As a child growing up in India, I greeted the appearance of one particular vegetable on my plate with exaggerated distaste: tender seedpods from the moringa tree, locally known as “drumsticks.” Imagine my surprise when I heard a health worker from sub-Saharan Africa describe this backyard tree as a possible solution to malnutrition in tropical countries – he called it a “miracle tree,” no less.
Ounce for ounce, says Lamine Diakite, a Red Cross official from French Guinea in West Africa, moringa leaves contain more beta carotene than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more Vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas. Its protein content is comparable to that of milk and eggs, and its leaves are still available for harvest at the end of the dry season, when other food may be scarce. Malnourished children gained weight when put on a timely dietary supplement made from the leaves, Mr. Diakite says. He passed around pouches of the green, hennalike powder at a recent international summit in Boston.
Until a decade ago, moringa was not widely known in Africa. Its leaves (boiled like spinach) were an occasional vegetable. Immigrant Indians prized the long, slender seedpods (stewed or cooked like green beans) as a delicacy. “But its nutritional value, newly ‘discovered,’ has been known for a long time,” says Lowell Fuglie, an international development administrator who has been instrumental in popularizing the moringa in Africa for the past 10 years. Laboratory analysis has corroborated traditional knowledge about the plant. It now awaits further validation by western science.
Towards the end of his 27 years in jail, Nelson Mandela began to yearn for a hotplate. He was being well fed by this point, not least because he was the world’s most famous political prisoner. But his jailers gave him too much food for lunch and not enough for supper. He had taken to saving some of his mid-day meal until the evening, by which time it was cold, and he wanted something to heat it up.
The problem was that the officer in charge of Pollsmoor prison’s maximum-security “C” wing was prickly, insecure, uncomfortable talking in English and virtually allergic to black political prisoners. To get around him, Mr Mandela started reading about rugby, a sport he had never liked but which his jailer, like most Afrikaner men, adored. Then, when they met in a corridor, Mr Mandela immediately launched into a detailed discussion, in Afrikaans, about prop forwards, scrum halves and recent games. His jailer was so charmed that before he knew it he was barking at an underling to “go and get Mandela a hotplate!”
The humble mobile phone is driving a new revolution which some experts hope could bring fairer elections and democracy to some African states. Many African countries have struggled against rigged elections and authoritarian rule since gaining independence last century.
However, African observers say the growth of simple communication technologies like cell phones are assisting many states to progress towards open and fair elections in increasingly democratic systems. Senegal is one of a number of African countries to hold successful elections by keeping voting and counting in check through independent communication.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said many African nations now had a “very open society” and the increasing success of elections owed a lot to the existence of mobile phones. “With communication and cell phones, this is where it is difficult to cheat in elections now. You are announced at the district level and cell phones go wild so by the time you go to the capital, if you have changed the figures, they will know and you will be caught out.”
A French aid worker in Congo, Cabiau admits that he has trouble telling Werrason apart from Wazekwa, but that he’s “developed a taste for this joyous cacaphony.”
Lorsque les décibels s’affolent, impossible de rester assis. Si l’on se donne la peine de s’aventurer sur la piste, au milieu des miroirs et des déhanchements endiablés, on ne peut que succomber. On est alors entraîné dans des chorégraphies délirantes que tout bon kinois connaît sur le bout des doigts. C’est le feu. De la folie furieuse. C’est Kinshasa.
When the decibels reach a panic, it’s impossible to stay seated. If make the effort to get out there on the dance floor, among the mirrors and the frenzy of swaying hips, you cannot help but give in. You are led out into wild dance moves that every good kinois knows at the edge of his fingertips. It’s on fire. It’s madness. It’s Kinshasa.
Cabiau also writes about the phenomenon of “libanga.” Libanga is to Congolese music what product placement is to American film and television. For a few thousand dollars, “a company, a brand of beer, a politicians, or an officer in the army” can see his name placed in a song. Several dozen such paid shoutouts might be in a single song. “Curiously, that doesn’t seem to bother many people,” Cabiau writes.
Slightly larger than England and Wales, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace and prosperity and has held democratic elections, with a presidential vote scheduled for next year.
In a move to lure refugees home, the administration has introduced tax waivers on new investments to fuel more growth.
Despite its poverty, Somaliland and the region offer investment opportunities for those brave enough to return.
Half of Somaliland’s cabinet and lawmakers are former refugees who came back mainly from Europe and America. Former refugees have also become small-factory owners or created businesses, for example, in telecommunications.
Ibrahim has even bigger dreams: he wants to fashion future leaders. “We don’t have leaders in our country but we have managers. Our aim is to produce visionary leaders in future who can bring back hope and amalgamate our people. There is a huge appetite for such leadership and we hope to be the source,” he said.
Just as Jesus the Messiah of the Jews plausibly became Christ the Greek philosopher, just so as the Lion of Judah (Hos 5:14) could he become the Maasai Warrior. In a revealing testimony, a Maasai elder assured Donovan that the Maasai people did not search for him as a priest to come to them. Donovan came to them and followed them into the bush, into the plains, into the steppes where their cattle were, into the hills where they took their cattle for water, into their villages, and into their homes. Donovan told them about the High God, and about how the Maasai must search for Him and try to find Him even if that meant leaving their land and their people.
At this point the elder came to the punch line: it was not the Maasai who had searched for God, but God who had searched for the Maasai. He continued: God “has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God.”
Our idea is that Coca-Cola could use their distribution channels (which are amazing in developing countries) to distribute rehydration salts to the people that need them desperately. Maybe by dedicating one compartment in every 10 crates as ‘the life saving’ compartment?
The courageous if forlorn career of Dr. Albert Schweitzer . . . is testimony to the reach as well as the gulf of advanced technology and cultural sophistication. The author of the highly influential study, Quest of the Historical Jesus, and the recipient in 1952 of the Nobel Peace Prize, Schweitzer propounded a New Age philosophy of “reverence for life” that took little account of African ideas of God or of the Africans themselves, whom he kept at arm’s length though he lived among them. . . .
The strange controversy that Schweitzer represented happened to be perfectly consistent with the European idea of religion as reason unimpeded by intercultural understanding. Schweitzer did not believe in evangelizing Africans, only in doing good for them and being somewhat indifferent to their homage and gratitude. For him, Africans lacked the capacity for abstraction . . . and it was the duty and mission of Europeans to remedy that cultural inadequacy without requiring Christianity. It was a strange idea for him that Africans could become Christian without being European, or without possessing the European capacity for universal rationalization. . . . In effect, Europe’s high intellectual tradition was not transferable even by proximity, and so the very idea of Christian mission was an oxymoron. On the other hand, colonialism might bestow upon the tribes the benefits of modern science and technology without superstitious religious distractions.
Schweitzer’s lean prescription of religion as reverence for life—free of creed and sacrament—appealed to the modern mind because of its elegance, its clinical brevity, its inclusive simplicity, and its self-direction, but it left him with no obligation to learn from Africans. It is little surprise that Africans could not otherwise claim him, though they respected him and protected him as a stranger among them.
President Robert Mugabe summoned his top security officials to a government training center near his rural home in central Zimbabwe on the afternoon of March 30. In a voice barely audible at first, he informed the leaders of the state security apparatus that had enforced his rule for 28 years that he had lost the presidential vote held the previous day.
Then Mugabe told the gathering he planned to give up power in a televised speech to the nation the next day, according to the written notes of one participant that were corroborated by two other people with direct knowledge of the meeting.
But Zimbabwe’s military chief, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, responded that the choice was not Mugabe’s alone to make. According to two firsthand accounts of the meeting, Chiwenga told Mugabe his military would take control of the country to keep him in office or the president could contest a runoff election, directed in the field by senior army officers supervising a military-style campaign against the opposition.