Monday, 27 April 2015

Waste is a property with rights and responsibility to the owner By George Okoro

Waste is a property and should be owned by those who generate them.

The President of the Waste Management Society of Nigeria WAMASON Architect Reuben Ossai stated this during the second international waste summit held in Lagos.

Architect Ossai explained that there is a right, ownership and responsibility attached to waste as a property.

"In law you understand that anybody that owns a property has right,interest and responsibility to the property. So is it too for waste.The people who generate waste are the owner of the waste and should be responsible for how the waste is managed".

"If you generate waste you have all the rights associated to that waste as a property and the responsibility is that you manage it. The right is that you have to own it and if it generates resources for you, you use it. It is the right and responsibility that goes with property ownership. You own the waste and should take care of it. But because of the technicalities involved in managing waste, then you have to pay for it management".

The WAMASON Boss called for the right framework to be put in place to ensure that the opportunities in the sector is well harnessed.

"The opportunities that waste management will give to this nation and the youths in terms of jobs will elude us if the right framework is not put in place. In 2012 in the UK, waste management provided 1.2% employment and over that in the US. If the sysyem is built with professionalism and a framework to work with, job opportunities will be created and the environment will be preserved. Until we have a framework for waste management in the country, the environment will continue to be degraded" he stressed.

Architect Ossai said people will be encouraged to pay for waste they generate if there is accountability and enforcement through a national waste management law.

A Waste Consultant to the Delta State Government Engineer Keluo Chukwuogo appealed to government at different levels to encourage local waste management by engaging the services of waste managers in the country.

"Indigenous waste managers understand the uniqueness of waste generated by the people and are in better position to manage them. All the equipments we use in Delta state are locally made by our own engineers. We have the manpower in the sector but unfortunately some people prefer to engage the services of expatriates". 

"If more indigenous waste mangers are engaged there will be technological growth in the country, employment opportunities, in-country capital retention".

Sunday, 26 April 2015

NIGERIAN COUPLE USE THEIR WEDDING RECEPTION TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ON MALARIA PREVENTION

Wedding ceremony is one of the biggest events any individual would host in his or her lifetime. It brings together families, friends and associates, many of who turn out in large numbers with gorgeous attires.

For Dr & Mrs Laz Ude Eze, theirs was quite different. Although the guests and the event had the usual attributes of a successful wedding ceremony – the merriment, gorgeous attire and the likes; what made it different from the usual wedding ceremony was that the hundreds of people who came to Women Development Centre Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State in Southeast Nigeria were given something different from the usual household wares like plates, cups, etc.

When the Master of Ceremony reached the tenth item on the agenda of the Wedding Reception that read, “LLIN Demonstration – from the couple to guests”; the guests weren’t sure what to expect. The couples used their own wedding ceremony to campaign on how to beat malaria in Nigeria, especially in the people of Abakaliki, many of whom were attended the wedding ceremony.

A well packaged bluish mosquito treated nets was distributed to all guests. It was accompanied by a sticker with the couple’s pictures and the inscription “#BeatMalaria, Sleep inside Treated Mosquito Nets.” At the wedding ceremony, a young man and woman (Mr Jay Thomas and Mrs Janet Iwunoh) mounted the stage to educate the guests on proper use of the nets in malaria prevention. They emphasised that malaria could be more deadly among pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years and the need for them to use the nets properly.

The wedding brochure which was earlier distributed during the church service also had information analysed in bullet point to describe various methods of preventing malaria.

The groom, Dr Laz Ude Eze is not new to the campaign of beating malaria, a vulnerable disease that continues to kill millions of people in Africa. Dr Laz Ude Eze started the #BeatMalaria Social Media Campaign in Nigeria in October 2013 at the Abuja Social Good Summit where he spoke on the Use of Mobile to prevent malaria-related morbidities and deaths. He also leads the #Choice4Life Advocacy that promotes women sexual and reproductive health and rights on social media.

Dr Eze is a graduate of the College of Medicine of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He holds a Master of Public Health Degree and Graduate Certificate in Global Health from the University of Kentucky, United States of America. Though multi-talented and versatile, he’s widely known for his activities in health advocacy and promotion especially on radio and social media.  He hosts #TalkHealth9ja, a popular weekly radio show on Wazobia 99.5FM in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. He also leads malaria prevention campaign on social media with the use of the hashtag #BeatMalaria.

His wife, Mrs Ifeoma Ude Eze is of the teaching profession but confessed that her interest in health advocacy has grown tremendously since she met her hubby. Apparently, she has become a beacon of support for her husband. When asked what inspired his passion for health advocacy to the extent of including it as an activity during your wedding reception, Dr Eze explained that: “I hate to see people lose their lives from preventable and curable health conditions. It gets me very upset. Such anger fuels my passion for preventive medicine and health promotion.

As a medical student, I watched many children die almost every day from severe malaria. I wouldn’t have believed that malaria could be such a deadly disease. So I decided to use any opportunity or platform to pass the #BeatMalaria message to stop this number one killer of the Nigerian Children.” Guests at the event who spoke to our correspondent were visibly excited with the gifts. Mrs Nnenna Njoku, a nursing mother said, “I’m very happy to be here. This mosquito net is the most precious wedding gift I’ve ever received. With this, my baby can now sleep with two eyes closed. May God bless this lovely couple.”

A long time friend and high school mate of Laz, Mr Uchenna Okoro expressed no surprise. “He’s the most innovative guy I’ve ever known and his passion for health is incredible”, he said. Another health worker and school mate of the groom at the University of Ibadan, Mr Gboyega Aderionye said: “By doing this, Laz has demonstrated that health promotion activities can be extended beyond formal settings.  I love this. I’m inspired!” Laz was recently recognised as a Social Good Ambassador in recognition of his selfless health promotion initiatives.  

Culled from www.ruralreporters.com

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Star Wars: John Boyega, the boy from Peckham who stormed Hollywood by Camilla Turner


New Star Wars lead grew up on the tough streets where Damilola Taylor died, but a love of acting was the force that took him to the top.

   John Boyega as Finn
John Boyega, who grew up on a council estate in Peckham, is the lead role in the next Star Wars film
 




But one actor playing a lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, could not have come from more humble beginnings.

The son of a Nigerian preacher, John Boyega, 22, grew up on a council estate in Peckham, across the road from the estate where Damilola Taylor was stabbed in 2000.

It was a rough area, neighbours said, where gangs, guns and knives were part of everyday life.

“To us that was normal; it was just how we grew up,” said a friend who was raised on the same estate as Boyega and his two older sisters, Grace and Blessing.

“But theatre kept John out of trouble completely. The theatre was his second home, it was the only place I saw him.”

         

John Boyega grew up on a council estate in Peckham


Damilola, who was a similar age to Boyega and whose parents were also Nigerian, was discovered bleeding to death in a stairwell of North Peckham Estate just before his 11th birthday.

Another of Boyega’s peers, Samuel Ogunro, was found shot in the back of the head in a burning car in Peckham in 2010, when he was 17. His murder had been “arranged” by a south London gang member who was in prison at the time.



Boyega's friend said that “not a lot of people knew” about Boyega’s acting because he kept it quiet.

“Everyone else does football when they’re young,” he explained. “John didn’t play football, he was more interested in acting, so he didn’t want to make a big fuss about it.”

He added: “It was a rough area but he had a nice family, I saw him going to church with them every Sunday.”


          

Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega at Disney's Star Wars Celebration 2015 (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


Another friend, 22-year-old Daniel Ross, said that Sceaux Gardens Estate had been “very, very violent” when he and Boyega were teenagers.

“There were drugs, stabbing, a lot of gang affiliation,” he said. “You would never see John on the street or hanging around gangs though. I only saw him in church or in acting school.”

Demi Rump, 22, was close friends with Boyega during their school years. He went to Westminster City School while she went to a girls’ school next door.

“A lot of boys in his year are now in prison or dead,” she said. “Everyone was going down one route towards the end of school – taking drugs, selling drugs, gangs, that sort of thing – but John went down another. I am so thankful he got out of it.”

Boyega’s safe haven was Theatre Peckham, a performing arts centre on the corner of his Fifties estate.

Teresa Early, the theatre’s artistic director, recalled the first time she saw Boyega act, aged nine, in a play at Oliver Goldsmith primary school. “I saw him and thought, ‘Oh, that boy has something’,” she said.


        

John Boyega (left) in a Theatre Peckham show called Naylor’s Yard

Ms Early invited Boyega to join the theatre school, a special programme for talented children aged nine to 14, and, after securing financial assistance from a hardship fund, he enrolled.

Boyega spent almost every day after school at the theatre, as well as weekends, Mrs Early said. “He was [at the theatre] 24/7, it was what he thrived on,” she said.

Ms Early said there was “a bit of a problem” over whether his parents would allow him to pursue acting as a career.

“His father was a preacher and he wanted him to be a preacher too,” she said. His father, Samson, 58, his mother Abigail, 57 and Blessing, 27, are all trustees at the Wall of Praise Christian Centre in South Bermondsey.

Ms Early said: “I had a chat with John’s father when he was about 12 or 13.

“As long as John stayed out of trouble they were quite happy. And as John made his way, his father began to think there was some wisdom in it.”

         

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in the new Star Wars trailer

At 16, Boyega moved to South Thames College to study performing arts, and joined the Identity School of Acting in Hackney, which helps aspiring actors from multicultural backgrounds.

He enrolled at Greenwich University but as his career took off, he left to concentrate on filming.

His film debut was in 2011, as Moses in Joe Cornish’s sci-fi horror-comedy Attack the Block. He went on to act in a handful of feature films and television dramas before his big break came last year, when he was cast in the Star Wars film.

When some fans voiced their dissatisfaction that a black man had been cast as a stormtrooper, Boyega responded with an Instagram post in which he advised them to “to get used to it”.

World Malaria Day: Have you ever had MALARIA?



                             


Today is World Malaria Day and I am certain 9 in 10 Nigerians have been treated for malaria.

In my entire life I have never been affected by mosquitoes like now. Before I hardly use insecticides in my house to the extent My Doro:Boyfriend, now calk me Lady Baygon after the insecticide "Baygon". The mosquitoes in my neighborhood have gone gaga! Presently I use insecticide at least twice a week. The annoying part of this mosquitoes mayhem is that the insecticides in the market are no longer killing the mosquitoes. Before most people make use of insecticides but now because the mosquitoes in cities like Lagos has gone gangster, there are now insecticides like SNIPER.

The first time I heard about Sniper was in far away America, where a friend told me to buy Sniper for him when I get back to Nigeria. I got back home and started using Sniper but you know what? Sniper stopped working on the mosquitoes. Sometimes when I spray the Sniper, the mosquitoes will just be cat walking round my house. This shows that when Sniper was first introduced to the market, it was working and lots of people were buying it. But typical of fake drug manufacturers, immediately they found out Sniper was in high demand they started producing the fake version.

This year alone I have used different insecticides to the point of using harsh chemical used in the farm to kill weed. I almost fainted one night with my eyes pepperish as though my bed was sprayed with pepper. The mosquitoes now became resistant to the insecticide. So what next will I now use to crush this gangster mosquitoes?

I just heard a caller on radio programne saying that when El-rufai was FCT Minister, he used a chemical to spray the drainages and mosquitoes reduced in Abuja. If El-rufai did that in 2005, what are we waiting for after 10 years? Millions of dollars are yearly earmarked for malaria eradication, yet thousands of Nigerians die of malaria.

When I was in secondary school, I once had malaria because it was the commonest ailment we all suffered from. But that was the first time I heard of cerebral malaria! Cerebral malaria is when the malaria has gotten to the brain. I witnessed a school mate suffer from it and her family came to take her home because she was acting psychotic.

As a microbiology graduate I once had the nightmare of studying and cramming the mosquito cycle as a prequisite to pass a zoology course. From the start of the cycle to the end, mosquitoes should not be allowed to find a breeding ground. Once a breeding ground is sited, that becomes the tarmac of the mosquitoes as they wait till nightfall to unleash their deadly agenda!

What more can I say than malaria is deadly and mosquitoes is an enemy that should be CRUSHED!

Kill mosquitoes because MALARIA KILLS!!!



      

Friday, 24 April 2015

Who cares about Syria? By Valerie Amos

Valerie Amos is U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

As I prepare to leave the United Nations at the end of May, I am haunted by the crisis that has defined my tenure: the breathtakingly savage war in Syria, now in its fifth year.

At last month’s pledging conference in Kuwait, many countries promised millions of dollars for aid to Syrians in need. We are grateful for these funds, which mean humanitarian agencies can continue to deliver life-saving food, water, shelter and health care. But I still cannot believe that the world has looked on as this crisis and its devastating human consequences have unfolded. More than 220,000 people have been killed and about 8 million displaced.

In recent weeks, more than 100,000 people have been on the move in Idlib and surrounding parts of northwestern Syria, attempting to escape the violence while schools, hospitals and shops close around them. In the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, 18,000 Palestinian refugees are trapped by fighting.

It is ordinary Syrians who are suffering. They have been bombed out of their homes, tortured, abused and denied food, water and health care. Families have been torn apart. Communities have been destroyed. I have visited Syria seven times and have talked to Syrian refugees on numerous trips to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. During every visit I was asked the same thing: Why has the world abandoned us? Why does nobody care?

These questions were not directed at the humanitarian community, but at our leaders, perhaps particularly at the permanent members of the Security Council. People spoke of how narrow national interests are overriding broader global responsibilities, despite the efforts of the U.N. secretary general’s three special envoys to chart a way out of the crisis. Our demands to the Syrian government — which claims that its priority is the protection of its people — to stop targeting civilians and discontinue the use of so-called “barrel bombs” have fallen on deaf ears.

So what has gone wrong, and what more can be done?

What strikes me every day is our inability to protect people — not just in Syria but in other countries. A total of 193 governments of the United Nations have signed on to international conventions and laws aimed at protecting basic human rights. Even war has rules. But the laws and standards we have to protect people in conflict are not being respected.

Modern wars are less likely to involve national armed forces fighting each other than those in the past. They often occur between state forces and nonstate armed groups with complex and shifting allegiances.

This poses challenges for international humanitarian and human rights laws. Nonstate actors, armed groups, terrorist groups and sometimes governments, under the guise of fighting terrorism, often show disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law and contempt for human life. They act with impunity.

In Syria, the government and the armed and terrorist groups have prevented food and medical supplies from reaching people in desperate need. They have attacked residential areas, schools and hospitals. They have denied water and electricity to people in areas not under their control — clear infringements of international humanitarian and human rights law.

This has had a devastating impact on civilians. It also has undermined the credibility of the United Nations, despite the heroic efforts of humanitarian workers risking their lives to help the most vulnerable.

The Security Council works best when there is agreement on the steps needed to deal with a specific issue. We saw this in the successful, unified approach to tackling the removal of chemical weapons from Syria — a goal many thought was impossible.

There have been three Security Council resolutions on humanitarian access and protection of civilians in Syria, but here we cannot claim significant progress. Why not? Because in a war zone, without incentives to de-escalate violence and without agreement on the mechanisms needed to protect civilians — the establishment of no-fly zones and safe areas, for example — civilians will continue to be targeted.

It is an extremely difficult problem, but we cannot allow ourselves to see it as impossible to solve, because it is not. To make progress, we must focus the attention of member states and use the U.N.’s extensive experience and expertise, including public and private diplomacy, to reach agreement on a political transition in Syria and on mechanisms to de-escalate violence. Countries funding terrorist organizations need to be called to account. Countries with influence need to use it in a coordinated and structured way.

Above all, protecting basic human rights must be at the heart of the agenda. We need to break down the elements and responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights laws and seek consensus on priority actions — for example, protecting the safety and security of health facilities and workers, ending the recruitment of child soldiers, and protecting women and girls. And we must establish practical mechanisms to enforce these laws.

Breaking the political impasse will require a shift in the calculus — to put the needs of ordinary people at the heart of decision-making.

Countries look to the United Nations to exercise moral authority. Time after time, they are disappointed. They want an international system that is just, promotes equality, champions the vulnerable and oppressed, protects human rights and holds its members to account. In the modern world, with the complexity of the challenges facing us, this is becoming harder and harder. But it is possible. It is a challenge, but one that, with determination and commitment, we can overcome.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Ten Most Censored Countries

Committee to Protect Journalists

10 Most Censored Countries

1. Eritrea

2. North Korea

3. Saudi Arabia

4. Ethiopia

5. Azerbaijan

6. Vietnam

7. Iran

8. China

9. Myanmar

10. Cuba

Methodology »

CPJ's list of 10 Most Censored Countries is part of our annual publication, Attacks on the Press, which will be released in full on Monday, April 27, at 11 a.m. EST.

Repressive nations threaten jail terms, restrict Internet to silence press

Eritrea and North Korea are the first and second most censored countries worldwide, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the 10 countries where the press is most restricted. The list is based on research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.

In Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki has succeeded in his campaign to crush independent journalism, creating a media climate so oppressive that even reporters for state-run news outlets live in constant fear of arrest. The threat of imprisonment has led many journalists to choose exile rather than risk arrest. Eritrea is Africa's worst jailer of journalists, with at least 23 behind bars-none of whom has been tried in court or even charged with a crime.

Fearing the spread of Arab Spring uprisings, Eritrea scrapped plans in 2011 to provide mobile Internet for its citizens, limiting the possibility of access to independent information. Although Internet is available, it is through slow dial-up connections, and fewer than 1 percent of the population goes online, according to U.N. International Telecommunication Union figures. Eritrea also has the lowest figure globally of cell phone users, with just 5.6 percent of the population owning one.

In North Korea, 9.7 percent of the population has cell phones, a number that excludes access to phones smuggled in from China. In place of the global Internet, to which only a select few powerful individuals have access, some schools and other institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet. And despite the arrival of an Associated Press bureau in Pyongyang in 2012, the state has such a tight grip on the news agenda that newsreel was re-edited to remove Kim Jong Un's disgraced uncle from the archives after his execution.

The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries. To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists' entry into or movements within their countries.

Imprisonment is the most effective form of intimidation and harassment used against journalists.

Seven of the 10 most censored countries-Eritrea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Myanmar-are also among the top 10 worst jailers of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ's annual prison census.

More than half of the journalists imprisoned globally are charged with anti-state crimes, including in China, the world's worst jailer and the eighth most censored country. Of the 44 journalists imprisoned-the largest figure for China since CPJ began its annual census in 1990-29 were held on anti-state charges. Other countries that use the charge to crush critical voices include Saudi Arabia (third most censored), where the ruling monarchy, not satisfied with silencing domestic dissent, teamed up with other governments in the Gulf Cooperation Council to ensure that criticism of leadership in any member state is dealt with severely.

In Ethiopia--number four on CPJ's most censored list--the threat of imprisonment has contributed to a steep increase in the number of journalist exiles. Amid a broad crackdown on bloggers and independent publications in 2014, more than 30 journalists were forced to flee, CPJ research shows. Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism law, which criminalizes any reporting that authorities deem to "encourage" or "provide moral support" to banned groups, has been levied against many of the 17 journalists in jail there. Vietnam (sixth most censored) uses a vague law against "abusing democratic freedom" to jail bloggers, and Myanmar (ninth most censored) relies on its 1923 Official Secrets Act to prevent critical reporting on its military.

Internet access is highly restricted in countries under Communist Party rule-North Korea, Vietnam, China, and Cuba.

In Cuba (10th most censored), the Internet is available to only a small portion of the population, despite outside investment to bring the country online. China, despite having hundreds of millions of Internet users, maintains the "Great Firewall," a sophisticated blend of human censors and technological tools, to block critical websites and rein in social media.

In countries with advanced technology such as China, Internet restrictions are combined with the threat of imprisonment to ensure that critical voices cannot gain leverage online. Thirty-two of China's 44 jailed journalists worked online.

In Azerbaijan (fifth most censored), where there is little independent traditional media,criminal defamation laws have been extended to social media and carry a six-month prison sentence. Iran, the seventh most censored country, has one of the toughest Internet censorship regimes worldwide, with millions of websites blocked; it is also the second worst jailer of journalists, with 30 behind bars. Authorities there are suspected of setting up fake versions of popular sites and search engines as part of surveillance techniques.

Government harassment is a tactic used in at least five of the most censored countries, including Azerbaijan, where offices have been raided, advertisers threatened, and retaliatory charges such as drug possession levied against journalists. In Vietnam, many bloggers are put under surveillance in an attempt to prevent them from attending and reporting on news events. In Iran, journalists' relatives have been summoned by authorities and told that they could lose their jobs and pensions because of the journalists' work. And in Cuba, which has made some progress, including resuming diplomatic relations with the U.S. and proposing an end to Castro rule by 2018, the few independent journalists trying to report in the country are still subject toharassment and short-term detention.

Restricting journalists' movements and barring foreign correspondents is also a common tactic used by censoring governments. In Eritrea, the last remaining accredited international reporter was expelled in 2007, and the few outside reporters invited in occasionally to interview the president are closely monitored; in China, foreign correspondents have been subjected to arbitrary delays in visa applications.

Four heavily censored nations that nearly made the list are Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, all of which have little to no independent media and are so tightly closed that it can be difficult even to get information about conditions for journalists.

The list of most censored countries addresses only those where government tightly controls the media. In some countries, notably Syria, conditions are extremely dangerous and journalists have been abducted, held captive, and killed, some by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad but also by militant groups such as the Islamic State.

An Eritrean walks by the office of the country's sole Internet provider in Asmara. The government controls the Internet and all media in Eritrea, creating a restrictive environment for the press. (AP/Andrew England)

1. Eritrea

Leadership: President Isaias Afewerki, in power since 1993.

How censorship works: Only state media is allowed to disseminate news; the last accredited international correspondent was expelled in 2007. Even those working for the heavily censored state press live in constant fear of arrest for any report perceived as critical to the ruling party, or on suspicion that they leaked information outside the country. The last privately owned media outlets were suspended and their journalists jailed in 2001. Many remain behind bars; Eritrea has the most jailed journalists in Africa. None of those arrested are taken to court, and the fear of arrest has forced dozens of journalists into exile. Those in exile try to provide access to independent online news websites and radio broadcasts, but the opportunity to do so is limited because of signal jamming and tight online control by the sole state-run telecommunications company, EriTel. All mobile communications must go through EriTel, and all Internet service providers must use the government-controlled gateway. Access to the Internet is extremely limited and available only through slow dial-up connections. Less than 1 percent of the population goes online, according toU.N. International Telecommunication Union figures.

Lowlight: Five independent journalists who were arrested in 2001 may have died in prison, according to recent exiles. With limited access to information in Eritrea, CPJ cannot independently confirm the deaths and continues to list the journalists on its prison census as a means of holding the government accountable for their fate.

There has been little improvement for press freedom under the leadership of Kim Jung Un, pictured at a cartoon studio in an undated photograph released by North Korea's official news agency KCNA in November 2014. (Reuters/KCNA)

2. North Korea

Leadership: Kim Jong Un, who took over after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011.

How censorship works: Article 53 of the country's constitution calls for freedom of the press, but even with an Associated Press bureau-staffed by North Koreans and located in the Pyongyang headquarters of the state-run Korean Central News Agency-and a small foreign press corps from politically sympathetic countries, access to independent news sources is extremely limited. Nearly all the content of North Korea's 12 main newspapers, 20 periodicals, and broadcasters comes from the official Korean Central News Agency, which focuses on the political leadership's statements and activities. Internet is restricted to the political elite, but some schools and state institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet called Kwangmyong, according to the AP. North Koreans looking for independent information have turned to bootlegged foreign TV and radio signals and smuggled foreign DVDs, particularly along the porous border with China. Although cell phones are banned, some citizens have been able in recent years to access news through smuggled phones, which rely on Chinese cell towers. South Korean newspapers have reported that North Korea in 2013 started manufacturing smartphones that run on a network built by the Egyptian company Orascom and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp. Traders in street markets are regularly seen with 3G phones that can support video exchange and texting, according to travelers returning from North Korea.

Lowlight: After Kim Jong Un ordered his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, executed (around the time of the second anniversary of his father's death), any mention of Jang was removed from state media archives, including official video from which Jang was carefully edited. Jang was vilified in the media as the "despicable human scum, who was worse than a dog."

A Saudi journalist uses her cell phone to take pictures during a press conference in Riyadh. Several journalists and social media users were arrested during a crackdown on independent voices in 2014. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

3. Saudi Arabia

Leadership: King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who took power in January 2015 after the death of his half-brother, King Abdullah.

How censorship works: The Saudi government has progressively intensified legal repression since the Arab Spring. Amendments to the press law in 2011 punished the publication of any materials deemed to contravene sharia, impinge on state interests, promote foreign interests, harm public order or national security, or enable criminal activity. In 2014, the government issued a new anti-terrorism law and regulations that Human Rights Watch said will "criminalize virtually any expression or association critical of the government and its understanding of Islam." The law granted the Specialized Criminal Court, established in 2008, the ability to hear unchallenged testimony while the defendant or the defendant's lawyer is absent. The General Commission for Audiovisual Media announced in April 2014 that it will monitor online and YouTube content to ensure that Saudi contributors, among the largest audience for the online video-sharing site, adhere to government guidelines. YouTube is used by many Saudis to address controversial issues, such aswomen driving, and to document events not covered in the media, such as thestabbing of a Canadian in a Dhahran city mall in November 2014. Saudi Arabia also used its regional influence in the Gulf Cooperation Council to pass restrictions that prevent media in member states from criticizing the leadership of other member states.

Lowlight: A string of arrests and prosecutions of those expressing independent views took place in 2014. Many of those arrested were accused of press-related charges after covering protests. In October the governmentused a 2007 anti-cybercrime law to charge at least seven Saudis in connection with their use of Twitter to allegedly criticize the authorities and to call for women to be allowed to drive.

Protesters calling for greater democracy and justice gather in Addis Ababa in May 2014 after security forces shot at students. Ethiopian authorities are cracking down on the press ahead of elections in 2015. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

4. Ethiopia

Leadership: Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, in power since September 2012.

How censorship works: As Ethiopia prepared for its May 2015 elections, the state systematically cracked down on the country's remaining independent publications through the arrests of journalists and intimidation of printing and distribution companies. Filing lawsuits against editors and forcing publishers to cease production have left only a handful of independent publications in a country of more than 90 million people. Ten independentjournalists and bloggers were imprisoned in 2014; authorities filed a lawsuit in August accusing six publications of "encouraging terrorism," forcing at least 16 journalists to flee into exile. There are no independent broadcasters, though broadcasts from the U.S.-based opposition Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) intermittently air within the country. The state-controlled telecommunications company Ethio Telecom is the sole Internet provider and routinely suspends critical news websites. International journalists work in Ethiopia, but many are under surveillance and face harassment. Although journalists have not had difficulties acquiring accreditation in the past, newer arrivals say that they face challenges.

Lowlight: Authorities in 2014 unleashed the largest onslaught against the press since a crackdown in 2005 after disputed parliamentary elections. Ten independent journalists and bloggers were arrested on anti-state charges, and at least eight independent publications were shut down.

Award-winning investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova is one of at least 10 independent journalists and bloggers arrested during a crackdown by Azerbaijani authorities in 2014. (AP/Aziz Karimov)

5. Azerbaijan

Leadership: President Ilham Aliyev has been in power since October 2003, after being named successor by his father.

How censorship works: The main sources of information in Azerbaijan are broadcasters, which are owned and controlled by the state or its proxies. International broadcasters are barred or their satellite signals are jammed. Critical print outlets have been subjected to harassment from officials, including debilitating lawsuits, evictions, a ban on foreign funding, and advisories to businesses against advertising. Online speech is subject to self-censorship because of a criminal defamation law that carries a six-month prison sentence. News and social media websites are blocked arbitrarily. At least 10 journalists and bloggers, including the award-winning reporter Khadija Ismayilova, are in Azerbaijani jails. Several critical journalists fled the country in 2014, and those remaining faced attacks and harassment, were banned from traveling, or were prosecuted on fabricated charges.

Lowlight: Emin Huseynov, director of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), was forced into hiding in August after authorities raided his office, confiscated all of IRFS' documents, and sealed the premises. Several other international non-governmental organizations that supported the local media were also forced to cease work in Azerbaijan after authorities accused them of tax evasion, raided their offices, and froze bank accounts. Staff at these organizations and their families faced harassmentfrom officials.

A Vietnamese blogger works on his iPad in Hanoi. Bloggers in Vietnam who write posts about sensitive issues face harassment from authorities, arbitrary detentions, and hefty prison terms. (AP/Na Son Nguyen)

6. Vietnam

Leadership: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has been in power since 2006.

How censorship works: Vietnam's Communist Party-run government allows no privately held print or broadcast outlets. Under the 1999 Media Law (Article 1, Chapter 1), all media working in Vietnam must serve as "the mouthpiece of Party organizations." The Central Propaganda Department holds mandatory weekly meetings with local newspaper, radio, and TV editors to hand down directives on which topics should be emphasized or censored in their news coverage. Forbidden topics include the activities of political dissidents and activists; factional divisions inside the Communist Party; human rights issues; and any mention of ethnic differences between the country's once-divided northern and southern regions. Independent bloggerswho report on sensitive issues have faced persecution through street-level attacks, arbitrary arrests, surveillance, and harsh prison sentences for anti-state charges. Vietnam is one of the world's worst jailers of journalists, with at least 16 behind bars. Authorities widely block access to websites critical of the government, including such popular foreign-hosted blogs asDanlambao, which covers politics, human rights issues, and disputes with China. In September 2013, a new law extended state censorship to social media platforms, making it illegal to post any material, including foreign news articles, deemed to "oppose the state" or "harm national security."

Lowlight: Authorities have increasingly used Article 258, the anti-state law that vaguely criminalizes "abusing democratic freedoms," to threaten and prosecute independent bloggers. At least three bloggers have been convicted under the law, which allows for seven-year prison sentences.

Customers at an Internet café in Tehran. Iran has one of the toughest Internet censorship regimes in the world, with access to millions of websites, including news and social media sites, blocked. (Reuters/ Raheb Homavandi)

7. Iran

Leadership: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been supreme leader since 1989. Hassan Rouhani has been president since August 2013.

How censorship works: The government uses mass and arbitrary detention as a means of silencing dissent and forcing journalists into exile. Iran became the world's leading jailer of journalists in 2009 and has ranked among the world's worst jailers of the press every year since. Iranian authorities maintain one of the toughest Internet censorship regimes in the world, blocking millions of websites, including news and social networking sites. They are suspected of using sophisticated techniques, such as setting up fake versions of popular websites and search engines, and the regime frequently jams satellite signals. The situation for the press has not improved under Rouhani despite the hopes of U.N. member states and human rights groups. Rouhani also failed to uphold his campaign promise to reinstate the 4,000-member Association of Iranian Journalists, which was forced to close in 2009.

Lowlight: Iranian authorities control coverage of certain topics by tightening the small circle of journalists and news outlets allowed to report on them. In February, Iran's Supreme National Security Council filed a lawsuit against conservative journalist Hossein Ghadyani and the newspaper he works for, Vatan-e Emrooz. The newspaper, which supports former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had published four articles that criticized Iran's international nuclear negotiations and alleged corruption in the government's dealing with an oil company.

Chinese police ask journalists to move as the press gathers in Beijing for the closed trial of Gao Yu, a reporter accused of sending state secrets abroad. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

8. China

Leadership: President Xi Jinping, in office since March 2013.

How censorship works: For more than a decade, China has been among the top three jailers of journalists in the world, a distinction that it is unlikely to lose any time soon. Document 9, a secret white paper dated April 22, 2014, which was widely leaked online and to the international press, included the directive to "combat seven political perils" and reject the concept of "universal values" and the promotion of "the West's view of media." Document 9 made it clear that the role of the media is to support the party's unilateral rule. The paper reasserted the necessity for China's technological and human censors to be ever more vigilant when keeping watch over the country's 642 million Internet users-about 22 percent of the world's online population. In late November 2014, Xu Xiao, a poetry and arts editor for the Beijing-based business magazine Caixin, was detained on suspicion of "endangering national security." The Central Propaganda Department warned editors not to report on the investigation into Xu, raising fears that the tactics used to stifle political dissent would broaden to publications looking critically at the arts. International journalists trying to work in China have faced obstacles, with visas delayed or denied. Although some visa restrictions between the U.S. and China have eased, during a press conference in Beijing with U.S. President Barack Obama in November 2014 Xi argued that international journalists facing visa restrictions had brought the trouble on themselves.

Lowlight: Gao Yu, one of 44 journalists behind bars in China, was detained on charges of illegally providing state secrets abroad, days after details of Document 9 appeared in Mirror Monthly, a Chinese-language political magazine in New York. Gao, 70,confessed on official state broadcaster CCTV, but during her closed trial, on November 21, 2014, she said that the confession was false and made only to prevent her son from being threatened and harassed, her lawyer said.

Supporters of freelance journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, shot dead in Myanmar while in military custody in October 2014, protest his killing in Yangon. (AP/Khin Maung Win)

9. Myanmar

Leadership: President Thein Sein, a former general, has led a quasi-civilian administration since 2011.

How censorship works: Despite an end to more than four decades of pre-publication censorship in 2012, Myanmar's media remains tightly controlled. The Printers and Publishers Registration Law, enacted in March 2014, bans news that could be considered insulting to religion, disturbing to the rule of law, or harmful to ethnic unity. Publications must be registered under the law, and those found in violation of its vague provisions risk de-registration. National security-related laws, including the colonial-era 1923 Official Secrets Act, are used to threaten and imprison journalists who report on sensitive military matters. For example, five journalists with the independent weekly newspaper Unity were sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor, reduced on appeal to seven years, for reporting on a secretive military facility allegedly involved in chemical weapons production. Journalists are regularly barred from reporting from the military side of conflict with ethnic groups. Aung Kyaw Naing, a local freelance reporter who had embedded with rebel forces, was shot dead while in military custody in October 2014 after being apprehended by government troops in a restive area near the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Lowlight: Three journalists and two publishers of the independent newspaper Bi Mon Te Nay were sentenced to two years in prison on charges of defaming the state. Their offense: publishing a false statement made by a political activist group that claimed that pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic group leaders had formed an interim government to replace Thein Sein's administration.

A Cuban sells newspapers in the capital, Havana. All print and broadcast media in Cuba are controlled by the Communist government, leaving little space for independent reporting. (AFP/Adalberto Roque)

10. Cuba

Leadership: Raúl Castro, who took over the presidency from his brother, Fidel, in 2008.

How censorship works:Despite significant improvements in the past few years-such as the elimination of exit visas that had prohibited most foreign travel for decades-Cuba continues to have the most restricted climate for press freedom in the Americas. The print and broadcast media are wholly controlled by the one-party Communist state, which has been in power for more than half a century and, by law, must be "in accordance with the goals of the socialist society." Although the Internet has opened up some space for critical reporting, service providers are ordered to block objectionable content. Independent journalists and bloggers who work online use websites that are hosted overseas and must go to foreign embassies or hotels to upload content and get an unfiltered connection to the Internet. These critical blogs and online news platforms are largely inaccessible to the average Cuban, who still has not benefited from a high-speed Internet connection financed by Venezuela. Most Cubans do not have Internet at home. The government continues to target critical journalists through harassment, surveillance, and short-term detentions.Juliet Michelena Díaz, a contributor to a network of local citizen journalists, was imprisoned for seven months on anti-state charges after photographing an incident between residents and police in Havana. She was later declared innocent and freed. Visas for international journalists are granted selectively by officials.

Lowlight: Though the government has for the most part done away with long-term detentions of journalists, author-turned-critical blogger Ángel Santiesteban Prats has been imprisoned since February 2013 on allegations of domestic violence. The writer and other local independent journalists maintain that he was targeted in retaliation for writing critically about the government on his blog, Los Hijos que Nadie Quiso(The Children Nobody Wanted.)

Methodology: The list of 10 most censored countries is based on CPJ research, as well as the expertise of the organization's staff. Countries are measured with the use of a series of benchmarks, including the absence of privately owned or independent media, blocking of websites, restrictions on electronic recording and dissemination, license requirements to conduct journalism, restrictions on journalists' movements, monitoring of journalists by authorities, jamming of foreign broadcasts, and blocking of foreign correspondents.

Protecting the Earth Means Protecting Rights

Last December, Human Rights Watch reported on serious lead poisoning in the small indigenous community of Klity Creek in western Thailand, caused by a badly regulated and now defunct lead processing factory upstream. In 2012, we reported on about 150 tanneries in the Hazaribagh neighborhood of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, where residents complain of illnesses such as fevers, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and diarrhea, caused by extreme tannery pollution of air, water, and soil.

What is common to these suffering communities is lack of government accountability. In both cases, the respective governments are ignoring orders from the highest courts in their respective lands to clean up the communities and prevent people from suffering further exposure to toxic waste. When governments can pick and choose what laws to enforce, or whether to abide by court decisions, they leave vulnerable people without protection or redress—allowing toxic pollution to continue to make people sick in often debilitating ways.

Earth Day – celebrated every April 22 – is an opportunity to reflect upon the successes and failures in protecting the environment and the humans living within it. In many cases, successes stem from strong laws diligently applied. Yet far too often failures stem not from lack of written law but lack of enforcement, as officials deem environmental and labor regulations to be interfering with private sector interests and burdensome to economic growth. Violations of the rights to life, to health, and to safe food and water are among the results.

Environmental degradation often disproportionately impacts marginalized and discriminated against populations – including ethnic minorities, the urban poor, women and children, and the disabled – who frequently don’t have access to legal services to petition governments or hold them to account. People exposed to hazardous substances and wastes are often unable to even obtain accurate and complete information on the substances they are exposed to and the health risks those substances pose.

Environmental activists press for accountability, yet they often face violence and harassment. A Global Witness report released Monday identifies at least 116 environmental activists killed in 2014, most amid disputes over dams, mining, and agri-business. Such killings are the most lethal means to silence defenders, but threats, arbitrary arrests and detention, and harassment through the courts can also have chilling effects.

This Earth Day, millions of people around the world will reflect on the beauty of nature and our interdependence with this fragile planet. Spare a moment to also remember that the fight to protect the environment is often a fight for accountability for rights abuses. 

Culled from www.hrw.org

Killing of environmentalists dramatically rises; indigenous communities hardest hit by Imeda Abano

The Philippines leads countries in Asia with the highest number of people killed as they defend their land and protect the environment in the face of increased competition over natural resources, a new report from the London-based Global Witness group which reports on links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses.

Killings worldwide have risen by 20 percent in the last year on disputes over hydropower projects, mining, agribusiness and logging -- the key drivers of deaths where a shocking 40 percent of victims were indigenous peoples.

In the Philippines alone, from 2002-2014, the report entitled, “How Many More?” finds that 82 people were killed.

The report noted that in 2014 alone, 116 cases of killings in 17 countries were recorded in Central and South America and Southeast Asia, with Brazil as the worst-hit with 29 people killed, followed by Colombia with 25, the Philippines with 15 and Honduras with 12.

At least 935 people were killed in 35 countries from 2002 to 2014, compared with 908 from last year's figure (2002 to 2013), stated the study released Monday (April 20) in Washington DC at the announcement of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winners. The prize is the world’s largest award for grassroots environmentalists who protect the natural environment.

“More and more people are being killed protecting rights to land and the environment. This is happening because soaring demand for resources is cranking up pressure on the environment, and on the people most reliant on it,” Billy Kytes, a campaigner at Global Witness, told the InterAksyon.com. “It’s going unnoticed, and largely unpunished, because governments are failing to protect their citizens from harm.”

The Philippines was again the most dangerous place in Asia to be an environmental activist with 15 deaths, Kytes said citing the report. About 9 of these were indigenous peoples.

Many of the killings in the Philippines took place in the context of opposition to mining projects. Paramilitary groups were the suspected perpetrators in many of the deaths.  The legacy of wider armed conflicts continued to endanger the lives of land defenders and limit their protection by the state.

As well as killings, environmental and land defenders suffer acutely from threats and physical violence, criminalization and restrictions on their freedoms.

The release of the report comes at a crucial time where governments will try to reach a binding global agreement of curbing greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations-backed climate change conference in Paris in December this year.

But far from the corridors of power, many people who are already taking action to protect the environment are paying with their lives.

“These deaths occur because ordinary citizens and local communities are increasingly finding themselves at the forefront of the battle over the planet’s natural resources. Environmental and land defenders are being threatened, physically attacked and criminalized because of their work. At the same time, national governments are failing to protect their rights from rising threats from agribusiness, mining, logging and hydropower projects,” Kytes explained.

The report noted that among the documented cases from 2014, it found that 10 perpetrators of killings were related to paramilitary groups, 8 to the police, 5 to private security guards, and 3 to the military.

“The true orchestrators of these crimes mostly escape investigation, but available information suggests that large landowners, business interests, political actors and agents of organized crime are often behind the violence,” the report added.

Indigenous peoples bear brunt of gov’t inaction

Indigenous peoples especially are bearing the brunt for government inaction, with 47 killed last year alone. The actual number may be even higher as a victim’s indigenous identity is likely to be underreported and cases related to indigenous people often occur in remote areas.

For Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the report is of a serious concern as many of the remaining forests and biodiversity hotspots are in indigenous peoples’ ancestral territories.

“One factor why this is so is because indigenous peoples protect and defend their territories from environmental destruction caused by corporate and state programs which pose high social and environmental risks,” Tauli-Corpuz told the InterAksyon.com. “The use of paramilitary groups by corporations and the government to quell resistance against destructive projects should be stopped and the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act in relation to the need to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples should be effectively implemented.”

Tauli-Corpuz, who is also the executive director of the Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, further said the government of the Philippines is a signatory to almost all international human rights conventions and adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet extrajudicial killings of indigenous leaders and activists persist.

“I urge the government to address these human rights violations and uphold its obligations to International Human Rights Law. Its reputation of being one of the most dangerous places for environmentalists and also for indigenous activists is a source of shame not only for the country but for its citizens. The State should seriously address many of the unsolved killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The Global Witness report cited the incident on August 10, 2014 where the Bagani Force, a paramilitary group operating in the Philippines mining region of Mindanao allegedly shot dead local indigenous leader Datu Roger Alaki. According to a regional church organization, two days previously the paramilitary group had threatened Alaki’s community of Sitio Mintakei with dire consequences if they refused to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Malampaya mining company. Hours after Alaki was killed, his entire community fled their homes in fear.

The case of Alaki, according to the global Witness, was one of 9 activist killings in the Philippines related to mining projects in 2014, accounting for almost a third of the 25 deaths worldwide linked to extractive industries. This continues a pattern of Philippines defenders being targeted for their opposition to the country’s mining industry – a sector that operates with very little transparency and regularly fails to consult local communities.

“That is why we are campaigning to put pressure on governments and companies to clean up their act. There are human lives at stake as well as the protection of the environment. It’s very important for Global Witness that this is a wake-up call for the international community,” Kytes explained.

Kytes said “governments need to recognize it as a problem in its own right”, adding that a UN Human Rights Council resolution addressing the heightened risk posed to environmental and land defenders would be a start.

“But, in the end, governments themselves have to take responsibility and ensure impartial, exhaustive investigations into killings of these activists. And they have to bring perpetrators to account. Many targeted assassinations of activists are being passed off as ‘common’ murders and are going unnoticed. Civil society has also an important role to play here,” Kytes added.

At the release of the Global Witness report during the awarding ceremony of the Goldman Environmental Prize, two of the recipients are indigenous leaders from Myanmar and Honduras. Both led grassroots movements to stop the world’s largest dam builder, China, from building projects that would have cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of indigenous people living in their respective forests. 

Honduras suffered 111 killings between 2002 and 2014. The case of indigenous activist Berta Caceres, this year’s winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, is emblematic of the systematic targeting of defenders in Honduras.

“They follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me, they threaten my family. That is what we face,” said Caceres. Since 2013, Caceres said three of her colleagues have been killed for resisting the Agua Zarca hydro-dam on the Gualcarque River, which threatens to cut off a vital water source for hundreds of indigenous Lenca people.

Culled from www.interaksyon.com
 

My Thoughts on Phobias…and What’s Taking Place in South Africa

My Thoughts on Phobias…and What’s Taking Place in South Africa

My name is Lovelyn Chidinma Nwadeyi. I am a Nigerian. Born in Nigeria to two Nigerian parents. Raised in Queenstown, Eastern Cape by those same Nigerian parents right up until I completed my Bachelors at Stellenbosch.



     Photo:  Lovelyn Chidinma Nwadeyi

Growing up in South Africa, I was always reminded by those around me that I was different to everyone else. In primary school, I had a much darker complexion than I do now, and super white teeth – the telling marks of a foreigner that betray you even when you put on your best English accent. It is just too obvious.

I bear citizenship of both worlds. I speak fluent Xhosa, Igbo, Afrikaans and English. I can make sense of Tswana and Sotho. I enjoy a goodbraai, I love vetkoek and bunny-chow. I can’t get enough of Bokomo WeetBix, I love Ouma’s rusks and I can pull off my panstulas with any outfit on a lazy Saturday when I want to head to town. I am the first to break it down with thengwaza and the dombolo at the sound of some decent house music or kwaito be it in Pick n Pay or at a party.

I can sokkie and I enjoy it (albeit with my two left feet). My darkest moments can be reversed by koeksisters and a cup of rooibos tea any day. I can jump between the high pitched and arguably annoying accents of some Constantia moms, the lank kif and apparently sophisticated English of my Hilton brothers and the heavy accents of my fellow Eastern Capers. I can attempt the fast paced, lyrical Afrikaans of my coloured brothers in the Cape and I can serve you the best butternut soup you have ever known.

I am as South African as you need me to be.

But my ability to navigate all these spaces did not just happen. Learning to blend into all these spaces was a matter of survival for me.

You see from the day I set foot in Queenstown and started primary school, it was always made very clear to me that I was an outsider. I only had white friends from my first few years in school, because the other black girls couldn’t understand why I was black but only spoke in English. They thought I thought I was better than them. So I spent most of my breaks humbly eating my peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich, surrounded by those who had Melrose cheese and Provita Crackers with Bovril and/or marmite sandwiches in their lunchboxes. The rest of the time I spent alone, save the few brave souls of similar complexion who tried to befriend me.

What nobody knew was that for the first three years of my life in South Africa, my little brother and I barely saw my dad more than twice a month. What was he doing absent from the home, other than selling pillowcases, duvets and bedsheets, from door to door on foot through the streets, villages and side roads of the old Transkei and Ciskei? My father would leave the house on Monday mornings after him and my mom got us ready for school, and he would be gone for days and weeks, selling the few pillowcases and bedsheets he had from door to door. On foot. We were never sure when he would return. But when he did, we were always more grateful for his safety and aliveness than anything else.

From Queenstown to Cala, Umtata, Qumbu, Qoqodala, Whittlesea, Mount Fletcher, King Williamstown, Mdantsane, Bhisho, Indwe, Butterworth, Aliwal North and even as far as Matatiele and Kokstad. There are so many other places he went to that I do not even know.

That is how my parents put us through school, until they saved up enough money to open their own little shop where they then started selling sewing machines, cotton and then community phones. Then sweets and chips and take-aways; and then hair products and the list goes on and on. It was on this that I was able to go through primary school, high school, and university. My parents have no tertiary education; it was only in their late 40s that both of them decided to register for part-time studies at Walter Sisulu to get their Diplomas. Note: Diplomas.

It took them four years, because they were busy trying to keep their kids in school, and keep selling their sweets and sewing machines while attempting to dignify their efforts with a degree.

My story is not unique – it is the story of most foreigners in South Africa. Very few foreigners come into SA with skills that make them employable here. Unless you are a medical doctor, an academic and maybe an engineer or well-established businessman before coming here, your chances of getting meaningful employment in SA are as limited as those of the United States letting Al-Qaeda members off the hook – almost impossible.

Most foreigners come to SA with the ability to braid hair, carve wood, or sell fruits, veggies, clothes, fizz pops, carpets and soap before they can find their feet here. Some are graduates…but what can another African degree do for you in SA? And any foreigner in SA will tell you that that is the truth. All of us started from below the bottom. Doing work that carries no dignity, no respect and very little financial gain. But when you have left or lost everything that you know and love and end up in a foreign land as unwelcoming in its laws and restrictions as South Africa, you have little choice available to you.

I can bet you that there is not up to 10% of South Africans who would be willing to do the menial and embarrassing work my parents and other foreigners did for as long as they did it, and for as little as they did it, were you to ask them today. So it annoys me, to the deepest part of my being when I see a South African open their mouth and cry “foul” against innocent foreigners. Let’s discuss this:

Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders.

Claustrophobia – the fear of small/tight/enclosed spaces.

Xenophobia – the fear of foreigners.

However individuals who are afraid of spiders do not go around killing spiders, rather they avoid spiders. Equally, individuals who are afraid of small and tight spaces do not go around trying to eliminate the existence of small spaces.

Thus xenophobia does not by definition imply the killing of foreigners. Yet, we continue to label this current wave of killings and murders in SA as xenophobic – and now the cooler term – “Afrophobic” attacks. Can we please just get real? What is happening in SA is a genocide, a genocide fuelled by a deep-seated hatred for which no single foreigner is responsible.

Before, you say this is too extreme, allow me to explain.

Genocide is the systematic/targeted killing of a specific tribe or race.

In South Africa’s case, this would be the senseless killings of non-South Africans, mostly those of African origin and some Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other non-African minorities.

I think the government, South African and international media are being too cowardly to call it what it is. They know what is going on in South Africa and yet they refuse to acknowledge it for fear of who knows what. Is it because their numbers are not high enough? Should we wait until a few good hundred thousand foreigners have been murdered before we speak the truth?

So now the value of human lives is being reduced to a debate on politically correct terms and phrases to protect certain interests. People are being butchered in the streets, and the country is worrying about bad PR. I hate that now, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everyone is now trying to say, “Oh no, it’s not all South Africans that are doing this, hey. Just a few of those people there.” South Africans are trying to distance themselves from what is happening in their own backyards as though it is of any consolation to those watching their family members being sizzled in rubber rings. As if that is what matters – true South African style.

This is not the first wave of attacks of this nature in South Africa. In fact, the 2008 attacks were much worse in terms of raw numbers of casualties suffered than these have been so far. The issue of xenophobia is not a new one in SA. However, the differentiator in 2015 is that this wave is backed by a strong ideology; that somehow these attacks can be and are justified.

An ideology that sees merit in the argument that foreigners are stealing the jobs of locals, that they are stealing their women, that these “makwerekwere” are the cause of most ills in South African society.

It is a shame how uninformed and how baseless these arguments are. Foreigners do not and CANNOT steal jobs in SA. Do you know how hard it is to get South African papers, just to get into the country – not to talk of getting a work permit and convincing any company to take on the cost of employing you as a foreigner? Unless you have some freaking scarce skills in the country – it just does not happen like that.

Secondly, just shut up and stop it. South Africans who embibe these arguments are lazy. There is a disgusting entitlement that is attached to this notion that jobs can be stolen. This implies that there are jobs waiting for you – of which there are none.

There are no freaking jobs waiting for anyone. Pick up a bucket and start washing cars. Put on your shoes and walk through your streets, sell tomatoes, eggs and tea – anything people eat, they will buy. Or pick up a book, hustle your way into university, work for a scholarship and get yourself an education. But stop this senselessness. Nobody is stealing your jobs.

I got my first job when I was 11-years-old. I worked on the school bus in my town. I collected money for the bus driver, wrote out receipts and kept order on the bus. I didn’t get paid much, but it helped me learn first that nothing comes easy, I learnt to be responsible and accountable to someone else. Secondly it helped me pay for little extramural expenses I did at school which were not the priority for my parents at the time (and rightly so). In ‘varsity, even though I had a tuition bursary, I worked two part-time jobs and one contract job for the entire three years at Stellenbosch so I could pay for my good, clothes and some additional materials etc. Yes my parents supported me as best they could, but naturally, part of growing up is that you don’t bother your parents for every Rand you need.

So people see me and my family now, several years later driving a decent car and living in an average house and they say, “Ningama kwekwere, asinifuni apha. Niqaphele, aningobalapha.

“You are foreigners, we do not want you here. You better watch out, you are not of this place,” – unaware of and unwilling to hear of the years of struggle and hustle that came with the decent car and the average house. [Which, by the way, you can never fully own as SA law now restricts ownership of property by foreigners – but that is another discussion.]

And what has been the government’s response to the worsening unemployment and crime situation in the cities and suburbs that incites this violence and dissatisfaction amongst its people? To tighten immigration laws, border controls and any little room the foreigner may have had to just maybe survive in the menacing streets of Johannesburg. As if that is where the problem began.

Is it not the way our economy is structured? That there is limited room for unskilled labour in the workforce? That those who are not vocationally trained must then settle for employment outside of their existing areas of knowledge such as artisans, plumbers and electricians – whereas these skills are equally needed in a developing economy? That we have this thing called BEE which in practice just ensures that the Black bourgeoisie get wealthier by hook or by crook while still protecting and cushioning the impact of democracy on old, white money and big business?

Is it really the little Ethiopian man with his spaza shop that is threatening your progress na Bhuthi? Is it really the Nigerian woman who braids hair and sells Fanta that is stealing your job and place in your own land na Sisi? I can’t deal.

If none of these arguments have merit for you, then think of the fact that during apartheid, Nigeria spent thousands of dollars on the ANC protecting and moving its members across borders; Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda all housed, supported and/or trained struggle heros with open arms and with no strings attached. How dare South Africans forget how much Africans did for them during apartheid. How dare you!

South Africans, go and learn your history. When you have read your history, then please teach the correct version to your children. Let them know that Africa helped put SA where it is now. Let them know that all blacks are not Xhosa or Zulu, but that that is irrelevant to the amount of dignity you accord to another human being. Teach your children that they must work for everything they want to have except your love as a parent. Teach your children that they are nothing without their neighbour – stop being selective about who Ubuntu applies to and does not. Teach them the truth about you.

The greatest enemy of the black man has always been himself. Not the colonialists. Not the apartheid architects. Only himself.

And as long as you refuse to take responsibility for where you are now, you will remain there. Kill us foreigners or not, it actually makes very little difference to your fortunes in life, people of Mzansi.

Lovelyn Nwadeyi
20 April 2015

Culled from www.sapeople.com