Saturday, January 10, 2009

Let Us Learn

Let us learn from our past...
Learn from the great people who made our history...
Learn from Kwame N'Krumah in Ghana, the father of Africanism
Learn from Sekou Toure in Guinea, who stood against the colonial French
Learn from Robert Mugabe the hero from Zimbabwe
Learn from Francois Tombalbaye in Chad
Learn from the Malian panafricanist Modibo Keita
And learn from many more of these great people

Learn how they fought for their people
Learn from their courage to stand against adversity
Learn from their vision of Africa


Let us learn from our past...
Learn from N'Krumah who toward the end fall from grace
Let us learn from Toure who became a tyrant
Let us learn from Mugabe who does not want to let go
Let us learn from Tombalbaye who died a dictator
Learn from Keita who died disgraced in a jail
And learn from many more of these great people who did not finish that great

Learn why they did not finish as good as they started
Learn from their mistakes
Learn from what went wrong

They remain the great heroes of our history


In order to build a better future...
Let us learn from our past.

Ayemi L.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Andrew Mwenda: Let's take a new look at African aid

Along the same line with what I have previously written about foreign aid in Africa, I would like to share this video with my readers.
Andrew Mwenda is a journalist from Uganda. He talks about Africa's development and the role foreign aid is playing.
In this provocative presentation made during a TED conference, Andrew Mwenda invites his listeners to take a new look at Africa. I won't comment on it, just watch the video...And if you still have some minutes, go back and read, if you haven't read it yet, my previous post "Book Review: The White man's Burden"


Ayemi L. @

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Les Sans-Papiers de Mayotte

Ceci est une triste video montrant les conditions de detention d'immigres en France, le "pays des droits de l'Homme". Cela ressemblerait a une prison dans un pays "pauvre".

Selon un article publie par RFI, la France a ete interpelle par Amnesty International qui a denonce les "conditions indignes et inhumaines" dans lesquelles ces immigres vivent. Selon le meme article le centre de Pamandzi a Mayotte dispose de 60 places, mais 16,000 sans papiers ont ete expulses de la cette annee... 16,000! Wow...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My favorite documentaries and movies about Africa (so far)

Great Movies and Documentaries I have seen:

- Cry Freedom: Played brilliantly by Denzel Washington. The movie is about Steve Biko, the South African anti-apartheid leader. (True Story)

- Hotel Rwanda: Don Cheadle plays the role of Paul Rusesabagina during the genocide in Rwanda. (True Story)

- Amistad: An all star cast film with Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, and Djimon Hounsou. Slavery is the subject of the movie. (Based on a true story)

- Tears of the Sun: with Bruce Willis. The plot is around an ethnic cleansing in Nigeria.

- Out of Africa: played magnificently by Robert Redford. It's a love story with beautiful images of Africa's countryside.

- Black Gold: A documentary telling the story of Ethiopian coffee farmers and their struggle in the international market against giants like Starbucks.

The one I would love to see:

- The Empire in Africa: a documentary about the Sierra Leone war
- Africa Blood and Guts: Colonialism in Africa
- Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death
- Wonders of the African World

Ayemi Lawani

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Africa Rising?!

Some weeks ago, I was writing about the various summits countries such as France, China, Turkey, India, Japan were organizing with Africa. I was then wondering why this increased interest in Africa.(Refer to my previous post "Another Africa-'One Country' Summit")
I found this interesting video on Youtube which might contain some answers. Let me share it with you.
Africa Rising By Vijay Mahajan

Ayemi Lawani

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Et un de plus!!

Apres le Cameroun cette annee, c'est le tour de l'Algerie de modifier la constitution pour permettre au president de se representer indefiniment. Pendant ce temps la crise social continue en Algerie...
J'ai perdu le compte des pays (ou mieux des royaumes?) africains ou il n'existe plus de limitation en termes de nombre de mandats.

(Photo, courtesy of Algerie-Politique)

What is happening in DRC?

Here we go again!

A new war erupted in Congo when everyone started to forget the wars that followed the downfall of Mobutu. Or, is it really a new war? Laurent Nkunda the forgotten rebel has found a new strength and is threatening President Kabila's power. The DRC seems to be doomed by its mineral wealth. Since his election in 2006, the 37 y.o. president did not do much to assure his authority over one of the largest and richest nations in Africa.

- the foreign interests fighting for the congolese resources
- the president whose authority seems to be limited to the capitale Kinshasa
- the corruption
- the foreign nations (like Rwanda) supporting the rebels
- the UN spending billions on a peace keeping force tarnished by corruption and scandales
- and the West, which, like in Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan, is playing blind
the DRC's people don't own their destiny. With more than 5 millions people killed, this never ending war is the deadliest since WWII.
If you want to know it started, who is involved..., here is an interesting article:

How We Fuel Africa’s Bloodiest War


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What to make of it??

Rose Kabuye, the Rwandan Director of State Protocol, was arrested last Sunday in Germany. She is accused by the french justice, as many other Rwandan authorities, of complicity in the assassination of Habyarimana, the ex-president of Rwanda killed just before the genocide started.

What to make of it?

Well, on the one side, that's good news. For, if she is guilty she must face justice. If she is not, justice shall prevail and she will get to go home. Same for many other people all over the world, especially in Africa. There are many people in Africa right now who committed torture, killed thousands
of their people, stole their countries' money... "et j'en passe". They should be anxious and know that there will be a payback day... wherever they go. So, I am happy.

What's the other side then??

Well, on the other side the international justice seems to be a one way road. So far I have only seen "bad guys" from developing nations arrested in developed nations, not the other way around. Nobody seems to really care when a "poor" nation asks for the extradition of a "bad guy" from a "rich" nation (refer to Equatorial Guinea's case). Even when "bad guys" from 'rich' countries are convicted in 'poor' nations, they somehow manage to be jailed back in their countries or simply be released (Refer to Chad's example).
And so, I am sad.

(Photo source: AFP)

Monday, October 27, 2008

20 ans apres....

20 ans apres l'assassinat de Thomas Sankara, l'un des acteurs du coup temoigne. Le plus frustrant n'est pas le temoignage de Prince Johnson, mais le fait qu'il pointe le doigt sur Blaise Compaore, l'actuel president du Burkina, qui a toujours dementi toute participation dans la tuerie de son meilleur ami.
Plus frustrant et decevant encore est la pretendu complicite de Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

Mais en fait rien de surprenant, Prince Johnson ne fait que confirmer tout haut ce que tout le monde soupconnait tout bas...

Ecouter et lire l'interview de Prince Johnson sur RFI.FR :

Prince Johnson : C'est Compaoré qui a fait tuer Sankara, avec l'aval d'Houphouët-Boigny


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Inspirational Songs

Here is a list of inspirational songs I put together for the "down times".

For everyone of us, there are these times when even the strongest feel beat up, times when we lose our energy, we feel as if we cannot keep going.

These are times when you feel as if the whole world is against you; these are setback times. I talked to you recently and you told me how difficult life is.

For you, for me, and everyone else, I put together these songs. Not to change your destiny, but to tell you that you destiny is in your hand. God gave you talents, it is up to you to use them.

I hope these songs inspire you. Listen to the songs and read the lyrics.
"Keep your head high", "it's is a beautiful day", "don't let this cold world bring you down," your life is "unwritten."

Let us know if there is a song which is not listed here and that inspires you...


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kiva is a nonprofit organization specialized in microfinance.

"Kiva enables a world where people separated by long distances can connect through lending for the purpose of alleviating poverty, while also promoting strong, persistent interpersonal connections that improve cross-cultural understanding. Kiva’s unique model provides debt to mid- and small-sized Microfinance Institutions, offering the chance to extend coverage to new populations outside the reach of larger institutions. In its first three years, over 148,000 internet lenders made $22 million in loans to 33,000 entrepreneurs in 40 developing countries. Kiva aims to scale to one million internet lenders and over $100 million in loans by 2010. Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco, CA."(PALO ALTO, Calif.—March 11, 2008).

Kiva connects lenders to borrowers allowing the first to lend as little as $25 to the second. Once the money is repaid, lenders can re-lend their money, donate it to Kiva, or withdraw their funds. Check what various news channels have said about Kiva by clicking here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Qu’attend la France pour s’excuser des crimes commis pendant la colonisation ?

"Qu’attend la France pour s’excuser des crimes commis pendant la colonisation" ?

C'est le titre d'un article de
Franck Salin paru sur le 3 Septembre.
Dans l'article l'auteur evoque l'example de l'Italie qui le weekend dernier a reconnu ses torts et abus durant la colonisation en Libye. Berlusconi s'est meme engage a dedommager financierement la Libye.

Salin cite Sarkozy qui a declare, aucours d'une visite en Algerie en Dec. 2007, qu'il fallait se
« tourner d’abord vers l’avenir, car les nouvelles générations, qui forment dans votre pays la grande majorité de la population, ne vont pas attendre que les adultes aient fini de régler les problèmes du passé. »

Selon Salin, ce refus de la France de s'excuser serait du a l'orgueil d'"une grande nation [qui] ne s'excuse pas" ou a un calcul electoral de Sarkozy.

Personnellement, je suis d'accord avec Sarkozy qu'il faut "se tourner vers l'avenir." Mais, le President francais ne doit pas oublier que pour vraiment embrasser l'avenir il faut d'abord soigner les plaies laissees par le passe.

Des excuses de la part de la France, ou de tout autre colonisateur, ne changeront surement pas les atrocites commises durant la colonisation. Mais elles pourront au moins marquer un nouveau depart. Un depart ou le colonisateur d'avant reconnaitrait ses torts et accepterait de traiter l'ex colonise en egal. Sarkozy, "les problemes du passe" sont les problemes de nos peres et grand peres. Et nous en portons encore le fardeau. "PARDONNER" est certainement different d' "OUBLIER." Et nous ne pouvons oublier.

Si l'Allemagne a accepte de dedommager les FRANCAIS victimes de travaux forces pendant la 2eme GM (,2144,3491133,00.html), pourquoi la France ne dedommagerait-elle pas tous ceux qui ont subit les travaux forces durant la colonisation?

Toutefois, loin de totalement feliciter Berlusconi pour son acte, gardons en esprit que le leader Italien est un fin homme d'affaire. Mis a part son petrole, la Libye offre beaucoup d'autres marches et opportunites qui depassent largement les milliards verses par Berlusconi. Pas etonnant que Condoleezza Rice ait decide de s'y rendre aussi avant la fin de l'annee...

La Libye reste une dictature, mais une dictature sur laquelle les "developpes" ferment desormais les yeux. Mais ceci est une autre histoire...


Voici le link de l'article de Franck Salin
(Qu’attend la France pour s’excuser des crimes commis pendant la colonisation ?

Et, je recommande ce bon livre sur les atrocites commises par les Belges en Afrique Centrale:

"King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa" ecrit par Adam Hochschild.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Which one?

I heard two things in my life.

The first one, from Marquis de Vauvenargues, says: "To achieve great things we must live as though we were never going to die."

Then the second, I am not really sure who is the original author, says: "Live your life like you were dying." I interpret it as: love your love ones as if it was your last day, enjoy life today because you don't know tomorrow...and so on.

I originally thought the first was great. Then, when I heard about the second, I said, no the second was great.

But, I think I know now.

I think, in order to achieve great things, we must live as though we were never going to die; and, enjoy life, love people and tell them we love them as if we were dying.

Any thought...


Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Beautiful Song, A Great Singer, An Awesome Choir

Just wanted to share this song with all my let you know that "you raise me up" everyday and always.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Review: "The White Man's Burden"

"The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good"

By William Easterly
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (February 27, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143038826
ISBN-13: 978-0143038825

For Decades, the West (the U.S. and western Europe) has invested billions of dollars in helping the Rest (poor nations in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia). Even though there have been progresses in eradicating diseases and improving lives, people in the Rest still live with less than a dollar a day and still die from easily treated diseases. Jeffrey Sachs is one of the leading figures advocating for a “Big Push” in all areas in order to end poverty. In his 2003’s book “The End of Poverty”, he calls for a Big Push at the global level to end poverty in the world. William Easterly’s “The White man’s Burden” can be considered a reply to Sachs' "The End of Poverty."

Basically, Easterly argues in this book that the West has always felt that it is its duty and mission to “save the Rest.” Going back as far as the 1800s, Easterly compares the vision and writing of authors like Rudyard Kipling to speeches and books written by Gordon Brown, Jeffrey Sachs, or …Bono. For Easterly, “nothing new under the sun.” After the Second World War, “Verbiage about racial superiority, the tutelage of backward peoples, and people not ready to rule themselves went into the wastebasket… ‘Uncivilized’ became ‘underdeveloped’, ‘savage peoples’ became the ‘third world’.” The author argues that there has not been a real change in the way the West has always patronized the Rest. In order to support his argument he analyzes “foreign aid” institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, the USAID, the DFID, the IDB, the AFDB, UNICEF, FAO, UNDP, ILO, etc.

Throughout his book, Easterly makes a distinction between “planners” and “searchers.” As he says, Utopian Planners make great speeches promising great things such as “the end of poverty”, while pragmatic Searchers look for piecemeal solutions. Planners “announce good intentions but don’t motivate anyone to carry them out; Searchers find things that work and get some reward.” Planners don’t take responsibility for their actions. “Planners determine what to supply; Searchers find out what is in demand.” “Planners apply global blueprints; Searchers adapt to local conditions.” “A Planner thinks he already knows the answers; he thinks of poverty as a technical engineering problem that his answers will solve. A searcher admits he doesn’t know the answers in advance; he believes that poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional, and technological factors. A searcher hopes to find answers to individual problems only by trial and error experimentation. A Planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions. A Searcher believes only insiders have enough knowledge to find solutions, and that most solutions must be homegrown.”

Planners plan from the top, while Searchers work with people at the bottom. Easterly argues that Planners control the foreign aid area: people at the top who think they know what the poor need. Institutions such as the World Bank or the IMF decide everything in Washington and apply their plans across the board without regards to local characteristics and indigenous aspirations.

“Almost three billion people live on less than two dollars a day…Eight hundred and forty million people in the world don’t have enough to eat. Ten million children die every year from easily preventable diseases. AIDS is killing three million people a year….” For decades Planners have developed “Big Plans” to end poverty. Why isn’t it working? Billions of dollars are poured every year in foreign aid, but the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing. The problem for Easterly is the lack of accountability and the lack of feedback. Big institutions are not accountable for their failures, and they don’t listen to the poor who is their customer. The author argues that in the private sector when you offer a service or a product and the customer is not satisfied you change your business scheme or your company dies. You are accountable to your customer, and you listen to your customer. That’s not the case in the foreign aid sector.

Exploring the philosophical background of Social Change, William Easterly suggests that the West always chooses the “utopian social engineering” scheme over the piecemeal approach. According to Easterly, “Structural Adjustment Plans” in Africa and post-communist Eastern Europe were Utopia and disasters. Plans developed in Washington were applied in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe without regards to local particularities. Easterly says he is not against foreign aid in Africa. In fact, he supports foreign aid when it does not patronize poor nations, it takes into account their aspirations, it does not try to craft other cultures on the image of the West, and it is accountable for its successes and failures.

What I found so great about this book is how the author went into great detail to support his argument. With an in-depth and overwhelming statistical analysis, Easterly demonstrated that foreign aid, in its current form, does not have any positive effect on economical growth, democracy, and good government. Using data from 1950 to 2001 he illustrated that poor nations with little or no aid had no trouble having positive growth. Instead, Easterly says, “aid financed consumption rather than investment.” Almost all the input used in the foreign aid, from the material to technicians, comes from donor countries. This, of course, increases the recipients’ dependency on foreign help. For example, “In Eastern Europe, chiefs recipients of foreign aid were the Big Six accounting firms in the West, who drafted new laws for Eastern Europe and trained thousands of locals in Western laws.”

Easterly argues that there are many historical examples of how the West messed up the Rest: the Middle East conflicts, India, Sudan, Nicaragua, Angola (Savimbi), DRC (Mobutu), Haiti, Rwanda.

The future, as Easterly argues, is in “homegrown development.” The author uses history and statistical evidences to demonstrate that nations that had never been colonized by the West, or that had been colonized for a short period of time, have historically succeeded more than the ones that had been colonized or had received heavy IMF and World Bank programs. He uses such examples as China, Japan, Singapore, and Botswana to illustrate that homegrown development is better than Big Plans coming from outside. Easterly suggests to use “a marketplace instead of central planning, a kind of eBay meets foreign aid.” He advocates for social entrepreneurship, decentralization of foreign aid, independent program evaluation and monitoring systems, aid vouchers, feedback from the poor, and piecemeal programs instead of Big Plans.

He says “Big Push”, “Big Plans”, and global blueprints to “end poverty” (advocated by Jeffrey Sachs, Bono, Gordon Brow, the G8, and many others) have never worked for the various reasons he lists in his book; and, they will never work. For Easterly, “The right plan is to have no plan.” The solution is “not to abandon aid to the poor, but to make sure it reaches them.” He concludes by saying that the West should stop thinking that they are the “saviors of the Rest.” The West should stop making Big plans to end poverty and start assisting the Rest on small, concrete, and piecemeal basis.

William Easterly teaches economics at New York University and is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He worked as senior research economist at the World Bank for over sixteen years. He also worked in many countries in Africa, Latin America, and Russia.

I highly recommend this book. It confirmed with scientific evidences what I have always suspected: only homegrown development works. You don’t need to be interested in international development to read this book and maybe…to love it!