Archive for the ‘Socio-Cultural’ Category
- South Sudan Theatre Company producing Shakespeare play “Cymbeline” in Juba Arabic
- Juba Arabic is widely spoken in South Sudan
- They will perform the play at London’s Globe Theatre in May
- Theater survived Sudan’s civil war, says the company’s director
(CNN) — A theater company from South Sudan is translating Shakespeare into the local dialect for the first time, before performing the play at London’s Globe Theatre.
Six months after the birth of South Sudan as an independent nation, it is a country still trying to define its culture and national identity.
The South Sudan Theatre Company (SSTC) is helping to develop that culture by performing Shakespeare’s tragedy “Cymbeline” in Juba Arabic — a language spoken widely in South Sudan.
“Shakespeare is a genius writer who wrote about humanity, about greed, jealousy, wars, power, love — he really speaks to the whole world,” said Derik Uya Alfred Ngbangu, the SSTC’s director and producer.
Derik Uya Alfred Ngbangu, SSTC director and producer
“We want to do Cymbeline in a way that speaks to the South Sudanese — in terms of the plot, the kind of conflict that exists here — and make it our own thing,” he added.
Juba Arabic is a pidgin form of Arabic that takes its name from the South Sudanese capital of Juba. Although English has been named South Sudan’s official language since the country’s independence, Juba Arabic is still a lingua franca in much of South Sudan, says Ngbangu.
The SSTC’s production is part of the “Globe to Globe” Festival taking place at London’s Shakespeare Globe Theatre from April. The SSTC will be one of 37 theater groups from around the world performing interpretations of Shakespeare plays in their local language.
The SSTC has already begun adapting Cymbeline and translating it. “We’re looking to cut out unnecessary bits so that 10 actors can do it, instead of perhaps 18,” said Ngbangu. “We’re looking to have a simplified, shortened text that can be performed in one and a half hours instead of three.”
Actors will be drawn from two of South Sudan’s established theater groups, the Kwoto Cultural Centre and the Skylark Dramatist Association, and will include graduates of the University of Juba’s College of Arts, Music and Drama.
Ngbangu says they plan to perform Cymbeline in Juba before taking it to London in May. They are are also looking to make changes to the original to make it more relevant to local audiences, such as using local names and costumes.
The original Cymbeline is set against a backdrop of impending war between ancient Britain and ancient Rome, over the king of Britain’s refusal to pay tribute to Rome; the SSTC is considering changing that to an impending conflict between south and north Sudan, fighting over oil.
Sudan’s real civil war between north and south raged for decades, claiming more than two million lives. But Ngbangu says theater survived those dark years of conflict.
Derik Uya Alfred Ngbangu, SSTC director and producer
“Theater has existed throughout the time of the civil war and difficulties,” he said. “War never stopped people coming together through arts — whether music or drama or dance,” he added.
And he believes theater can help build South Sudan, celebrating the fledgling nation’s cultural diversity.
“It is a very cheap art form compared to cinema and TV — you can do it anywhere — move it to the villages and contribute to their understanding of their environment, their struggles, you can do it in schools and teach young people how to do the right thing.
“Through theater we can send a lot of messages about unity, about respecting people, about coming together, about tolerance and civilization.
He added: “There is an old saying — ‘give me a theater and I will give you a nation.'”
As casting and rehearsals begin, Ngbangu is excited at the prospect of performing in London.
“I have been to London several times. It is a land of theater, a land that produced a giant like Shakespeare,” he said.
“To be in London with a Shakespearean play, when we’re a country that will be nine months old at the time, it’s a great thing.
Tags: arterial embolism, arteriovenous fistula, iranian man, kermanshah iran, persistent pressure, sexual medicine
A 21-year-old Iranian man has a permanent semi-erection after having “borow be salaamat” (good luck with your journeys) and the letter “M” (his girlfriend’s initial) tattooed on his penis.
The man, whose name is unknown, was diagnosed with nonischemic priapism — a condition resulting from the inability of blood to exit the penis. His case was detailed in the latest issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine .
“In our case, most probably, the handheld needle penetrated the penis too deep, creating an arteriovenous fistula,” wrote the study authors fromKermanshah University of Medical Sciences in Kermanshah, Iran. A fistula is a connection between two organs or vessels — in this case an artery and a vein — that normally don’t connect.
“For eight days after tattooing, the penis was painful, and thus there were no erections,” the authors wrote. “After that, the patient noticed longer-than-usual sleep-related erections. This progressed, within a week, to a constantly half-rigid penis, day and night.”
Men are advised to seek medical attention for an erection lasting more than four hours.
During a normal erection, blood rushes into the penis through the arteries to build up pressure and later leaves through the veins. But in nonischemic priapism, blood continues to enter faster than it can leave, causing persistent pressure and a permanent erection. The problem resolves naturally 62 percent of the time, the researchers reported. And when it doesn’t, men have the option of selective arterial embolism — a procedure that blocks the offending artery.
Instead, the Iranian man chose to have a shunt implanted to drain the excess blood, according to the report.
“Predictably, the procedure was unsuccessful,” the authors wrote. “Because of the painless nature of erections, moderately good preservation of erectile function during intercourses, and disappointment with former surgery, the patient has declined to undergo further therapies, and lives with his condition.”
Despite his permanent erection, the man has no regrets over his penis tattoo, according to the report. Nevertheless, the report authors advise against the practice.
“Based on our unique case, we discourage penile tattooing,” they wrote.
Tags: basketball scholarship, blair academy, juba south sudan, luol deng, nile river, tom thibodeau
|Adam Andre, director of the The Luol Deng Foundation, stands with Luol Deng in July 2011 on a trail through the Jebel Rock mountain range over Juba, South Sudan. (Luol Deng Foundation HANDOUT / January 6, 2012)|
Independence of native land has allowed forward’s family to return and has granted him serenity
Deng sat there, on the outskirts of Juba, South Sudan, dining with his father, brother and best friend. The sun warmed. The wind calmed. Eventually, his friend, Adam Andre, even jumped in the river. Deng teased him about getting eaten by alligators.
But no. On this day, four months into South Sudan’s remarkable independence, with four of Deng’s eight siblings and his parents having returned home for good, only peaceful moments prevailed.
Deng’s father, Aldo, served as Sudan’s minister of transportation as civil war raged. The family left for Egypt when Luol was 5, eventually landing outsideLondon when England granted Aldo political asylum in 1993.
Deng spent six years in England, left for New Jersey’s Blair Academy at 14 and earned a basketball scholarship at Duke. After one sparkling season, the Bulls acquired his draft rights in a trade with the Sunson June 24, 2004.
Tags: facebook, getty images, justin sullivan, profile design, scammers, wagstaff
Don’t like Facebook Timeline? Too bad, because you’re stuck with it.
Hence the arrival of scammers, cynically taking advantage of those nostalgic for the old profile design by creating at least 16 pages promising a way to undo Timeline.
According to Inside Facebook, the pages have collectively accumulated around 71,000 “Likes,” prompting users to “invite friends, watch YouTube videos and download files.” They’re also pretty easy to find; search for “timeline” on Facebook and you’ll find pages titled “Deactivate Your FB Timeline” and “Here You Can Remove Facebook Timeline.”
This is bad news for Facebook for several reasons. One, of course, is that its users are being scammed. The other is that it’s not exactly great PR for Timeline.
Back when I initially reviewed it, I praised the decision to make Timeline opt-in. While browsing through people’s profiles is a lot more fun, it’s a bit of a privacy nightmare, especially if you don’t take the hour or so required to spot clean your virtual past.
What I failed to mention was that, much like the mafia, once you’re in, you’re in. Facebook is determined to make Timeline the de facto Facebook profile. In the future, every user will be transitioned over to the new format whether they like it or not.
Which brings us back to the scams. They are proof that thousands of people have no idea that you can’t switch back to the old profile. I don’t blame them; I tried searching throughout Facebook’s Timeline Help Center (where, presumably, such information would live) and found nothing that would warn someone that you can’t leave Timeline once you join.
Facebook has very little incentive to delay you from joining Timeline. After all, soon everyone will have it, so why give people the option to switch back to a profile that won’t exist?
That makes a lot of sense. So why not just make that clear from the get-go? Did Facebook really have so much faith in its design that it didn’t anticipate that thousands and thousands of people would hate it and want out?
This is the aftermath of that little bit of hubris. Frustrated users, with no information provided to them by Facebook, are taking things into their own hands and ending up at pages created to profit off of their confusion.
Yes, if people knew that opting in to Timeline was a one-way street, fewer of them would have signed up. That’s still no excuse to not give users fair warning before they make that decision.
Facebook has a nasty habit of releasing products people don’t like and assuming that one day they’ll see the light and realize Zuckerberg was right all along. It might have worked with the News Feed redesign (although I still can’t stand the ticker) but after this debacle, who knows; it might be different.
Tags: aliab, Bishop Daniel Deng Atong, church missionary society, country borders, Daniel Comboni, eastern equatoria province, first Episcopal bishop, spirits of the forest, upper nile province
Deng Atong was born in the year 1912. We know his father’s name was Atong but, unfortunately, available records do not tell us his mother’s name. The story of Deng’s birth was a tragic one as he was born with a natural defect in his genital organs: he had one testicle. To the Mundaris, a male child born with this particular defect is evil, and must be given away to the evil spirits of the forest, or be thrown away to be devoured by the wild beasts so he is not seen again in the physical world.
Deng Atong was rejected not only by his parents but by the whole community and thrown into the forest. Luckily for this unfortunate child, a poor woman discovered the child, picked him up and took him home with her. Interestingly, the woman who took care of Atong for six years was a Mundari woman. According to Mundari custom, no Mundari person should take such an evil child, unless he or she is of the evil spirit world. Despite this, she bravely took the poor child home with her. But she also knew that she could not keep him for long, if she was to avoid the danger that would befall her and her whole family, as a result of having an evil child at home. For this reason, she decided to give the boy to the strangers–the missionaries–of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) mission station in Southern Bor district, at Malek.
In 1918, when this “evil” child was brought to the mission station, he was received by Archdeacon Archibald Shaw, and became widely known as the son of the missionary. The local people called him “Deng Machuor,”–machuor is the color of a bull ox, a confusion of tan, gray, white and black colors. This was the name given to the English missionary, Archdeacon Shaw, probably because Shaw’s skin color could not be defined by Jieng (Dinka) standards. Deng later took his biological father’s name and became known as Deng Atong before his baptism.
He proved to be a very intelligent child from an early age. He was able to relate to “three different cultures, speaking fluent Mundari, Jieng and English” (But God Is Not Defeated, p. 178). Being brought up by missionaries and living in a mission station, he was exposed to Christian teaching and therefore became a Christian at a very early age. Archdeacon Archibald Shaw baptized him in 1921. At his baptism, he chose the name “Daniel” probably because he saw himself as the Daniel of the Old Testament, who was saved by God after being thrown into the lions’ den (Daniel 6: 10 – 25). Likewise he was protected by God after being thrown into the forest to be devoured by the wild beasts of Mundariland. These memories were to have an effect on Daniel’s later life. For many, the story of Daniel’s survival was a miracle because God had saved this boy, discarded by his family and tribe to fulfill His own purposes. Daniel’s successful evangelization of the Dinka Bor area, when the missionaries had actually failed, illustrated this point.
Daniel started his school life at the Malek mission station where he grew up. From there he went to Juba and after completing his studies at Juba Training Center (JTC),–now Juba Commercial Secondary School,–he taught at Malek and in 1938 became the headmaster of Nugent School, Loka. At Loka Daniel Deng Atong experienced spiritual renewal and became an active evangelist. At this time, the Revival movement was beginning to spill over from East Africa into South Sudan. Daniel was among the first to welcome and support the movement. Daniel Deng pioneered a very successful evangelization campaign in the Bor area as mentioned earlier. This success was largely attributed to the fact that he was familiar with both the language and culture of the people, so that his “message was received by the rural people to a degree hardly known to the Europeans” (But God Is Not Defeated, pp.178 – 179).
Seeing his good work, the missionaries started to encourage Daniel to seek ordination. He and Andrea Apaya were the first two Sudanese to be ordained as deacons in 1941, and Daniel was priested in 1943. He served as the priest-in-charge at Panekar and he opened up and planted a church in Kongor, northern Bor. He was sent to England to study at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, in 1947 where he completed his studies successfully. In 1953 he was made honorary canon of All Saints Cathedral, Khartoum, and in 1954, he was appointed canon missioner in the Diocese of the Sudan.
The period from 1947 to 1955 was a time of political instability, as the Sudanese were struggling for independence from the Anglo-Egyptian–the so-called “Condominium”–rule. Missionary societies were also targets of the national movement for independence. At this time, a movement to “Sudanize” all leadership and other key positions in the public sector was afoot. This also affected the church in one way or another. Consequently, as the expulsion of the missionaries seemed likely in the heat of the political pressure for independence, it was necessary to find a Sudanese bishop to take care of the Diocese of the Sudan. In this regard, “It was clear that Daniel’s background gave him unique qualifications in terms of academic training, pastoral and leadership skills, linguistic ability, and ease in relating across cultures” (See But God Is Not Defeated, p. 179).
In May 1955 Daniel Deng Atong, was consecrated assistant bishop of the Diocese of Sudan, by the Most Rev. Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Namirembe (Kampala), in Uganda along with three other African assistant bishops. To many Sudanese, the consecration of Daniel Deng Atong was the beginning of a new era with authority shifting from the missionaries to the indigenous people and culminating in the independence of the church in Sudan.
After his consecration, Daniel returned to Sudan and immediately went on a tour of the Diocese of the Sudan, carrying out confirmation services wherever he went. This tour culminated in the creation of the Northern Archdeaconry. Daniel also accompanied the diocesan bishop of Sudan, the Rt. Rev. Oliver C. Alison, on international journeys. The first was to Jerusalem, where they attended the first meeting of the Episcopal Synod of the Middle East. The second was to England where both bishops attended the 1958 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican bishops. Daniel had established his home at Bishop Gwynne College, in Mundri, and had initially settled there.
Daniel’s work as a bishop was carried out in an atmosphere of high and contradictory expectations. As the first Sudanese bishop, his missionary parents saw Daniel’s role in the church as primarily pastoral. He was to carry out confirmations and assist or support the diocesan bishop and nothing else. The South Sudanese politicians, ordinary rural people, and Christians expected Daniel to take a leading role in policy-making, political leadership and decision-making inside the church and beyond. Daniel also found himself surrounded by divergent groups,–Britons and Sudanese, conflicting tribal groups, Christians, traditionalists, and Arabs,–all vying for his attention. Daniel became bishop at a time marked with political upheavals and unrest. The mutiny by the Equatoria Corps in Torit, which sparked the longest civil war ever fought in history, erupted in August 1955, three months after Daniel’s consecration. As an indigenous bishop, Daniel struggled to nurture the life of the church amidst mounting political unrest and armed conflict. In such a complex community and situation, it was only proper for the bishop to play the role of peace-maker and mediator between the different groups.
Bishop Daniel Deng Atong also had personal conflicts which weighed on him. His adoptive father died a few months after the consecration so Daniel missed the support that his father could have offered. Another personal problem was that he had been rejected as an evil child, discarded by his biological parents and his own people, and thrown into the wilderness as a carcass fit for the wild beasts. Throughout his life, the bishop suffered tremendously from the psychological effects of this early treatment and from the negative physical consequences of his birth defect. Whereas Daniel was widely respected, especially among South Sudanese, both Christians and non-Christians alike, as the “father” of the Sudanese Church, he could not have his own genetic children due to his defect. According to Mundari custom, since he did not die in the forest but survived, he was to make sacrifices to the evil spirits that possessed him right from his mother’s womb, so that he could have children. But now that he was a Christian, these rituals could not be performed on him. The church leaders and people close to Bishop Daniel believed very strongly that his inability to have children had a tremendous effect upon the bishop.
With all these problems weighing on him, within only three years of his consecration, Bishop Daniel Deng Atong began showing signs of psychological breakdown and instability. He took to heavy alcoholic drinking, which made it very difficult for him to carry out his duties. This state of affairs continued to worsen until, toward the end of 1958, the church authorities were left with no choice except to suspend him from his functions. Thus ended Daniel’s Episcopal ministry.
Rev. Marc Nikkel summarized Daniel’s life thus:
From his birth Daniel’s life was special, uniquely marked by the redemption and call of Christ. He was a person of superlative gifts, whose every stage of life, from childhood and baptism, through his work as a teacher, evangelist, pastor and bishop, seemed to coincide with the emergence and development of the Church in Sudan. Some have dismissed Daniel’s brief Episcopacy as a failure, a tragic lost opportunity. Rather Daniel should be seen as one of the Church’s most brilliant indigenous pioneers, who, much like a figure of Christ, ultimately bore the brokenness and fragmentation of the nation within his own remarkable life (See But God Is Not Defeated, p.180).
After his suspension in 1958, he went to live a very quiet life in retirement in Bor, where he died in 1976.
James Lomole Simeon
Samuel E. Kayanga, and Andrew Wheeler (eds.), But God Is Not Defeated, Celebrating the Centenary of The Episcopal Church of The Sudan, 1899 – 1999 (Nairobi, Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa, 1999).
Information, collected from interviews, and during conversations, with the Most Rev. Benjamin W. Yugusuk, then Archbishop of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and some of the bishops, when the author was Chancellor of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Khartoum, Sudan.
Daniel Comboni (1831-1881), Roman Catholic, Sudan
Some people would consider Daniel Comboni a failure when he died in Khartoum in 1881. The missionary priest had been working actively in or for Africa for over thirty years and had produced a continent-wide strategic document, Plan for the Regeneration of Africa, but had little to show for it. Over a hundred of the priests he recruited had died, most of his Sudan missions had failed, were struggling, or would soon be wiped out by the Muslim Mahdi. But a century later, the Combonians and Comboni Sisters were a strong missionary order in Africa and Latin America. Comboni ranks, with Venn, Libermann, and Lavigerie, as one of the handful of nineteenth-century figures claiming an encompassing missionary vision. His was a long-term strategy: “The missionaries will have to understand that they are stones hid under the earth, which will perhaps never come to light, but which will become part of the foundations of a vast, new building.”
Born in a small town in Italy in 1831, Comboni always wanted to be a priest, developed a strong interest in Africa, and participated in an expedition to the south of the Sudan in 1857. Tropical illnesses decimated the small group and, as he lay dying, the father superior said, “If it should happen that only one of you be left, let him not give up or lose confidence …. Swear to me that you will not turn back.” “Africa or death,” Comboni answered. (He was the first mission’s only survivor and returned to Italy to recover his health.)
What was the best way to conduct missionary work in Africa? Comboni wrestled with the question, and in 1864 while in Rome he wrote Plan for the Regeneration of Africa. Facing the issues of climate and disease head on, as well as the problem of African students’ cultural adaptability to Europe, Comboni recommended that all European missionary orders should combine resources (this was in the heyday of the “scramble for Africa” and went against prevailing trends). Together they should build institutes, in favorable climactic zones throughout the continent. Here Europeans could come to teach and Africans to learn, not only as religious, but as lay teachers and craftspersons as well. When institute courses were completed, Africans and Europeans would then head to the interior together, but the Europeans would leave after a few years, to be replaced by other Europeans or not, depending on the need. “The regeneration of Africa by means of Africa itself seems to me the only possible way to Christianize the continent,” Comboni wrote.
As might be expected, the French refused to participate in such a plan, although Rome found it attractive and encouraged the Italian missionary, who then created the Cairo Institute, with schools for girls and boys and a hospital, as the first such launching pad. (It would be his only one). The Verona Sisters and Verona Fathers came a few years later, and by late 1871 Comboni returned to the Sudan to set up operations himself. He was named vicar apostolic of Central Africa in 1877.
The task Comboni faced in Africa in the 1870s was complicated by the slave trade. Slavery was big business in Central Africa, with large, well-armed caravans of recruiters who bribed Egyptian officials to let them move freely from the interior to port cities, where they sold their human cargo. Comboni fought hard against slavery, was given his own small army to combat the traffickers, closed the E1 0beid slave market, and hunted down some of the slave raiders. But he was only one person against an established industry.
With Comboni was the first African priest to work in Central Africa, Fr. Pius Hadrianus, a Benedictine. Soon another African priest, Fr. Antonio Dubale, was running a model village for freed slaves in El Obeid. A trained Nubian catechist, product of the Cairo Institute, was dispatched to work among this important southern Sudan ethnic group. The Nubians had a rich culture, were anti-Islamic, and were a logical target for mission work.
Comboni was a major figure in African religious life, training African missionaries, combating the slave trade, establishing a small number of solidly conceived mission stations in Sudan, and, most importantly, establishing the Verona Fathers and Sisters, which went through various reorganizations to emerge as the Comboni missionary congregations. Comboni was beatified in Rome on March 17, 1996.
Look on those who revere you, 0 God, on those who trust in your merciful one. Heal our sad divisions and our enmities, O Lord, help us to reject the ways of violence. Then shall dawn break over the desert; then shall your children frm North and South in Sudan sing your praises, Holy One whom we know by many names. Amen.
1. A. G. Mondini, Africa or Death: A Biography of Bishop Daniel Com-boni, Founder of the Missionary Societies of the Verona Fathers and the Verona Sisters (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1964).
Tags: Alek Wek, south Sudanese supermodel
By CHARLES ONYANGO – OBBO
Daily Nation–There was no mega earthquake, tsunami, war, massacre, or outbreak of rebellion last Christmas and this New Year.
Just as well, because I took time to explore one of my pet subjects; the conflict between how a country sees itself and how others view it.
I don’t know about you, but over the last year, I have noticed many women at East Africa’s airports, and on flights out of our region, who look like the South Sudanese supermodel, Alek Wek.
Most of them are usually with a European or American man aged in the late 40s to mid-50s.
On a flight from Entebbe to Nairobi on Tuesday, there were two such couples hugging all the time.
It seems over the years of Ms Wek’s stardom in Europe and the US where she plies her trade, she has become the model idea of African “exoticness” for some men.
So when the war ended in South Sudan and the country became independent, there has been a rush there by men seeking to fulfill their Alek Wek fantasies, and get themselves a clone of the supermodel.
The interesting thing is that Wek is most definitely not many African men’s idea of a beautiful woman. If nothing else, they would consider her “too thin”.
And if you want peace, never start a debate about whether Wek is beautiful. I just read an interview of her in Time magazine, and there is no doubt she is an intelligent and remarkable woman.
The thing though, is most women in South Sudan do not actually look like Wek.
Her case came to mind because, over the holiday, some good citizens of Kampala told me that Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has some “interesting” views about Ugandans.
To start with, I have hardly met a Kenyan man or woman who, when the subject came to Uganda, didn’t remark about the “polite Ugandan women, who kneel when they greet and call you Ssebo”.
That is true, but only in a very few cultures, especially the Baganda in the southern part of the country.
Which brings us to Kalonzo. Last October when there was that big Africa Cup of Nations clash between Uganda’s Cranes and Kenya’s Harambee Stars, Kalonzo organised bus trips for Kenyan fans.
Before the convoy left, he warned the Kenyans.
“Those Ugandan sisters of ours are known for kneeling and greeting sweetly”, he said. “If we are not careful, by the time we get to the stadium to cheer Harambee Stars, only 600 of the 1,000 of us will show up”.
The rest, presumably, would have been ensnared by kneeling wily Ugandan women.
This story is still being told in Kampala, and it has actually won Kalonzo a few friends because the folks got the light-heartedness in it.
That said, I wish Kenyan men looking for these polite Ugandan women who kneel before their husbands, smother them with gentleness, mop their feet and sweaty foreheads, and bring them breakfast in bed a lot of luck.
Their best chance is in the village, because even among the middle-class Baganda, they won’t find them. When they do, they should share their discoveries with their Ugandan brothers. They, too, are looking.
These images are rarely the ones that tourism and Brand Kenya, Brand Uganda, Brand This, want to promote.
There were two big conferences on South Sudan recently; one in Geneva the other in Washington D.C.
There is a famous “Gifted by Nature” campaign that was run by the Uganda government, and we didn’t see anything of the country’s kneeling women.
Indeed, in Kenya’s case, you can be sure when an image from the country is used by international brands abroad, it will not be its marathoners. It will be “Maasai” warriors (Maasai is used here guardedly) jumping sky-high.
I have seen that on Landrover Discovery’s international ads, and on campaigns for all sorts of mobile and satellite phones in many countries.
However, when Kenya’s Vision 2030 does its campaigns, it touts the “Thika Superhighway”, M-Pesa, and the future technology city, Konza. It is just not politically correct to throw a Maasai warrior into the mix.
It’s hard to beat the power of prejudice, and the appeal of what we might call “Wanjiku’s narrative”.
firstname.lastname@example.org & twitter@cobbo3
WRITTEN BY RACHEL ALEK AGUER
The Emmanuel Jieng Parish catholic church members congregating during Christmas Day in JubaThe Emmanuel Jieng Parish Protestant church which has a congregation of over 5000 people joined the world in celebrating Christmas Day in Juba yesterday. This is the First time for South Sudanese to celebrate Christmas as an independent country.
Bishop Nathaniel Garang Anyieth who was the preacher of the day expressed his gratitude to the Almighty God and reminded the congregation that we are a free people now.
He read some verses from the Holy Bible that were talking about faith and freedom and urged the congregation to read from the books of David, Isaiah, Hebrew and John to understand the day well.
He said that the day was very important to many South Sudanese wherever they are because our God has granted them peace to worship him in their own country.
“South Sudan had been at war for a long period of time and our people have never had a chance to worship their God fully,” he said.
Anyieth urged South Sudanese to deceit from violence and to embrace peace and unity among themselves. “Peace is what we want,” he stressed.
Meanwhile the Pastor in charge of Emmanuel Jieng Mr. Philip Aduong Thiong asked the public to forgive each other and use the Christmas time for reconciliation.
The South Sudan Fiscal Allocation and Monitoring Commission Chairperson and an Emmanuel Jieng parish member Mr. Gabriel Mathiang Rok said that this is the first time we are celebrating Christmas as a free and independent nation. “What we are reminded is to praise God and to develop our nation,” he added.
Mrs. Rebecca Nyandeng the wife of the late hero Dr. John Garang told the congregation that our people had fought the war to give us this freedom. She reminded them that if there was something bothering them, they should just be patient, “let us not spoil our own freedom, those who are against the government will never succeed,” she noted.
Nyandeng encouraged the war widows to be patience and to keep on praying for their country.
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of pilgrims, tourists and local Christians gathered in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem on Saturday to begin Christmas Eve celebrations in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Visitors gathered near the 50-foot (15-meter) Christmas tree at Manger Square Saturday morning taking pictures and enjoying the sunshine.
The main event will be Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity, built over the location where Jesus is believed to have been born.
Israel’s Tourism Ministry said it expects 90,000 tourists to visit the holy land for the holiday. Ministry spokeswoman Lydia Weitzman said that number is the same as last year’s record-breaking tally, but was surprisingly high considering the turmoil in the Arab world and the U.S. and European economic downturns.
Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh said he hopes this year’s celebrations will bring Palestinians closer to their dream of statehood. With peace talks stalled with Israel, Palestinians this year made a unilateral bid for recognition at the United Nations and were accepted as a member by UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency.
“We are celebrating this Christmas hoping that in the near future we’ll get our right to self-determination our right to establish our own democratic, secular Palestinian state on the Palestinian land. That is why this Christmas is unique,” Batarseh told The Associated Press.
Bethlehem is today surrounded on three sides by a barrier Israel built to stop Palestinian militants from attacking during a wave of assaults in the last decade. Palestinians say the barrier damaged their economy.
Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Roman Catholic Church’s head clergyman in the Holy Land, crossed through a massive metal gate in the barrier, in a traditional midday procession from Jerusalem on Saturday.
“We ask the child of Bethlehem to give us the peace we are in desperate need for, peace in the Middle East, peace in the holy land, peace in the heart and in our families,” Twal said.
The number of Christians in the West Bank is on the decline. While some leave for economic reasons, others talk of discrimination and harassment by the Muslim majority.
Christians have even lost their majority in Bethlehem, where more than two-thirds of the some 50,000 Palestinian residents are now Muslim.
The biblical town was bustling on Saturday, however, with Christian tourists and pilgrims.
“This is my first time in Bethlehem and it’s an electrifying feeling to be here at the birthplace of Jesus during Christmas,” said 49-year-old Abraham Rai from Karla, India.
By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Hanging from the wall of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo’s living room — a few blocks from a silver-coated dome marking the tomb of Sudan’s 19th-century Muslim leader, the Mahdi — are a cross, pictures of fellow clergy members and a photo of him with the former archbishop of Canterbury above a small plastic Christmas tree.
Much has changed for Bishop Kondo, and for the nation, since the holidays last year. Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions.
“This Christmas, since Southern Sudanese have gone, we don’t know what the attendance will be, but I would say people will celebrate with mixed feeling of joy and fear,” said Bishop Kondo, who is the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the former chairman of the Sudanese Council of Churches.
South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in a referendum early this year to separate from Sudan, the culmination of a peace accord to end decades of war and hostilities with the largely Muslim north. But while South Sudanese Christians constituted the majority of what was the Sudanese Christian community, they are not all of them.
“There is an idea that Southern Sudanese have gone, therefore, the church has gone. That is not true,” Bishop Kondo said. “Sometimes, I am asked, ‘When will you go to South Sudan?’ ‘But I’m not from the south,’ I reply!” he said.
Bishop Kondo is from South Kordofan, a state dominated by ethnic Nuba, who are divided between Islam, Christianity and African traditional religions. Fighting erupted there last May between government forces and rebels allied with the party that now governs South Sudan. Thousands fled, including Archdeacon Hassan Sudan.
“I called friends in South Kordofan, and they say they’ve prepared for Christmas but found some difficulties because of security concerns; there were some harassments,” the archdeacon said.
Christian leaders in Sudan have long complained about devastating bureaucracy, discrimination in jobs, restrictions on outreach and the difficulty of constructing churches. Nabil Bolis, 41, a teacher at the Episcopal Savior’s Church in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city across the Nile, said the annual March for Jesus this year faced challenges.
“We first started the march in greater Khartoum back in 1997, but this year there are more bureaucratic restrictions,” said Mr. Bolis, a nephew of the late Christian Nuba leader Phillip Ghabboush.
More pressing, however, is the expected drop in overseas donations for churches in Sudan now that the larger group of worshipers, administrators and teachers has moved to South Sudan.
“We definitely think this is going to happen,” said Pastor Milla Longa, 49, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Khartoum.
While concerns weigh heavily on the minds of many Sudanese Christian leaders, Bishop Kondo pointed out that Sudanese government officials had expressed a keenness to work with them.
“The Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments have approached us to know what the timetable of services and celebrations are this Christmas, to come and congratulate, but to also make sure people celebrate peacefully,” he said. “I think this is a good gesture.”
Safwat Fanous , a University of Khartoum political science professor and a member of the Coptic Church, agrees that the government is still reaching out to Christians to some extent. But he said it was no longer recognizing Christmas as a general holiday, but as a holiday solely for members of Western churches.
“It is important to see government officials continue to participate in Christian celebrations as a sign of religious coexistence,” Mr. Fanous said. “Dec. 25 used to be a public holiday for all; now it will be a holiday only for members of Western churches.”
Tayeb Zein al-Abidin, a professor at the University of Khartoum and a former chairman of the Sudanese Inter-Religious Council, does not think that the Sudanese government will take aim at Sudanese Christians for religious purposes. But it may not “give them the same political considerations” it did when the south was part of Sudan, he said.
“It is a now a matter of numbers, not religion,” he said.
But numbers are also debatable. The Sudanese government puts the new percentage of Christians in Sudan at just 3 percent, a figure Bishop Kondo contests.
“We don’t know how this number was arrived to, but as churches, we are working on this,” he said. “We believe it is closer to 10 to 15 percent now.”
Among the Nuba of South Kordofan, it is not uncommon to find members of the same family who belong to different religions, something that Mr. Bolis believes makes Christmas in Sudan special.
Despite the concerns, a Khartoum Christmas will go on this year.
“We won’t have turkey for dinner, but lamb, groundnuts, dates and baobab juice to drink,” Mr. Bolis said with a smile.
Fewer to Celebrate Christmas in Sudan After South’s Split
New York Times
Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions. …
South Sudan: Commuters Get Stranded As Christmas Season Starts
Wau — As the inhabitants of Western Bahr el Ghazal State capital of Wau prepare to travel to the countryside to join families for Christmas, several commuters are stranded in bus stations while Wau main airstrip remained scheduled busy with long …
Oromia-Ethiopia: Land-Grab, Green-Revolution, and the North-South Divide
Gadaa.com Oduu – News
Just like the South used to be dominated by the North in the Sudan before the independence of South Sudan earlier in 2011, North Ethiopia (or traditionally called the highlands of Ethiopia or Abyssinia) has always controlled the political & economic …
UNSC extends mandate of Abyei peacekeepers, demands pullout of troops
December 23, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The UN Security Council (UNSC) has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Abyei and reiterated demands that Sudan and South Sudan immediately redeploy their remaining forces from the contested region. …
The gift of sight: Clinic started by CNY “Lost Boy” restores sight for hundreds
Alan Crandall and Dr. Geoffrey Tabin examine a patient who received cataract surgery at the Duk Lost Boys clinic in South Sudan. One day after performing surgery in a rural South Sudan village, Dr. Geoffrey Tabin carefully removed bandages from the …
Cattle raids kill at least 250 in Lakes state in 2011
Rumbek East Commissioner, David Marial Gumke, address the Lakes state parliament in South Sudan, while being watched by speaker John Marik (Right), 23 Dec. 2011 (ST)sitted The figures from just three counties in Lakes state show that insecurity remains …
By Kelly Dwyer
Police had to smash the windows of a car to get two toddlers out after a woman had left them there to go buy the shoes. She was taken into custody when she returned, according to the AP.
“The door broke and was hanging by a hinge and people were squeezing in anyway,” Asia Coates said “People were falling down.”
She said one woman was knocked down, got back up and was the second person to buy the shoes.
Andre Mitchell, 28, Indianapolis, said he stepped over downed shoppers. “It wasn’t personal, it was business,” Mitchell explained.
No, it’s not business. You’re just a moron.
The shoes in question are the patent leather-trimmed Jordan-endorsed sneakers that MJ wore during theChicago Bulls‘ 1995-96 championship run. Those particular shoes are idealized by most because that run included Chicago’s record-setting 72-win season, and they’re idealized by this writer because that was the season that helped me determine, for sure, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Fifteen years later, that campaign is the reason I write about basketball for a living.
So take it from this absolute basketball junkie, anyone that was falling over themselves or anyone else to secure a pair of $180 shoes just because of their stature or because they can be flipped and re-sold for a higher amount is an absolute, unmitigated, moron. Stepping over downed shoppers, as the Star reported Andre Mitchell doing, isn’t about something that’s “personal.” It’s ugly and borderline criminal.
And it’s doubtful that Michael Jordan, some 20-plus years after reports surfaced of fans of his shoes killing over them, has learned anything in all the years. The NSFW scene depicted here (with the description “This is what Michael Jordan does to us.”) is apparently of no interest to him, considering that these are the sorts of reactions that happen every single time he releases or re-releases a pair of shoes in limited supply just to drum up “exclusivity.”
It’s hard to find anyone coming out of this looking good. Even those that succeeded in buying the kicks without harming anyone or anything — because they’ll be sporting patent leather shoes like some 1950s-era uncle.
South Sudan native “We pray and dance all night,” says Tel Aviv upholsterer.
Simon Koang Gai would love to slaughter a cow for the traditional South Sudanese Christmas feast, but pulling off such a holiday treat would be far too expensive in Israel.
“It cost very much money to buy a cow in Israel,” Gai said.
The 39-year-old South Sudan native owns the appropriately named “Holy Land” upholstery store on Chelnov Street in south Tel Aviv, where he refurbishes motorcycle seats and furniture and repairs satellite dishes.
On Wednesday, he spoke excitedly about the upcoming Christmas celebrations his community was planning at their church in south Tel Aviv, in particular the late-night praying and dancing extravaganza that is Christmas Eve for South Sudanese.
“We pray and dance all night, but it’s not dancing for us, it’s dancing for the lord,” Gai said.
The day after the all-night festival at the church on Levanda street in Tel Aviv and at the community’s church in Arad, those who can will make their way to Bethlehem on Sunday.
Gai said on Christmas, South Sudanese travel far and wide to reunite with their families in their home villages, traveling back home from Khartoum and beyond, often at great risk.
In addition, Gai said they travel from house to house bringing good tidings to their neighbors, and that massive communal barbecues are held.
When asked if they decorate Christmas trees, he replied matter-of-factly, “no, we don’t have those trees in South Sudan.”
Gai moved to Israel three years ago after spending four years in Egypt, where he arrived after fleeing South Sudan. Owing to his fervent evangelical faith, Gai keeps a bible on hand and highlights his points with scripture. Thumbing through the book of Isaiah, he comes to chapter 18 verses 1-7, which describe (King James 2000) “a people tall and smooth of skin” who come from a land “the rivers divide” and make their way to Mount Zion.
He rolls up his sleeve to reveal what is indeed a hairless forearm, which along with his well over 6-foot frame would suggest a resemblance to the description given in the book of Isaiah.
Gai said the Christian population in the South Sudanese community in Israel – estimated to number around 3,000 – is mainly Evangelical with some Catholics, mostly in the community in the Negev city of Arad. As opposed to Sudan, South Sudan is predominantly Christian and Animist, with a Muslim minority. The Christianity practiced in the country has been heavily influenced by local traditions and has customs quite different than those practiced in the West.
A few blocks away, at a hair salon outside the new central bus station, Johannes Aforki, a 28-year-old Eritrean of Ethiopian extract chewed khat leaves and spoke of Christmas traditions in his Orthodox Christian homeland as the mild narcotic stimulant seeped into his veins.
“There’s no work on Christmas, it’s a holiday. We go to church and pray, and you buy new clothes for Christmas and wear them.”
“I haven’t seen my family in 10 years, but I’ll call them and talk to them on the phone,” Aforki said, adding that he’ll probably cry speaking to them as another holiday passes without them.
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Juba — Debates are raging on how the body of late Renegade General George Athor Deng would be buried after he was shot dead on Monday by the SPLA forces in Morobo County, Central Equatoria State. Vice President Dr. Riak Machar Teny when he announced …
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|Sudan again terrorizing its own people
USCIRF released an eight-page report in mid-December on the crisis in Sudan based on interviews staff members conducted in October with more than 80 refugees, including many at a refugee camp in the newly constituted Republic of South Sudan. …
OMAHA, Neb. — When government soldiers from the north attacked Mun Nam Koak’s village in southern Sudan nearly 20 years ago, he fled on foot to safety in neighboring Ethiopia. With his infant son on his back, the 22-year-old Nam and his wife took only what they could carry on their three-day trek to the crowded refugee camps across the border.
Three years later, Koak’s young family arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, part of a growing population of Sudanese refugees who relocated to the Midwest in search of a better, safer life. He studied English and found a steady job at a nursing home.
Back in his homeland this July, a historic referendum established South Sudan as a separate nation after decades of brutal civil war with the north. Koak joined thousands of jubilant Sudanese in Iowa and across the country cheering this day of independence. But his elation was short-lived.
Late last month, his son, James Mun, 19, was gunned down in an empty lot on Omaha’s gritty north side, as he drank beer with a group of friends early one Saturday morning. Police have made no arrests in the case.
“I can never imagine that I would end up losing my son on the streets of the United States,” Koak said.
Mun’s murder is the grim consequence of a rising tide of youth and gang violence afflicting Sudanese refugees in the U.S., who have settled mainly in Nebraska, Iowa and other Midwest states. From weekend brawls to shootings and robberies, young Sudanese are victims and victimizers, ending up in hospital beds, behind bars — or dead.
Sudanese street gangs that began forming around 2003 are responsible for the most serious violence, according to Bruce Ferrell, a former gang unit detective with the Omaha Police Department.
“They’ve been involved in a murder attempt on a witness, drive-by shootings, robberies,” said Ferrell, who now leads the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, a non-profit group that studies gang trends in the region. “We’ve had a number of kids getting locked up.”
With no more than 350 members overall, most of them teenagers, the Sudanese gangs represent a small fraction of a massive nationwide gang problem, in which an estimated 1.4 million gang members commit nearly half of all violent crimes in most jurisdictions, according to law enforcement surveys. But their illegal acts earned them a brief mention for the first time in the FBI’s latest national gang threat assessment, released this October.
The agency described African Pride, which began in Omaha but has spread to Lincoln and other Midwest cities with Sudanese refugee populations, as the “most aggressive and dangerous” of the gangs. Other gangs include the South Sudan Soldiers, TripSet and 402, who take their name from the Nebraska area code.
Sudanese community leaders in Nebraska do not deny the gangs’ existence, but describe their members as misguided youths, not hardened criminals. With help from city and state agencies, Sudanese groups are working to identify at-risk young people and steer them away from crime.
“I will agree that there are Sudanese gangs in Omaha,” said Malakal Goak, a Sudanese refugee and director of Caring People Sudan, an Omaha-based non-profit group that provides health and educational services to the refugee community. “But even though there are gangs, we still have a very strong culture that can redirect them to come back to a normal life of the community.”
The emergence of the gangs follows a familiar pattern. Driven by poverty, social dislocation and other factors, street gangs have arisen from virtually every immigrant and refugee population to arrive in the U.S. for well over a century, according to Mike Carlie, a retired professor of criminology at the University of Southern Missouri and author of a book on street gangs.
“It’s called the immigrant tradition,” Carlie said. “It’s something that communities should know about before they ever begin to take on a population like this.”
FROM AFRICA TO OMAHA
For over 50 years, Sudan — a political invention of British colonizers in East Africa, covering an area nearly three times the size of Western Europe — was wracked by civil war between the ethnically Arab and Muslim north and the black, Christian and animist south.
A 2005 peace settlement, brokered in part by the U.S., finally halted the conflict between north and south, which had claimed more than 2 million lives. By that time, millions of Sudanese had fled the south to live in sprawling camps in neighboring Ethiopia, Chad and Kenya.
The United Nations ultimately resettled nearly 31,000 refugees from these camps in the U.S. with the help of religious groups such as the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
In the 1990s, Omaha emerged as an unlikely hub for the Sudanese, both for primary resettlement from camps in Africa, and for secondary resettlement, as refugees placed in other cities migrated there in search of jobs, cheap housing and a sense of community.
Many Sudanese arrived in the U.S. with next to nothing. “You would see a family of six with not one bag,” Goak said.
The federal government, through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, provides newly arrived refugees with 90 days of intensive assistance, including housing, food, clothing and employment.
Lutheran Family Services acted as a contractor for the federal program for Sudanese arriving in Omaha. Neither state or federal agencies track the number of Sudanese on a city-by-city basis, but Amy Richardson, vice president of refugee resettlement services for the agency, estimated the population in Omaha was now between 10,000 to 15,000.
Richardson said her agency had successfully placed almost 90 percent of Sudanese arrivals in Omaha in a job during the three months of the federal assistance program, but she acknowledged that her agency did not keep close tabs on the welfare or employment status of individual refugees after that period.
“After that 90 days and beyond, we kind of don’t have access to knowing how long they kept that job, or what trajectory they were on after that,” she said.
Yet based on her interactions with individual Sudanese, she said it appeared that the community was doing well. “I think that Omaha has done a very good job of assimilating these folks,” she said.
Some Sudanese in Omaha have clearly thrived, opening shops, restaurants and other small businesses, buying homes, mastering English and attaining college degrees. The high school graduation rate of Sudanese youth has also improved, reaching roughly 50 percent this year, community leaders said. Several Sudanese students have recently earned prestigious college scholarships.
But those successes are at risk of being overshadowed by violence and criminality among the younger generation of refugees.
Chuol Yiel, 35, a Sudanese refugee, arrived in the U.S. alone and penniless in 1995, and settled in Omaha in 1999. Today he works nights at a postal company while he finishes an undergraduate degree in psychology at a local university.
“Among the young people, there are some that have gone to college and even graduated,” Yiel said. “There are a few that are doing very well.”
But many more youth, he said, were turning to gangs and delinquency.
“The youngsters, a big number of them are not doing as good as we expected them to do in the society. They are getting involved in these negative experiences,” he said. “These are the ones who could be the future.”
One critical problem for the Sudanese community was a lack of preparation by the city’s public schools for the complex needs of refugee families, said Susan Mayberger, coordinator for migrant and refugee programming for Omaha Public Schools. The school district has taken steps to address the problem by adding programs that encourage parental involvement, she said.
“I am afraid that with the Sudanese community, with a lot of the parents, we weren’t supporting them to the same level that we are now,” Mayberger said.
The lack of parental engagement led many young Sudanese people to drop out and drift into trouble, she said. For those that did end up in gangs, some parents either could not, or would not, understand or acknowledge their childrenâ’s involvement.
“I would say we lost some of those kids,” she said.
‘IT’S ROUGH OUT HERE’
Dak More is tired of the violence.
More, 25, was born in a small farming village in southern Sudan. As a young boy he fled with his mother and siblings across the border into Ethiopia after his father was shot and killed by government soldiers from the north.
Many other relatives stayed and died, including a 12-year-old brother killed while fighting in the rebel army. At age 10, he and his mother left Kakuma, a sprawling refuge camp in eastern Kenya, for San Diego, after the U.S. State Department granted them refugee status. In his early teens, the family relocated to Omaha, where he completed high school.
He lives in Southside Terrace, a public housing project, sharing a cramped two-bedroom apartment with his mother, Nyatut, 64, and his three young children. Since graduating high school, he has worked at a series of meat-packing plants in the area. The conditions are hard but the pay is decent, he said.
On a Friday night in December, police cars rolled through the neighborhood, quiet and cold under a blanket of freshly fallen snow. More stood on the stoop of his apartment, wearing a bright yellow L.A. Lakers jersey under a heavy winter coat and a wool cap. He pointed out a group of young Sudanese walking up the street wearing black jackets, red shirts and bandanas: members of the M.O.B. gang.
“It’s rough out here, man,” More said. “Every Friday there is a shooting.”
Growing up in Omaha was difficult from the very start, he said. As a teenager, he and other young Sudanese in the housing project were attacked and harassed by African-American youth, local members of the Crips and Bloods. His left arm still aches from the time he was beaten with a baseball bat during a fight. “They think the Sudanese sold them to America for slaves,” he said.
To protect themselves, More said, the Sudanese formed their own gangs. Soon, they were committing crimes, mostly petty robberies, and brawling at parties on weekends. At 18, More briefly joined a gang and got in a few fights, but quit after a year. Friends and cousins have been shot and sent to prison, he said.
Recently, More wearied of the growing violence and began looking for ways to help bring the community’s young people under control. For six months this year, he worked as a translator and a source of information for the Omaha police department, providing details about delinquent teenagers and brewing trouble among the city’s Sudanese gangs.
This June, he helped disrupt a plot by a group of teenage gang members to kill a witness to a violent robbery by translating recordings of jailhouse conversations.
Shortly thereafter, the police department ended his temporary position. According to Lt. Darci Tierney, a police department spokeswoman, city law enforcement currently has no paid liaison with the Sudanese community.
Lack of resources for law enforcement is a problem for the entire city, said Ben Gray, a city councilman who represents north Omaha and sits on the board of the Omaha Housing Authority. “Our police department is stretched about as far as it can be.”
With police resources strained, the violence continues, both among the Sudanese and the community at large. A surge of shootings and homicides this November and December put the city on track for its highest homicide rate in several years, forcing city officials to speak out about the problem. “The number of shootings we’ve seen in the past few weeks is unacceptable,” Omaha mayor Jim Settle said in a press conference on Dec. 13.
City officials point to efforts to spur job creation in disadvantaged neighborhoods and provide resources and activities for at-risk youth as part of a concerted push to increase public safety. “There’s a huge community effort going on right now to reduce the violence,” Tierney said.
But Malakal Goak, the Sudanese non-profit director, said that desperately needed funds for sports and after-school programs had been requested from both state and city agencies, to no avail.
“We consider coming to the U.S. as a blessing,” Goak said. But, he added, “the resources for our young people are not there.”
Compounding the gang problem is the lack of jobs for young people and their parents caused by the economic slowdown, he said.
“It’s very uncertain living here,” he said. “In the past it used to be much better, but not anymore.”
A RECIPE FOR TROUBLE
To some Omaha leaders, the troubles now afflicting the Sudanese refugee community could have been anticipated.
Gray, the city councilman, called their resettlement in the city during the 1990s and early 2000s well-meaning but poorly thought out.
“We didn’t think through what we were going to do after they got here,” Gray said. “We didn’t think about what were the services they were going to need and how we were going to provide them.”
As more than 10,000 refugees flooded into inner-city neighborhoods and housing projects already struggling with poverty and high crime, services were cut, not bolstered. The result was inadequate policing and a lack of public resources for a community with extraordinary needs, he said.
“You’ve got a recipe for some serious difficulty when you bring in that number of people,” he said.
The levels of poverty and violence in the primarily African-American neighborhoods in Omaha where many Sudanese settled are among the highest in the country, census and law enforcement data shows.
Unemployment among Omaha’s almost 55,000 African-Americans averaged nearly 23 percent in 2010, well above the national average for African-Americans of 17 percent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey. In some individual census tracts in North Omaha, the unemployment rate reaches as high as 35 percent or more, Gray said. Poverty rates in the city’s African-American community are also among the very worst in the country.
Persistent poverty has created fertile ground for violent street gangs, which arrived in the 1980s from Los Angeles and other major metropolitan areas and established control over the city’s drug trade. Drug-fueled gang violence peaked in the mid-1990s in Omaha, as it did in most other U.S. cities. But the gangs and the violence have only ebbed somewhat, not abated.
According to a 2010 study of national homicide data, Nebraska had the third-highest state homicide rate for African-Americans in the country in 2008, due almost entirely to violence in Omaha’s inner-city neighborhoods.
Omaha’s homicide rate dipped by more than 30 percent in 2009, and city officials credited the decline to a series of youth-oriented jobs and recreation programs in violence-wracked areas. But homicides have steadily crept back up since then, and by the end of the 2011 they were approaching the past decade’s highs.
Violence spiked in November, with a string of shootings and homicides clustered on Omaha’s north side. In one weekend, there were seven shootings, two fatal.
One of those killed was James Mun, 19, whose murder was recorded briefly in a story about the wave of shootings in the Omaha World-Herald. The reporter did not note his Sudanese heritage.
BACK TO AFRICA
James Mun’s death might have been averted but for a missed flight.
In July, Mun Nam Koak, his father, bought a plane ticket to take him from Omaha to East Africa, a region he had not seen since he escaped the civil war between northern and southern Sudan as an infant. He would have arrived just days before South Sudan officially achieved independence, becoming the world’s newest nation.
The goal of the trip was to get his son out of the U.S., where he had dropped out of community college and was drifting into trouble with the law, Koak said.
“I absolutely wanted to get him out of the country,” he said. “I was worried about his friends. They were involved in the drinking, not going to school. I don’t like that.”
“It’s not the way we live life in Africa,” he said.
Mun never made the trip. The night before his flight, he was arrested while out drinking with friends in north Omaha. He spent the night in jail and missed his plane.
Mun told his father that he wanted to spend a couple of months in Omaha, to work and save some money. Then, in November, his father bought him another plane ticket to South Sudan. It also went unused.
Early in the morning of Saturday, Nov. 19, Mun was shot in the head in an empty lot near a north Omaha freeway overpass. His friends drove him to a nearby hospital, where he died the next day. Police have made no arrests.
Koak said he had heard that his son’s killers were Sudanese. But he denied that his son was involved in gang activities.
“He was not gang. He was not bad person. He was not criminal,” he said. “My son did not do anything to anybody.”
But others who knew his son, including his cousin Gatweth Root, said Mun was affiliated with the South Sudan Soldiers, and pointed to gang references in postings and photos by and about him on Facebook. Root said the murder may have been motivated by a dispute over a girl with a member of the African Pride gang, and if police do not solve the case, there will likely be a retaliatory attack.
“His dad might not know it, but he’s gang,” said Dak More. “His friends are going to pay it back.”
HILARY WESONGA and PETER NDORIA outline the silent coups that are reducing Kenyan men to sissies
Folklore has the story of a long-suffering husband whose sly wife constantly beat him up in the cover of darkness while screaming, “Don’t kill me!”
His brothers never came to his aid because they assumed he was the one meting out manly ‘discipline’. Meanwhile, she retained the picture of victim to the sympathetic outside world while remaining in firm control of the goings-on in her home. The man could not come out in the open and express his tribulations. No one would believe him anyway.
Such is the agony that plagues many Kenyan men. As women push for affirmative action and the application of the two-thirds gender rule in all the public spheres of life, the reality is that many married men have long lost the battle on the home front.
Anyona, who has been married for a year, is one such tormented man. He is perturbed by his wife’s abrupt change in behaviour. When the two moved in together before they walked down the aisle, Silivia Atenya, Anyona’s wife, would insist on doing every house chore. She never wanted his help.
So one would understand his shock when he went to the fridge recently to get his preferred cold drink only to find a duty roster pinned on the door. At first, he thought it was a joke and dismissed it off-hand. He looked at it closely, went to fetch his spectacles and removed the printed duty roster from the fridge for a closer look. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
What bothered Anyona was he was never consulted. Besides, they were only the two of them in the house since they had no children. He decided to call his wife’s bluff. This, after all, was the festive season and people were in fun-poking mood, he thought. He was wrong.
“How do you expect me to come home tired from work, cook for you, wash the dirty utensils, mop the house, then go to bed tired and wake up to prepare breakfast and arrange your clothes, yet you only come home to re-read your newspapers?” scoffed his not-so-amused wife when he waved the offensive document in her face.
Anyona was so mad that he walked out to drown his fury in a few bottles of beer. It is while at the bar that the coup back home played itself out in his mind in excruciating detail, bit by bit as he sipped his favourite lager. He had long lost control and was living at the mercy of Silivia. Then it hit him that of late, his conjugal rights were rationed, on her terms.
If she wasn’t too tired, she had a severe headache. If she didn’t have a headache, she was on her periods, even when he was sure she wasn’t.
But that had never been the case before they got married. Then she never complained. In fact, whenever he offered to help with the chores, she would lovingly hug and ask him to rest.
Woman of the house
“I know you are tired, darling. Just rest and watch news. I can handle this!” she would say, adding that as the ‘woman of the house’ it was her duty to oversee such ‘small’ chores. And now, of all things, a duty roster?
Anyona is in good company. Yet for all their beef about coming from work tired, many men are saddled with wives who never spend a penny of their salary, not even on their medication. Such are the wives who send children to collect money from their fathers for the smallest of things. “Ask your father to give you Sh20,” is a common statement in many households. Just where do these women take their money?
When you ask around, women say times have changed and they no longer live in the Stone Age where they were looked upon as cheap labour for men. They are first of all wives, not househelps, and that they deserve to be treated as such.
In the kind of doublespeak that would dumbfound a politician, the modern Kenyan woman — even as she swirls empowerment, equality, equal opportunity and all other high-sounding vowels on her tongue like fine wine — will remain firm about one thing: it is the unconditional duty of the man to provide food, clothing and shelter.
Apparently, the wedding vow of ‘two shall become one’ only applies to his wallet and never her designer handbag.
No matter the situation, wives will leave all the bills to the man, even in these harsh economic times, as Joash Oyoo attests.
“When I lost my job, I had to borrow loans from close friends to settle the house rent and pay all the house bills even though my wife still had her job. She would come back empty handed from work and demand for food,” says Oyoo.
The ‘man is the head of the family’ phrase is often used by the self-same independent modern women only when it comes to financial obligations like school fees, her salon bills, the mortgage, buying her car, fuelling it and servicing it.
“His money is my money, but my money can never be ours. Why then would I need a man when I’m going to continue supporting myself?” wonders Fridah, a non-remorseful executive secretary who earns a six-digit salary.
To her, her husband’s money is basically her money and she has the right over it. She needs to know how he spends every penny but there is no way her husband is going to control her purse.
“No self-respecting man does that,” she adds, unwittingly oblivious of the irony of her statement
Fridah says she walks home empty handed because her husband, as the head of the family, must provide for the family. When asked who pays the rent, she quickly says, “Of course him. That is his duty. He must provide food, shelter and clothing as the head of the family.”
The paradox, however, is that while the man is expected to ‘man up’ to his traditional role as head of the house, today’s woman will deem it demeaning to expect her to do those menial tasks that her grandmother gladly undertook. Like to know where his shirt, washed by the house help whom he pays but can’t instruct, is.
But across the border, the equally modern Ugandan woman is apparently taught by her aunts how to make her man happy and loving throughout the marriage, much the same way her mothers and grandmothers were taught.
“I cannot let my man come home and start doing house chores. That’s my duty,” gloated one 20-something-year-old Ugandan woman who works for a local communications firm.
Instead of combat, ultimatums and duty rosters, these women are famously submissive and will do anything to keep the love flowing, which effectively charms the man into opening his wallet.
That must be Stone Age news from this ‘developed’ side of the border where the woman of the house will come home decidedly tired, put up her feet, grab the TV remote and flip to her favourite soap opera.
In many such households, a man cannot lend his best friend Sh1,000 without consulting his wife. So picture the skirmish that would ensure if he sold ‘his’ car and bought another without seeking her views.
Other men are so emasculated that every movement they make is tracked via mobile phone and they practically shiver if 9pm finds them away from home.
No one opens the door for them, and in worst-case scenarios, they sleep in the cold when they come late. Yes, the golden era when the African man bestrode his homestead like a colossus is dead and buried.
Instead, spineless fellows who fearfully refer to their wives as ‘madam’ have replaced the tough men of old. And the worst, as they say, is yet to come.
Dear Esteemed Readers
It was Niccolo Machiavelli, in his political masterpiece, The Prince, who long ago prophesied that“men are so simple and so much creatures of circumstance that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived”. By PaanLuel Wel.
Nigerian prophet, Efe Ese, casting out evil spirits with his penis in Ghana, arrested
A self-styled Nigerian prophet, Efe Ese, who claims he specialises in exorcising evil spirits with his penis, has found himself in the grips of the police after stealing from one of his victims.
Efe, by his trade, hypnotised women he prophesied to and lured them into believing that they were tormented by evil spirits.
He told them he had to have sex with them so he could exorcise all the demons which, he claimed, were responsible for all their misfortunes.
The lid was however blown off his activities when he bolted with a digital camera and a laptop computer during a prayer session with one of his victims after a hot bout of sex.
The Divisional Crime Officer of Tesano, ASP Stephen Donyina Kyeremeh, said on Wednesday December 7, 2011, at about 5pm, the suspect met one of his victims at Alajo where she was about boarding a bus.
He confronted her with some prophesies of happenings in her life which she admitted were true.
The sexy prophet then continued that the lady needed prayers urgently so they had to return to her abode.
The lady aborted her errand and took the strange man to her house at Alajo.
In the cause of the prayer, the self-styled prophet managed to convince his victim to have sex with him in order to exorcise some evil spirits which were presumably tormenting her life.
After satisfying his libido, this dialogue took place:
Prophet: Which of your possessions is very dear to your heart?
Lady: My digital camera and my laptop computer. They are gifts from a relation abroad.
Prophet: The items were possessed by some evil spirits before they were sent to you.
The camera and the laptop ought to be cleansed because according to the prophet, they were the remote causes of her problem, telling her to bring them.
His victim, like a lamb being taken to the slaughter slab, obediently brought the items and another prayer session began.
While the victim was busily praying, the suspect bolted with the computer and the laptop.
In the middle of the prayer, the woman opened her eyes and to her shock, she was alone.
After several hours of waiting, she gave up until a week later, Wednesday, December 14, when Ese called the woman on her phone.
The sexy prophet, who did not know that his plan had been uncovered, told his victim that he had seriously been working on exorcising the evil spirits from the two items but the spirits were so recalcitrant so he would need another bout of sex to speed up the process.
The victim, who had then become aware of the suspect’s intentions, informed the police who ambushed him.
At the appointed time, when Efe showed up, he was arrested and whisked to the Tesano Divisional Police Station where he admitted to the offence and handed over the camera and the laptop to the police.
A search through the camera showed nude photographs of several women suspected to be his victims.
ASP Kyeremeh said while the police was yet to charge him, a female caller who was later invited to the police station came to corroborate a similar event between her and the suspect.
The second victim told the police she had come to remit the suspect, adding that usually after their sex escapades and prayers, she remitted the sexy pastor for his effort in exorcising the so-called evil spirits which she was made to believe tormented her.
Tags: Thon Maker
He’s been called the next Kevin Durant. He’s been compared to Chris Webber. More than anything else, what 14-year-old Thon Maker truly represents is a pure sporting enigma: A 7-foot middle schooler who has the refined mid-range game and dominant post presence of a top high school senior (if not a college star) already.
Maker has exploded onto the pre-prep basketball scene since arriving in Houston for the John Lucas International Middle School Combine in August. An Australian of Sudanese descent (which only adds to his intrigue), Maker is still in middle school but flashes the kind of complete game usually only found in a top college-level prospect.
Add to that his 7-foot size and massive wingspan at the tender age of 14, and there’s little question whyMaker is getting a load of attention as a newly emigrated American Middle Schooler. The lanky, multi-position star is spending his eighth-grade season competing for Metairie Park (La.) Country Day School, where he has wasted little time in emerging as one of the nation’s top prospects for the Class of 2016. He’salready the top-ranked prospect in his class, according to MiddleSchoolHoops.com.
Of course, that’s where any knowledge about Maker stops and the pure guesswork begins. Because of his age, no one knows if Maker wants to continue to evolve as a swingman — a la Durant — or whether he plans to put on weight and try to bang inside as a center. No one knows whether he really likes Louisiana or if he pines for home in Australia.
Regardless of what happens next, at this point Maker has become a phenomenon of his own accord. After all, it’s not every day that you see a 7-foot 14-year-old, let alone one who has the refined motor skills of some of the NBA’s best. If nothing else, the early highlight reels of Maker’s exploits should make following him at the high school level a must-see pursuit in the coming years.
So, while you almost certainly haven’t heard of Maker yet, you should get ready to hear a lot more about him, both now and for the foreseeable future
When South Sudan was created as an independent country in July, it offered a new hope and possibilities for a whole generation whose childhood was blighted by civil war.
Among the victims of Sudan’s conflict were 27,000 boys orphaned by the fighting. Known as the Lost Boys, some were forced to fight as child soldiers, while others fled and became refugees.
An estimated 1.5 million people were killed and another four million were displaced in what became Africa’s longest-running conflict.
The refugees fled to camps in Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries. It was a dangerous journey – many drowned or died from hunger. Others were killed by wild animals. Some of those who survived ended up far away, in countries such as the US.
More than two decades of fighting ended in a peace deal in 2005 which led to the people of South Sudan voting for secession in a referendum.
As the new nation starts building its future, three of these Lost Boys have told their stories to BBC Two’s This World, speaking about what independence means to them and their hopes for the future
Along with about 4,000 other Lost Boys, Kuol Awan was resettled in the United States in 2000.
I feel like someone who has been away from home for a long time”
End Quote Kuol Awan
The 32-year-old has been living in Arizona, managing the Arizona Lost Boys’ Centre. It is the largest centre of its kind, helping its 600 members to adjust to life in the US.
Independence for South Sudan provided a chance for Mr Awan to return to the country of his birth.
He wanted to revisit the village that was his home until the age of eight and which he had not seen since. He was keen to search for any relatives who may have remained.
But much had changed. Shortly after he left, the village was burnt to the ground and people have only recently returned to rebuild their homes.
“It used to be a very close village. The way I left it is not the way it is [now],” he says.
Mr Awan tried to visit his mother’s grave to pay his respects, but it had been buried in the sand and he was unable to find it.
“It’s hard to kind of conceive. Where I used to play and see my family, now nobody is here,” he said.
“I feel like someone who has been away from home for a long time.”
He feels that independence promises a new start and a chance to make the country peaceful and prosperous.
Lam Tungwar was recruited into the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) when he was seven years old. He was promised an education, but instead he was taught how to fight.
Maybe we’ll be the food basket of Africa”
End Quote Lam Tungwar
“I didn’t know why I was fighting. No-one could answer me,” said Mr Tungwar. “I learned a different lesson, a lesson of war, a lesson of death, a lesson of killing people.”
Today, he is one of South Sudan’s biggest pop stars. He was heavily involved in organising some of the cultural events staged to celebrate independence.
He wants to put his own past behind him and believes the country should do the same.
“We are tired of being oppressed. We’re tired of our dignity not being recognised. We still have a lot to do ahead, to show our joy to the world.”
Mr Tungwar is optimistic that secession will bring new responsibilities and opportunities, a chance for the country to define itself.
“We need to start working. The whole world will not give us aid.”
“Maybe we’ll be the food basket of Africa, or maybe we’ll be the good example for the democrats in Africa.”
Paul Manyok has lived in exile in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helped to transport hospital patients for medical tests. He also worked in a cafeteria and as a salesman.
A young nation will require young leaders”
End Quote Paul Manyok
He was granted US citizenship when he arrived, but feels he is both American and Sudanese. Like Mr Awan, he is involved with a community centre for Lost Boys and wants to keep Sudanese oral history and culture alive.
But he is still haunted by the day his village was attacked.
“The time they came, they burned houses, a lot of my relatives were killed,” he said.
“People are running like crazy, we could hear people crying everywhere.”
With a degree in political science and Bible studies, Mr Manyok wants to give something back to his new country, South Sudan.
“I would love to transfer the skills, knowledge, values and attitude that I’ve learned in peace-building and conflict resolution.
“I think with that I can bring some respect to Southern Sudan,” he said, “and of course, a young nation will require young leaders that might help the generation that have sacrificed so much.”
BBC Two’s This World: Return of the Lost Boys of Sudan will be broadcast on Monday 12 December 2011 at 19:00 GMT. Or watch online (UK only) via BBC iPlayer at the above link.
- A recent social study discovered that women are inherently wired to stab each other in the back. Felista Wangari explores the impact of this behavior in the workplace.
There are two types of women in the workplace: those who are genuinely supportive of other women, and those who seem bent on undermining their female peers.
A recent, controversial study on intra-female hostility highlighted how women react to other women and brought this subject into sharp focus.
The study seeks to explain women’s dressing as a possible cause of hostility among women at work. Researchers from the University of Ottawa, Canada conducted a social experiment to find out if women are more hostile to other women who they perceive as being physically attractive.
Respondents hardly noticed a woman who was dressed conservatively in khaki trousers and a t-shirt. But majority of the respondents, who saw the same woman in a miniskirt and a low-cut top but didn’t recognise her as the same women they had just seen, criticised her outfit and speculated about her promiscuity.
Professor Tracy Vallaincourt, one of the researchers, attributed dressing in a certain way as one of the possible causes of female hostility in the workplace.
Though the credibility of the study has been questioned in some quarters, that women sometimes face hostility, unhealthy competition and sabotage from their female workmates is not in question.
Intra-female nastiness is the theme of the book: I Can’t Believe She Did That! Why Women Betray Other Women at Work by American author Nan Mooney.
Mooney writes that women who feel threatened by their female peers shy away from direct conflict opting instead to engage in unhealthy competition, such as talking behind one another’s backs, and sabotaging a peer’s success.
Some studies show that women with low self esteem may be dissatisfied with the work environment or may be experiencing difficulties expressing themselves to others leading to miscommunication or indirect aggression towards other women.
Asenath, a 26-year-old Masters student at Kenyatta University believes that it is a feminine trait for women to plot against each other in fits of jealousy. The meanness stems from envy that another woman is getting something that one lacks but desires.
Since women share so much information about their lives, one may feel left out when the other gets what they both aspire to, leading to conflict and indirect aggression in the form of backbiting, and sabotage.
And while some see nothing wrong with a small dose of jealousy as a source of motivation to do better and propel a woman to her goals, jealousy is a cause of sabotage plots by women against other women.
“If a woman is promoted her female colleagues are the first to spread rumours about how she slept her way up,” Asenath admits. Women who are excelling also face exclusion by envious peers.
Beatrice Wachiuri, a banker, has heard people make snide remarks about a woman being arrogant because she advanced her professional skills and got a promotion.
As if that is not enough, peers may exclude her from activities, claiming that she no longer wants to associate with her juniors. But Beatrice does not buy into the school of thought that women have an inherent desire to undercut each other.
“It is about how you perceive another woman’s success. You would think that your female colleagues would be happy for you when you succeed because they stand to benefit from your success, but that is sometimes not the case.”
That aside, the undercurrent of negative competition makes Beatrice prefer working with men.
“With men the focus is on achievement, but women, on the other hand, want to compete with you on how you dress, where you live and all manner of petty things. It is this unhealthy competition that makes it more difficult to work with fellow women,” Beatrice says.
Nyota Ndogo, the coast-based crooner who sang on the phenomenon of women being unsupportive of each other in the soulful Watu na Viatu, sees it as feminine nature for women to nose into their peers’ affairs.
It is this nature which leads to frequently unhealthy competition, characterised by backbiting, slanderous rumours, sabotage plots and generally behaviour that is less than sisterly.
Nyota points out the unsupportive streak in women as the very one that keeps them from advancement. And it is mostly those who are perceived to be successful, or on their way up, who are on the receiving end of meanness from their peers.
“Even in the music industry a woman may not want to share credit for the success of a song with another. There is that fear that some sort of conflict will arise if one of the artistes seems to be gaining more mileage from a song done in collaboration,” Nyota says.
Rachel, a sales executive at an insurance company, says that there are some women who are naturally unsupportive. She refers to a former colleague who tried to undermine her at work.
Her colleague would discredit Rachel by telling her clients how they were not getting the best service, and doing everything to dampen the cordial relationship Rachel had with her clients.
“I knew my colleague was behind the strained relationship with my clients, as she was the kind who used underhand ways to make sure no one outperformed her. But there was no one else to handle my clients when I was away on other assignments,” she explains.
Rachel, 33, would not confront her colleague as she felt it would only make the situation worse. She contemplated quitting rather than work with a woman who deliberately tried to undermine her in the eyes of her clients, but she soldiered on.
“That is her nature and as I could not change her, I decided to stay put and keep doing my best at work. We no longer work together but she is still my friend and she has not changed.”
Professor Elishiba Kimani, a gender and development studies lecturer at Kenyatta University views the idea that women do not support each other as a myth. She states that there are many women who actively support other women in their bid to succeed at work.
However, she admits that in some cases the Queen Bee syndrome takes over.
The Queen Bee syndrome refers to women bosses who are not supportive of other women to help them rise up the ranks and may even be involved in sabotaging their progress. This is especially evident in a male-dominated workplace.
“When a woman is in a position where she is receiving all the glory, she may not want to share that platform with another woman. She may claim she is supportive of more women getting to where she is, but she practically does nothing to shore up other women,” Professor Kimani explains.
There is a feeling that there is not enough to go around which brings about rivalry and competition for positions. However, the gender professor is displeased that though men engage in similar undercutting, which can even grow into physical aggression, their behaviour is seen as normal and ignored.
“The same behaviour in women is shouted from the rooftops because of certain stereotypes about women,” she adds.
The solution, Prof Kimani says, is not in seeing it as an inborn feminine trait, but rather by women beginning to believe in each other, mentoring each other and providing an empowering environment which allows them all to thrive.
The little secrets and politics of being a modern African man
Posted Friday, December 9 2011 at 22:00
- The 13 items every African man must own, and how they define what we are. Plus, the evolutionary value of a torn T-shirt or pair of socks
My mother (bless her soul) was a great storyteller. When we were little, we lived for her endless stories of the clever Mr Hare, Mr Rabbit, and all that.
Later, she regaled us with stories of eccentric relatives. There was my great grandfather, a warrior of his time and leading cattle owner in the village.
He worked on the assumption that every heifer born in the surrounding villages and resembled any of them bulls in his kraal could only have been sired by one of his bulls. So he would seize and add them to his collection.
Then there was the story of one of our aunts, a woman of great spirit. One dark night she was walking home along the village path.
Relaxed in the cool wind of the night, she broke wind. Unknown to her, one of the men in the village was walking behind her. The man scolded her: “What kind of woman are you who fouls the air as you walk?” suggesting she had failed the standard of being a lady.
My quick-witted aunt shot back: “What kind of man are you who walks at night without whistling?” Her point being that if he had whistled, she would have known he was there and been more modest. The fact that he didn’t, meant he was a coward who feared the darkness.
This reality that there are things that society expects women to do, and those that men are duty-bound to observe, will always be with us. The only things that change are the basket of items that they are allowed or expected to do.
In old conservative times, African women were not expected to ride bicycles or wear trousers. That is history.
What society allowed and what it didn’t might, on the face of it, be considered culture. It wasn’t. It was very political and determined who wielded power.
Take bicycle riding. A bicycle allowed two things. First, it enabled rural Africans to cover distances more quickly. That meant that men, who were allowed to ride, travelled more efficiently and had time to spare for other activities.
Women, who travelled similar distances on foot, spent a lot of time on the road, and had little “me” time left for themselves to pursue other interests. This led to more male than female innovators.
Bicycles also took people beyond their villages, and widened their knowledge and horizons. This knowledge, in turn, conferred power. Thus men, who were free to ride far, broadened their knowledge more than women who couldn’t.
Thus when it came to the election of a chief, men would always take the job because they were considered “wiser”. That was wrong, because while society thought that “wisdom” was a measure of a man’s ability, it was actually a measure of his opportunity.
The same thing happens with possessions. There are things that were gender specific. A “real” African man, for example, was incomplete if he did not own a spear or a cow.
And an African woman of old was not quite a woman if she didn’t own beads or an earth pot.
Question then is, what about the modern African, nay, East African, man? What must he have in his “male toolbox” for him to be one of the boys? What do these things say about him? Or, better still, why should he own some of them?
My understanding of the political economy of being an East African man today tells me one needs to own AT LEAST THREE of the following props:
1. A small Swiss army knife: A Swiss army knife suggests that you were a Scout once, a man of the outdoors.
Secondly, it implies that you have the skills to use one of its many elements — in other words you are a Do It Yourself (DIY) kind of guy. It is the equivalent of our grandfathers’ spear, but more suited to the modern human rights age.
It is more difficult to kill a fellow man with a small Swiss knife in an argument in the bar over the woman or a Manchester United vs. Chelsea match, than if you used a gun, dagger, sword, or spear.
In short, a small Swiss Army knife allows you fake being a macho man, while not getting in the trouble that comes with it. (My wife gave me my Swiss knife as a birthday gift well before we got married 21 years ago. I still have it. This is important because an aged-look gives it pedigree).
2. A wallet: If your daughter or sister ever asks what type of man she should never marry, and you were allowed only one answer, tell her: “One who doesn’t carry/own a wallet”.
A wallet is a sign of organisation, or at least a desire to be organised. Through a wallet, a man sends the vibe that he can put together and manage his worth.
A wallet also does something else; it functions as a brake. It tells you that when you have run out of money and you are in a pub, go home. It is a border line between responsible and reckless citizenship.
3.An old school, university, or club tie, club badge: History defines us as human beings; the history of our societies, of our families, and our countries. But those histories are thrust upon you. You don’t choose them.
Any worthy man needs to have a history that he has constructed himself. That will happen while you are in school; while you are on your hobby (e.g. climbing mountains); or during leisure (e.g. at a place like Parklands Club).
Thus a man must ensure he has something from his school (a tie or sweater), from his hobby (a Rotary badge or Darts trophy); or from his recreation life (a club tie, or club polo or T-shirt).
These things serve two functions. A true man does not need to speak for himself every time. A club tie or trophy speaks for you. Secondly, you need to communicate that you are good enough to belong to something other than your family (hence the club tie).
4. A white shirt: It is impossible to regularly wear a white shirt in Africa. The heat makes you sweaty and white will show stains very quickly. But the white shirt’s biggest enemy is the African dust.
In less than an hour, it can appear that you have worn the shirt three times without a wash. However, having a white shirt signals that you are not afraid to tackle the elements.
But most importantly, that you have sufficient competence to keep it white. One white shirt is enough to make this point.
5. A pair of shorts: When most men grow older, their legs generally become ugly and terrible to look at. If, in addition, they also have the custom pot-belly, they look even more unsightly in shorts. You would think then that no man over 30 should ever wear shorts in public.
Wrong. When a man with terrible legs wears shorts, he is telling all that there is more to him than his appearance — and that if we looked closer, we will find serious substance in him.
A man who wears shorts, is like a woman who is confident enough to go out with natural hair and no make up at the same time.
6. Open sandals: We live in the humid tropics, so at first you would think that it makes sense to have sandals because they are more comfortable than closed shoes.
Yes, but there is something else. For some unknown reason, many women get really upset at the sight of men wearing open sandals with socks — particularly if you bang on socks with them.
So sandals (worn with socks) are very good for a man if he wants to annoy his mother, sisters, girlfriend, wife, or female colleagues at the office, without seeming that it is your intention to do so.
If things get thick, and your wife gives you an ultimatum, it is easy to remove the socks before you are killed. And, beside, they are not as bad as the two male fashion items that can even break a marriage — brown shoes worn with a yellow suit!
7. A leather jacket: If I had to pick, I would put the leather jacket among the top three must-have male props, up there with the Swiss Army knife and wallet. It expands a man’s “interpretation canvas” dramatically.
Depending on the type of leather jacket, people might consider you a biker. A pilot. An army officer. A sailor. A rich farmer. A cool musician. A radical environmentalist. A naturalist professor. A nerd.
Whatever your thing, a leather jacket says that you are a well-settled in member of the vast male universe out there.
8. A hand-me-down from Daddy or Grandpa: Now though boys might play tough, still they all need to be loved.
So we men value something handed down by senior men in the family out of affection, but mostly because they think we are solid enough to be trusted to carry on the family’s great traditions.
It does not have to be a big thing. It can be a stained hat, an old clock or watch, the precious 40-year-old marvellously beaten leather bag, a pipe, or tobacco/snuff box that your grandfather brought back from World War II.
My father still has a brush that I found when I was born. The wood has a shiny rich patina I have never seen on another wood. It must be over 60 years old. Even at this age, my eyes would mist over if he gave it to me.
9. A private collection: We men used to be hunters and gatherers. We went out to kill the animal, brought it home, and the women engineered it into food for the table.
This gathering side is still very much part of our identity. Some African men, of course, gather wives. But that is a bit old-fashioned and our women are too educated and powerful to allow that nonsense.
So we have been reduced to safe: A man must have a CD (or better still vinyl LP) collection, a coin/currency collection, paint collection; book collection; or tie collection. The important thing is to collect.
10. Over the years, I have found one thing on which the women of Africa, Asia, America, Europe, Latin America agree on — they get freaked out by men who are too neat and orderly.
They suspect such men are psychos, closet murderers, cannibals, or even cross-dressers. Men know this, and they have at least two devices to comfort women — holed old socks or T-shirts.
Torn shirts are important because they make a man look primitive and disorganised, thus giving your girlfriend or wife an easy entrance point into “organising” you by throwing or burning them.
But there is something else; like the old leather bag, your grandfather’s pipe, they are wonderful connection to the ancestors, to things past.
11. There will always be a moment when a man who went to school must make an impression or prove it. A time will come when you have to reveal your favourite book; when you have to quote something from a great book.
This is a tricky one, but the last 60 years have largely settled that matter. An African man of substance must have (or be able to cite) either George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, or William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
There are few conversations an African man will ever be involved in where they will not make an impression by flinging in an Orwell, Achebe, or Shakespeare line. If you can’t, you are beyond help.
12A man needs paper: By paper, I mean a document that places you somewhere or ascribes ownership of something, however small, to you. This can be a birth certificate; a college or university degree, a share certificate, a land title, a discharge letter from the Army or Police, or even a firing letter from your last job. A man who doesn’t have paper is probably an alien from Mars.
13. Finally, a great overcoat: This is mostly for married men who have a reputation to protect with their in-laws.
Every so often, an African man will have to attend a funeral vigil in the home of his in-laws. This is the time when you need to look strong, so be prepared to spend the night outside sitting at the campfire or curled up manfully on a verandah.
For this you need a stoic overcoat to keep you warm. Never ever go to a funeral at your in-laws in something that might look like your wife’s shawl, or a throwaway blanket that you grabbed from the home sofa.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, after her speech on human rights issues at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON — The United States will begin using American foreign aid to promote gay rights abroad, Obama administration officials said on Tuesday.
President Obama issued a memorandum directing American agencies to look for ways to combat efforts by foreign governments to criminalize homosexuality.
The new initiative holds the potential to irritate relations with some close American allies that ban homosexuality, including Saudi Arabia.
But Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton underscored Mr. Obama’s remarks, in a speech delivered in Geneva in connection with International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
“I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes,” she said. “They can and they do. Just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable. But it should never be a crime to be gay.”
The directive comes after the Parliament in Uganda decided to reopen a debate on a controversial bill that seeks to outlaw homosexuality, a move that could be expanded to include the death penalty for gay men and lesbians. That bill had been shelved earlier this year amid widespread international condemnation.
“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting L.G.B.T. persons around the world,” Mr. Obama said in the memorandum, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, “whether it is passing laws that criminalize L.G.B.T. status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful L.G.B.T. pride celebrations, or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”
Specifically, Mr. Obama said in the memorandum that the State Department would lead other federal agencies to help ensure that the government provides a “swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights” of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people abroad.
It was not immediately clear whether that would mean a cut-off of American aid to countries that target the gay community, but it suggests that American agencies will have expanded tools to press foreign countries that are found to abuse the rights of gays, lesbians and others.
Based on findings in the State Department’s latest annual human rights report, several countries, including several vital American allies, could face increased pressure over their treatment of gays and others.
The report said that in Saudi Arabia, under Sharia law as interpreted in the country, “sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is punishable by death or flogging. It is illegal for men ‘to behave like women’ or to wear women’s clothes and vice versa.”
The law in Afghanistan “criminalizes homosexual activity, but authorities only sporadically enforced the prohibition,” the report said. And in Pakistan, homosexual intercourse is a criminal offense, though rarely prosecuted.
Homosexuality is accepted in most of Europe. In India, the law permits consensual sexual activities between adults. In China, according to the report, “no laws criminalize private homosexual activity between consenting adults,” and “homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and removed from the official list of mental disorders in 2001.”
The annual State Department rights reports already provide one tool for influencing foreign treatment of gays and lesbians, through the “shaming” function of those reports. Mr. Obama’s memorandum called for similar, separate annual reports on treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
With the 2012 presidential campaign already under way, Mr. Obama’s action was bound to be viewed through a political lens, and it drew fire almost immediately from one Republican candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. Saying he had seen news reports that the Obama administration “wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights,” Mr. Perry said in a statement, “This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.”
He added: “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
Gay people tend to vote Democratic more than Republican, and have generally been supportive of Mr. Obama, with many praising his move to repeal the ban on gay people serving openly in the military. But he has faced criticism for failing to clearly support a right of same-sex couples to marry.
The presidential memorandum said that federal agencies engaged abroad had been directed to “combat the criminalization of L.G.B.T. status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable L.G.B.T. refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. response to human rights abuses of L.G.B.T. persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against L.G.B.T. discrimination.”
Mr. Obama has frequently made use of presidential directives to protect the rights of gays and lesbians, particularly when political sensitivities might have made legislative action impractical.
Brian Knowlton contributed reporting.