Friday, July 30, 2010
From New Vision and Internet Sources
Compiled by Africa News Online
1. “The African Union SUMMIT in Kampala last week focused on the health of mothers and children, a development that has a chance to transform into hope for the African Child and Safe Motherhood.
“When we invest in mothers, whole societies benefit,
When we care for children,
We raise a new generation of leaders.
This is the doctrine at the United Nations.
“In Sudan, 16-year-old Awatif Altayib
Lost her baby following two days of difficult labour,
She emerged from the ordeal herself injured with obstetric fistula.
Her future with this debilitating condition looked bleak
Until she recovered with assistance from the UN Population Fund
Now Altayib is a working midwife, helping other women to survive.
“Southern Sierra Leone has one gynecologist
Serving an area home to 2.5million people
That is why recently when Hawa Barrie suffered complications in pregnancy; She and her family feared the worst
But the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Is working with the Government and other partners
To improve health services there
Thanks to these efforts, Hawa survived,
Her newborn son received his shots,
Both are on their way to a healthy life
“Abiodun Titi of Niger is another thriving African mother.
Although she is HIV-positive,
She was able to conceive with her HIV-negative husband safely
Thanks to a method involving the female condom
With help from the UN and its partners,
She now teaches others this life-saving approach.
Unfortunately, millions African women
Do not have the same opportunities.
Maternal mortality rates on the continent
Are among the highest in the world
Progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goal
Of drastically reducing these deaths has been abysmally slow.
“Fortunately, African leaders are squarely facing the issue.
The scale and seriousness of the problem demand no less.
It is especially fitting that the AU SUMMIT
Focused on maternal and child health
“Africans place great cultural value on mothers
Not only those who give birth,
But all women,
Since in a meaningful social sense
All are helping to raise children.
“The UN is ready to work with Africa
To make good on its proud traditions
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Recently launched a Joint Action Plan
To accelerate progress on safe motherhood,
Calling for 2010 to be a turning point for women’s health
“Africa’s leaders must also do their part
By pledging the resources we need
To honor past promises and open the way to a better future
We have a blueprint in the Maputo Plan of Action
On Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights,
Which has clear objectives and detailed cost estimates
For how to reach them
As Africa leaders commit to doing their part,
So should their development partners.
“The AU SUMMIT should join its voice
To the rising chorus of partners
Supporting the Joint Action Plan
That means expanding national health plans
That put priority on women and children’s health
“It requires increasing the proportion
Of the budget resources for this purpose
Countries must commit to a full continuum of care,
So that women are not just seen when an emergency strikes,
And so that clinics and caregivers address
All of their reproductive health needs,
Whether pregnancy-related or not
And we must reach even the most remote
And poverty-stricken areas
“By taking a strong stance backed by concrete pledges of funds, The SUMMIT can unleash a wave of progress within countries,
Across the region and around the world
“I know the value of a declaration from the continent’s leaders.
During my years as Tanzania’s minister
For Community Development, Gender and Children,
I saw how a signal from the AU SUMMIT could serve as a rallying point
For our work countrywide,
Spur action throughout the region and benefit the continent
And from my view at the UN,
I see how Africa’s bold actions
Can inspire other continents to advance
“There will naturally be many other issues
Requiring the SUMMIT’s attention,
Including conflicts, poverty and other blights
That are causing so many girls and women to suffer
But by putting their health at the top of the agenda,
The SUMMIT will do more than benefit individual females —
It will set the stage for resolving these broader problems
And creating a better world for all”
Asha Rose Migiro,
United Nations deputy Secretary-General
2. “The G8 leaders have committed $10m annually
To fund maternal and child health in Africa
And other developing nations
The funds will be used to improve
The welfare of infants and mothers
And also prevent their deaths.
The theme for the AU SUMMIT was
“Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa”
President Mutharika suggested that African leaders invest in food security
To reverse the high maternal and infant mortality in the continent
According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities,
About 240,000 mothers die annually in Africa while giving birth.
President Yoweri Museveni called on Africa to address social-economic transformation to attain maternal and child health.
Museveni said Uganda had over 1,600 health centers,
Noting that the units had reduced maternal mortality
From about 600 deaths per 100,000 live births in the 1990s
To about 435 deaths per 100,000 live births currently.
He added that infant mortality had reduced
From 130 deaths per 100,000 live births in the 1990s
To about 76 deaths per 100,000 live births currently.
“Investing in women pays.
It is one of the best investments we can make
For this and future generations,” said Migiro.
Migiro noted that progress on maternal and child health
In Africa had been lagging behind.
She urged the AU to build on the Maputo Plan
For Sexual and Reproductive Health,
The CARMMA Campaign
For Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa
And the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action
Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS,
TB and Malaria services
3. “Leaders meeting for the 4th African Union Summit in Kampala should address the long-term health situation in their countries, in addition to increasing health budgets to 15%.
The reports also show that absence of skilled workers at birth is the leading cause of maternal death.
Posted Sunday, July 25 2010 at 00:00
Somalia seems to be suffering on account of a confluence of three factors:
A failed government under Siad Barre that could not defeat or keep under check the various rebel groups; incapable resistance groups to that government of Siad Barre; and, more recently, the infiltration into the area of reactionary ideology from the Middle East (what some people call “extremism”, “fundamentalism” etc). The Siad Barre government collapsed in January 1991. I do not have time to go into why it collapsed. I have not even done enough research into that subject. However, collapse it did. This was factor number one in the Somali problem.
l Factor number two was that the armed opposition groups that were fighting Siad Barre seemed to have been having ideological problems and had also problems in grasping strategy. I visited General Aideed and Al-Mahdi in Mogadishu in 1992. One of the questions I asked General Aideed was: “Why did you attack the city (Mogadishu) if you did not have the capacity to control it?”
It was clearly a mistake to shift from rural guerrilla operations to attacking the city and attempting to seize power there if Aideed did not have the fire-power and the accompanying organisational capacity to capture it quickly and retain the control. Those Somali groups seem to have been suffering from the mentality of “putschism” – wanting to seize control even when you do not have the capacity.
This is apart from the more fundamental ideological issues of those groups basing themselves on clanism as a base of political organisation. This created a proliferation of warlords based on clans. These warlords disintegrated the unity of the country and turned it into fiefdoms.
At some stage, former President of Kenya, Mzee Arap Moi, started mediating among the Somali groups. After a long time, they agreed to share power in the transitional government that was supposed to last some years and, then, go for elections.
This formula has worked in both Congo-DRC and Burundi. The IGAD countries supported this formula. If any Somali group was interested in helping, this was the easiest way out of the problem. Such a group or groups should have prepared for elections so that legitimacy is re-established.
This, however, was not to be. Some Somali groups, supported by reactionaries from the Middle East and Central Asia, now introduced a new problem. Somalia had to become what they call a fundamentalist Islamic state governed by Sharia.
Women had to cover themselves from head to toe, otherwise they will tempt men into immorality; people must not watch television because that is some form of atheism etc. etc. All this must be achieved by coercion. Besides, this model should be exported to the rest of Africa.
You all remember the problems we had with the tabliques who were being supported by elements from the Sudan. Since fighting is not an easy enterprise, the leaders of these reactionary groups use manipulation and drugs to induce young disadvantaged youth and, sometimes even children, to undertake suicide missions.
You saw one of the children that was on television telling the world how he had been injected with drugs to be “fearless” – attack under intoxication. Apparently, these poor children are told that they will go to heaven if they die as suicide bombers.
If suicide bombing is such a good investment, why don’t the leaders of these reactionary groups set the example of blowing themselves up instead of sending children and vulnerable youth? We have seen these so-called “jihadists” on our border and have dealt with them decisively in the past.
The UPDF got involved after the Somali clan factions agreed to form a transitional government. The African Union (AU), the IGAD and the UN gave the mandate to us to help the Transitional Government by doing two things:- Guarding some strategic points (Port, Airport and State House) as well as help in training the Somali Army, along with others from the rest of the world.
It is, therefore, sacrilege for anybody to fire at, let alone assault, an AU Force on a capacity building mission in Africa. Who are these who dare to fire at an AU Force? They can only be agents of external, non-African forces trying to impose a new colonialism on Africa.
We defeated European colonialism and we are going to defeat this new form of colonialism. The Somalis are part of the ancient African peoples, such as the ancient Egyptians – the ones that built the Pyramids. They are a Cushitic people – part of Nilo-Saharan group of languages. Some of their words are even to be found in the Bantu dialects.
Africans believe in a philosophy of live and let live. They never try to impose anything on anybody if they are really acting in the African traditions. There are many symbiotic groups in Africa, living side by side. Some of the groups from outside Africa talk of “haram” – abominable items. They do not know (and they do not bother to find out) that among the indigenous African people, there are even longer lists of haram (ebihagaro).
In part of my community, for instance, we do not eat pork, chicken, sheep, fish etc. Many of our neighbouring communities, however, eat many of these foods, especially fish. The Banyankore, for instance, would not eat chicken. They would keep the chicken only for divination (kuraguza).
A Munyankore, therefore, would be happy to surrender one of his chicken to a visiting Muganda or Mukooki. That is how the Africans lived. Even today, you can see the sort of freedom we enjoy – trans-night dances etc. I am a tee-totaller, but I further most vigorously the interests of our drunkards by exceeding all previous records of beer production. Africans, therefore, reject chauvinism. We want freedom.
If the Somali reactionaries want to implement Sharia law in Somalia, let them stop disturbing the peace of their country so that the Transitional Government organises elections and they can put their agenda to the people. If the people decide to impose Sharia law on themselves, that will be their choice.
Anyway, in the immediate, the main issue is our mandate to the AU Force to assist the Transitional Government by guarding the State House, the Airport and the Port. Guarding them well, we have done. The Somali reactionary groups, supported by their foreign leaders, have attacked us many times and we have defeated them.
The cowardly act of attacking our merry-making non-combatants on July 11, 2010, will make their situation worse. In the past, we were only guarding the three (3) installations as per the AU Force mandate. These reactionary groups have now committed aggression against our country. We have a right of self-defence.
We shall now go for them. These agents of mindless, cowardly Middle-Eastern terrorism will discover that Africa has got its defenders if their failures when they attacked us in the past, have not shown them that already.
In Africa we fought anti-colonial wars. Here in Uganda, we fought some wars for extended periods. Why do we not use terrorism - attacking non-combatants? Infiltrating into Uganda to plant bombs will not be easy now that we are aroused. However, it will also not be easy for the Somali reactionary groups to stay in Somalia. It is part of the African soil. What we need is World Solidarity.
The Somali people, however, are the ones with the key for the solution to this problem. We can only play a supportive role. Many of the Somali people have voted with their feet by running away from the oppressor. They need to be organised so as to defeat the reactionaries.
The neighbouring countries and the AU, however, also have a responsibility to the people of Somalia when dealing with these murderous groups. If the internal forces are still in formation, it is the duty of Africa to stand with the Somali people. This is the experience of Africa in the last 50 years.
Mwalimu Nyerere stood with us in order to cope with the horrors of Idi Amin. That is how we, the Ugandans, got a new chance to rebuild our country. How can we leave the people of Somalia to adventurers from the Middle East and Asia?
Finally, the people of Uganda in particular and Africa in general need to know that there are heroic fighters in Somalia. These heroic fighters have already avenged the deaths of their innocent loved ones by punishing the killers in Mogadishu who came to attack the TFG and our forces on the 21st of July, a few days ago.
Scores of the attackers were killed and many were injured. The dead included white-skinned people. Africa should interest itself in knowing where those white-skinned people are coming from. The UPDF will continue to punish these agents of foreign interests if they dare again to attack the positions of the AU Forces, flying the flag of Africa.
I congratulate the heroic fighters of the UPDF and, particularly, their commanders on the ground: Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, Col. Ondoga, Lt. Col. Chemo, etc. I also salute our Barundi compatriots for their courage and Pan-Africanism.
I thank you.
Yoweri K. Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
24th July 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Jerry Okungu
July 30, 2010
Kenyans are going through a period of uncertainty that only their forefathers experienced half a century ago. It is a feeling that can only be compared to a couple preparing to get married or better still, preparing to get their first baby.
In strictly conservative societies, young people preparing to get married can go through mental torture r. Their families exert so much pressure on them. It heightens their desire to come out of the whole event with a measure of public approval. Among the Muslim or Asian communities, the bride is expected to be a virgin on that night. Anything short of that can be an abomination.
Is this the kind of mental anguish Kenyans must be experiencing as they wait to vote for their second constitution in 50 years?
Let us face it; the time it has taken Kenyans to write their constitution is not a short period by any standards. Time and resources have been sunk into this project in quantities beyond imagination. Children born when the constitution struggle started will vote in this referendum. Others are already mothers and fathers.
In terms of resources, US $ 200 million have gone down the drain during the same period. Many people have died, been tortured, maimed or their rights violated with impunity. Yes, this is the prize that Kenyans have had to pay in the search for this elusive document in over two decades.
Now that Kenya is about to give birth to a new constitution, what are our fears, anxieties and expectations?
What will become of the Reds and Greens if either side loses or wins the crucial vote? Will Kenya remain the same on August 5? Will the sun still rise in the East and set in the West the same day?
Will the losers accept defeat with grace? Will the winners embrace losers and accommodate them?
What of the big players in this debate? Will the Coalition partners forgive those in the cabinet that campaigned against them whether they lose or win? Will William Ruto and fellow ministers in the No camp face the same wrath the Narc ministers that campaigned against the government in 2005 faced?
Whichever way one looks at it, the results of the impending referendum will change Kenya fundamentally. One of those ways will be the political realignment. Many new alliances may emerge in readiness for the 2012 elections.
If the No side carries the day, there will be despondency, apathy and despair in many parts of the country. Politically, it will be business as usual. It will be a bold statement that Kenyans have no interest in reforms. A No verdict will be a slap on the face of all those reformists that have campaigned for change in the last 30 years.
Impunity will continue unabated. Agenda Four commissions will have been grossly undermined. Such a scenario may even call for the resignation of this government. It will be a return to the pre-2007 type of government.
Through the window will go any hopes of a devolved the government. Provinces and districts will remain intact. Police brutality will continue unabated. Land grabbing will reach new levels. Negative ethnicity will reach new highs.
Nationally, Kenyans that had hoped that devolution would offer them alternative political platforms will be disappointed. There will be no new elective positions.
As for the electorate, their hopes of recalling their MPs will be dashed forever because Parliament will never again entertain another constitution that would threaten its supremacy. The Mau Forest too will be a casualty.
However, if the Greens win, it will be a new dawn for Kenya. Mau Forest rehabilitation will go on.
Agenda Four commissions will have renewed impetus. The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is likely to deliver following a purge in the judicial system. Several political offices will have their wings clipped.
MPs will no longer be everything to everybody. They will be restricted to making laws in Parliament. Their desire to fly the flag will be a thing of the past. Interestingly, they will not be the only elected leaders worthy of note. They will share front row seats at funerals, weddings and national days with senators and regional governors. They will lose the power to increase their salaries at will as they will be subject to a recall clause for nonperformance.
The President will not have it easier either. He will have no power to appoint or fire his deputy as that one will have been elected directly by the people. He will lose the power to appoint his cronies and relatives to the cabinet or any other public office.
With the new law coming into force, chances of enforcing Public Officers Ethics Act may just find a new impetus. Kenyans will have a chance to scrutinize their leaders before they elect them to public office.
Will Kenya be a better place to live after August 4th if the Greens have their say?
The jury is still out there.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Now the country is on a high security alert because the Al-shabaab threatened to carry on with more attacks on Kampala and Bujumbura (Burundi) if the respective governments do not heed the message. Understandably, in the wake of the attack, Uganda’s President Gen.Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took time off his countrywide assessment tour of the Prosperity-For-All program in Ntungamo district and convened an emergence press conference to address the country on the security threat. Predictably, being the soldier he is (‘once a soldier, always a soldier’), Museveni vowed to deal with (“crush”) the Al-shabaab in the biblical Moses’ an-eye-for-an-eye style by deploying more 20,000 troops in addition to the ones already in Somalia.
While addressing the AU summit in Kampala, Museveni again urged his fellow African leaders to join hands in getting rid of terrorists in Somalia and Africa, and so they agreed to deploy more 2000 troops. At the risk of sounding unpatriotically cynical, the war agains terrorism is a tricky one that i reasonably doubt can be defeated through conventional warfare, especially in Africa. The USA, with all its military might and resources, tried this approach and failed, though they can’t admit it. That poor Africa may succeed with the same costly approach is simply unrealistic. Question is, Which approach or counterterrorism idea is more effective than an-eye-for-an-eye?
Well, to get a solution to a problem, one ought to understand its cause. And, let’s face it; blind belief/faith is the root and breeding ground of terrorism, of which Africa is pretty vulnerable with plenty of potential terrorists (a.k.a conservative believers).
Because, according to the holy scriptures (both the Bible and Qur’an), a true believer in the supernatural Almighty-God of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) will do whatever it takes, including (and not limited to) killing or dying to appease God or prove his/her strong belief in Him (Yahweh or Allah), like Abraham ("the great grandfather of all believers") who was willing to sacrifice his own son; after all he/she would be abundantly rewarded for it in the hereafter (heaven). That explains a lot about the terrorists’ spirit and actions such as suicide bombings. So terrorists believe they’re fighting a holy war (jihad) in the name of God, the God of Abraham or Ibrahim of the Bible and Qur’an!
It’s such shared and unquestioned beliefs that sustain evils like terrorism because terrorists use them to recruit other gullible believers, and Africa is full of believers of the kind.
Unfortunately, religion enjoys worldwide untouchable privilege or "undeserved respect" as Richard Dawkins calls it in his conscious-raising (indeed!) book 'The God Delusion'. An extract of the brilliant late Douglas Adam’s impromptu speech at Cambridge puts it well: “Religion… has certain ideas at the heart of which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’…Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other,” that’s what makes terrorism even more tricky!
Otherwise, in a nutshell, since prevention is better than cure, the most viable approach for curbing terrorism would be ensuring safety of the citizenry through security alert measures and mass sensitization against the deadly blind faith or beliefs that encourage it. That is, religion should be subjected to questioning so as to curb possible recruitment of the ignorant or gullible and vulnerable believers; for all we know, the Al-shabaabs and Al-qaeda may have already recruited many Ugandans and Africans.
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