filed by the minister accusing Mehrezi and Shili of violent physical and verbal assault against him. “My two clients were arrested by the anti-crime force and the public prosecution issued their imprisonment order against charges of deliberate violent assault on a public official. The two were also accused of being under the influence of alcohol, inciting disorder and chaos and insulting other people through the use of the public communication network.”

Ayoub Gdhemsi, “The minister deliberately exaggerated the incident, claiming that he was punched, based on the presence of the egg-attack mark on his face and the egg on his clothes, but the video of Mourad firmly refuted his claim,” asserted the lawyer.

The lawyer went a step further by stressing that his client, Shili, was subjected to extreme violence by the Minister’s escorts, based on the statements of his client and Mourad’s video.    

Ayoub Gdhemsi considered the arrest of his client Mourad as illegal because it took place without obtaining permission from the prosecutor. Moreover, the arrest intimidated his elderly parents.  According to Gdhemsi, the arrest by the anti-crime force is unjustified and it is an act intended to intimidate people. 

Gdhemsi added that if convicted, the charges would be punishable by up to five years imprisonment. He claims however, that there is no evidence to support the charges; he feels assured that they will not be imprisoned for a long period.  Moreover, the law related to public servants offenses does not apply on this incident. 

"My client Mourad was present because he was performing his job as a cameraman covering an ordinary event," Ayoub said, adding that "he has an official assignment from his superiors to cover the memorial." Ayoub commented saying that "implicating Mourad in this way is an act of revenge."   

"My client did not commit any criminal act. His behavior is an act of protest practiced in democratic countries and in some incidents presidents were attacked in a similar manner with no repercussions whatsoever in many of such incidents," he concluded.


More than 100 people drowned and over 200 were unaccounted for after a boat with African migrants caught fire and sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday.

The disaster occurred when the boat’s motor stopped working and the vessel began to take on water, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said.

People on board burned a sheet to attract the attention of rescuers, starting a fire on board: 

Once the fire started, there was a concern about the boat sinking and everyone moved to one side, causing the boat to go down,” he told a news conference.

The 20-metre (66 foot) vessel, believed to be carrying around 500 people, sank no more than 1 km (half a mile) from shore.

Bodies pulled from the water were laid out along the quayside as the death toll rose in what looked like one of the worst disasters to hit the perilous route for migrants seeking to reach Europe from Africa.

It’s horrific, like a cemetery, they are still bringing them out,” Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini told reporters.

After 94 bodies were recovered from the surface, divers inspecting the wreck, sunk in 40 meters of water, saw dozens of bodies, bringing the total of known dead to well over 100 with more than 200 still unaccounted for, coast guard official Floriana Segreto said.

Alfano said three children and two pregnant women were among the victims.