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04/26/14

*Madam Chijioke Eke Udonsi To Be Buried Today - May Her Gentle Soul Rest In Peace.

By Masterweb News Desk

With gratitude to God for a long and fruitful life, the entire family of Nnanyi Mecha Udonsi of Ndi Ekea Compound of Okon Aku Ohafiai, in Ohafia Local Government of Abia State regrets to announce the passing of their mother, wife, grandmother, aunt, sister, and mother – in – law. She will be buried in her hometown today; details of her interment are as contained in the flyer below. Call 08035200337 to condole her family.

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Photo Above: Late Madam Chijioke Eke Udonsi Obituary Flyer.
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04/21/14

*2015: NDIGBO JOIN PRESIDENTIAL RACE As Ndigbo in Rivers State restates there Igboness.

By: kenechukwu Amazuoke

The race for the 2015 Presidential elections took a different twist with the declaration of Ndigbo that they will contest the 2015 Presidential elections. Speaking during the inauguration of the State Executives of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Rivers state at the Elekahia Stadium Port-Harcourt, the President-General of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo Chief Garry Enwo-Igariwey stated that “Ndigbo must seek the Presidency of this country at the expiration of the tenure of the South-South. This is in keeping with our stand that equity, justice and fair-play demand that we, the only zone remaining to hold the prime position in the country, should be allowed by our fellow Nigerians to occupy it in an unbroken succession after the South-South....we cannot afford to play second fiddle forever.”

On the spate of insecurity across the nation, the Afikpo Prince stated that Ndigbo has endured enough casualties and called on the perpetrators of the heinous crime of bombing across the northern part of Nigeria to cease forthwith, while the federal government should deploy resources and materials aimed at bringing the menace to an end, and compensate those who have been adversely affect by the wanton destruction of lives and properties.

In his address, the Deputy Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Engr. Issac Wonwu expressed great joy, as the occasion marks a watershed in a bold declaration of the re-integration of the Igbo elements in Rivers state with their kin across Nigeria since after the balkanisation of the Igbo ethnic nationality by the military junta at the wake of the Biafran civil war. ( Continues below….. )

As labeled

Photo Above: Chief Garry Enwo-Igariwey, President-General Ohaneze Ndigbo-Left; Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, Ohanaeze National/Worldwide Youth Leader-Right

Chief Wonwu who also doubles as the leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the South-South also re-iterated on the need for an urgent value re-orientation amongst Ndigbo through cordial intra-national relationship aimed at bringing their present marginalisation to an end. He further stated that Ndigbo are committed to rediscovering and repositioning themselves within the Nigerian context, hoping that through concerted planning, respect for one another, stopping their selfish approaches, and the emulation of their past heroes and their selfless approaches to the service of the people, the Igbo dream of occupying the Presidency will be materialised.

For the National youth leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, he thanked the Igbo of Rivers State for coming out en masse to identify with their original roots, as this signifies an end to their suppression by their enemies who have been using the fractured nature of the Igbo in Rivers State as political tool against them in the politics of the state. According to Isiguzoro, “Ndigbo has made a bold statement and this will surely change the face of Rivers state politics”

Frowning at the psychological relics of the Biafran war, Isiguzoro called on the Igbo of Rivers State to stop using the name “Liberation Stadium” for the Elekahia Stadium as they were at no time “liberated” from the hands of their brother Ndigbo, rather that period (1968) marked the beginning of a dark era in the history of the Igbo of Rivers state and other Niger Delta ethnic groups leading to the economic plundering of the region by those who pretended to be their friends and the killing of both the Igbo and the minorities of the South-South region, an act which necessitated the rise of freedom fighters whom the Nigerian state wrongly termed “Militants”.

The President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Rivers State Prince Igo Okparamma, in an interview with odenigbo.com stated that “We, the Igbo of Rivers state have made a loud statement, and it is our belief that from now it is clear to all concerned that we are no longer in doubt of where our true roots are... we are Igbo and this is without doubt.

In a shocking revelation, the member representing Opobo-Nkoro Federal constituency Hon. Dakuku Peterside declared that the Opobo people have their roots in Igboland as the founder and first king of the Kingdom is an Igbo man. Hence Opobos are Igbo. He called on other Igbo elements within the state to identify with the greater Igbo cause.

In her vote of thanks, the Chairperson of the Organising Committee of the inauguration, Mrs Uju Nwanneka called on Ndigbo to return to their “Value Driven” efforts and relentlessly stand for justice and equality for all. The aspirant for the post of Deputy National Woman Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo called on Ndigbo to make Igbo interest their guiding principle in all their pursuits while eschewing individualism.

The occasion which was blessed with heavy shower had in attendance notable Igbo people and friends of Ndigbo who defied the rains to be with Ndigbo. Among the dignitaries at the occasion were Senator Magnus Abe who represented the Rivers state Governor Hon. Rotimi Amechi, Hon Dakuku Peterside (Representing Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency) represented by Hon. Richard Nwoka; the former PDP Chairman Ikwerre Local Government Area, Chief Innocent Mbah; Deputy President Ohanaeze Ndigbo Rivers State, Amb. Anosike Onuowa; Vice Chairman Rivers State Petroleum Monitoring Committee.

Others present are the Chief Ambrose Owuru; Member Ime-Obi Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lady Love Chimezie, Odozi Nwodozi: National Vice Leader Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Wing, Arthur Obiora Obiora: Deputy National Leader Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Wing among others.

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04/19/14

*The Rwandan Genocide of April 1994 & Lessons For Nigeria Parts 2 & 3

By Intersociety

20 Years Of Rwandan Genocide: Lessons For Nigerian Political Leaders & Armed Opposition Groups (i.e. Boko Haram Insurgents)-Part 2

In Memory Of Late Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana

(International Issue, Onitsha-Nigeria, 17th day of April, 2014)-In the part one ( Here is the link: http://nigeriamasterweb.com/blog/index.php/2014/04/16/the-rwandan-genocide-of-april-1994-lessons-for-nigeria ) of this international public statement by the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), the immediate and remote circumstances that led to the genocide under reference were graphically captured. It is important to remind that this statement is dedicated to the heroes and heroines of the tragic and disheartening butchery, chief among them is late Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana; the transitional prime minister of Rwanda, who was gruesomely murdered alongside her husband in the early hours of April 7, 1994.

Butchery Following The Presidential Plane Crash Of April 6, 1994: Months before the plane crash, strong accusations were leveled against the Hutu controlled central government of President Juvenal Habyarimana to the effect that plans had been successfully hatched by the regime to massacre the Tutsis, moderate Hutus and rights activists in large numbers. To actualize this, mass recruitment of the unemployed Hutu youths was ordered. The killer exercise was said to have been supervised by two Hutu extremist political movements called “the National Republican Movement for Democracy (MRND)” and “the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR)”. Those recruited were later named “the Interahamwe militias”. They were trained by the presidential guards, indoctrinated and brainwashed. Their tribal killing operation code was “operation nettover” or “operation cleanup”. The Tutsis and moderate Hutus were labeled “enemies” and “traitors”, who deserved not to live or be spared alive.

The murderous messages of ethnic hatred and campaigns of calumny against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus were widely spread across the country using the State run radio station called “Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines”. The indoctrinated killer nationals were firmly directed not to spare any “enemy” or “traitor”, including newly born children. Externally, there were massive supports for the cleansing policies and operations of the then Hutu controlled central government in Kigali, which included arms supplies and technical supports. There were strong accusations that such killer supports came from Egypt and South Africa. France was also accused of providing expertise for the killer presidential guards and the “Interahamwe” militias.

The shocking and chilling killing spree exploded hours after the aviation killing of President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart, President Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6, 1994. One of the earliest victims of the genocidal killings was the then transitional Prime Minister, Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana. She was 41 years old and became prime minister in July 1993 following a power sharing arrangement. A moderate Hutu, she was dragged out of her official home, alongside her husband by the killer presidential guards on April 7, 1994, tortured and killed. Their five children were miraculously hidden and saved by courageous friends and colleagues.

Other prominent victims of the genocidal massacre were Lando Ndasingwa, a Tutsi cabinet minister in the transitional government, who was executed alongside his Canadian wife, their two children and mother; Joseph Kavaruganda, the then president of the Supreme Court and ten peace keepers from Belgium. Key members of the human rights groups were also felled by the genocidal knives and bullets. They included Charles Shamukiga, Fidele Kanyabugoyi, Ignace Ruhatana, Patrick Gahizi, Rev. Father Chrysologue Mahame and Abbe Augustin Ntagara. They were butchered by the rampaging presidential guards. Others like Mathieu Uwizeye (activist judge) and Charles Mbabaje (secretary of a human rights outfit: LIPREDHOR) were executed in the Rwandan cities of Kibundo and Byumba by the advancing rebels of the Rwandese Patriotic Front.

Some Catholic nuns and priests also paid dearly with their lives in the hands of “the Interahamwe” militias and the presidential guards. In turn, scores of defenseless civilians, especially women and children were massacred through homicidal collaboration of some priests and nuns when the said defenseless nationals sought refuge in churches and missionary school compounds. Barriers were mounted on all roads by the presidential guards and the “Interahamwe” militias so as to prevent the fleeing civilians from getting through. An estimated 20,000 people were executed in Kigali few hours into the genocidal operations. It was a killing by anybody against anybody in sight. Women also killed men as well as fellow women. Amnesty International account, for instance, quoted one Hutu woman as saying: “I killed three people, three men. I know them, they were my neighbors, I didn’t have any alternative. When I refused to kill, the government soldiers banged a gun on my child’s head and she died. She was six weeks old”.

On the other hand, the Rwandese Patriotic Front rebels fiercely matched to Kigali from their main base in Uganda. Some of their colleagues, stationed in Kigali following the failed peace accords, which included a cease fire, got entrapped and endangered. The genocidal killings went down following the successful capture of Kigali by the RPF rebels on July 4, 1994. This forced mass exodus of the Hutus and their failed central government into the then Zairian city of Goma as well as Burundi and Tanzania. There were 1.5million refugees in Zaire, 500,000 in Tanzania and 270,000 in Burundi. The genocide lasted from 6th April to 21st July, 1994. The then leader of the RPF rebels, General Paul Kagame told an international news agency that “the killings have stopped not because of changing of heart, but because there are few people left to be killed”.

A new central government was formed in Kigali on July 21, 1994 with the appointment of Mr. Pasteur Bizimugu (a moderate Hutu) as president and Mr. Faustin Twagiramungu (a Tutsi) as prime minister. The leader of the Rwandese Patriotic Front rebels, General Paul Kagame became the vice president and commander-in-chief of the new armed forces. He took over as the president in the year 2000 and remains so till date. There were also reported cases of post genocide killings and deaths in Rwanda. Cases of genocidal revenge massacres were rife.

The new RPF government and its sympathizers killed scores of suspected Hutus. The ousted Hutu central government, which escaped with bank funds, computers, vehicles and other luxury items to Tanzania, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and Burundi later regrouped and rearmed. Some of their victims were Tutsi communities living in the DRC, called “Banyamulenges”. They were systematically targeted and killed in large numbers. The ousted Hutu government forces and their “Interahamwe” militias also launched a series of cross border attacks into Rwanda and killed scores of innocent civilians.

In neighboring Burundi, similar massacres were also the order of the day. The then central government of President Sylvestre Ntibantinganya was helpless. The rift between the Tutsi dominated Army of Burundi and the Hutu backed rebel groups turned the country into killing fields leading to massacre of thousands of innocent nationals. The massacres reared their ugly heads after the gruesome assassination of President Cyprien Ntaryamira. The butchery came down after a bloodless coup in 1996 led by the former military head of State, Major Jean Pierre Buyoya.

In all, the Rwandan genocide cost an estimated death of between 800,000 and 1million people and generated over 2.5million refugees and millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Up to 200, 000 more died of post genocide diseases and starvation. In the Amnesty International account, “in one refugee camp in Zaire (DRC) alone, up to 80, 000 people died within weeks in a cholera epidemic”. Over 100,000 were also believed to have been killed in attacks and counter attacks between the ousted Hutu government and its allied armed persons and the incumbent Tutsi controlled government and its allies since the end of genocide in July 1994. In Burundi, it was estimated that up to 60,000 people were killed between 1994 and 2002.

Signed: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
+234(0)8180103912, +234(0)8033601078
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

________________________

20 Years Of Rwandan Genocide: Lessons For Nigerian Political Leaders & Armed Opposition Groups (i.e. Boko Haram Insurgents)-Part 3

In Memory Of Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana

(International Issue, Onitsha-Nigeria, 18th day of April, 2014)-The part one and two of this international public statement presented graphic details of what happened during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. The genocide led to the death of between 800,000 and 1million people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. There was also post genocide deaths of over 200,000 people caused by diseases and starvation as well as over 100,000 post genocide killings by the parties to the Rwandan bloody conflict. In the areas of refugees and internally displaced persons, the genocide generated over 2,5million refugees and millions of internally displaced persons. This part concludes the important international public statement on Rwandan Genocide & Its Lessons To Nigerian Political Leaders & Their Armed Opposition Groups.

It is important to remind that this important international public statement of the leadership of Intersociety is in honour of Madam Agathe Uwilingiyamana, the late transitional prime minister of the troubled country, murdered alongside her husband by the presidential guards in the early hours of April 7, 1994. Also honoured are leading human rights activists who were butchered in the genocide. They include Charles Shamukiga, Fidele Kanyabugoyi, Ignace Ruhatana, Patrick Gahizi, Rev. Father Chrysologue Mahame, Abbe Augustin Ntagara, Mathieu Uwizeye (activist judge) and Charles Mbabaje (secretary of a human rights outfit: LIPREDHOR).

The Rwandan genocide has brought to bear the world’s unending wars and other unsafe conditions caused by human’s socially incoherent actions. The genocide was the height of unending butcheries on the African Continent and the Great Lakes Region in particular. It was a sad remembrance of tragedies of the long past. It reopened the healing wounds inflicted on the world populations in the past 5000 years with 14,500 wars globally and only 300 years of peace. That is to say that, historically, the world lived 5000 years with 14,500 wars and only 300 years of peace. It was a sad reminder that between 1945 and the 2000s, a period of about 65 years, 165 wars were fought around the world with 34 wars waging in Africa as at 1994 including wars in the Great Lakes Region. That between 1945 and 1985, a period of 40 years, 22million people died in wars around the world (UNDP) and that out of 21million refugees around the world in the 2000s, 14 million were generated by African bloody conflicts and located on the Continent.

Lessons To Nigerian Political Leaders & Armed Opposition Groups: The genocide under reference exposes the dangers inherent in failure to nip group crimes in the bud. It was the irresponsibility and inability of the successive governments in Kigali and Bujumbura to manage and tame group crimes perpetrated against the innocent nationals of the two countries by their armed ethnic zealots that snowballed into the genocidal butchery of 1994. In Nigeria, the failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to curtail the homicidal excesses of leading ethno-religious murderous brigades like Boko Haram insurgents has risen to an apogee. In biology, once a mother gives birth to a child, she automatically becomes the caterer of the child. But in crime, once crime gives birth to “government”, the reverse becomes the case. In other words, the “government” becomes the controller of crime. This is because it was “crime” that gave birth to “government”, but surrendered its supremacy to the latter. But where the latter is found weak, the former takes charge.

Therefore, when government sneezes, crime catches cold. But where government fails to control crime, then the foundation of such government is threatened. It goes with a popular theory that where there is no government, there is no law and where there is no law, there is no crime. On the other hand, it is the existence of crime that brought about government and its policing agencies. Where crime rules over government, anarchy becomes the societal norms. Life in a lawless society is nasty, brutish, short, beastly and utterly homicidal and cannibalistic. This was the sorry situation in Rwanda in 1994, to the extent that “hunters became the hunted” and those in presidential mansions found themselves in refugees’ tents. In such a situation, the next armed person guarding a public elected or appointed official becomes his or her potential assassin or a broad day murderer.

It is a truism that over 60,000 Nigerians have been killed maliciously since 1999, a period of 15 years. In four months into 2014 alone, up to 3,000 Nigerians have been killed by group criminals. Those killed by Boko Haram insurgents are believed to be over 1,500. Another armed opposition group called “Fulfulde or Fulani Herdsmen” must have been responsible for over 1,000 deaths.

In the plain language of Criminology & Security Studies and Peace & Conflict, “war is any violent conflict with fatalities of over 999”. With this concise definition, it is not in contention as whether Nigeria is in a state of war. As at our last estimates in December 2011, 54,000 Nigerians were killed outside the law since 1999, with police related unlawful killings accounting for 21,000. Today, a number of Nigerians have been killed unlawfully and extra-judicially by the Nigeria Police Force. Others have gone missing in their hands too. Those that perpetrated these killings are still on the prowl, no thanks to culture of impunity and lack of presidential political will.

The worse case in respect of policy makers and public office holders including those manning the country’s policing policies is the entrenched culture of immunity of mental emptiness. From President Goodluck Jonathan down to a commissioner of police, they are resistant to innovative ideas and pieces of good advice. At times, they make Nigerians feel that they derive joy watching innocent Nigerians killed in droves. Their only apparent response is the steady increase in defense budgets with little or no concrete actions or impacts. In 2014 budget alone, over N1trillion was budgeted for securitization, capital and recurrent inclusive, yet nothing has been done concretely security wise. Many noble ideas and suggestions have been given as ways to manage or tackle the country’s porous security situations, yet none has been heeded. Till date, 95% of the country’s 371,000 police officers are still computer illiterates. Our question is: how is it possible for a typewriter police officer or security agent to fight or confront a computer literate bomb detonator?

We have said it a number of times that Boko Haram insurgency is not insurmountable. The country as a matter of reality does not have basic toolkits to curtail its menace. Nigeria suffers from security intelligence toxemia and lacks electronic security devices fundamentally needed to match the Boko Haram’s asymmetric warfare. In modern warfare technology, a mobile phone is more sophisticated in achieving final results than an AK-47 assault rifle. In kidnap crime operation, a mobile phone is more useful than an AK-47 assault rifle. When a single bomb detonator goes on rampage and kills scores of people, it does not require containers load of guns to track him or her down. It requires intelligence and electronic security devices to do so. This explains why there are over 4 million hidden security cameras in the United Kingdom. The world’s two most endangered countries: Israel and USA are secured every hour through electronic security devices and super security intelligence networks.

As the Rwandan Genocide of April to July 1994, has shown, when group crimes are not nipped in the bud or are not “de-escalated”, barbarism and cannibalism become the order of the day and in such situation, the presidential ruling class and members of the National Assembly are far from being secured because such is “a war by all against all”. Like in Rwanda, the president of the country’s Supreme Court, its prime minister and president, etc all perished in the butchery. Apart from apparent failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle the menaces of group crimes in the country, another genocidal provocation will be to launch deadly bomb attacks in the cities of Southwest, Southeast and South-south. This will be seen as a total declaration of war on the innocent peoples of the areas and self help methods including revenge killings will be uncontrollably entrenched. If the Federal Government has failed woefully in taming pockets of group crimes, it will be a near impossibility for it to control such “war by all against all”.

Finally, it may most likely be correct to say that Nigeria is nearing “a Rwandan Genocide” episode. With the butchering of over one hundred innocent Nigerians at the Federal Capital area of Nyanya last Monday (14/4/2014), which is totally condemned, it is correct to say that nobody or area is safe in the country. While the failure of the Government on security of Nigerians and the public and private properties is disheartening, the task now lies on those at the National Conference. They must be reminded that their main job at the Confab is to find solutions to the root causes of social vices in all its ramifications in the country.

These include: what causes unending group criminality in Nigeria? What is responsible for the country’s chronic economic downturns? Why are the country’s 33 solid mineral deposits not mechanized? What is the best ethno-religious legal system for Nigeria as a plural society? What form of federalism or confederacy will best suit Nigeria? Why are over 70% of Nigeria’s annual gross earnings going into the pockets of only 17,500 top public office holders and public/civil servants? Why is Nigeria borrowing serially? What is the cause of high cost of public governance in Nigeria? In what ways will the “public allowance and overheads squandermania” be tackled in Nigeria? Is there any equity and fairness in a section or few sections of the Nigeria permanently laying claims to the country’s presidency? What is the state of civil and criminal legal systems in Nigeria? Is there any lopsidedness in the number of States and LGAs per geopolitical zone in Nigeria? Are the present revenue sharing formulas acceptable to most Nigerians? Have the public office holders in Nigeria done justice to numerous international rights and humanitarian treaties in line with Section 12 of the Constitution? Can the Chapter Two of the Constitution be made justiciable? What are the causes and solutions to chronic ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria?

Signed: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
+234(0)8180103912, +234(0)8033601078
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

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Emeka Umeagbalasi

Photo Above: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
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04/16/14

*The Rwandan Genocide of April 1994 & Lessons For Nigeria

By Intersociety

The Rwandan Genocide Of April 1994 & Lessons For Nigerian Political Leaders & Armed Opposition Groups (i.e. Boko Haram Insurgents)-Part One

In Memory Of Late Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana

(International Issue, Onitsha-Nigeria, 15th day of April, 2014)-As this month (April 2014) marks the 20th tragic anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide of April 1994, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety resolves to revisit what has become known globally as “one of the darkest events in recent world”. This international public statement is also in honour of late Madam Agathe Uwilingiyimana; the late courageous prime minister of the then Rwandan transitional government.

The following account by Amnesty International summarizes the modern age butchery in Rwanda under reference: “Hundreds of thousands of women were slaughtered in a genocidal onslaught against the Tutsi ethnic group by soldiers and allied Hutu militia between April and July 1994. The victims included pregnant women, nuns, young girls and old women (vulnerable class). For nearly 12 weeks, women, men and children were murdered without mercy: most because they were Tutsi, but many others because they supported human rights or opposition political parties. The majority of those who escaped to neighbouring countries were women and their children. More than 300,000 Tutsis fled to save their lives.

As the Rwandese Patriotic Front took control of the country, at least a million Hutu refugees left in fear of reprisals. Conditions in the refugee’s camps are atrocious: in one camp in Zaire, up to 80,000 people died within weeks in a cholera epidemic. Violence against women in the camps is rife. Those who wish to return to Rwanda are threatened, attacked, sometimes killed by armed Hutu gangs and former government soldiers. Some refugees have braved the journey back, but many women who have returned and found their husbands dead, found themselves homeless, landless and destitute”(source: AI’s Join Our Campaign pamphlet). The above is the summary of the genocidal events during and after the genocide in Republic of Rwanda in 1994.

Historical Backgrounds Of Genocide & Other Mass Killings In Rwanda & Burundi: Republics of Rwanda and Burundi are twin countries with triplet tribes. The two countries were colonized by Germany from 1890 to 1916 and Belgium from 1916 to 1962. They are populated by three tribes: Hutu (84%), Tutsi (14%) and Twa (1%) with a combined pre genocide population of approximately 14 million people. While Hutus are predominantly herdsmen and largely illiterates, the Tutsis are mostly farmers and largely educated with strong influence in the countries’ armed forces. The differences between Hutus and Tutsis are three-folds: ethnic hatred promoted by their colonial masters, grazing land and farmland destruction conflicts and political domination including overbearing influence in the armed forces.

Before the genocide under reference, there have a series of mass killings in the two countries, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of their nationals and hundreds of thousands of injuries. One of the earliest mass killings took place in 1959, followed by those of 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1988 and 1993. Most of the killings were perpetrated against the Tutsi tribe and encouraged and funded by the Hutu controlled central governments in Kigali (Rwanda) and Bujumbura (Burundi). Before the genocide of April 1994 in Rwanda, there were two mass killings in Burundi in October and November 1993.

Circumstances That Led To The Genocide: Following the mass killings targeted at the Tutsi populations in Rwanda and Burundi in 1967, 1972, 1973 and 1988, there was mass exodus of the Tutsi populations to the Republic of Uganda. Some who settled in the Democratic Republic of Congo decades ago are called “Banyamulenges”. There was also an ethnic massacre targeted at the educated Hutus in Burundi in 1972. The then Tutsi controlled central government of President Micombero was accused of masterminding it. The Tutsi refugees in Uganda later became willing tools in the hands of various rebel groups fighting to overthrow the then governments in Uganda. One of such rebel groups is the National Resistance Army (NRA) of present President of Uganda, Lt. General Yuweri Museveni. The Museveni’s NRA fought and sought to overthrow the then dictatorial regimes of late Milton Obote and late “Field Marshal” Idi Amin Dada in the 70s. His rebel group fought until 1986 when he emerged from bush warfare and dethroned the military regime of Generals Tito and Basilio Okello.

Prior to General Museveni’s successful coup d’ etat in 1986, his NRA (National Resistance Army) had recruited 13,000 Tutsi refugees into its combatant fold and out of its 40,000 strong rebel force, Tutsis accounted for 13, 000 or 34%. This made Tutsis to rise steadily in the NRA’s command cadre, to the extent that Major General Fred Rwigema (a Tutsi) was made Uganda’s chief of army staff and Brigadier Paul Kagame (another Tutsi and current president of Rwanda) became the country’s army chief of Intelligence. Major General Rwegema was sacked in 1989 over suspicion of overbearing Tutsi influence in the Ugandan army.

In a bid to reward his Tutsi fellow combatants in the NRA, President Yoweri Museveni assisted the duo of Rwigema and Kagame in forming the military wing of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which governs Rwanda presently. Other financial and technical supports came from USA, which allowed the formation of the political wing of RPF in the country in 1988. Burundi government then under Major Jean Pierre Boyoya (a Tutsi) also supported the RPF rebels tactically and financially.

The Tutsi’s Rwandan Patriotic Front, having been formed in late 80s, declared a total war against the then Kigali central government, led by President Juvenal Habyarimana (a Hutu) in October 1990. The neighbouring Burundi then was also under the Hutu led central government of democratically elected President Melchior Ndadaye, who got assassinated in 1993 in a bloody military revolt led by former military head of State, Major Pierre Jean Buyoya. The killings that followed President Ndadaye’s gruesome murder became widespread and led to beastly burning of schoolgirls at a petrol station in the city of Kibimba.

To find permanent solutions to these mass killings and political instabilities in the two twin countries, the Arusha Peace Accords of August 1993 were arranged for Hutu and Tutsi political combatants in the two countries by the leaders of the Great Lakes Region including former President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. Arusha is a city in Tanzania. The Arusha Accords included ceasefire, power sharing, creation of transitional government, unification of armed forces, etc.

After months of extensive deliberations and consultations, the Arusha Accords were signed by the representatives of the two warring tribes from the twin countries (Rwanda and Burundi) including two Hutu Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi: Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira (who succeeded late Melchior Ndadaye in Burundi in 1993) as well as the leaders of Tutsi rebels in the two countries. The Accords were signed on April 6, 1994 in Arusha, Tanzania. Moments after signing the history Accords, a Falcon 50 plane carrying the two Hutu presidents (Habyarimana of Rwanda and Nkaryamira of Burundi) alongside others on board was hit by suspected missiles near Kigali, capital of Rwanda.

The plane burst, killing all on board. Swift accusing fingers were pointed at the leadership of the RPF as the mastermind. Before the plane crash and signing of the Arusha Accords, a good number of RPF rebel soldiers were already stationed in Kigali to be absolved into the proposed unified armed forces of Rwanda. They were entrapped and formed part of those killed at the beginning of the three months genocide. The presidential plane crash under reference marked the beginning of the Rwandan genocide of April 6 to July 21, 1994.

Signed: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
+234(0)8180103912, +234(0)8033601078
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

Map of Rwanda

Photo Above: Map of Rwanda

Emeka Umeagbalasi

Photo Above: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
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04/11/14

Permalink 01:19:00 pm, by admin Email , 1908 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: News, Nigerian News, South East News, African Issue, Tellers and Global Viewers

*Intersociety Median Letter To Governor Willie Obiano

By Intersociety

Ref: INTERSOC/001/04/014/ANSG/NG

His Excellency
Chief Willie Maduabuchukwu Obiano
Executive Governor of Anambra State
Office of the Anambra Governor
Government House, Awka

Sir,

Issues Warranting Our Observation, Advice & Commendation

(Public Issue, Onitsha-Nigeria, 11th of April, 2014)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety wishes to write Your Excellency over the above subject.

1.Crime Fighting & Dislodgement Of Criminal Entities: This is so far so good. Your Excellency’s efforts in this aspect are commendable. But caution should be taken to avoid giving the concerned security agencies, particularly the Anambra State Police Command sweeping powers. Such sweeping powers will not only defeat the very aim of making Anambra roundly secured, but will also put the State under police siege with accompanying abuses and corrupt practices including torture and extra judicial killings, reckless mounting of roadblocks and extortion, trumped up allegations and charges, indiscriminate and reckless arrests, unlawful detention and pre-trial extortion.

It is also very important to remind Your Excellency that “a criminal” in strictest sense and according to law and international norms “is a malicious citizen of legally recognized mature age, who is in conflict with the written criminal law, whether misdemeanor or felony; and is subjected to the processes of arrest, detention, investigation, fair trial, conviction and sentencing”. Any individual that falls outside the legally recognized mature age, who is in conflict with written unlawful acts, is described as “juvenile delinquent”. The Children and Young Persons Act of 1944 and relevant Child Rights Act/Laws in the country contain processes to handle such citizens. Exceptions to this fundamental and unambiguous definition are very few such as when an arresting security operative is under violent attack from the malicious citizen, right to self defense may be invoked, with a condition that the force applied by the arresting security operative must not use force that is greater than that applied by his or her attacker. If killing occurs strictly on the foregoing premise, it is called “excusable homicide”.

Following from this, Your Excellency, it is unlawful to take suspects peacefully into custody only for them to be brought out from custody and shot dead. It is also wrong to arrest suspects peacefully only to be taken to police stations and killed extra judicially without investigation and trial. Our laws still forbid “trial by ordeal”.

One of the instance cases is that of Citizen Rapuruchukwu Donatus Ikwuanusi, 32, of 26B, Ihitenasaa Street, Iyiowa Odekpe in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State. He owns Fish ponds located at 3, Ibekwe Street in Iyiowa Odekpe and SAKAMORI Lane in Nkutaku Layout, Ogbaru LGA. He was peacefully arrested on invitation by a 3-man SARS operatives (Prince, Azubuike and Kingsley) attached to Okpoko Police Station. The arrest took place on 29th January, 2014 at a restaurant along Obodoukwu Road in Ogbaru. He was first taken to Okpoko Police Station’s SARS unit and later transferred to the SARS headquarters at Awkuzu, from where he disappeared till date. According to his father, Ichie Jude Ikwuanusi, quoting the OC/SARS, CSP Chima Nwafor, Citizen Donatus (fondly called “Daddy”) was accused of “keeping guns for a suspected armed robber named “UPPER”. His parents: Ichie Jude Ikwuanusi (75) and Mrs. Hope (60) Ikwuanusi, who reside with their disappeared son at No. 26B, Ihitenasaa Street in Iyiowa Odekpe Layout, were not informed of his arrest and whereabouts till date.

For crime fighting and control to succeed in Anambra State, there is need to overhaul the State Criminal Justice System. This includes introduction of multi sentencing system especially in the areas of simple, misdemeanor and “low” felony offences or non capital offences. Particularly speaking, fine sentencing should be introduced with biometric profiling of offenders to easily detect repeat offenders. Strict and statutory liability offences like traffic and sanitation/environmental law breaking should be a fundamental part of the foregoing. The Anambra State High Court Division should be professionalized with the appointment of judges with requisite qualifications in civil law to handle civil proceedings and those with requisite qualifications in criminal law, criminology and sociology to handle criminal trials. Magistrates should be barred from entertaining matters with capital punishments whether in the form of “holding charge” or otherwise. The State CID and SARS as well as the State DPP and criminal investigation management should be extensively overhauled and upgraded to modern standards.

2. Environmental Cleanliness, Protection & Traffic Control: We associate ourselves with efforts made so far by Your Excellency in this respect. Other than this, there should be minimum use of touts and militant youths for their enforcement and increased use of mobile courts and formal law enforcement agents. There should be “sanitation offences/environmental degradation mobile courts, sanitation fees mobile courts and traffic offences mobile courts. The major sentencing option of these summary courts should be fines or compulsory community/public services like clearing of drainages, cutting of flowers and weeds at roadways, footpaths and public gardens and parks. Jail sentencing options should be occasionally applied.

There should be flowering and city/road beautification project in the State including clearing and beautification of the Ojukwu Gateway and Upper Iweka areas. Any form of commercial activities within the State Government’s environmental fences between Niger Bridgehead and Onitsha Upper Iweka should be prohibited. The construction work going on at the new Abada Traders’ Market at the Head Bridge should be monitored to avoid the traders congesting the under Bridge and converting it into loading park. All inter-city buses at Upper Iweka should be moved into the State owned expansive park along Owerri Road.

3. 3-Cs (Continuation, Completion & Commissioning Of The Ongoing Projects): Your Excellency’s decision on this is very commendable. The huge investments of the Government and people of Anambra State into this area are at stake. Their completion and commissioning are very critical and a safety key for the huge public investments under reference.

4. State Executive Council: The quality of commissioners and special advisers recently nominated by Your Excellency and cleared by the State House of Assembly gladdens our heart. But one recurring decimal among Anambra’s recent and past commissioners is armchair syndrome. Another is creation and maintenance of illicit revenue bodies and persons. These malicious bodies and persons apply all manners of roguish methods to collect illicit and privatized revenues, after which they return a part to those malicious political aides that created and maintained them. Your Excellency’s new commissioners and special advisers should be roundly monitored and be made to spend most of their duty hours on the fields. They must not be allowed to convert their public offices and duties into “business enterprises”.

5. Peter Obi’s N86.65Billion Cash & Investments In Office: As Your Excellency may be aware, some faceless groups believed to have been sponsored by malicious politicians have described Mr. Peter Obi’s N86.65Billion worth of cash and investments left for the State as a fiction. Our re-investigation of the matter clearly showed that what Obi left in office is N86.65Billion and not N75Billion as he earlier declared on 8th of March, 2014 during his public steward presentation.

The breakdown of our re-investigated figure is as follows: 1. Local Investments in SABMiller, Independent Power Project, Orient Petroleum, Agulu, Awka & Onitsha Hotels as at 17th of March, 2014, N27 billion. 2. Foreign Currency Investments (external bonds with due dates & interests) spread in Diamond, Access and Fidelity Banks as at 17th day of March, 2014, $156million or N26.5 billion. 3. Certified State / MDAs / MDGs’ cash balances as of the date under reference, N28.165 billion. 4. Federal Government of Nigeria’s approved refund for federal roads done and completed on its behalf by the Government of Anambra State as at 17th day of March, 2014, N10 billion. 5. These bring the grand total to N91, 65 billion. When deducted from the received and paid certificates of already executed projects of N5 billion, the total remaining balance as at 17th day of March, 2014 is put at N86.665 billion.

Though, in the course of our re-investigation, we saw relevant government and bank documents that detailed the said investments and cash, but there is need for Your Excellency to speak publicly on the issue. We also saw the gubernatorial handover letter from Mr. Peter Obi to Your Excellency, wherein the breakdown of the cash and investment credit was clearly given. We believe that three weeks plus, which Your Excellency’s new government has lasted, is enough to verify the authenticity or otherwise of Mr. Peter Obi’s cash and investment credit of N86.65Billion contained in the handover note he handed over to Your Excellency. There is public need for Your Excellency to speak today because today it is Mr. Peter Obi being lied against, tomorrow, it could be Chief Willie Obiano.

Following from these, our sacred questions are: Did Peter Obi owe arrears to retired and serving work force both at State and LGA levels as at 17th of March, 2014? Did he owe State contractors over satisfactorily and certified executed projects of any type? Did he leave the State in huge domestic and foreign indebtedness? Did he leave any MDAs and MDGs cash of N28.165Billion as at 17th of March, 2014? Did he buy foreign currency bonds of $156Million or N26.5Billion for the State? If yes, where are they located? What about the State investments of N27Billion? Do they exist or are they a fiction? Is there any Federal Government approved refund of N10Billion for federal roads done on its behalf by the Government of Anambra State?

On a related premise, we pray Your Excellency to concern Your Excellency’s attention on “economic governance” and avoid being drawn into “political governance” by detractors and enemies of the State. The like of Imo State is already on a doomed path because its gubernatorial elected public office holders abandoned the hallowed governance path and crashed unto “political governance” path. Today in Imo State, it is “debt, debt, debt and debt” all over the place. A House of Assembly speaker now reportedly awards road contracts. Political charlatans appear to have been on rampage in the State!

Avoid Sir, people who want to create friction between you and your predecessor. Anambra People are inpatient and intolerant to showbiz and propagandist public governance. Making things happening on positive side, moment by moment, gladdens their heart and catapults the popularity of the achiever to the hall of fame. Some quarters have raised accusing fingers at Your Excellency’s camp as the sponsors of the faceless groups under reference. But we still cannot fathom what that will add to Your Excellency’s political values as well as the collective well being of the people of Anambra State if Your Excellency’s accusers are right.

For instance, assuming, but not conceding that Your Excellency’s camp is behind the sponsorship of the faceless groups, does it mean that leaving a whopping credit of N86.65Billion for the State is a crime? Will Your Excellency wish to leave Anambra in huge deficits at the end of Your Excellency’s tenure? These questions have further made it imperative for Your Excellency’s urgent public pronouncement on the said matter so as to rest it once and for all. We congratulate Your Excellency for a good start.

Yours Faithfully

, For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety

1. Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
08180103912, 08033601078
emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

2. Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
08037114869
juijeoma@yahoo.com

Emeka Umeagbalasi

Photo Above: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
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04/06/14

*Understanding The Antics Of Some Failed Politicians Against Obi’s Award-Winning Achievement

By Intersociety

A Public Statement by Anambra Human Rights & Good Governance Coalition Understanding The Antics Of Some Failed Politicians Against Obi’s Award-Winning Achievement

Introduction:

(Awka Nigeria, 4th day of April, 2014)-The Anambra Human Rights & Good Governance Coalition is a coalition of human rights and good governance organizations based in Anambra State of Nigeria, formed in 2006 for the advancement of human rights and good governance in the State. While credible coalition groups in the past like the Coalition for Democracy & Good Governance (CODEGG) played great roles in ousting failed governance and political militancy in the State from 2003 to 2006, the Anambra Coalition for Human Rights & Good Governance (ACOHURIGG) contributed immensely towards transformative and strategic development of the State from 2006 till date. The recorded feat was achieved using “commendation, condemnation and a way forward” strategy created and implanted in our advocacy activities since 2006 in relating with the Obi’s popularly instituted government.

Issues Warranting This Public Statement: Mr. Peter Obi governed Anambra State democratically from 17th March, 2006 to 17th March, 2014. Few days to his handover, on 8th of March, 2014, to be precise, he publicly gave the account of his stewardship and presented a “blue book” containing many tangible and intangible projects he executed in office. The highlight of his stewardship presentation was his thunderous announcement of a surplus cash and investments balances of “N75 billion” for the State, which we understand, is now N86.665 billion. This is clearly unheard of in recent times in Nigeria, or any part thereof. As a result, some never-do-well citizens including failed politicians became unsettled and hired faceless groups and individuals to place adverts in newspapers claiming that Mr. Peter Obi’s public stewardship account was a fiction.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obi’s public declaration has continued to be celebrated far and near and has restored Anambra’s lost glory by making it the most financially healthy State in Nigeria. Mr. Peter Obi’s detailed account of public stewardship is the first of its kind in recent Nigeria.

The highlight and striking thing about our re-investigation of Obi’s stewardship, is that no serving and retired civil servant salaries, pensions and gratuities both at the State and Local Government levels were outstanding as at 17th of March, 2014.

As for contractors’ pay warrants or certificates, we found that under Mr. Obi’s policy of ‘earn as you execute or complete’, all certificates bearing ‘completed projects’ were fully paid. Under the policy, contractors are not paid for jobs not completed. This explains why they now work in phases and get paid in phases.

It is also a public knowledge that under his celebrated administration, he completed roads left by Ngige and went extra mile to do hundreds of kilometers of roads evenly spread across the State. He re-invented the policy of mass vehicular distribution and shared over 1, 700 vehicles of different types and modes to various organizations including public, security agencies, missionary and private schools and hospitals. He distributed over N20 billion he saved over the years to hospitals and schools. He gave out 22,000 computers and laptops and over 1000 distribution transformers. The former governor also paid and liquidated arrears of pension and gratuity amounting to over N35 billion, accumulated since 1995. His achievements are too many to mention, yet at the end, he left N86.665 billion worth of investments and cash. In other words, as at 17th of March 2014, Mr. Peter Obi’s celebrated administration left total investments and cash balances of N86.665 billion and not N75 billion as previously stated.

Antics of Some Failed Politicians: While it is important to ignore the antics of some failed politicians rattled by such irrevocable facts under reference, it is also important to curtail their nuisance values by throwing more light into the sorry state of finances in most of the States in Nigeria. This we will do shortly after this noble publication.

Our Message to Nigerians & Anambra People: We wish to inform here that a financially sound government is that with commendable strides in socio-economic development, which does not owe any gratuity, pension, salary and contractors’ arrears for executed projects. Such a government does not also mortgage the future of its people by involving in serial borrowings. We commend the former administration of Obi because of its record breaking in this respect. Dividing public debts by Gross Domestic Products to justify serial indebtedness is the worst and disastrous economic calculations to be undertaken by any democratic government. If this is to happen in China, it would have been amounted to death by hanging.

We call on the concerned banks/ issuing Houses, that is to say the Fidelity, Diamond and Access Banks to publicly speak on Mr. Peter Obi’s public declaration to the effect that he bought foreign currency public bonds for Anambra State worth $156 million or N26.5 billion domiciled with them.

We commend those prominent and eminent Nigerians including President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who had at one time or the other appreciated and commended Mr. Peter Obi for a wonderful job well done for Anambra State and Nigeria by extension. One of such presidential commendations that still gladden our heart is that of ‘governing the State outside indebtedness’. It is in times like this that we appreciate what the now late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu saw that made him call on Anambrarians to vote for Mr. Peter Obi in 2010 as his last wish.

We call on the concerned banks/ issuing Houses, that is to say the Fidelity, Diamond and Access Banks to publicly speak on Mr. Peter Obi’s public declaration to the effect that he bought foreign currency public bonds for Anambra State worth $156 million or N26.5 billion domiciled with them.

In this challenging era of our time in the country, the likes of Mr. Peter Obi are direly needed at the federal level to continue his noble service to our beloved country. We call on Governor Willie Obiano to resist any plot or attempt by enemies of the State and some political mercantilists to cause friction or disaffection between him and the former governor and at all times sustain a cordial relationship with him for the State will fare much better in their hands of togetherness than in the contrary. The new governor’s social commitment to the Anambra people, which includes his inaugural speech promise to build some capital intensive projects like airport, must remain irrevocable and any attempt to derail or thwart it be resisted at all times. Celebrated former Governor, Peter Gregory Obi deserves commendation and encouragement for his immense achievements, not ‘blue law’ attacks and vituperations by politicians of the underworld.

Signed:

1. International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman)

2. Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch (Aloysius Attah, Chairman)

3. Human Rights Club, Anambra State Branch (Samuel Njoku, State Chairman)

4. Center for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy (Peter Echezona Onyegiri, Executive Director)

5. Society Watch, a Membership Project of Intersociety (Justus Uche Ijeoma, National Director.

Obi receiving the award

Photo Above: Gov. Obi (middle), with his wife, Margaret(right), in 2012 receiving the award of the "Good Financial Planning Governor of Our Time", from Enugu Anglican Church and presented by Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma during the First session of the 15th Synod of the Diocese at All Saints Church, GRA, Enugu, Enugu State.
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04/03/14

*Of Moral Fault Lines and Subjugated Wisdoms

Dr. Kusum Gopal

'Will the Falcon hear the Falconer?' This is an extremely distressing epoch in global politics on all counts. The shared crise de conscience and crisis of authority being central to these developments—whether it is in judging, in speaking or in taking action: who has the authority to speak for whom and why? It brings to the fore new questions of security, natural resources, livelihoods, above all emphasising the need for intercultural dialogues to clarify ambiguities and dispel misconceptions that give rise to prejudice and hate.

Current happenings in Egypt, the horrific civil wars in Syria, bombings in Lebanon and Nigeria, the tensions between the Ma’alia and Rezeigat people in west Darfur, Buddhists and Rohingas in Myanmar, the simmering rage (despite the Partition) in the Sudan, the continuous firing along the India and Paksitan borders among other events elsewhere have brought in its wake several conversations and journeys through time reminding us starkly that we remain besieged by damaging transgressions of the not so distant past:“The falcon cannot hear the falconer, things fall apart, the centre cannot hold...”to reminisce the poet Yeats. It makes me recall, in particular, a poignant conversation I had with an elderly Palestinian gentleman who described himself as an ancient mariner, and a poet by circumstance. He spoke with passion for the land, “...the dates are the best here, they are naturally endowed with human qualities; it is believed a cut frond will not grow again like a severed human limb. The best dates, ‘Zhaidi’, ‘Hayani’, ‘Ibrahim¡’,‘Hijati’, ‘Khadari’ and ‘Zakhloli’ varieties leave a fabulous taste in the summer heat eaten at sunset sitting under ripening olives and a few scented lemon trees; sadly, such insouciance is now lost to us.” He and his friends had spent their boyhoods loitering without intent; sometimes he went with his granduncle, a shepherd: “There were no walls, no barbed wires, no machine guns----just the beautiful countryside wafting with the fragrant scents of lemon tea, friendly banter of people greeting each other oblivious of whether one was a Jew, Muslim or Christian.” He recalled further with wistful nostalgia, “Our sacred terrain was wide, open to be shared, a natural way of being, we belong to our land… an ancient civilizations which respect not just the people who live here but also anyone else who wants to live here in togetherness, to share in the spirit of our environment where our ancestors breathed freely. We always have shared our lands and resources with so many people... such graciousness of the mind and the spirit has been crushed, we are being legislated out of our history by the callous, ill-mannered meddling’s of insane men with a touch of evil. There is now so much suspicion, so much hate, we cannot expect any longer what will be, we cannot give hope even the anticipation of hope we so much long to give our young.” Similar emotions were echoed by a young Israeli girl in grim tones, “We are taught to take for granted, we have no choice: we must join the army, we must learn to use guns... we are suspicious and angry….we cannot survive otherwise...can we be blamed? “Yes” said Yuri, training to kill is diabolical and we suffer traumas, so many of us. We travel away from our country to release this pain.” ( Continues below..... )

As seen

Photo Above: As seen

Are there solutions? We need to swim back upstream, go back in time, in all contexts and compilations need to be made by locals everywhere. The callous, ill-mannered meddlings of insane men a century or three ago which the Palestinian poet describes has happened in many parts of the disturbed worlds we inhabit. Peoples continue to experience an uncertain existence, severe moral and social dislocations, implanted laws, frustrating and corrupt governance, a legacy of extraneous impositions of borders, of legal frameworks, forms of governance, of personhoods and identities, deep wounds that fester, wounds that will not heal. These happened during the time of the European empires where moral propriety, indeed etiquette was thrown aside; respect or goodwill was not extended towards local populations, or their leaders. Take for instance, an example, in 1914 whilst enjoying the hospitality of the Emir of Yola and sipping his tea, Claude Macdonald of the Nigeria Cameroon Boundary survey team (as quoted by Michael Kehinde) noted after, “In those days, we just took a blue pencil and ruler and we put it down at Old Calabar and drew that blue line to Yola…I recollect thinking when I was sitting having an audience with the Emir of Yola surrounded by his tribe, that it was a good thing that he did not know that I with a blue pencil had drawn a line through his territory.”This act was not an isolated incident; such infringements had begun with the acquisition of territories in the African Continent, as indeed, also the Indian subcontinent. Thus, by 1914, 90% of Africa was divided between seven European countries caused by the arbitrary carving of territories between European powers from 1884-1919 during the Congress of Berlin. Large chunks of land came to be divided by blue lines; peoples were boxed into territories not of their choosing. In Rwanda, a high-ranking medical official told me, “We have had not Caesarean sections but abortions! In our hearts we feel it is strange... Rwanda, Burundi, DRC...we are the same people not just Africans from the east but the south and everywhere else. Can we be called nations? We, Rwandans are part of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, even Sudan also Ethiopia...have you seen us dancing?” Another noted, the Ghost of Leopold paces our land, rohoni nyeusi, evil spirits- and we cannot be rid of them… once Tutsi and Hutu lived together, intermarried, spoke Kinyarwanda or Kirundi, laughed and poked fun and also quarrelled... c'est la vie..Well, then we were made to think of each other as different our lands divided and, we did not understand! Then, they (Belgians and the French) gave us arms to kill each other...the genocides which wipes millions of us every time, eliminating us, tell me is this civilisation we aspire to, what we had before they came was our civilisation now it is theirs in our lands..” In Nigeria, Fatima a law graduate noted, “We were forcibly measured as separate, Yoruba, Hausa Igbo... then, thrust together into nationhood, our values were trampled upon for over three hundred years. Then as everywhere, our lands were taken, new laws enacted, education combined the activities of the missionaries who were building hospitals and converting us, in other instances confusing us... any religion, madam is very sacred to each human being... and we have a dangerous combination; it has made something terrible happen – since last year (2009) the Boko Haram, and now its loose cannon: anyone now gets another together and call themselves Boko Haram. Look we lived together, all faiths, not anymore and we will separate into two parts. We worry we cannot co-exist any longer. And, that will make things worse...” Although many parts of the colonised worlds are independent they continue to govern with infrastructures that were built for the Empire and with the same bureaucratic gaze in interpreting the Law, and these continue to trap frustrate attempts for responsible and good governance.

Canonisation of Governance

Elsewhere in the continent analogous tensions exist. The Sudan has been regarded as Arab and Islamic. What is overlooked is that over 500 languages prevailed and, various peoples practiced traditional forms of religion, and coexisted with Islam although conversion to Christianity was happening in the animist parts of the south. Intermarriage was common and a syncretism culture prevailed in this region. However, during the sixty years, the north and the south were forced apart and oral traditions of the peoples entirely overlooked. Three Acts stand out: the Closed District Ordinance Act of 1920, the Passport and Permit Ordinance Act 1922 and the Trade Ordinance Act of 1925. In essence, these ordinances strictly ensured for complete separate educational, socio-economic, political developments as well as required strict code on travel. The Rejaf Language Conference in 1928 approved English as the official language and, the indigenous South Sudan languages such as Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Latuka, Shilluk and Zande as recognised lingua franca but Arabic was banned. These Ordinances were conceived to maintain the South and the North as separate political entities, pitted against each other. Thus, the cultural movements between peoples, flow of knowledge, shared forms of governance and communications rapidly ceased. The violent conflicts in the Sudan trace its origins to these policies: the presumed Muslim north pitted against the Christian south. Such divisiveness needs to be addressed, as indeed, the manner in which the borders have been drawn. The same truths apply to so many parts of the African continent. Zainab, a diplomat from Sierra Leone noted at a meeting, one has just got to look at lines and then understand why we are in such terrible turmoil.” In the boundary agreements of West Africa such as the one decided in Paris in 1895 between French Guinea and Sierra Leone, Christopher Fyfe notes that it was done entirely in geographical terms: rivers, watersheds, parallels and people were simply not considered. Thus, the once united Samu chiefdom, for instance was divided and the people on the frontier had to opt for farms on one side or, villages on the other. Governance and polity in these geographical units were tampered with and they were later forced into nationhood but they are not naturally nations. In Sierra Leone, for example, relationships between the Mende, Temne, and Creoles remain fraught. Further their Chiefs whose territories were deemed "Protectorate" had not entered voluntarily to sign treaties of friendship with Britain. They were misguided into believing agreements as being between sovereign powers contracting with each other where there was no subordination; it is doubtful whether they had understood the terms. Strictly speaking, a Protectorate does not exist unless the people in it have agreed to be protected. Thus, almost every chieftaincy in Sierra Leone organised armed resistance to the British arrogation of power with armed resistance. The Protectorate Ordinances passed in the Colony in 1896 and 1897 abolished the title of King and replaced it with "Paramount Chief". Those who had been traditionally nominated by their people as chiefs and kings could be deposed or installed at the will of the Governor. Most of the judicial powers of the Chiefs were removed and given to courts presided over by British "District Commissioners and the Governor decreed that a house tax of five s to 10s was to be levied annually on every dwelling in the Protectorate. Thus, in 1898, when tax collection began, serious armed resistance known as the Hut Tax Wars led by Chiefs Bai Bureh Nyaguya, and, Be Sherbro uprisings which were ruthlessly crushed. A minister from Algeria remarked, “The camel always knows which way to turn, but few heed the wisdom of the camel, and we remain torn within.” Elsewhere, nations are less torn within. For example, in Senegal where the national language is Wolof, Cheikh a soil scientist noted, “we feel that we Senegalese are all on the same boat, Sunugal, refers to our hollow pointed boat. All of us practice common courtesy as Indians do Namaste or greet each other, Salaam walikuum, we follow the traditional codes of kersa (respect for others) tegin (good manners), terranga (hospitality). The French tried their tricks but, we hope every time we will get the better of them, even though we west Africans have been pitted against each other.”

Prior to colonisation in Africa, indigenous forms of governance existed, land and its resources were shared, movements of people were commonplace and, oral agreements were reached. There was no indigenous concept of race, tribe or people other than identification based on dialects, language and attire. Wars were fought between men, women and children were always spared. Social interactions between individual and within communities of people did not recognise tribe, but rather, strangers identified each other as belonging to clans’ mbeyu and not, their tribe, kabila. For example, the term of description, the Wagogo the name of a tribe in the Dodoma region, central Tanzania itself is a relatively modern one. As late as 1927, British colonial officers were mystified as they wished to create a tribal authority in central Tanganyika. It was doubted, “whether any outline of the composition of the Gogo tribe or any exposition of its original constitution” was possible, nevertheless the name was imposed on the native chiefs of U-Gogo, the entire Dodoma region, the western half of Manyoni, eastern half of Mpwapwa and Kilimatinde in central Tanganyika. A new justice was meted out according to an officially codified Gogo law inspired by Utilitarian thinking, the Black Letter Law which is now the formal law; it bore little resemblance to the indigenous, democratic, egalitarian systems of governance.

European considerations: Race/Ethnic Divide

What has not been taken to task as yet is how classification and statistics were compiled in these regions . Human beings were simultaneously redefined as analogous to animal and plant species, as ethnic types to be slotted in the pigeonholes of such questionnaires as Thomas has noted. Taxonomy, similar to Linnaeus was at the heart of the new "art of government," based, as La Perriere said, on the "right disposition of things, arranged to lead to a convenient end." As Pratt has observed, principles from Linnaeus botany created an international networks of scientists. It provided, for instance, Dutch, British, Portuguese, Russian expeditions with German naturalists, creating a circuit for the exchange of knowledge in which much colonial intelligence could be passed on from one empire to another; some argue that botanists pioneered the colonial deployment of statistics.

Dispassionate, colonial scholar administrators’ worked through various routines relied upon their valuations with little sympathy for local ways of relating: Race and colour was central to such thinking. A common one was anthropometry, the patterning Africans’ physical characteristics –measuring skulls, height, skin colour, the nasal index, and skull shapes and in Indian Subcontinent, it also included, caste and religion. Thus, organised shifting conjugal, social distinct’ ethnic’ identities were fixed— in order to regulate the control of labour and, required resources from the land. This appears to have had a critical bearing not just on impoverishment of livelihoods, the removal of men from the household to work in far off regions, led to women being burdened with the responsibility for household expenditure and farm labour and transformed gender relationships. And, what has not been taken to task continues to inform. In the Indian subcontinent, for example, H.H Risley developed an official typology of racial types formulating grades in caste defined by the proportion of ‘Aryan’ blood and the nasal index, along a gradient from the highest castes to the lowest. In 1910 he influentially asserted that knowledge of facts concerning the religions and habits of the peoples of India equipped a civil servant with a passport to popular regard. He absurdly determined, "the social position of a caste varies inversely as its nasal index measuring the definition of a community as either a tribe or a Hindu caste or a Muslim. The nasal index, a method of classifying ethnicity based on the ratio of the breadth of a nose to its height, race remained one of the principal determinants of attitudes, endowments, capabilities and inherent tendencies among subject peoples and used in different parts of the Empire. Risley’s experience of administrative matters, including policing, proved to be useful to Curzon during the anti-government agitation that led to the first Partition of Bengal. Imperial classifications such as base Bengali Babu, dark-skinned Tamils, cunning Malayali, irascible Bhil, quarrelsome Pathan, warrior Rajput, loyal Gurkha inferiorized local populations. Another aspect was the introduction in the subcontinent of the codification of perceived inherited behaviour. Thus, criminality or professional criminal behaviour to be perceived as hereditary rather than on account of impoverishment and social circumstance, and crime became ethnic, to be biologically determined entrenching new understandings of fixing caste and people and such sustained Utilitarian, administrator colonial scholarship inspired laws such as The Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 so forth to be enacted. From such political measures, those communities or people with peripatetic lifestyles or communities who chose to live in the forests, away from ‘society’ were seen as a menace to the society, 'dangerous classes' – thugs, vagrants, itinerants, gypsies and even Hijras (eunuchs) had to be sent to reformatory schools in the guise of mental asylums and prisons were equipped with these tasks. Although the Act was repealed in 1949 it was replaced in substance by the Habitual Offenders Act 1952 of Government of India indicating how colonial laws continue to inform attitudes in the Subcontinent affecting over a billion people in India. There needs to be serious re-thinking of the enduring impact of colonial legislation as these Acts along with the policing measures continue to damage measures for productive governance.

Applying the Stammbäume(charting family trees) model (not as used by Darwin) to grade levels, how superior to inferior races were governed by selection, regardless of historical evidence, reciprocal influences between scientific thought and species discusses how orders and levels came to represent an ascending staircase of social-cultural evolution, natives occupying the lowest rungs. Thus, terms to describe races 'Aryan', 'Dravidian' and so forth have been proven to be gravely erroneous: the entire race grading of people is indeed, erroneous. As the eminent historian Romila Thapar had observed that we do not know what the Aryans looked like and certainly these Aryan speaking peoples had intermarried with other peoples in their migrations for several hundred centuries. Similarly the term ‘Dravidian’ conjured by a British linguist Caldwell is inaccurate in its usage. There are no Aryans or Dravidian people, and racial divides in scales are unscientific, arbitrary fixtures. Intermarriage and integration has been way of life for millennia. Here we have to note that phonology, syntax and vocabulary apart, in the Indian subcontinent for millennia various peoples settled following a timeless traditions of reciprocity and exchange. At any rate, there has always been so much interbreeding between human populations that it would be meaningless to talk of fixed boundaries between races in most parts of the world. Also, the distribution of hereditary physical traits does not follow clear boundaries. In other words, there is often greater variation within a "racial" group than there is systematic variation between two groups. Institutionalising such thinking has led to the hardening of inward-looking attitudes which formed the basis of classifications leading to continuous wrangling, and prejudice.

Current analysis seeks to label ethnic confrontation, communal turbulence and tribal conflicts – but fails to look back into the recesses of the histories and cultures. Such painful confrontations which continue to reverberate in contemporary African and societies of the Subcontinent, as indeed, the Middle-East have resulted, without a doubt, from an extraneous imposition of rigid systems of classification on otherwise flexible groups. Studying how such thinking came to be in addition to the physically measured racial differentiations of ethnic subjects, ethnic groups were presupposed to have a range of obligatory characteristics needs to be reassessed. Indeed, the term ‘ethnic’ and ‘ethnicity’ needs to be re-examined as it had very little to do with people’s understandings of their own identities and how they related to each other. Indeed, what ethnicity might mean in relation to ‘Africans', ‘Arabs’, ‘Jews’, Indians, Sri Lankans, indeed, Baluchis even, the NWFP appreciations of their own identities was simply not considered indeed, if anything, undermined: there are immeasurable ways by which peoples define themselves in relation to each other.

To reflect on whether we can apply understandings of contemporary ethnicities we need to look at how they developed in relation to one another within each specific context; what is meant by immutable ethnic loyalties and indeed, ‘primordial afflictions’ as such fixed terms of reference to dominate global political analyses. Informed by the philosophical underpinnings of specific forms of European culture and governance, for instance Anglo-Saxon where Utilitarian and Cartesian thinking was central to governance and polity of European empires, a consequence: making separate and dividing peoples on basis of invented race and colour schemata established anthropometry as a pivotal consideration. Thus, there was an explicit imposition of administrative infrastructure to make separate and distinct against assimilation in order to control and to guard the boundaries and exits of the body politic. These measures explicitly negated time honoured customs, how people related to each other, or accepted and understood their environments, or, the mutual interdependence with which these cultures had evolved naturally for millennia with indigenous forms of governance that had worked for them. The loss of certainty led to new forms of strife and introduced ‘communal’ conflicts: such estrangement has had the effect of foreclosing and truncating indigenous value systems.

The wisdom of the Ottomans

In conspicuous contrast, the Ottoman Empire which governed for over six hundred years allowed for the integration of large Jewish, Christian and other communities, who, despite some legal handicaps, found that the dispensation generally allowed them to live and worship in faithful adherence to their laws and traditions. Some religious heads even believed that the Turkish conquest had preserved the Greek Church from the threat of annihilation by the growing power of the Latin west. For instance, the Grand Duke Loukas Notarasis had stated on the eve of the conquest: ‘It would be better to see the turban of the Turks reigning over the city than the Latin mitre.” In later decades, active efforts were made through the tanzimat to incorporate various cultures within. And, by embracing the Hanafi School the most accommodating of all the four schools and, drawing upon all four schools in its law making, it permitted maximum flexibility within the limits of Islamic tradition, thus was placating disparate populations of Jews, Christians and, indeed, various schools within the Sunni Islamic traditions; many of the spiritual exercises of the Hesychast movement championed by St Gregory Palamas, who had spent a year at the Ottoman court debating with Muslims, were derived from Sufi and Islamic practices. The institutionalising of Sufism, some scholars have argued in governance and military establishment sanctioned non conformism. Such latitudinarian forms of governance derived from the philosophical, religious and cultural syncretism’s cobbled together from Byzantine, Arab, and Central Asian as indeed, the Mughals traditions. Many of the Shia mosques in Iraq were built by the Sunni Ottomans. In 1856, the Hatt-ý Hümayun promised equality for all Ottoman citizens irrespective of their ethnicity and confession, widening the scope of the 1839 Hatt-ý Þerif of Gülhane. The reformist period peaked with the Constitution, called the Kanûn-ý Esâsî (meaning "Basic Law" in Ottoman Turkish), written by members of the Young Ottomans, which was promulgated on 23 November 1876. It established freedom of belief and equality of all citizens before the law. "Firman of the Reforms" gave immense privileges to the Armenians, which formed a "governance in governance" to eliminate the aristocratic dominance of the Armenian nobles by development of the political strata in the society. Certainly, the military regulations meant conscription; they were also guaranteed protection providing the impetus for vernacular languages and traditions to develop unhindered within the Ottoman fold. As another scholar has argued, its social organization and mechanisms of rule at key moments of its history, emergence, imperial institutionalization, re-modelling, transition to nation-state, revealing how the empire managed these moments, adapted, and averted crises and what changes made it transform dramatically. The flexible techniques by which the Ottomans maintained their legitimacy specifically the manner in which dissent was handled and/or internalized in the nature of state society respect of minorities; the cooperation of their diverse elites both at the centre and in the provinces, as well as their control over economic and human resources were responsible for the longevity of this particular empire over other empires.

What is often forgotten, remarked Ari Abulafia, a violinist with whom we journeyed with in Istanbul, is that whilst people of the same religious traditions, be they Protestant, or Catholic or, belonging to Islam other older traditions such as Judaism were being systematically persecuted, driven away by Edicts or discouraged by repressive measures in Europe, in Asia be it south or central Asia, the Arabian peninsula, Middle-East, Iran and other parts of the Levant, they enjoyed great freedoms occupied high positions; they were regarded as integral to the contemporary societies in question, the Safavids, Mughals, certainly under the Ottomans: such open-ended cultural freedoms and economic security allowed for an unrivalled prosperity. Kurdish nationalism remains one of the most critical and explosive problems of the Middle East. Hakan Üzoðlu has consulted a wealth of primary sources, including Ottoman and British archives, Ottoman Parliamentary minutes, memoirs, and interviews. He argues that Kurdish leaders remained loyal to the Ottoman state;they withdrew only after it became certain that the empire would not recover did Kurdish nationalism emerge and clash with the Kemal Pasha‘s modern polity and development of Turkish nationalism. In later decades, the British inspired tumultuous break-up of the Ottoman Empire while allowing for the nation states introduced less tolerant governance, forged rivalry between peoples who once had prosperously co-existed and, financial instability: Greece is one example as also, the Balkans, where populations of Serbs, Slovenes, Magyars, Croats, Bulgars, Turks, others had intermarried and coexisted. Some measures of the Ottomans need to be revisited to strengthen nations in these regions.

In Palestine, the Ottoman millat system under which all religious hierarchies had the right to govern their communities autonomously also came to be distorted under colonial rule. Instead of introducing the immigrant European communities into the existing structures of governance and polity in Palestine, the British authorities made concrete what was abstract and open-ended, by introducing ‘ethnic’ divides and sectarianism which has now become the basis for all political participation. Such a move effectively unified the Jewish population of Palestine while dividing its Arabs along sectarian lines. And, as a result, residents along with other communities such as the Armenians, Coptics and Greeks were denied ‘national’ representation in the governance of their communities. Similarly, the partition of Iraq led to the creation of Kuwait, and the British bestowed sovereignty on King Farouk, a non-Iraqi Sunni monarch although the population was largely Shi’a. And, as he was a foreigner and not familiar with the lay of the land or its emotions he relied upon select enclaves of power leading inevitably to the seizure of power by the Ba’athist regime of Al– Bakr and Saddam Hussein in 1968. They were not tolerant of other groups, and did not recruit from the majority who were Shi’as to share power. For much of its time,the Ottoman Empire had nurtured creative genius at all levels allowing religious freedoms, and other cultural expressions as indeed, artistic expressions to flourish.

Unfortunately, modern Turkey’s move to embrace westernisation by Kemalism undermined its very strength as it estranged itself from its rich syncretic history. Further ill-advised measures were introduced for example, the hasty abolition of Ottoman Turkish and Arabic script in 1929. The language revolution also known as Dil Devrimi was conceived of in the late nineteenth century where the Arabic script was replaced by Latin alphabet. Although a majority of the political members of the assembly favoured a gradual transition a period up to five years, it was overruled. Eager for Turkey to remain at the pinnacle, Kemal Pasha insisted on immediacy. Purification of the language became a national cause. Dictionaries began to drop Arabic and Persian words and sought to resurrect archaic terms or words from Turkish dialects or to coin new words from old stems and roots to be used in their place. The Turkish Language Society Türk Dil Kurumu, founded in 1932, supervised the collection and dissemination of Turkish folk vocabulary and folk phrases to be used in place of foreign words. Such short sighted developments severed inadvertently an extremely rich, syncretic philosophical heritage of learning and civility. It would not be far-fetched to observe that harmony and tolerance could come to prevail between various peoples committed to the longevity and material success of the European Union, indeed, be guaranteed if leaders and communities could seek to reflect and, to learn from inclusive polity of the Ottomans.

The Indian Subcontinent

Possibly the bloodiest Partition in history has been the partitioning of India and Pakistan in August 1947, the ramifications of which remain largely unexplored, nor, properly explained. The process needs to be comprehended as the Partitioning of the Indian subcontinent, indeed Mughal and Maratha empires, which began with the Anglo Afghan wars. In May 1879, the Treaty of Gandamak, was signed that forced Amir Yaqub Khan to cede the large areas west of the Indus -Khurram, Pishin and Sibi and, hand over the control of the Khyber and Michni Pass to the British. Two imperial Anglo-Russian Boundary Commissions of 1895-96 were set up without consulting the Amir or the Wakhanis fixed resolutely the frontiers in the north- east and the north- west, Russian Turkestan as Russian Central Asia came to be called. The Wakhan Corridor on the high Pamirs was to remain with the Afghans as it served to act as a buffer between British and Tsarist territories. Those tribes who suffered on account of this partition were the Kyrgyz and Wakhi tribes who were forced to discontinue their traditional pastoral practices. In the east, the Durand Line in 1893 was drawn by the British which came to separate communities on both sides of the border for the first time in millennia. Amir Abdul Rahman is recorded to have remarked, "How can a small power like Afghanistan which is like a goat between two lions, or a grain of wheat between two strong millstones of the grinding mill, stand in midway of the stones without being ground to dust?”

There were, thus, in effect, seven geographical Partitions that happened of the Indian Subcontinent. They began with the Partitions of Afghanistan in 1879 and 1893, the Partition of Bengal in 1903-04, the carving of Burma in April 1937 and, from the Bombay Presidency, west Aden, Mustaʿmarat ʿAdan, in 1937, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1947, and the same year between India and Pakistan being the most violent covering as it did present day Bengal, Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, the United Provinces.

In the Indian subcontinent, partitions happened in weeks. To the many millions, the Partition remains a heinous crime and drawing of the boundary line was in itself, faulty. As observed by one historian, the dividing line between the east and west of the province, “…wobbled from communal to economic to strategic factors', followed no natural dividing features such as rivers or mountain ranges, cut across villages, canal systems and communication lines, in the process separating communities and bisecting homes. Large populations of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs found themselves on the ‘wrong’ side of the border.”At no point in time did the local people have any say in the matter; they felt betrayed and herein were the seeds sown of Hindu Muslim animosity primarily among the Punjabis and Sindhis; they were torn apart from each other, from their shared communities being forced to flee. The traumatic effects of territorial loss, moral and social dislocation and painful separation of human communities continue to reverberate in the Indian subcontinent with tragic consequences. Nationhood cannot be defined by enmity but by love for the land, for the joint custody of people of its resources.

Ancient cultures of the subcontinent are renowned for their millennial syncretic and immanent traditions. For example, examine the nineteenth century Punjabi culture and its influence on the political expression of the times. It is common knowledge that the Punjab derives its name from Persian, comprising the words of Panj (five) and Ab (water) meaning land of five rivers, Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej. It consisted of rich alluvial tracts of land, or the Doab between two confluent rivers, the Sind–Sagar, Jech, Bist, Rechna, and the Bari Doabs. The term Punjab was used during the reign of Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. In the documents of Mughal period the use of the terms Sarkar-e-Punjab and Suba-e-Punjab and this region remained longest under Islamic influences. Indo-Islamic confluences inspired by the Sufis, Sheikhs, Pirs and Ulemas followed them in their wake. In many towns of the Punjab, they opened Khankahs and Jamait Khanas, amongst which those at Multan, Uch, Ajodhan, and Lahore were of great sanctity. The Punjab has acted not merely as a repository of the Indo- Islamic mystical traditions but a focal point in the process of its diffusion. All the classical mystic writings like Kashf al-Mahjub, AwarifulMaarif, Futuhat-e-Makkiya, Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi and other mystics were first received, accepted in Punjab and then transmitted to the rest of India. Even today the Sufi lyrics sung by of Abida Parveen, Fateh Ali Khan, Amarjeet Kaur and others, Pakistani and Indian Punjabis are based on the Sufi kalam of the mystic saints of Punjab (such as Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Khwaja Ghulam Farid etc.) and Mughal poets Amir Khusrao. They sing in Punjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, and Persian, and enthral audiences in Delhi and beyond, many who claim ancestry from former west Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Similarly, elsewhere along the Radcliffe lines traditions of hospitality such as: melmastia, mehrman palineh defining meraneh or codes of manhood such as imandaari (righteousness), sabat (steadfastness), ghairat (of property), namus protecting women extended far beyond Pashtun cultural arena as witnessed in the Deccan regions where Urdu was more widely spoken as linguistics such as Tahir Rahman have illustrated, since the thirteenth century, well-integrated with local languages such as Telugu as indeed, Marathi. Similarly, in Kashmir, Allah and Lala symbolised the several hundred centuries of syncreticism as embodied in Kashmiriyat. The “pluralist, Sufi Bhakti- RishiTraditions” has been elaborated at length by Madanjeet Singh.

Partitions are often understood as necessary boundaries that came to be drawn with the creation of ‘nation states ‘ of modernity. As boundaries function to separate and to exclude, the incidence of identical cultures on both sides of an international boundary holds significant implications for post-partition (post-independent) interstate relations in the Indian Subcontinent, African continent, South east Asia, Russian Steppes, as, indeed, deep rooted loyalties compel inter-community relations whether or not the community is wholly located within a single country or split between countries. There remains a lack of fit between ascribed “ethnic” identities, linguistic boundaries and patterns of allegiances. After all, for millennia there had been an entirely unselfconscious interaction across political, physical, linguistic religious, indeed, cosmological boundaries. And, extraneously imposed, monistic identities/ perceived allegiances continue to counter cultural diversity as it is regularly experienced and accepted.

What solutions can be offered? Resuscitating traditions of syncreticism, of subjugated wisdoms and disseminating such knowledge is vital towards redressing these moral fault lines. And, these attempts would subsequently guarantee peace not just to the citizens of aforementioned regions of the world, but also for citizens in Europe and north America. In India for example, even locals know that local cultures are not autonomous, but interdependent systems which have become influenced by global involvements that promote further exploitation, witness the decline of the rupee. The ‘open-frontier” traditions of immanent, syncretic cultures such as those of the subcontinent have always accommodated a global perspective -- often not recognised. Thus, the formal ‘colonisation of the native conscience’ (as one anthropologist has noted) so integral to the subjection of indigenous peoples is not often grasped in most understandings of the divisive politics of post-colonial societies. In defining gender, identity and personhoods, the Cartesian ‘cogito’, positivist and evolutionary thought continues to inform official understandings. It’s overwhelming importance in determining contemporary categories of the Self whether it is the dualistic presumptions that guide everyday thought or the mechanistic way that dominates much of science. It also influences the manner in which symbolic, cognitive and aesthetic competences are judged via implicit learning processes --often at the cost of local cultural understandings.

The way forward would be that experts in one culture can play a key role in increasing mutual understanding and eliminating prejudices in their own culture and in those which they study. Each culture needs to build up an understanding on the basis of its own specific characteristics -positive life experiences in inter-cultural contexts within the regional as a start working towards mutual interdependence and conviviality. In various narratives the meaning of emotions/ feelings in collective imaginations vital in the formation and development of those representations is simply not considered. Nor are themes of interdependence, recognition of similarities which are necessary for coexistence of cultures and persons- indeed, focusing exclusively on diversity overlooks the necessary condition for any type of dialogue – the recognition of that which makes us similar to each other. There are considerations of humanity’s psychic unity: shared emotions and vulnerability- aims and ideals to which we all aspire in particular the shared dignity and knowledge of each other – vulnerability is something we all share- human frailty – to provide hospitality, empathy sympathy and humility in intercultural relations. To achieve this we need to undertake an archaeology of the past working towards an ethnography of the present.

Source: Kashmir Observer

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03/31/14

*“Purging Racism, The Enemy Within”, An Analysis.

By Philip Probity & Ahmed Mohh M.

March 21 is the UN International Day for Elimination of Racism reminding us of our collective responsibility for promoting and protecting these ideals. Many of us Africans have chosen to study and work in India. Delhi is always a magnet being a capital city: it is known that the best education can be obtained here. We came to India not just for education, but also enlightenment! We remain particularly disturbed by racist taunts and harassment we experience. Certainly in the wake of recent attacks we feel disrespected and unsafe. So much of Africa was colonised mainly by the British who divided and exploit us as was India. We have so much in common: such experiences of racism deeply offend anger, upset and sadden us. Why is this happening and are there any solutions to these problems? We spoke with Dr Kusum Gopal in whose diverse expertise includes redressing race and ethnic tensions in the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia, northern Europe, East and West Africa and the MENA region.

Question: Why is there so much racism directed specifically against Africans in India?

Answer: These attacks on Africans happen in groups and no one does anything! Please explain. Racism remains an extremely alarming phenomena – and many non Europeans have been at its receiving end since colonialism came into being over five centuries ago defining attitudes of acceptance, of rejection, with the fabrications of superior versus the inferior races. We must recall Eric Williams, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica who noted that racism was born out of slavery and not the other way around!

Before understanding the basis of racism as we reflect on the pernicious colonial legacy which continues to operate with impunity, we in India as indeed those Indians abroad need also to acknowledge, to reflect and to address publicly and privately, the ‘colonisation of our conscience’ as an anthropologist has perceptively described it; the mental paralysis and ignorance we remain submerged in is affecting detrimentally our value judgements, ethics, indeed, our aesthetics, sixty-seven years after we gained Independence. We are yet to acknowledge or recognise that it is such an entrenched malaise punishing specifically not just Africans but also Indians. Of course I am not stating that racism against Africans can be put on the same platform as racism against Indians, but it can be understood better within such a context. It is evident just watching the billboards advertising various products, or attending fashion shows, the IPL --- events that are happening in the public arena at the national level, in all instances, white-skinned European models are preferred to Indian models in India! Ironically, Indians are regarded, even envied as extremely beautiful people and those who have won Miss World/Miss Universe titles are mainly dark-skinned women. Yet many Indian film actors continue to be painted white on the big and small screens looking rather unattractive, lifeless, indeed, pasty faced: all images are being doctored deliberately. There is a serious need to advocate the “Black is beautiful” slogans which grew from the tormenting experience of African Americans to educate people here, indeed, to state unequivocally that or “all shades of black/brown are to die for”.

You may have read reports on the sexual violence against women, girls and boys, most recently racism against the teenager who was brutally murdered, Nido Tanian. You may have also seen the obnoxious fair and lovely advertisements on T.V by various cosmetic companies which are endorsed by misguided celebrities who are causing such harm poisoning minds advocating that those with lighter skin are beautiful, they are role models to aspire to making viewers feel inadequate, lacking and inferior! Some girls and women bleach their faces indeed as also men in a bid to lighten their natural skin tones with chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, ammonia and so forth. It is absurd for us living as we do now in independent India, to allow, indeed, even to accept that being light skinned is to be beautiful while 99% of the population are deemed inferior or ugly. Needless to say, these advertisements are nauseating in the extreme and should be banned. Our government and institutions need to step in immediately to expunge the rot within! We must address collectively as a people our instinctive self-loathing and how it has consequences on questions of ethics, on aesthetics which disinherits and disenfranchises us.

Attacking in groups –lynching --is criminal, and also an act of cowardice, a menacing experience indeed! It is not that nothing is happening. Legal action is happening albeit at a rather slow pace which is because there is, distressingly, such a deep divide as far as accountability goes between the formal law and informal laws with concealed power structures that operate all over the countries of the Subcontinent, indeed beyond as you must know only too well.

Bear in mind also that racism has taken many forms – in China, sharp differentiation exists of Han versus Hakka; the Uyghurs feel severely marginalised, indeed, many non Chinese origin people are being denied citizenship in Hong Kong; some forced to emigrate. Similarly, WASP dominance in north America and western Europe in governance and finance; it was not so long ago when those of Jewish origin were demonised and persecuted on the basis of their faith in their lands, it is still happening today Palestine, Central African Republic, Sudan being just a few examples. Indeed, while all expressions of racism are deeply disturbing and simply unacceptable, resolutions are possible.

Question: What are the official definitions of racism?

Answer: The tenets of UN Charters such as the famous Universal Declaration of Human Rights against racism are very clear. The first article affirms that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." The term "racial discrimination" as defined by Article 10 is: “any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” Since then, there have been the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in 2001, the international community's efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the UN Charter of 2010. India is one of the signatories of the Declaration. It is against the Indian Constitution to discriminate against any human being on grounds of religion, colour, creed, language, race or sex. And, these are deemed criminal offences punishable by law. It is indeed, quite deplorable... we urgently need to address also concomitant crimes against lower-castes as indeed the alarming frequency of recurring widespread sexual violence against women, girls as also, less reported rapes and related forms of aggression against boys and men. Indeed, let us remind ourselves: “that United Nations has condemned colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith,” in particular, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples proclaimed in particular the necessity of bringing colonialism to a speedy and unconditional end. Further, the Declaration of Human Rights and UNESCO Declarations which clearly state, that any doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination either in theory or in practice. All propaganda and organizations based on ideas or theories of the superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin with a view to justifying or promoting racial discrimination in any form shall be severely condemned. Further, that all incitement to or acts of violence, whether by individuals or organizations against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin shall be considered an offence against society and punishable under law.

Question: Also, what about caste from which people could not escape? Is that also not racist?

Answer: Yes, caste is discriminatory as it exists today- but that is also changing. It is important to recognise that we need to re-examine all the philological scholarship of colonial administrators beginning with William Jones – mainly, to re-evaluate once again this vast corpus of literature that came to be codified by the Black Letter Law. While excellent critiques exist, and such erudition has been published, academics have been remiss, indeed deeply careless in not making available such findings to the public as also, indeed the government and its institutions. As I have stated elsewhere, Caste is known to have been derived from Manusmriti or Manu Dharma Sastra, a segment of the richly diverse Indian philosophical systems. The Manusmriti is not a legal code, but a darshana or interpretation of philosophic systems: all ancient philosophical systems in India are known as darsanas, meaning, calling insights or points of view. None of the darsanas -- almost 3000 verses codify cosmogony; four ashramas, government, domestic affairs, caste and morality are binding. In the etymology of Indian words, Manusmriti has come to be erroneously interpreted during the colonial period as the unchangeable Laws of Manu. Eminent Sanskrit scholars do not accept the translation of smriti as ‘laws’. Smritis are remembered knowledge of the sages, derived from shrutis or divine revelations and thus are not binding. The philosophical and lexical richness of the darsanas needs to be interpreted within the cultural context of Sanskrit.Under colonial rule, for the first time, through random physical measurements, classification and separation of the subject populations using anthropometry, skin colour, racial classifications, and, creation of ethnic identities occurred. H H Risley, an influential administrator for example whom we discussed earlier, ludicrously determined that, “the social position of the caste varies inversely as the nasal index”, that, caste status was fixed, unchangeable; nearly all native practices and customs were reinterpreted distorting indigenous understandings and legislated customary ways of being out of existence. The colonial system supplemented its own formal institutions by manipulating these indigenous social networks in producing and reproducing social and political identities-- for ordinary people such official social identities ultimately determined their fate, and they were forced by circumstance into relying upon those identities.

It is now clear from authoritative research that although one was born into a caste, his or her caste status was not fixed; one could change and did change caste and intermarriage was rife. With the movements of people, occupations and social relationships were always in a state of flux. For example, under the Turko-Afghans, the Mughals, groups of people who came to be known as the Kayasths became the backbone of the administration married into the Pathans, Turks and other groups of people or, the Banjaras who are now reduced to poverty, were once very influential and wealthy traders - salt carriers of the Mughals. Prior to the British all those who came to Indian subcontinent had intermarried, integrated and, accepted the people as they were accepted by them. This is why colonialism was markedly different from previous empires and governance- it emphasised differences and created separatism on basis of race and religion. For nearly two hundred years, the formal codification of differences among peoples their religions, racial/ caste discrimination, separatist movements of language purification led to the Partitions.

Question: Could you describe further the “pernicious colonial legacy”?

Answer: In Nigeria, Central Africa as in many parts of Africa, this has of course led to some severe tensions. We know that race constructions or tribe constructions did not originate from the existence of 'races' or tribes. It was created through European colonialism which institutionalised processes of social division into arbitrary categories fixing racial profiles independent of people’s somatic, cultural, religious belief systems. Applying the Stammbäume(charting family trees) model (not as used by Darwin) to grade levels, how superior to inferior races were governed by selection, regardless of historical evidence, reciprocal influences between scientific thought and species discusses how orders and levels came to represent an ascending staircase of social-cultural evolution, all non Europeans natives occupying the lowest rungs graded by skin colour. Certainly this ludicrous evolutionary scheme has been discarded since ---the entire race grading of people is indeed, unscientific and fallacious. We have to reject outright colonial anthropometry ---the cephalic index, the bigonial diameter, the bizygomatic diameter as indeed, all the rest. At any rate, there has always been so much interbreeding between human populations that it would be meaningless to talk of fixed boundaries between races in most parts of the world. Also, the distribution of hereditary physical traits does not follow clear boundaries. In other words, there is often greater variation within a "racial" group than there is systematic variation between two groups. Institutionalising such thinking has led to the hardening of inward-looking attitudes which formed the basis of classifications leading to continuous wrangling, and prejudice.

With reference to the regions under discussion: let us first pluck at, and engage with the pre-colonial oral and literary traditions of the great African continent and those of the Subcontinent, the “ways of seeing”, that evolved naturally over millennia. We are aware that in Africa from the exemplary scholarship and observations by Mudimbe, Bourdieu and Fabian among others on the enduring weight of colonial libraries and its tenacious grip. In most parts of Africa, as I have said elsewhere, there was no indigenous concept of race, colour, tribe or people other than identification based on dialects, language and attire as people intermarried more frequently than acknowledged contributing to the natural history of the human race, one of its distinguishing features. As a geneticist has noted, the scientific rejection of taxonomy... far from splitting up into subspecies which would be definitely adapted to the particular environment in which they had settled, and would differ from each other all the more for being genetically isolated (a frequent occurrence in animal species), the human race is composed of populations whose inheritances are being continually modified by gene exchanges.” Social interactions between individuals and within communities of people did not recognise tribe, but rather, strangers identified each other as belonging to clans’ mbeyu and not, their tribe, kabila-- the case in east Africa for example. Similarly, the was the case of the Indian subcontinent whose ancient cultures are renowned for their immanent traditions. Integral to open–frontier traditions has been acceptance to forge voluntarily kinship relations between different groups and individuals through formal adoption of one by the other mainly by the offer of sanctuary, intermarriage, offer of material goods, of land made explicit through sophisticated ceremonial rituals of mutual exchange and reciprocity.

Ethnicity is wrongly interpreted using colonial and Euro-American terms of reference needs to be qualified within the context of the history and syncretism of this region, In the Indian subcontinent, H.H Risley in 1910 an influential Utilitarian, colonial administrator developed an official typology of racial types formulating grades in caste defined by the proportion of ‘Aryan’ blood and the nasal index, along a gradient from the highest castes to the lowest- the classic evolutionary model from which ‘modern’ classification, basis of race developed. He absurdly determined, "the social position of a caste varies inversely as its nasal index measuring the definition of a community as either a tribe or a Hindu caste or a Muslim,” when we know that Hindus Muslims, Sikhs Buddhists and others in the Subcontinent are peoples who cannot be separated thus: such flawed thinking must be debunked. Indeed, in biological terms, our physical and mental development as human beings are a result of our heredities, our environments, a consequence of millennia of inter-breeding, inheritances being continually modified by gene exchanges as different peoples intermarried with migrant human populations, repeated episodes of territorial expansion and shrinkage, and frequent cross-breeding, a testimony to the millennial cultures that stretched from Tibet – to Kanyakumari and from Afghanistan to Burma. Even today those who think they are of Aryan descent or Dravidian, indeed any other category need to re-educate themselves. The terms to describe races 'Aryan', 'Dravidian' and so forth have been proven to be gravely erroneous. As the eminent historian Romila Thapar had observed that we do not know what the Aryans looked like and certainly these Aryan speaking peoples had intermarried with other peoples in their migrations for several hundred centuries. Similarly the term ‘Dravidian’ conjured by a British linguist Henry Caldwell is inaccurate in its usage. There are no Aryans or Dravidian people, and racial divides in scales are unscientific, arbitrary fixtures. Intermarriage and integration has been way of life for millennia. The proof is in the pudding: that phonology, syntax, vocabulary, cuisines, music, dance, indeed, all forms of human expression have integrated in the Indian subcontinent for millennia as various peoples settled embracing these timeless syncretic traditions until the advent of European colonialism.

Disturbing as it is official administrative knowledge of human diversity remains influenced by these descriptions written some over four centuries ago under the aegis of European colonial regimes around the world. Images of origin and purity helped most practically to justify efforts to describe and propagate divisiveness, territorially distinct races; politics of society was determined by the politics of knowledge expressed through race. Obsession with ‘purity’ was embedded in European colonial cultures. In Spain for example, in this important book, Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina, by Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan poet and journalist describes the intricate hierarchy measured by sangre azul or blue blood. Paintings by the Old Masters sometimes reveal how a nobleman demonstrated his pedigree by holding up his sword arm to display the filigree of blue-blooded veins beneath his pale skin as a testimony that his birth had not been contaminated by the dark-skinned enemy. Sangre azul became a euphemism for being a white man—the limpieza de sangre doctrine was also very common in the colonization of the Americas. It led to the invention of a rather intricate taxonomic list to describe one's precise race and, by consequence, one's place in society. It included, among others terms, Mestizo (50% Spaniard and 50% Native American), Castizo (75% European and 25% Native American), Spaniard (87.5% European and 12.5% Native American), Mulatto (50% European and 50% African),Albarazado (43.75% Native American, 29.6875% European, and 26.5625% African), and so forth. This is just one example; there exist other classifications peculiar to each colonial power. Thus, extraneously, instituted values equated with the ought, to, the norm or the moral came to be separated from how colonised peoples defined their own identities. I remain of the firm opinion that the term race must be done away with immediately: it has been proved to be unscientific, and is most certainly extraneous to the cultures of the Subcontinent (as indeed, east and west Africa): there has been everywhere so much interbreeding among human populations that fortuitously, there is no such thing as a pure race anywhere in the world.

Question: What can we do to spread academic knowledge?

Answer: You know that scientific racism was popularised by prejudices and rather poor methods but they came to prevail. For example, a doctoral student at Cambridge has recently highlighted one such work-- Samuel G Morton’s Crania Americana which divided humankind into five categories based on anthropometry was influential in Europe and north America, possible that H.H. Risley the colonial administrator also used these methods, What is immeasurably worrying are not these works, note how celebrities are causing great harm –take for example, Dancia, the extremely popular Nigerian/Cameroonian singer who is marketing a cream called ‘whitenicious’ which she has patented – she stated in an interview that “white means pure” – she always appears several shades lighter with bleached hair. Thus many of her female fans have already started using it – This is also the case in Thailand and the Philippines where such creams containing extremely harmful chemicals are being used. Essentially the message being – one must be ashamed of one’s colour if it is not white: let us not push these unpalatable truths under the carpet. It is thus critical at this juncture for us to address racism at home before we can combat racism outside – and here all forms of discrimination must be brought to the fore and discussed,

Question: How can we change these ‘entrenched ‘attitudes? Is that possible?

Answer: Just criminalising racism will not eradicate it; indeed, it could even have the opposite effect. We know from experience that it is no use ignoring the values ascribed to race in the hope that people will stop thinking in racial terms and therefore the problems will solve itself gradually. In the US and UK, many European countries have actively set up committees and institutions to educate people. The Thirteenth Amendment in US Constitution abolished slavery in 1865 and yet it has taken almost 150 years for them to elect a black American President. One should not aim just for political correctness but education of the mind and the spirit, humanistic understandings deepening from within.

However, knowledge of the truth does not always help change knee-jerk reactions or emotional thoughts that draw their real strength from the subconscious or from happenings beside the real issue. But it could however, prevent validations of criminal acts or behaviour prompted by feelings which men and women cannot easily express openly. To regulate conflicts of this kind governmental and institutional intervention is essential. The longer it is postponed, the more harm it is likely to cause and we must act with immediacy.

We have to begin with dissemination of knowledge with dialogues. Dialogues must be registered as conversations between equals and, from that, interactions between parties concerned must be based on mutual hospitality, empathy and, some humility- after all only understanding can ensure any form of progress. There are so many practical strategies and measures that would be able to be put into effect once these processes are initiated and this can happen in concurrence with education without walls, discussions in the parliament, legislative assemblies, panchayats, communities, shops, markets, clubs, and places of religious worship, schools, universities and beyond. Thirdly, there is the worrying ignorance of our histories and cultures in schools: we need to acknowledge the dire need for reforming the education system, in particular through the detailed examination and revision of the school textbooks. Critically, to learn about and emphasise the syncretic cultures that enveloped the Subcontinent for millennia which encouraged rich cultures of tolerance allowing diverse peoples to intermarry, integrate and philosophies of being to co-exist! In doing so, there is a need to deconstruct the logic of prejudices that are detrimental to mutual understanding - and this can be done through scientific, philosophical and literary anthologies and writings, ethnographic studies- that take into account oral traditions. Another method is the media-- through education, and by films, negative images of others, religious intolerance, incitement of hatred, violence and contempt for one other could be removed. Teachers must be trained as they are the educators and they must not only transmit knowledge but also comment critically on the transmitted knowledge and its content. Cultural diversity is integral to these regions and has always been. It is important to recognise that personal identities are intimately linked with political processes and that social identities are not given once and for all, but are negotiated over. Thus, we urgently need to legislate and discuss areas where we can co-operate and improve our lives and those of others.

Question: You emphasise culture and can you explain its role as the critical point of entry?

Answer: To conclude, we must work with the understanding that human beings are always in culture and it would be a good idea to study and respect specific cultural mores wherever one resides. Equally important is to engage with experts in their culture as they can play a key role in increasing mutual understanding and eliminating prejudices in their own culture and, in those which they study. Each culture needs to build up an understanding on the basis of its own specific characteristics -positive life experiences in inter-cultural contexts within the region as a start working towards mutual interdependence and conviviality. Perhaps, the best method would be that all foreigners, regardless of origin, be allowed to attend free classes on cultural education and some language arranged for by the embassies in each country to learn what locals are sensitive to, for example, to know beforehand before going to Japan that that Japanese abhor those who blow their noses in public, or in Thailand the monarch is equated to the divine and, hence above all criticism, or that in the Indian Subcontinent, in most parts, women must not be stared at, approached or talked to by strangers/ men without prior introduction as it can be construed as predatory sexual behaviour. There are extremely powerful humanist shared oral traditions and belief systems that can be relied upon in Africa as in India: we urgently need for these traditions to be resuscitated over and above all that has happened and, brought to the forefront of dialogues which need to begin through voluntary efforts. It is only by acknowledging mutual interdependence and similarities can foundations be laid. And, we need to draw on the inherent strengths of our cultures and traditions in these regions. We can consequently forge avenues for co-operation, by learning languages; set up industries, health and education programmes together addressing pressing needs for guaranteeing security of livelihood that will ensure dignity of personhood for every citizen in these regions, indeed beyond.

Thank you very much Dr Kusum Gopal.

As seen

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*What Is The Matter With Sowore And Saharareporters Sef?

By Temisan Jackson

After an endless series of unprofessional reporting and no sign of willingness to change for the better, some of us have profiled Saharareporters as chief among those online media that were set up to enrich the pockets of their founders through blackmail-and-settlement reportage and Machiavellian journalism.

Indeed our submission has been proven true times and over, the most recent being the story of a seating governor in Nigeria who decided to appropriate a state co-owned oil and gas venture to himself and would stop at nothing to eliminate those standing in his way. A New York-based news medium reportedly got a whiff of the story and went public with it, only for the story to be yanked off the site some days later after the governor concerned had played ball.

We monitor some of these developments and we know the media that are really above board and those that are merely pretending to be. And, inasmuch as Saharareporters has been categorised as a medium not worth the ideals it posts on its homepage, some of us cannot still help being alarmed whenever we get to know about the editorial faux pas that Saharareporters shamelessly owns on behalf of its so-called paymasters. ( Continues below..... )

Omoyele Sowore

Photo Above: Mr. Omoyele Sowore, Publisher Saharareporters

The latest of such dark reportage is Sowore’s caption of the last senate hearing on the missing NNPC money. With a screaming headline, Saharareporters screams: “Sanusi Insists $20b Is Missing, Okonjo-Iweala Unable To Prove How $10.8b Was Spent

Now, Saharareporters’ hatred for Okonjo-Iweala is well documented, and no one should begrudge Sowore his freedom of grudge. But to be using a medium that is meant for public good to settle personal scores by blatantly misinforming the citizens and inciting them against this woman is totally unethical and unacceptable.

Below are the headlines of some other news media on the same story:

 Headlines of some other news media on the same story
 Headlines of some other news media on the same story

The contrast between Sowore’s headline and those of credible news sites is too obvious, and an attestation to blackmail, mischief and a damaging slant against Okonjo-Iweala.

Now reading the story, Saharareporters claimed that it culled the meat of its report from the blog that Premium Times published. But for a medium that was not at the hearing, its reportage was unashamedly biased and slanted to suit the agenda of its sponsors. Here are some excerpts:

“Day Two of the investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance into the alleged missing $20 billion oil money has concluded in Abuja, with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, insisting the money is missing according to a live blogging of the hearing by Premium Times of Nigeria.”

“Testifying earlier, Okonjo-Iweala aligned herself with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC, despite declaring her Ministry lacked the capacity to validate the claims contained in NNPC documents from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) showing how the initial outstanding $10.8 billion was spent...”

“SaharaReporters gathered that representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had agreed to present a united from today at the Senate claiming that the ministry was "satisfied" with the NNPC explanations regarding the missing funds. However, they could not carry out the plan as CBN officials refused to sign the agreement…”

“President Jonathan, the Finance minister, Okonjo-Iweala and the Petroleum Resources minister, Alison-Madueke , who rushed back from London yesterday, have reportedly resolved to prolong the investigations by bringing in forensic expert pending the time the CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi could be completely sidelined.”

Again, for a medium that was not at the hearing, where did Sowore and its Saharareporters got their misleading information from? Who is their source? Why turn the whole proceeding around and make it look as if the hearing was all about Okonjo-Iweala and not an altercation between the NNPC and CBN? Why portrayed Okonjo-Iweala as the corrupt one who could not account for the missing $10 billion? Whose script is Saharareporters reading from? Who are the people paying Sowore to trumpet everything evil about Okonjo-Iweala? Why attempting to mislead the reading public by painting the finance minister black right from the headline to the last sentence of its obviously fabricated report?

In my opinion, I think the finance minister has a very good ground to drag Saharareporters to court based on some of the unsubstantiated excerpts in and general slant of this report. I will be surprised if madam minister does not explore this option, as it will at least expose Sowore for the sham that he is, if it does not hush him.

Shame on you, Omoyele Sowore.

Loads of shame on Saharareporters.

I’m now on your case, so watch out for more exposition.

Attn: This article is sent to Saharareporters as well. And it will be interesting to see if Sowore, who has a hobby for publishing negatives about other people, will have the gut to publish the reflection of someone else about his own person.

Temisan Jackson, a communication consultant and current affair analyst, writes from Warri, Delta State.

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03/13/14

*Released List of The National Conference Delegates: Our Unbiased Position

By Intersociety

(Onitsha Nigeria, 7th day of March 2014)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety has perused the released list of 492 delegates to the National Conference and insisted that the four CSO slots for the Southeast geopolitical zone were hijacked by Abuja and Lagos based CSO activists. That out of the four names: Olisa Agbakoba (Lagos based), Ibuchukwu Ezike (Lagos based), Festus Okoye (Kaduna based) and Ezenwa Nwangwu (Abuja based), drawn from the zone, none is residing and operating in the zone, is a clear case in point. This is a gross injustice to groups and individuals working tirelessly and in risk environment on human rights and pro-democracy advancement in the zone. No activists understand the social, economic, cultural and political challenges in the Southeast zone than those resident and working in the zone. The zone is also the most dangerous environment to work on in matters of advancement of human rights and democracy, which is one of the major reasons why our brothers and sisters in diasporan activism ran away and abandoned it to decay and degrade.

That our brothers and sisters in diaspora found their names in the delegates’ list cannot stop us from saying what is obviously indisputable. From the facts on the ground, most of the 24 names included in the delegates’ list by Federal Government, especially four picked on behalf of Southeast CSO, are a product of “Abuja connection”. This is because the names were randomly picked in an Abuja meeting without consulting groups and their leaders in zones where the names originate by birth or ancestry and forwarded to the Federal Government, using “Abuja connection” to secure its entry and acceptance. The import of our grievances is not disallowing us to participate in the Conference, but to let the whole world know how the sedentary CSOs in the Southeast geopolitical zone were short-changed. The mass boycott by mainstream sedentary CSOs of the Southeast zone of “medicine-after-death” meetings being called in Enugu by some architects of the “Abuja connection” list is a clear case in point. Our message is loud and clear! If our brothers and sisters, who tagged themselves “senior comrades” cannot incorporate “think home” philosophy in their line of rights and pro-democracy activism, then the idea of running like a failed trailer back to their zone of birth or ancestry after being rejected and humiliated by their host and beneficiary zone(s), to hijack the slots meant for those residing and operating in the zone, must no longer be muted, hatched and accepted. .

Other than the foregoing, we wish to observe that the Conference Delegates’ list did not fairly capture all the grassroots entities, which affairs are the major reasons why the Conference is being organized. A National Conference is not an exclusive property of the vocal groups or intellectual clubs. The jobless people in Nigeria are in tens of millions. Unemployed graduates alone are over 30 million and they cannot be said to be represented by “the National Youth Council of Nigeria”, which is purely a pressure group or a group of “privileged youth club”. These millions of the unemployed people are not unknown. They are visibly everywhere and in some States, they have associations, especially the skilled ones. .

Also, artisans and traders constitute over 70% percent of self-employed citizens in Nigeria. On daily basis, they fall victim in the course of their legitimate businesses to overzealous and tainted officers of Custom & Excise, Nigeria Police Force, government extortionist entities and criminal gangs. They also fall victim to hash government policies including epileptic power supplies and issuance of obnoxious utility bills. Crime victims have no place in Nigeria. The unemployed graduates and youths do not have access to monthly allowances as done in other climes. A National Conference predicated on elitism such as the one under reference, will continue to enrich 17,500 politically privileged Nigerians through continued allocation of over 70% of national wealth to service them annually, while the remaining 170 million Nigerians including tens of millions of unemployed citizens will continue to wallow in individual and collective poverty. These people deserve a representation at a National Conference. As a matter of fact, a National Conference involves discussing the affairs of “the good”, “the bad” and “the ugly” and if it is possible to involve armed robbers and commercial sex workers’ representatives, so be it! After all, such a Conference carries with it an immunity fathered by “the Doctrine of Necessity”, which itself fathered a National Conference. .

Lastly, we urge all the delegates to the National Conference to fully discuss major problems afflicting Nigeria and Nigerians without fear or favour. The Federal Government’s pronouncement to the effect that “the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable at the Conference” is a monumental contradiction because if the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable, then why the National Conference? Such a pronouncement, tagged “no-go area”, should be seen as “a mere policy statement that has no binding and criminal sanction effects”. It is a truism that the unity of Nigeria is shaky and the ground import of the Conference “is to discuss whether to live together or live apart as a country”. .

Using the introduction of “Criminal Code” (semblance of cannon law) for Southern Nigeria and “Penal Code” (semblance of Islamic law) for Northern Nigeria as an example, Nigerian Federalism or Con-federalism concept must be structured in the like manner at the Conference by taking into account the country’s divergent domesticated socio-cultural contents. If it is a federalism concept predicated on six geopolitical zones and statism that will be adopted, for instance then the present number of States must be altered to ensure equal number for all the zones. The number of LGAs should also be restructured in a like manner or the 776 LGAs removed from the Constitution and returned to States’ control. The best way to define and adopt federalism, suitable for a social clime, is to congregate all its social entities through genuine representation and reconstruct one with local contents. To such a clime, that is the best federalism. .

If it is confederation, then all the six geopolitical zones must be restructured along ethno-religious lines and a provision made for secession at freewill. In such boundary restructuring, for instance, Igbo-Delta and Igbo-Rivers should be carved out to join Southeast. Igala part of Anambra should be carved out to join their parents in Kogi. Kwara State should join Oyo State and others in Southwest. Taraba, Adamawa and Southern Kaduna should be merged with old Middle Belt or North-central zone (Nigeria). Such a confederation concept defined and adopted under the circumstances foregoing, remains the best for the adopting social clime. Even if the Conference adopts federalism, there will still be need for thorough boundary adjustments along ethno-religious lines. The Presidency of the country should be rotated among the six geopolitical Nigeria on agreed single term. .

We also wish to congratulate our dear friends, Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin and Femi Falana, SAN, for making the Conference Delegates’ list. Their inclusion gladdens our heart because it is meritorious and a merit award resemblance.

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Phone: +234(0)8033601078, 8180103912
Email: emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
Phone: +234(0)8037114869
Email: juijeoma@yahoo.com

Emeka Umeagbalasi

Photo Above: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Intersociety, 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
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