TUESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2014

Lagos: the world’s fastest growing city

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Lagos is becoming one of the world's great mega-cities. Here's an optimistic look at the future of an astonishing development project, Eko-Atlantic, a planned district of Lagos, Nigeria, being constructed on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. 

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TUESDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER 2014

Heroes of the war on Ebola

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Wars nowadays are fought by remote control, with drones, missiles and bombers. But the only way to win the war on Ebola is with boots on the ground.

The heroism of grunts who work to exhaustion to save lives ought to be the real focus of media coverage of the epidemic which threatens people Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and even Nigeria.

Of course, scientists in the West are working hard to develop a vaccine for the disease which kills between 50 and 90 percent of its victims. But the only one specifically aimed at Ebola, an American drug called ZMapp, has not even been tested properly on animals.

And there are weighty ethical and social obstacles to distributing it willy-nilly to people with the disease. Although some of the people who have taken it have regained their health, others have died. The World Health Organization has authorised doctors to use the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2014

$90 loan restores Kenyan farm

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Although a quarter of Kenya’s population are farmers, few of them have ventured into increasing their farm output with the help of loans. For many of them, loans are risky and if unpaid, their only source of livelihood is in danger of being lost to aggressive lenders.

It is no wonder that, sceptical about farm loans, Samuel Kariuki has been struggling to increase his cabbage farm’s output over the last thirty years until his recent discovery of F3 Life, a micro finance company offering “green loans”.

F3 Life offers loans of as little as $20 to as much as $180, as well as free monthly training on how to increase one’s farming business. The program, designed by conservationist Mark Ellis-Jones, offers incentives of lower interest rates and bigger loans to farmers who apply soil and land conservation practices.

Thus, planting trees, grass strips along slope land, and other anti-erosion measures extends the life… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 3 AUGUST 2014

Ebola and the news nearness factor

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Nearness is one of the qualities that make for news, that closeness which involves the reader physically or morally that he ceases to be indifferent. It is no wonder we often have a short attention span regarding news. To get us to pay attention, some editors resort to big font sizes or sensational headlines, lest they lose us completely.

Ebola was news months ago but for those outside Africa it was "far" news that very soon became a footnote on news channels. Not so now, because Ebola has arrived the United States. In the midst of the sorrow that is this disease here in Africa, it is almost amusing, though in a macabre way, to see the stricken horror among several Americans who are scared to the very marrow of their bones that what was previously far is now too close for comfort. That news footnote is… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014

An African woman’s “Thank-you” letter to Meriam Ibrahim

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The great news of Mariam Ibrahim's arrival in Italy filled me with so much joy and elation.

The images of this graceful and beautiful African woman, babe in hand, stepping out of the plane was a sight to behold especially after her unspeakable pain and suffering in the Sudanese prison.

So I thought I should, in a very simple letter, write down my reflections and thoughts of gratitude for this resilient daughter of Africa whose freedom is being celebrated by the entire world today.

On behalf of all African women, I thank you Meriam Ibrahim, for showing the world the indomitable courage that is at the core of authentic femininity. I say this because your pain and persecution were tied so firmly to your femininity. And so your triumph was a most powerful witness to life, to motherhood, to marriage, to love and to faith.

You are indeed a true picture of faith… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 4 JUNE 2014

The many colors of Africa

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A group of US-based African students recently launched a photo campaign to help dispel misconceptions about their continent.  The African Students Association of New York's Ithaca College, comprising of youths ranging from 16 to 21, titled their campaign "The Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype”.  The social media initiative aims to educate and raise awareness about common stereotypes surrounding Africa and its people -- misunderstandings such as, Africa being a homogenous entity, rather than a diverse continent of more than 50 countries.

They show students draped in different African flags or holding them up with quotes like:

Africans do not all look alike

Africa is not a land filled with diseases

Africa is not defined by poverty

Africa existed before colonialism

This is a good fight for the redefinition and re-structuring of what really Africa means and of what it is not.

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MONDAY, 2 JUNE 2014

“She covered me” - Testimony to African solidarity

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She covered me with a clean pink shawl, one of the many coverings required of her by tradition. I ranked higher than my saviour by societal standards, she was just a fura seller while I had two degrees to my name and class to go with them. I was also clothed in far higher taste than she was, the high heeled shoes I hid in my bag for preservation had designer labels, the thin chain about my neck was pure gold, I wore designer perfume too, but all that could not protect me from the rain and the cold.

It was a wet Sunday, the downpour started after I boarded the bus to my house, I knew I could not come down at my stop because I would be drenched in the rain so I elected to come down at the bus stop before mine which had a pedestrian bridge which would at… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 9 MAY 2014

#BringBackOurGirls: did it really happen?

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#BringBackOurGirls is a hashtag retweeted almost one million times since 353 girls were supposedly kidnapped from a girls secondary school in northern Nigeria on April 15. I say “supposedly” because there have been more questions than answers, including doubts about whether a kidnap actually took place, and the identity of the victims, which till now remain an object of speculation.

The story goes that on April 15, hundreds of gunmen attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, a town in the northern state of Borno in Nigeria. They abducted more than 300 girls, taking along some food, shot the school guards, and set the school on fire before disappearing into thin air. Nobody knows where the girls are, nobody knows who kidnapped them (although a supposed Boko Haram kingpin came on YouTube to claim credit), and nobody knows the names of the abducted girls.

Some of… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 6 MAY 2014

The great green wall of Africa

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The Sahel, a 5,400km long and up to 1,000km wide semi-desert region spans across Africa from Senegal to Djibouti demarcating the bottom of the Sahara and the top of the green equatorial belt. It’s been widening its girth over the last decades, and mother nature is not to blame. Land degradation and overgrazing have caused this fertile belt to remain waterless. In spite of this, the Sahel remains inhabited by century-old tribes and peoples whose lifestyle, mostly nomadic, has relied on the sparse vegetation for sustenance and livelihood. And although the Sahel is notorious for decades of war and famine, the thirteen countries through which it passes have come together to create a “mosaic of sustainable development.“ 

The Great Green Wall of Africa is an FAO initiative to plant millions of trees and shrubs, aimed at “sustainable management and use of their forests, rangelands and other natural resources, thereby improving the food… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 21 APRIL 2014

Can Africa find joy in suffering?

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Is there something about Africa and its history that endears it to tragedy? I have often wondered why some of greatest Box Office successes that have to do with Africa lean towards tragedy as a genre. Think of Cry Freedom, Hotel Rwanda, Lord of War, Blood Diamond, Black Hawk Down, Tears of the Sun and most recently, 12 Years a Slave. Notice the tragic connotations that these titles contain – Weeping, War, Blood, Darkness, Tears, Slavery...

Aristotle, one of the greatest Greek philosophers, in his Poetics defined tragedy as a work of art containing a series of events with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of such emotions. He went on to say that tragedy is a more serious genre than comedy and that therefore, unlike comedy it can only be fully appreciated by the high-minded. Many of the terms used in… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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Africa is a continent that is big, joyful, generous, enthusiastic and optimistic. Harambee tells its stories: from its love of life and family, to people who have withstood great odds to stories of innovation achieved with limited resources. Our partner is Harambee Africa International, a Rome-based NGO. We want to hear from you. Contact Eugene Ohu, the editor, at harambee@mercatornet.com


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