- Liberia just elected a new president, who took office on Jan 22. What is the name of Liberia’s new president?
a) Prince Yormie Johnson
b) George Weah
c) Joseph Boakai
d) MacDella Cooper
- In the Sahara desert, we find an elliptical dome named the Eye of the Sahara, since from a distance the formation of the rock looks like an eye. In what country can this fascinating wonder of nature be located?
- In 1890, Cecil Rhodes and company reached their final destination near Mount Hampdenand named the settlement Fort Salisbury after the British Prime Minister. In 1982, the now city was renamed during the decolonising period. What is Fort Salisbury named today?
- On October 1, 2017, secession leader, Ayuk Tabe Julius, declared, that the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon had seceded and clashes between the federal forces and the persons behind the secession intensified. On Jan 30, 2018, Tabe Julius was arrested and no one has yet recognised this new country. What name did Tabe Julius adopt from 1984 to call this the new country?
- Since Eritrea’s independence in 1993, how many elections have been held?
- In 2017, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame was re-elected as president for a third term. How many percentages of the votes did he receive?
a) 99.14 %
b) 98.79 %
c) 91.49 %
- In 2017, dictator and former president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, was forced to leave the country after he lost the election and members of The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had deployed military units to remove him by force if he did not comply. Where does Jammeh live today?
d) Equatorial Guinea
- In November 2017, Robert Gabriel Mugabe was forced to step down as president of Zimbabwe in what the military did not call a coup. He has been in power since 1980, but what year did Mugabe become president?
- Uganda hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa. Especially because of the ongoing, never-ending conflict in South Sudan. How many refugees live in Uganda estimated by the UNHCR per January 2018?
a) 1.4 million
b) 1.7 million
- According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Democratic Republic of the Congo represents a mega-crises greater than the crises in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The conflict has forced more than 1.7 million persons to leave their homes. How many people were forced to leave their house every day of 2017, according to the NRC?
a) 2,500 people
b) 3,500 people
c) 4,500 people
d) 5,500 people
- In 2014, George Weah ran for senator for the Montserrado County. He won the seat by winning against then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s son, Robert Sirleaf. How many percentages of the votes did Weah receive?
a) 56 %
b) 87 %
c) 78 %
d) 42 %
- In 2017, Angola held its first presidential election, where president José Eduardo dos Santos did not run for president. Instead, he had handpicked the Minister of Defence, João Lourenço, to succeed him. For decades, dos Santos had run Angola like a family enterprise where he and his family controlled everything from telecommunication to the state oil company. Lourenço won the election and became president. A few months later he fired whom from the state oil company Sanongol?
a) José dos Santos (son of the former president dos Santos)
b) Ama Paula Lemos (current wife of former president dos Santos)
c) Isabel dos Santos (daughter of the former president dos Santos)
d) Tatiana Kukanova (former wife of then president dos Santos)
- As most people have heard by now, the President of the USA, Donald John Trump, has referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African states as “shithole countries”. What African country did officially first respond to Trump’s remarks?
- In 2017, for the first time in history, an African Supreme Court deemed the result of a presidential election “null and void”, and decided the election had to be held again. In what African country did this historic event occur?
d) Republic of the Congo
- In 2015, the Pope went for a six-day African tour. During this tour, he visited the capital Bangui of this African country. His aim was to reconcile the belligerent parties and asked them to choose peace in a country destroyed by civil war since 2013. What African country am I referring to?
a) The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
b) South Sudan
d) The Central African Republic (CAR)
- Germany is in hot water because a US court as accepted a class-action lawsuit by the Herero and Nama people living in Namibia, a former German colony. The people behind the class-action suit ask for direct reparations. What is this law suit about?
a) The genocide of the Herero og Nama people by the Germans taking place in the beginning of the 20th century, where roughly 100.000 people were slaughtered
b) Current German descendants from the first German settlers living in Namibia refuse to share the fertile land with the native population and the native population want, they argue, their fair share of their own land
c) They believe Germany has been stealing its natural resources and they want percentage what they believe belongs to them
d) During World War 1, Germany never paid soldiers from Namibia their salary. Descendants of the Namibian soldiers fighting during World War 1 on Germany’s side demand to be paid
- During the British and Italian conquest of the Horn of Africa, a Somali Kingdom was established by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan and it came into existence in 1897. Abdullah Hassan managed to unite various Somalia people to stand up and resist the European colonial powers and Ethiopia. They succeeded for more than 20 years, and the country stayed independent throughout the Scramble for Africa and World War 1, but collapsed in early 1920. What was the name of the state established by Mohammed Abdullah Hassan in 1897?
d) the Dervish state
- Speaking of African resistance. In 1879, January 22, Lord Chelmsford was leading the British army into what should be a major blow against the Zulus in the Anglo-Zulu war. They settled for the night, and the British did not care to set up a defence. No trenches were made and no one fortified the camp. There was no need to fear the Zulus. On the early morning on the same day, they were attacked by the Zulus. The green plateau turned black with Zulu warriors counting 20.000 people. When the battle was over, 858 white men, including high ranking officers, and 471 black natal natives had been killed. The Natal and Cape community was in horror and London was in shock. What was the name giving to this battle won by the Zulus?
a) The Battle of Adwa
b) The Battle of Lulundi
c)The Battle of Isandlwana
d) The Battle of Intombe
- On November, 2017, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, met with the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, in the capital of Ghana, Accra. The conversation suddenly turned awkward, when a journalist asked if France sought to strengthen its support to former non-French African colonies, meaning direct more aid toward these African countries such as Ghana. Macron did not really answer. When Akufo-Addo took the stage, he gave an answer that visibly surprised Macron and left him uncomfortable. What was the core message in Akufo-Addo’s speech to Macron and the question concerning aid?
a) Ghana needs more aid than what the former French colonies receive combined to fully start the process of industrialisation
b) Ghana must stand on its own feet and not keep asking what can France or other donors give us in handouts. Ghana must free itself from aid completely
c) Ghana just made a deal with China, so I can happily reject money from France
d) False premise, Akufo-Addo gave a non-answer just like Macron
- In 2010, several West African countries were ruled by dictators such as Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire among other countries. In 2018, how many West African countries are ruled by a dictator?
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo was supposed to hold its presidential election in 2016, but by 2018 the country is yet to hold the election. The President, Joseph Kabila, recently held a rare press conference to address the failure of the country to hold the constitutional unavoidable election that ultimately will oust him from power. He also addressed the killing of 68 civilian demonstranters by local security forces and the murder of UN deployed personnel in the Kasai Region killed by rebels among other things. The first thing people noticed when they saw Kabila on TV was what?
a) He had gotten bald
b) He had grown a beard
c) He wore a colourful dress
d) He wore a dirty t-shirt
- Among continental Africa countries (meaning excluding minor islands as Cape Verde, Mauritius, etc), which country got the highest score of 83 in the latest report from Freedom House published in 2018?
- According to Global Justice’s report Honest Accounts 2017, Sub-Saharan Africa annually loses $203 billion to illicit financial and through corporations repatriating profits or three times as much as the countries receive in aid and remittances. In 2015, Sub Saharan Africa received $19 billion in aid. How much money did Africans living in the diaspora send home in remittances according to the World Bank in 2015? (approximately, since the precise figure is unknown)
a) $5 billion
b) $55 billion
c) $15 billion
d) $35 billion
- Each January, a new chairperson takes the position for a one-year term for the African Union. Who became the chairperson of the African Union on Jan 1, 2018?
a) President Alpha Condé
b) President Ian Khama
c) President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (M7)
d) President Paul Kagame
- On March 7, this country shall elect a new president, since the current one has served for two terms and hence steps down. What country shall elect a president in March?
c) Sierre Leone
1b, 2c , 3c, 4a, 5d, 6b, 7d, 8b, 9a, 10d, 11c, 12c, 13a, 14b, 15d, 16a, 17d, 18c, 19b, 20c, 21b , 22a, 23d, 24d, 25c
This is a copy/paste from my Master Dissertation, 2013, pages 15-18
Massad criticises the homo/hetero binary, that states that either you are a heterosexual or a homosexual. He argues that homosexuality belongs to a Western discourse and therefore represents Western hegemony. Consequently, to be a homosexual does not make sense to the majority of people that live in none-Western countries. Western LGBT-organisations are “heterosexualizing” the world with the implementation of this binary, which creates homosexuals where none previously existed (Massad 2007). Massad does not argue that same-sex practices did and do not occur in non-Western societies, but people, who engage in what organisations, such as ILGA, define as homosexuality, do not necessarily identify themselves with those terms. He further argues that scholars and activists transform MSM (men who have sex with men) and WSW (women who have sex with women) into passive subjects, they label in order to promote their own personal agenda (ibid:189). In Nigeria ‘yan daudu riga [skirted dan daudu] regard that to be a ‘dan daudu is like a shirt, you can pull on and off at will (Gaudio 2009:9). Gaudio argues sexuality is not about what you are, but what you do. The “doing” is also highlighted among Ghanaian MSM and WSW, who describe themselves by stating, that they “do it”, when they talk about their sexuality (Hengeveld 2012; Dankwa 2009).
“It also lends support to scholarly arguments that gender, sexuality, and other ”identities” should be seen as practices rather than the essences, as things people do rather than things people are.” (Gaudio 2009:65)
This is supported by Christensen, who did research in the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana, among the Fanti. The belief was, that those born with a light soul would desire men, and those born with a heavy soul would desire women. If a man desired another man, it was because he was born with a light soul. The result was that their relationship would still be viewed as to be between a man and a woman (cited in Murray and Roscoe 1998:105). This is to exemplify that in parts of the world sexuality is fluid by being attributed to what people do, and, therefore, sexuality shall not be viewed as representing a stable identity. As Massad, Epprecht questions whether the world can be seen as fundamentally heterosexual, where he joins hands with Gaudio (2009) in understanding sexuality as fluid, that cannot be reduced to a binary system. The word homosexuality has a historical etymology, that cannot be understood as transnational, transhistorical, and misunderstood to be “self-explanatory unaffected by language” (Epprecht 2008:113). The implication is, that it is not self-evident that we can call an MSM or WSW for a homosexual because we do not know if the person would identify him or herself as being one (ibid:17). Even if a person defines him or herself as being homosexual, we cannot naturally assume the word connotes the same understanding for the informant and for the researcher. The implication of the wording “doing” also implies you can stop “doing” it, which underpins the fact that sexuality is understood dynamic that is defined by your actions. The flexibility of “doing” possesses a problem to the queer theory. Butler (1999) and Sedgwick (1990) challenge the sexual binary by arguing in favour of the existence of a third gender or a third sexuality. However, they still define you in relation to something that you are rather than an identity that you can take on and off like a shirt at will. For this reason, this paper does not find the queer theory useful to fully understand the concept of “doing sexuality” in contemporary Ghana.
In Ghana, one of Dr Attipoe’sMSM-informants notes, that he likes both anal and vaginal sex, because two is better than one, and “people will not suspect what is going on.” (cited in Epprecht 2008:129). In Ghana -as in other parts of Africa- children play an immense role in society, where to have children is not a choice but an obligation. As Dr Attipoe’s informant notes, to have a relationship is not necessarily a matter of affection, but can be a strategy to keep the affection toward your own gender is hidden from your family. We could label an informant a bisexual, but bisexuality requires sexual attractions for both sexes (see Gustavson 2009 among other scholars), but when to have children is a social and moral obligation, to have sex with a person of the opposite gender is not a choice. Thereby to have sex with one of the opposite gender cannot be defined as bisexuality (Gaudio 2009:10). Consequently, to have a spouse of the opposite gender does not logically follow that you are sexually attracted to him or her. A research from USAID in co-operation with CEPEHRG and Maritime argues that nearly two-thirds of all MSM have had sex with at least one female partner in the past year, and one-third with multiple female partners (USAID, CEPEHRG and Maritime 2010:4). As a consequence, it would be wrong to label an informant a homosexual or a bisexual without knowing how the person labels him or herself. For this reason, I have chosen to replicate Epprecht’s terminology by using MSM and WSW (Epprecht 2008). These terms will be used unless a person or group defines themselves otherwise. However, the usage of these terms has a built-in problem with the element of sex. The anthology “Boy-Wives and Female Husbands” enumerates accounts from missionaries and anthropologists, from people who did not define what they were doing as sex, but e.g. as “playing”. From Ghana Ajen writes:
“Nearly all the men admitted to having played with other males at least at that stage in their life [childhood].” (Ajen 1998:132).
Or sex constitutes penetration. When Kendall interviewed women in Lesotho, she asked a local woman, if she knew of women who shared blankets together [to have sex]. The woman replied:
“It’s impossible for two women to share blankets (…) you can’t have sex unless somebody has a koai [penis].” (Kendall 1998:228-9)
But when Ghanaian men talk about sex, it does not necessary connote the act of penetration, but it can as well be the squeezing the breasts of the woman (Bochow 2009:402).
Despite the problem in defining sex, whether a penis is required or not, and whether penetration must occur or not, the terms MSM and WSW are the best ones in describing the people this paper wants to examine, because these terms allow for a fluid understanding of sexuality, whereas the term homosexuality signifies a stable identity that stands in opposition to heterosexuality.
The fluidity of gender and sex further complicates the task of interviewing. The interviewer can establish a safe space by gaining the confidentiality of his informants but without gathering accurate data, if the interviewer is unable to ask the right questions. To overcome this problem, I lived in the same milieu as my informants to get into their shoes, to try to learn the language, and to understand their culture. In relation to this paper, the complication in gathering accurate information about sex and partnership was that I could not instinctively use words such as sex or homosexuality because the informant might not recognise those words in relation to his or her reality, or the informant and I would have diverged interpretations of these terms. This was why such words were avoided unless the informant used these terms him or herself during an interview.
Ajen, Nii, 1998, West African Homoeroticism: West African Men Who Have Sex With Men, ed. by Murray and Roscoe, Boy-Wives and Female Husbands – Studies in African Homosexualities, Palgrave
Bochow, Astrid, 2009, Valentine’s Day in Ghana: youth, sex and secrets, Erdmute Alber, Sjaak van der Geest and Susan R. Whyte (eds.), Generations in Africa. Contrasts and Connections, Hamburg, pp. 400-429
Butler, Judith, 1999 (2007), Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire in Gender Trouble, Routledge, pp.1-47
Dankwa, Serena O., 2009, It’s a Silent Trade: Female Same-Sex Intimacies in Post-Colonial Ghana, Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research (NORA), 17(3), pp. 192-205
Epprecht, Marc, 2008, Heterosexual Africa? – The history of an idea from the age of exploration to the age of HIV, Ohio University Press
Gaudio, Rudolf Pell, 2009, Allah Made Us – sexual outlaws in an Islamic African city, Wiley-Blackwell
Gustavson, Malena, 2009, Bisexuals in Relationships: Uncoupling Intimacy from Gender Ontology, Journal
of Bisexuality 9:3-4, pp. 407-429
Hengeveld, Wieke 2012, I “Know”, “Do” You? – to live, love and motivate your choices as a Ghanaian woman in female same-sex relationships, Master Thesis, University of Amsterdam (not published)
Kendall, 1998, When A Woman Loves A Woman – in Lesotho: Love, Sex and the (Western) Construction of Homophobia, ed. by Murray and Roscoe, Boy-Wives and Female Husbands – Studies in African Homosexualities, Palgrave
Massad, Joseph A., 2007, Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World in Desiring Arab, University of Chicago Press, Chapter 3, pp. 164-190
Murray, Stephen; Roscoe, Will, 1998, Boy-Wives and Female Husbands – Studies in African Homosexualities, Palgrave
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, 1990 (2008), Epistemology of the Closet in Epistemology of the Closet, University of California Press, pp. 67-91
USAID, CEPEHRG and Maritime, 2010, Ghana Engaging New Partners and New Technologies to Prevent HIV among Men Who Have Sex with Men, Jan.
During an interview on Al-Jazeera with Jane Dutton, the discussion involved many issues, one of these was the matter of homosexuality, where Nana Akufo-Addo expressed the opinion that a legalisation of homosexuality was inevitable. Now some media outlets have headlines saying, that the Ghanaian president himself wants to legalise it.
First things first, no, Ghana is not about to legalise homosexuality, which I will return to in a moment.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo is strong rhetorically, and he shows it here in this excellent piece, where he starts talking about his upbringing in England.
Normally the discourse on homosexuality is that the West is pro-gay trying to “export” this practice to Africa, and Africa is against it because it is a western import, hence un-African. In just a few words, he dismantles the entire premise of this argument by, correctly, pointing out, that homosexuality used to be illegal in England – and by extension the West.
Homosexuality is not a particularly Western thing since it used to be frown upon in in this part of the world too.
Additionally, homosexuality is not illegal in Ghana per se. Section 104(1)b speaks about unnatural carnal knowledge with consent. The focus is not on sexuality but on some sexual acts. The reason is that the Ghanaian criminal code is partly inherited from the British Common Law, and the Common Law is older than the terms homo and heterosexuality.
You can not punish a man in Ghana for being a homosexual, you have to have proofs that he had penetrative sex with another man. That is not an easy task.
Section 104(1)b has been discussed for almost a decade. Akufo-Addo’s political opponent, John Evans Atta Mills started the amendment process back in 2010 by establishing the Constitution Review Commission. The commission recommended amending sec. 104(1)b by simply removing it. But there were some human rights clashes, so the overall recommendation was to let the Supreme Court decide what should happen. That is where the process came to a halt.
Nana Akufo-Addo follows in the footprint of his predecessors from both parties.
Lastly, Akufo-Addo does not say that he will legalise anything. He says, that a population can change its opinion like it happened in England.
It is a gradual process, where he expresses his belief, that a decriminalisation or legalisation of same-sex acts is bound to happen eventually. He does not say that he will pass such laws at any time soon or even during his time in office.
Though, it is a shout out to activists, human rights lawyers and others, that they are heard and a belief that their voices are helping to shape a better Ghana, and they shall not give up. Even the popular opinion is against them today, the future belongs to the activists.
It is also a subtle message to Western countries, that they have to shut up. This is an internal discussion, Ghanaians are having with themselves, and they will decide when the time is ripe. A critic in how the British PM Cameron tried to push a British agenda upon Ghana in 2011, that resulted in an unheard backlash, where the issue of homosexuality became toxic and progress made by pro-homosexual voices was under threat.
Relevant articles on homosexuality and Africa:
– Africa, Homophobia, and Western Hypocrisy
– MA Thesis: On Homosexuality, Nationalism and Colonialism in Ghana
– Kommentar: Beskåret udviklingsbistand skader homoseksuelle (Danish)
– Quiz on Africa and homosexuality
Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?
This song was originally recorded in 1984 and the aim was to collect money for drought victims in Ethiopia. However, it quickly became a song to include the entire African continent. It is almost remarkable how artists managed to include virtually every negative stereotype about African in one song. The song was re-recorded to help collect money for the victims of the Darfur crises with new artists in 2004.
I have taken the liberty to add my own commentaries to the lyrics. I hope you will find them helpful.
It’s Christmas time
There’s no need to be afraid
Don’t worry, be happy. Christmas mood here I come
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade
I get it, we have light and happiness, and they do not. Africa is our negative reflection when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
In reality, if any place is dark it is Europe and America. The sun has gone into hiding. That is why we need candle lights. Support Norway, they need heat and light.
When stereotypes are turned against ourselves, as the Support Norway-song, we see how ridiculous stereotyping is, and how much they blind us from seeing how the world really is.
Not to forget that several African countries are located pretty darn close to the equator. People look for shade. They want shade. They have plenty of sunlight.
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time
A continuation of mentioning all the things that the artists believe that we have and that Africa is lacking. Not only is that a completely false dichotomy it is also patronising.
African countries have joy and a world of plenty. Some places might have too much since we are beginning to see problems with obesity.
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time it’s hard
Inequality is rising. More people than ever before are in prison. The elected president is unqualified. Christmas is pretty hard for many Americans. In Denmark, my country, the number of poor people have doubled since the year 2008. How does this verse relate to Africans?.
But when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where? There are a lot of sad places around the world. Have you ever been to New Jersey or Lolland on a cold and windy Autumn day?
Again lyrics meant to reactivate our prejudice concerning the African continent. To think about the continent as a country of sadness, darkness and hopelessness. Of course, this is not the case. Africa is a continent of light, fun, colours, joy, hope and good food.
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
Geography is not their strong suit. There are numerous rivers and lakes in Africa. The River Nile, the longest river in the world, is located in Africa. We also find the Congo River, Uele River, Kazinga River, Niger River, and the Hawash River. The last one is found in Ethiopia. And many, many, many more rivers and lakes. Water is flowing.
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
No, the chimes are from churches filled with people singing Christmas songs. Not doom. Try joy.
Well tonight thank God it’s them
Instead of you
What? Have you ever been to an African Christmas feast? If you had, you would wish it was you.
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
That is plain wrong. Before global warming really took off, there was plenty of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya. Today, the snow left on Mt Kenya is melting at a dangerous rate. Snow is still common on Mt Kilimanjaro. Snow is also found on the Grand Atlas Mountains in Morocco where we find ski resorts. Likewise in the Southern part of Africa, where the tiny country Lesotho also has ski resorts. How much more snow do you want?
It would also be horrible if snow fell in the parts of Africa where snow is uncommon. The buildings are not constructed to withstand cold.
Why is it even a bad thing that there won’t be snow at Christmas? I am from Denmark, and we hardly have snow at Christmas either. You don’t see people making sad songs about our snowless Christmas.
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (oooh)
Is life not a great gift? But how about being with friends and family. Receiving presents. Enjoying a good meal. Going to the cinema. Going dancing. Looking into the eyes belonging to the love of your life. What do you think people in Africa do at Christmas? Sit around in a mud hut in some refugee camp surrounded by flies passively waiting for a generous white person to save them? Give me a break.
Where nothing ever grows
Africa has rain forests. And where do you think your tea, coffee, chocolate, flowers, and several of your fruits in your local shop come from? That is right, Africa.
No rain or rivers flow
I have lived in Ghana. It rains! And to repeat, there are several rivers in Africa. Africa is not all the Sahara desert, just as the USA is more than the Nevada Desert or California.
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Are you bloody kidding me? More than half of all Africans are Christians, meaning +500 million people in Africa are Christians. When we are on the subject, Christianity spread to the African continent shortly after the death of Jesus, where Christians soon began to appear at the Horn of Africa. Christianity has existed in present Ethiopia since the 1st century CE. So yeah, they know it is Christmas.
However, not all Christians celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25. In Denmark, it is celebrated on the evening on Dec. 24. In the Coptic Orthodox Church in Ethiopia, Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 7. Did you know that? Or you thought that the USA was the world? That was a rhetorical question.
Here’s to you
Raise a glass for everyone
You feel that this song is so incredibly bad, that you have to intoxicate yourself to believe in these awful liars and prejudice, and then to drag me down with you by offering me alcohol too, so I lose the ability to think clearly. Thanks, but no thanks.
Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun
So first you bemoan that there is no light, and now you bemoan the burning sun. Make up your mind
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Yes, they do! Do not repeat your own ignorant nonsense
Feed the world
Great, donate money to your local trusted charity foundation. Purchase made in Africa products to improve local business in Africa. How about open your own window. Do you see a poor person? Invite that person over. How about supporting the increase of the minimum wages in your country, so workers can have a decent Christmas. Or raise taxes to provide a helping hand to people not having a job. You know, improve your welfare system. It is easier to help your neighbour than the world. I mean, the world starts at your front door. Take one step at a time.
Feed the world
Or we can continue having a meaningless chanting session, where no one has to do anything to feel good about oneself. Just as liking something on Facebook. It makes you feel good, like you have accomplished something. You have to save the African “country”, the dreadful place just waiting for a knight to save it. Deep sigh.
Let them know it’s Christmas time again – feed the world
They do know! Do I have to repeat myself? And they do have food. Well, not all, but most of them have.
Let them know it’s Christmas time again
I give up. Perhaps you have raised a glass one too many. I just think that I will choose a different Christmas song this year.
Finally. 10 days after the Liberian election was held, the results are in, and you are in for a very few surprises.
As expected, no one got the required +50% to become president. Hence a run-off will take place between Joseph Boakai and George Weah on Nov. 7, 2017.
(Update: run-off is temporarily suspended due to accusations of irregularities during the first presidential round. New date for election is on Dec. 26)
George Weah has tried this before, as he also won the first presidential round in 2005 when running against Ellen Sirleaf. Weah won the first round by 28.3 % against Sirleaf’s 19.8 %.
However, during the following runoff on Nov. 8, 2005, Sirleaf won by securing 59.4 % of the votes against Weah’s 40.6%.
In 2011, Weah, this time as a running mate to Winston Tubman, also managed to enter the run-off, again against Sirleaf.
Sirleaf won both the first and second presidential round by winning the first round by 43.9 % and the second one by 90.7 %. Though a widespread critic of systematic rigging was present and the National Election Commission did find evidence of voter fraud.
Weah is no novice into the art of politics or to winning a presidential election, but he has also tried to lose. He knows winning the first round is no guarantee that he will win the runoff too. He learnt this the hard way 12 years ago. But he has the momentum.
On the other hand, Vice President Joseph Boakai knows, that to lose the first round still means he can win the second round. He knows the system from the inside, and if he can get some of the former candidates to support his candidacy, he holds a strong hand in winning the run-off in November.
However, Boakai’s weakness is Sirleaf. Strong rumours more than suggested that she threw her support behind Brumskine. Brumskine is out, and if Sirleaf and Brumskine get behind Boakai, Boakai is strong. If the Sirleaf-Brumskine alliance continues to undermine Boakai’s authority, then Weah stands strong.
Liberia is turning into a two-party system as we know from numerous African countries and the USA.
The top 3 candidates:
a) George Weah got 596,037 votes (38.4%)
b) Vice President Joseph Boakia got 446,716 votes (28.8%)
c) Charles Brumskine got 149,495 votes (9.6%)
No candidate seriously threatened Weah or Boakai, but the alleged Sirleaf-Brumskine alliance did hurt Boakai, and it is going to be interesting to follow how Brumskine reacts to his defeat. Also to see how the Congo-Country divide will affect the election. Especially since Brumskine managed to get nearly 10 % of the votes placing himself third in the race.
The rumoured Brumskine-Sirleaf Congo-alliance can also be used to pressure Joseph Boakai to hinder necessary reforms to face the wide level of inequality still favouring the Congo minority at the expense of the native populations in return for their public support of Boakai’s candidacy. This part is just personal speculations.
Liberia skal for første gang siden borgerkrigen sluttede i 2003 vælge en ny præsident, og det sker d. 10. oktober.
Vinderen af Nobels Fredspris i 2011 og nuværende præsident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf træder tilbage efter 12 år ved magten, eftersom landets forfatning kun tillader en præsident at sidde i 2 periode. Samme begrænsning kender vi også fra USA.
Den tidligere krigsherre Prince Johnson truer allerede med borgerkrig og landets nuværende vicepræsident, Joseph Boakai, der også er præsidentkandidat, mener, at præsident Ellen Sirleaf underminerer hans kandidatur. Men det vil jeg komme tilbage til.
Flere kandidater stiller op, men de fleste analytikere peger på, at enten vil landets vicepræsident Joseph Boakai vinde eller George Weah, en tidligere kendt fodboldspiller. Da Weah stillede op første gang i 2005 tabte han til Ellen Sirleaf, selvom han vandt første valgrunde.
For at vinde skal en kandidat have mere end 50% af stemmerne. Ved de sidste to valg er det aldrig sket i første valgrunde. Der er derfor sandsynligt, at landet igen. igen skal ud i en anden valgrunde før en endelig vinder kan udpeges. Her kan andre kandidater få en vigtig betydning, da deres opbakning til en frem for en anden kandidat kan betyde forskellen på succes eller fiasko.
Tidligere krigsherre Prince Johnson kan blive en af kongemagerne. Det var hans mænd, der dræbte den USA-støttede præsident Samuel Doe i 1990 og kastede landet ud i en ny borgerkrig, den nu krigsforbryderdømte Charles Taylor vandt.
En anden vigtig person kan blive Charles Brumskine, en erfaren politiker og medlem af americo-liberia eliten, en slægt, der daterer deres rødder tilbage til de frigivende slaver i USA, der grundlagde landet tilbage i 1822.
For at forstå valget, er det vigtigt at kende til netop americo-liberia eliten, der har siddet på magten i størstedelen af landets historie. Deres parti, the True Whig Party, sad på magten uafbrudt fra 1869 til 1980. Flere af valgene var præget af grotesk valgsvindel, selv efter moderne standarder. Ved valget i 1927 modtog vinderen, Charles D. B. King 147.000 stemmer, men kun 15.000 havde stemmeret.
Fra det øjeblik Americo-Liberia satte sine ben på jorden i 1822, gik det galt. De så sig selv om civilisationens forreste skanse, og de lokale var at anse som laverestående skabninger. De bragte herre/slave mentaliteten fra det raceopdelte USA med sig. Love blev implementeret, der gjorde det ulovligt at omgås lokalbefolkningen, du måtte ligeså ikke gifte dig eller få børn med en. Det var apartheid før apartheid så at sige.
Fra midten af 1920erne og frem til 1931 blev lokale også jagtet som dyr og solgt videre som slaver til Spanien og sejlet til øen Bioko af liberio-america eliten. På øen Bioko blev de lokale tvunget til at arbejde i plantagerne.
Regimet beskattede også de lokale hårdt, og hvis du ikke kunne betale dine skatter, måtte du enten sælge dig selv eller dine børn for at betale din gæld. Det var en effektiv måde at holde befolkningen nede og skaffe billig arbejdskraft. Amerikanske Firestone var selv flittig modtager af billig arbejdskraft i Liberia, hvor de producerede gummi.
Den amerikanske journalist John Gunther skrev i 1955, at for at finde lignende horrible forhold for de lokale i Afrika, skal vi tilbage til Leopolds Congo.
Det hele eksploderede i borgerkrig efter mordet på Doe, en krig, der ikke sluttede før 2003.
Men flere af problemerne er aldrig blevet løst. Hvem har retten til jorden, hvem må bo hvor, og mange føler ligeså, at gerningsmændene og ofrene for borgerkrigen ikke blev løst tilfredsstillende.
Landet er i dag blandt de fattigste på kontinentet. Afrobarometer placerer dem i bunden, hvor op mod 3/4 af befolkningen går sultne i seng. Ebola i 2014 satte landbrugssektoren i stå, og ca. 5000 personer mistede livet, skønt WHO skønner, at tallet kan være betydeligt højere.
Positivt kan ebola måske have givet landets nærmest ikke-eksisterende sundhedssystem et nødvendigt løft, da nyt udstyr blev bragt ind og lokalt sundhedspersonale fik fornyet træning.
Af andre problemer ses, at store dele af landets ungdomspopulation står uden arbejde. Det gjorde dem til billige lejesoldater for udenlandske sikkerhedsfirmaer, hvor mange blev sendt til Afghanistan og Irak, og flere kom aldrig hjem. De var krigenes usynlige soldater. Deres navn står ingen steder, og hvis en døde, blev han erstattet. En kynisk handel i døde kroppe, præcis som under slavehandlen. I dag er de unge tilbage, men de har stadig ikke arbejde, og mange har også begået umenneskelige gerninger som børnesoldater under fortidens borgerkrige, der gør, at de er udstødt af deres egne samfund og familie.
For ikke at tale om den allestedsnærværende galloperende ulighed, Americo-Liberia eliten har skabt gennem mere end 100 års udnyttelse af landet og befolkning.
Der er med andre ord stadig kæmpe udfordringer, og skønt Sirleaf har holdt landet stabilt, er freden på ingen måde en stabil eller en positiv en af slagsen. Der er behov for at imødegå de unge, skabe jobs, og få løst nogle af de mange udfordringer, landets historie som bosætterkoloni ikke har taget et opgør med endnu, såsom ulighed.
Liberia er beliggende i Vestafrika, og denne region er inde i en stabiliserende fase. Det Vestafrikanske Økonomiske Fælleskab (ECOWAS) har udvist aktivistisk handling mod ledere, der kunne destabilisere regionen. ECOWAS-medlemslande udgjorde en vital del af styrken, der sikrede ro efter den anden borgerkrigen i Elfenbenskysten i 2011. De var en afgørende faktor i genetablering af demokrati efter militærkup i Guinea-Bissau i 2012. Og igen i den seneste konflikt i Gambia i januar 2017. Den sidste konflikt truede med at kaste Gambia ud i en altødelæggende krig. ECOWAS løste konflikten uden et eneste skud blev affyret.
Nu skal Liberia fortsætte den stabiliserende stime, Vestafrika oplever. Sirleaf har på mange området ikke løst de problemer, landet har, men hun har nedbragt korruptionen, hun har sikret stabilitet, og hun skabte et fundament, en ny leder kan bygge videre på. Desmond Tutu beskrev Sirleaf med disse ord: “Hun har bragt stabilitet til et sted, der var på vej mod helvede”
Det er videreførelsen og sikring af regionens stabilitet, vinderen af valget skal bygge videre på. Og det bliver ingen nem opgave.
En fortsættelse af freden er ikke let, når præsidentkandidaterne er ikke bedste venner. Favoritten, vicepræsident Joseph Boakai, har langet ud efter præsident Sirleaf, at hun bag hans ryg forsøger at underminere hans kandidatur. Sirleaf er en del af Americo-liberia eliten, det er Boakai ikke, han tilhører den lokale etniske gruppe, kissi. Præsidentkandidat Charles Brumskine er også americo-Liberia, og Boakai har mere end antydet, at Sirleaf finansielt støtter Brumskine, da de tilhører den samme gruppe, og dermed er ved at stikke en kniv i ryggen på ham.
Den anden favorit til at vinde valget er politiker og eksfodboldspiller George Weah. Han bliver truet af den tidligere krigsherre og præsidentkandidat Prince Johnson. Skulle Weah vinde valget og blive præsident, truer Johnson med borgerkrig. Weah satte mange sind i kog, da han tilbage i januar udnævnte Jewel Howard som sin running mate. Hun bærer efternavnet Taylor, og er den krigsforbryderdømte Charles Taylors ekskone. I 2012 blev han ved den internationale krigsforbryderdomstol i Haag idømt 50 års fængsel for krigsforbrydelser begået under borgerkrigene, og han afsoner sin straf i England. Frygten er, at ekskonen er tættere knyttet til eksmand, end hvad hun siger. George Weah har også bekræftet, at han har været i telefonisk kontakt med Charles Taylor. Dele af befolkningen er derfor stærkt bekymret, at Charles Taylor vil styre landet gennem Weah og ekskonen.
Joseph Boakai er storfavorit, da han repræsenterer stabilitet og Sirleafs succes. Omvendt er hans alder imod ham. Han fylder snart 73 år, som står i kontrast til landets unge befolkning. Han repræsenterer også Sirleafs manglende succes, som ungdomsarbejdsløsheden og den stigende ulighed. .
Weah appellerer til de unge. I 2014 vandt han en jordsskredssejr, da han blev senator med 78% af stemmerne. Han var oppe imod Sirleafs søn, der måtte nøjes med 11%. Men valget af Taylors ekskone er kontroversielt.
Hvem der vinder valget afgøres to steder, Liberias befolkning bosiddende i Liberia, men en ligeså magtfuld gruppe er liberianere bosiddende i USA. Remitter fra diasporaen spiller en vigtig rolle i liberiansk politik. Mange af personerne i USA blev drevet flugt under borgerkrigen, og deres følelser for Taylor er iskolde.
Upåagtet af valgresultatet, vil den nye regering stå med kæmpe udfordringer med at få alle ombord og at sikre fremgang for alle, og ikke kun en lille elite.
So this is where we stand in the year 2017, as the country shall elect a new head of state. Sirleaf is stepping down according to the 1986 Constitution, and there is sincerely doubt who will win the election.
There are 20 candidates, but the most important ones are:
- Current Vice-President and a member of the Kissi, Joseph Boakai.
- Former football player, former presidential candidate of 2005 and member of the Kru, George Weah
- Former rebel leader and a Nimba, Prince Yormie Johnson (PYJ).
- Former director of Coca-Cola, Alexander Cumming
- The only woman in the race and former model, MacDella Cooper
- The richest man in Liberia, Benouni Urey
- The experienced politician and a member of the powerful Americo-Liberia (Congo-elite), Charles Brumskine
I will start eliminating the ones, that will not win.
Alexander Cumming does not stand a change. He is politically inexperienced, and whatever small chance he had, he blew it with the hammock accident. He was seen carried around in a hammock by natives. That brought back memories in how the Congos use to treat the natives as savages and obedient subjects under leadership such as Tubman.
MacDella Cooper will neither win. She is a former refugee, who fled to Côte d’Ivoire in 1991 and later to the USA, from where she got her education. She has not shown any real trust that she will win. She runs on promises such as free education, universal health care, electricity in every home, and she will deal with the Congo-urban elite that has rigged ownership of land for the natives. Hence the natives have lost access to their source for food and national heritage. A more fair land reform is needed.
All this sounds good. Who can be against any of these things?
But these promises are expensive and simply impossible to keep. Furthermore, if these promises should bear any merits, it would require Liberia to deal with its massive corruption, a plan to kick-start industrialization, and a plan how to improve the absent infrastructure. There is no plan.
But in 2015, she did say this :
I take my money and go to the road of Washington D.C. I could have the presidency – I tell you that much, that’s how easy it is.
On the tapes, she also expressed a lack of interest in politics or for running for president.
Lastly, she is also an ex-girlfriend to George Weah, and she argues he is the father of her third child.
Lastly, Benouni Urey will not win either. He is perhaps most known for handling and to be in control of the wealth belonging to Charles Taylor, even he has tried to distance himself from Taylor in the recent past.
Furthermore, even Prince Johnson is unlikely to win, if the election enters a run-off as in 2005 and 2011, Johnson can play a crucial role in whom becomes the next president.
He has affirmatively and consistently denounced to support Urey, and under no circumstances would he stand second on a ticket under Urey, Meaning, Urey simply lacks the popular and political support.
Three people are in the race, and they all have a decent chance. The vice president, the former football player, and the Congo politician.
Let’s start with the Vice president Joseph Boakai and Politician Charles Brumskine
Boakai (right) will turn 73 years old on Nov. 30, 2017. His age is against him in a country, where the median age is just 19 years old. 49 percent of the population has not even turned 15 years old yet. However this figure is from 2011, and today, many of these young persons are old enough to vote and they are ready to vote.
Will the youth vote in favor of preserving the old elite, who have failed them the last 12 years? We also witness how African presidents fall ill and end spend more times overseas than at home. Most critically, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, recently spent more than 100 days in London too sick to travel back to Nigeria. The Ghanaian president, John Evans Fifi Atta Mills died in office after a prolonged illness. Not to forget Robert Mugabe almost spends more time in Singapore than in Zimbabwe.
Boakai’s age is against him, and the people might fear to elect a leader who suddenly is absence because of a sudden ill health, or worse, dies in office.
On the other hand, Boakai represents stability. You know what you get, and even he does symbolize a continuation of the problems or limitations during the Sirleaf Administration, he also represents the accomplishments.
Unlike Sirleaf, he is a native. Though it seems he is torn between playing the native card to distance himself from Sirleaf or to ask for togetherness to not rub the Congo elite the wrong way. For instance, he has expressed disinterest in a more fair land reform as proposed by Cooper, since a land reform will negatively impact the Congo-urban elite. On the other hand, his camp has promoted him as a countryman, a true son of the soil.
Boakai holds one strong card. In case a second presidential round is needed, Prince Johnson has aired support for Boakai. In 2011, Johnson came in third, and he threw his support behind the Sirleaf-Boakai ticket over the Tubman-Weah. If he does this again, now the Boakai-Nuquay ticket, he stands a good chance becoming the next president of Liberia.
However, he has one major problem. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She belongs to the Congo aristocrats, and her support for her Vice president is debatable. According to the Front Page Africa Online, Boakai is cited for saying this:
I am not the one saying that President Sirleaf fully supports Brumskine. The people are reading the signs and they’re saying that.
Boakai’s supporters are using this divide in their slogans such as this one:
“Our ma [Ms Sirleaf] spoil it, our pa [Mr. Boakai] will fix it.”
The signs include Brumskine and his associates are seeing driving new cars allegedly paid for by Ellen Sirleaf, but Brumskine has denied any such accusations. Brumskine belongs to the Congo just as Sirleaf, where papers have begun to make this election about the Congo-Country divide. Between Brumskine and Boakai.
The sentiment felt toward the Congo aristocrats is best summed up in the Patriotic Vanguard:
Americo-Liberians [Congo] generally feel that native people should remain subject to them, that Liberia should be ruled by them, that the presidency is their entitlement, a birthright passed to them by their forebears. The attitude to have it all, land, property, good things and power without consideration of the masses, has helped create social cleavages and unrest.
The alleged Brumskine-Sirleaf alliance plays directly into this narrative, a narrative that is potentially conflict-generating.
Yes, Liberia has experienced peace the last 14 years or so, but Robert Groelsema from the Africa Justice and Peace Working Group refers to the last 14 years as a “negative peace“, because of the unresolved matters of inequality and land ownership, a matter neither Bromskine nor Boakai dare to touch.
An election deemed unfair can cause the Congo-Country divide, the gap between the haves and have-nots, the urban aristocrats and the subjects to reignite.
Add a youth who knows how to handle a gun and willing to go to war overseas for cents. They can be bought again. It is a powder keg.
Hopefully, everyone will stay peaceful, and no one will hand over the match.
The vice president has the best cards on his hand, but Bromskine shall not be ruled out, and if he comes in third as in 2005, he, together with Johnson, can decide whom they recommend shall become the next president. If he comes in second and shall run against Boakai, it can turn poisonous.
No, I have not forgotten our last serious contender, the former famous football player, George Weah.
In 2005, he won against Sirleaf, but he lost the round-off. In 2011, he was the running mate of Tubman and again, he came in second to Sirleaf. This is his third try. Third time is the charm, right? It was for Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, who lost in 2008 and 2012, but won the Ghanaian election in 2016.
He stands strong, and he is the most likely contestant for the job -after Joseph Bokai. He belongs to the Kru, and his main base is the youth. He will turn 51 years old just a few days before the election on Oct. 10, giving him an advantage over Boakai.
In 2014, he won a landslide when running for Senate for the Montserrado County.
where he beat Ellen Sirleaf’s son, Robert Sirleaf by 78% to 11%.
Even he is labelled inexperienced, his political success is visible to everybody. Unlike the other candidates running for president, he stands for change. He is not affiliated with the war, with the current malfunctioning administration, and he is young – compared to his political opponents.
He even has musicians playing in order to attract supporters.
His weakness is Johnson, but Johnson is under investigation for crimes during the civil wars as recently confirmed by the former chief prosecutor for the former U.N.-backed special court for Sierra Leone, Dr Allen White.
Johnson accuses Benoni Urey and Donald Trump of instigating the investigation. This is good news for Weah.
But, for there is always a but, George Weah has taken heavy fire, when he in January 2017 picked his running-mate, Taylor, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, Charles Taylor’s ex-wife. She is the frontrunner for Charles Taylor’s old party, The National Patriotic Party (NPP), who won the election in 1997 prior to the Second Liberian Civil War from 1999-2003.
Weah has also confirmed, that he has been in contact via the telephone with Charles Taylor serving 50 years in prison for crimes against humanity in a cell in Britain.
The fear is, that Charles Taylor will try to use Weah through his ex-wife to regain influence over Liberian politics.
Furthermore, to win the election, you need support from locals, but as importantly from the Liberian diaspora predominantly living in the USA. The remittances from the diaspora play a vital role in the election. Weah’s football career is a plus, but the attitudes toward Taylor is cold, and his pick as running-mate by forming a coalition between Taylor’s ex-wife and the party NPP and his own party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) can turn fatal and end handing victory over to Boakai.
JYP has also threatened Weah with war, in case Weah wins the election. Weah is a very controversal candidate.
To Sum Up
So where do we stand? Boakai and Weah are seeing as the most likely candidates, where Brumskine is the joker. But as the American election more than showed, polls can be wrong, and if Brumskine or Urey makes the impossible possible by coming in second and force Weah or Boakai for a run-off everything can happen.
However, the Congo-Country divide is still well alive, where the current peace appears to not be a sustainable one, and certainly not one that shall be taken for granted by anyone. Especially if Bromskine and Boakia end running up against each other during a run-off, or if JYP decides to deliver on his promises in case Weah wins.
One thing is sure, the ethnic card shall stay in the pocket for the safety of the country and the Liberian people.
To read part 1, the introduction, click here