Rebels Overthrow CAR President, Seize Bangui

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 03:10 a.m. DST, 25 March 2013

Central African Republic Government Forces, Photo by Brice Blondel for HDPTCARBANGUI, Central African Republic - Rebels overthrew the Central African Republic’s President this Sunday. According to the Associated Press, the rebels, known as the coalition group Seleka,  declared that the country has “opened a new page in its history.”

President Francois Bozize fled while extra French troops have moved to secure the airport, officials said.

Two months prior to the overthrow, the rebels had signed a peace deal to allow the President to stay in power until 2016. However, the rebels began accusing the President of not following-up in his promises.

In the days leading up to the overthrow of Bozize, the rebels have performed several armed attacks. They captured the north city of Bambari and the area around Bria.

Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General condemned the attacks. According to the Uganda Daily Eye, Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued on Wednesday night saying, “These developments gravely undermine the peace agreements in place and the efforts of the international community to consolidate peace in the Central African Republic.” Ban urged for all parties to cease hostilities immediately.

The Central African Republic (CAR) President Bozize pleaded with Foreign Powers for help. He focused especially on seeking French assistance, as they were their former colonizer.

Paris declined military assistance.

Following the overthrow of Bozize by the rebels, Reuters reports that the French President’s office said that they would send more troops to protect their citizens. President François Hollande spoke with Ban and Chadian President Idriss Deby and reiterated his plea for restraint and dialogue between the parties.

Associated Press reports that Ban condemned the unconstitutional seizure of power and called for a restoration of constitutional order. He also expressed concern over reports of human rights violations.

Central African Republic, a nation of 4.5 million, has long been wracked by rebellions and power grabs. Bozize himself took power in 2003 following a rebellion, and his tenure has been marked by conflict with myriad armed groups.

The landlocked country has been wracked by rebellions and power grabs. CAR held their first multi-party democratic elections in 1933 which brought Ange-Felix Patasse to power. He lost popular support and was overthrown in 2003 by French-backed Bozize. Following Bozize’s re-election in 2011, his rule was plagued with corruption, underdevelopment, authoritarianism, and the creation of an open rebellion against Bozize’s government by an alliance of armed opposition factions known as Seleka.

In December of 2012, Seleka launched its offensive, accusing Bozize of reneging on a peace deal and demanded that he step down.

Seleka signed a ceasefire agreement and joined a power-sharing agreement government on 11 January 2013 and dropped their demands for Bozize to resign. However, on 23 January 2013, the ceasefire was broken and the government blamed Seleka, Seleka blaming the government for failing to honor the terms of the power-sharing agreement.

By March 24, rebels entered Bangui and took over the Presidential Palace. According to GlobalVoices, Michel Djotodia has declared himself as president of CAR. This information remains unconfirmed by other news sources.

The African Union condemned Seleka’s actions and announced a travel ban and assets freeze against actors involved in violating humanitarian rights or the January peace agreement, reports CNN.

The office of President Hollande said in a statement that some South African soldiers were killed in clashes that lead up to the overthrow of Bozize. UN spokeswoman Uwolowulakana Ikavi said that UN offices and some residences of UN personnel were looted.

Meanwhile in CAR, Seleka rebels urged citizens to remain calm and to prepare themselves to welcome rebel forces into the country, CNN reports.

The recent events highlight the problems of Bozize’s government. CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world, and among the ten poorest countries in Africa. According to the Human Development Index (HDI) CAR received a 0.343, which gives the country a rank of 179 out of 187 countries within their data.

HDI is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income that ranks countries into four tiers of human development. Countries with ratings near 1 indicates high human development, while ratings near 0 indicate low human development.

Additionally, a 2009 Human Rights Report by the US Department of States notes that CAR’s human rights record remained poor, with concerns over numerous government abuses.

The take-over indicates the desperation of the country and its citizens. Without the improvement of the government, Bozize and others will find that peace will be difficult to negotiate with Seleka rebels.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

 

British Iraqi Family Executed Assassination Style

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 11:25 AM EDT, 6 September 2012

Town of Chevaline, Photo by QuinetCHEVALINE, France - A horrific fate befell the family of an Iraqi-born Briton named Saad al-Hilli who was from Surrey in southern England.

Saad, his wife, a grandmother, and two daughters were on holiday traveling through France when they were ambushed in an assassination style execution in the town of Chevaline. Reports state that Saad who was found dead at the wheel and the other victims were all shot twice in the head.

The BMW was riddled with bullets and 25 spent casings from an automatic weapon were strewn around the scene. Nearby, a possible witness was also shot dead and has been identified as French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45. The gruesome discovery was made on a road near the picturesque Annecy lake and the Swiss border.

What has propelled this story to international attention is the fact that two of the children escaped this brutal attack despite the apparent efforts to murder the entire family. Initially, authorities thought that only one child escaped, a girl of around eight who had been violently beaten on the head resulting in skull fractures. She is currently in critical condition and is undergoing a second operation in as many days.

While the authorities secured the scene to begin the investigation, the British registered vehicle was not opened nor the bodies disturbed for nearly eight hours. It was close to midnight when the forensic team entered the car whereupon they discovered amidst the bodies a girl of about four alive and unhurt. She had been hiding on the floor under the legs of the two dead women thought to be her mother and grandmother.

She was immediately rushed to hospital in the nearby city of Grenoble, where the young girl with the severe head injuries was being treated. As both girls speak English authorities believe that they are sisters. Apparently, the younger of the siblings was too scared to move, which is why she was unnoticed by police. Given the violent nature of this attack for which a motive has not been discovered, the two girls are currently under police protection.

Reuters interviewed prosecutor Eric Maillaud who told reporters in a late-night briefing that "She's clearly shocked but she's doing okay. She's not injured.”

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Dominique Strauss-Khan | Sex Addict, Pimp

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Original post date: 21 May 2011Last Modified: 20:44 PM EDT, 26 March 2012
 
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged in France with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring.
 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn bat le bitumePARIS, France - When the media reported on the attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) it seemed strange that they referred to the victim as a chambermaid.

The assignation of this descriptor to the rape victim in the 21st century was incongruous.  A fact that must have been noticed as  the media in subsequent coverage began to refer to her as a cleaning women. In this country and in particular within the hospitality industry cleaning women are invisible.

Cleaning is an honorable job and many hard-working individuals have raised their children  by virtue of working in this industry; and thus afforded them the opportunity to move into the professional arena.  As with previous  groups, the first generation often provided the platform upon which subsequent generations built.

Most people however, have utterly no regard and in some cases disdain for these industrious individuals.  Because of their disdain they rarely grant these workers consideration nor acknowledgement as fellow human being.  Strauss-Kahn displayed a disregard for this Muslim woman's humanity as he sought to use her for his base desires.

When I heard about the 'chambermaid' from Guinea who despite the shame this accusation could cause her, displayed uncommon courage in reporting the attempted rape, I was proud of her.  It took a lot for a woman of "such low station" to resist and then report this attempted rape by such a 'powerful' man.  Because of her courage the authorities were able to apprehend Strauss-Kahn as he tried to flee the country.

The fact that this would be rapist had the audacity to attack a woman is unconscionable but it is even more shameful that he would dishonor this Muslim woman by attempting to touch her at all.  Orthodox Muslim, Jewish and Christian women are prohibited from touching or being touched by a man other than her husband.  Such an act would be considered totally inappropriate and one against which they would vigilantly guard.

Strauss-Kahn, was a likely candidate for the presidency of France and thus befitted the station of an aristocrat.  He has since resigned his position at the IMF and in the days following his high-profile arrest this baronial figure was released on a $1 million  dollar bond and sentenced to house arrest.

Without a doubt this is yet another example of one rule of justice for the rich and another for the poor.  The reason that I referred to Strauss-Kahn as a baron is because of his imperious nature and the air of entitlement that he projects.  A baron is one name for a nobleman of the middle ages.  In the middles ages the legal system that existed was feudalism.  Within this system the Upper Class of which barons were a part, ruled their fiefdoms with tyranny and injustice.

These fiefdoms contained large swaths of land which were farmed by the lower classes who were referred to as peasants or serfs.  Either free, slaves or indentured servants, their lives were one of hardship, misery and fear.  The feudal lords had absolute dominion over every aspect of their lives.  In fact, a lord could rape any peasant woman without fear of reprisal and often their husbands were powerless to stop the defilement.

The reason that I chose to refer to the victim as a charwoman is because it is term as equally incongruous to our century as is chambermaid.  The definition of a charwoman is, "quite literally, a woman who does ‘chores’. Already by the 15th century it had connotations of menial or household jobs: ‘making the beds and such other chares’." (Source: Word-Origins)

My friend who is from Trinidad and Tobago told me a saying from her country which I believe is totally apropos here - "every hog has it Saturday."  It means that each time the butcher goes to get a hog for slaughter the other pigs squeal (it seems with delight) that it is not them.  But their turn is coming and some Saturday they will adorn a table as the main course of a meal; and so it is with Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  His Saturday has come.

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

'Children of Africa, Children of the World' I Rama Yade

'Children of Africa, Children of the World' I Rama Yade

The ANI association has organized the "Fortnight of Children of Africa," a conference where leading proponents of the movement will publicly debate the issues and concerns of education in Africa. This is the 4th year of that this event has been held and the theme is "Children of Africa, Children of the World." Last year's event was hosted by Rama Yade, a Senegalese French politician who has served in the government of France since 2007. Watch the video of her speech here. Children are our most precious resource and we must ensure that all children regardless of their country of origin, religion or ethnicity are protected, nurtured, and availed of all the rights, privileges, freedoms and opportunities that are the hallmark of the best of humankind. The well worn statement that "it takes a village to raise a child," is as apropos today in this technological world as it was when we lived in more pastoral environs. We are the village and though most of us live in virtual worlds, when we choose to be physically present and engaged with people, we are truly powerful and can make a difference.

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Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Much has been written about our world, man's adverse impact on the planet, and what needs to be done to save Earth. No doubt as our species continues to advance, our expansion and incursion into the remaining pristine corners of our planet will accelerate as we seek illusory security through the treasures the earth can yield to us. However, unlike our planet, our lifespan is akin to that of a flea, and like a dog with an itch, we will voluntarily or involuntarily be cast off. This perspective was best expressed by Dr. Iain Stewart's in the 2009 BBC program titled "Earth: The Power of the Planet." Dr. Stewart stated "in the long run, earth can cope with anything we can throw at it. We could clear all the jungles, but a jungle can regrow over a few thousand years. We could burn all earths’ fossil fuels, flooding the atmosphere with carbon dioxide but even then, it will take the planet only a million years or so for the atmosphere to recover even the animals we are wiping out will eventually be replaced by others equally rich in diversity as a relentless work of evolution continues. It’s only a question of time; the earth will be just fine. So all this stuff about saving planet earth, well that is not the problem: planet earth doesn’t need saving, earth is a great survivor. It’s not the planet we should be worrying about, it’s us."

Not withstanding that powerful sentiment, this post is tangentially about environmental issues, but primarily about the brilliant, contemporary composers Armand Amar and Philip Glass. Both of these composers possess unparalleled skills in weaving together the unique voices, languages and cultures of people around the world to tell compelling stories through film scores.

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Teddy Afro | Les Nubians

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 04:03 AM EDT, 22 September 2009

Teddy Afro, Photo by Mengedegnaw

During my travels in France, I was introduced by my fellow Africans to the political revolutionary music of Teddy Afro and the Afrocentric pride expressed by Les Nubians.

Teddy Afro had been released from prison earlier that year after being jailed by the government on baseless charges which were levied against because the government couldn't risk charging him with sedition.

The politicians behind the move erroneously calculated that imprisoning him would silenced his calls for unity and freedom, but only served to coalesce his followers intent on revolution.  His song, 'Yasteseryal' featured below angered the government because it presented a history of Ethiopia which was unfavorable to the ruler, Haile Selassie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkWtbaIDnP4

The song from Teddy Afro's interviews is not political but is a call for love of and unity among all Ethiopians. In the song he urges Ethiopians to celebrate their rich, ancient and diverse culture, which should be a source of pride. Though a lot of division and castes exist in Ethiopia, until there is unity the nation will be unable to move forward and deal holistically with the many problems which plague the nation including drought and starvation.

At that time neither Teddy Afro or Les Nubians were as visible in the American popular music scene as they were in Europe. However,find that certain artists, particularly musicians and Indie actors, continue to push against the tides of debasement, and speak the truths that we all seek to hear which is what makes them equally engaging.

Les Nubians wrote and sung the song 'Makeda' which also pays tribute to an Ethiopia and African women. The song is an homage to the great Queen of Sheba. Makeda, is the Amharic name for the Queen of Sheba and in this song by the same title, Les Nubians are paying homage to the great Queen, and to the strength, beauty, integrity and life affirming qualities of all African women.

As I continue to search my soul and hone my voice, I am pleased to highlight the musicians/artists/writers/poets/singers who have had a profound impact on me. The basis of music, at least for me, is poetry and verse.  When I write, I think in visual terms, the words dance in my head, like a jigsaw puzzle of floating petals, that I gently reach up, to pull down, and hook together into soliloquies thoughts which I send out into the universe of my fellow human beings.

We are each here, at this time, and in the space to help the world and make it a better place.  We each have been granted the tools to accomplish our unique missions, and as an artist I have and will continue to explore the full gamut of these giftings.

Makeda, the Queen of Sheba is an integral historical figure in my life as an African Jewish woman.  Les Nubians proclaim that Makeda lives in them, and indeed, Makeda lives in all African females.  As I go into the New Year, it is with great joy and happiness that I can in my own way, pay homage to this greatest of African Queens.

  • Watch the video  Makeda vie en moi here. Though in French it translates to Makeda lives in me.
  • Visit Teddy Afro's Official Website Here.