Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Journey of Boubacar Bah

Author: Kombeh Jobe

Going Backwards and Forward (Full Story)
“Place there is none. We go backward and forward, and there is no place.”
 - Saint Augustine
“America is not so much a country as it is an idea, and that must be why so many people are drawn to it, the idea of it, the idea that you might be free of your past, free of the traditions that kept you in your own traditions - that is the idea of it: freedom from your very own self.”
 - Jamaica Kincaid


This is a story of my father’s journey to America. It is not an unusual or exceptional story, no different from the many stories other young men experience. It is even a rather banal story of one man’s ordinary struggles and triumphs and tribulations.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Soweto | The June 16th, 1976 Uprisings

Author: Tseliso Thipanyane

Call To Action for Africa's Youth

Thirsty six years ago on June 16, 1976, over ten thousand black school students in Soweto, South Africa, took to the streets in protest over policies of the oppressive apartheid regime, particularly the inferior education they were subjected to and the unfair imposition of the Afrikaans language on them. Now popularly known as the Soweto Uprisings, slightly over one hundred school children under the age of sixteen, including 13 years old Hector Pieterson, were killed in these uprisings; many more lost their lives in related events that took place in other parts of the country.

The Soweto uprisings constituted a major turning point in the struggle for freedom in South Africa and contributed to the eventual demise of the apartheid regime and the advent of democratic government in April 1994. The uprisings set the stage for greater involvement of young people in the struggle against apartheid that sparked off a popular struggle.  Young people also swelled the ranks of the liberation movements, the African National Congress (ANC) in particular, and helped to invigorate their activities and campaigns.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Going Backwards and Forward [Part 4]

Author: Kombeh Jobe

This is a serial, fictional narrative by Kombeh Jobe. This is the last installment in this series. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. To read Part 3, click here.

My father was sometimes afraid of the prospect of my sister and I living in America. He was nervous about us growing up here, fearing what would become of us if we “strayed” and followed the customs of this country. He had known and seen too many men and women who had lost everything and went mad pursuing money and the innumerable pleasures this country had to offer.

And so he and my mother wielded a strong defense to make sure we wouldn't fall under the beautiful temptations of the country, tightly guarding us from what my mother says is the “pathlessness” of America; its moral and social vacuity. She believed the country preyed most on children, stealing their souls, separating them from their parents with promises of a life of abundance and independence, which, to my mother, always meant promiscuity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brain Drain: Diaspora Africans

Staff Writer

Now Is The Time To Pool Africa's Resources – Wealth and Mind

There have long been many stereotypical truths about Africa, one of which has been the devastating and increasing departure of the continent’s most prolific talents—brain drain. The phenomenon and it’s impact is not unique to Africa, which sees thousands of its best minds move overseas to better their lot in parts of the world where they can realize a higher standard of living. Now, however, the effects of Africa’s brain drain can be reversed or, at the very least, drastically minimized. With the widespread availability of social media and communication technologies within the last decade, both in the diaspora and on the continent at large, Africa can now crowd-source solutions to, and funds for, its problems from African experts, most importantly in the diaspora.

African countries have decried their loss of skilled labor to the West for decades and are now employing strategies to retain those still on the continent and entice those looking to return. The efforts are noble, but the fact that Africa cannot yet, or in the immediate future, make available to these Africans the same standard of living they enjoy in the West, they will not return in the numbers that matter. Allowing for this group of people to pool together ideas and investment capital for projects in Africa will be the best means of tapping into this African resource.  What Africa needs most, amongst other things, are innovative ideas and the capital to fund them. It now has access to both.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The New Politics of Human Rights in Africa

Staff Writer

An Evolving Issue Requiring Political Tact

Homosexuality is the new frontier in human rights on the African continent. If God “saved” Africa only from homosexuality, one must admit that he went through a lot of trouble to spare the continent of a problem of little consequence relative to the laundry list of its ailments. Many Africans truly believe that it is “unAfrican” for two members of the same sex to engage in sexual activities. Although a rather uninformed position, it is very popular, nonetheless—politically and culturally. For instance, it is the only issue on which Muslim northern Nigerians and their equally zealot southern Christian rivals agree.

You will find this the case all over Africa, safe for South Africa, where governments are falling over each other to enact stringent anti-homosexuality laws to protect their societies from the scourge. Even in the case of South Africa, the legal protection of homosexuality is not the de facto law, where public representatives have often boldly and publicly expressed their personal and political views contrary to the law. Written within the context of apartheid’s gross human rights violations, the constitution of South Africa in 1997 made valiant efforts to install robust protections for all minorities. This accounts for South Africa’s special status in comparison to other African countries.

Africa's War On Terror

Staff Writer

There Is More To It Than What You Think

There is much to be weary of as America and NATO increasingly seek solutions to their security problems on African soil. This trend will have ripple effects that most probably will leave Africans paying the cost of the collateral damages to ensue. America’s weapon of choice in its new and invigorated war on terror is an army of drones capable of much more than the ordinary soldier in mercurial and destructive execution. Many of America’s enemies who once reportedly roamed the Afghan and Pakistani mountainous regions are now seeking haven in the Islamic regions of Africa—Northern Africa, for the most part.

The Islamists fleeing the increased deadly success of America’s drone wars are moving to Africa, an equally ungovernable part of the world and culturally similar to their former operational bases. And, like a good hunter, America has not relented in the pursuit of its prey. Increasing connections between the international terrorist networks with what were, until recently, separate organizations in Africa has attracted the ire of the West.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Charles Taylor: The 50-Year Jail Sentence

Staff Writer

For his abominable crimes, the former president of Liberia Charles Taylor, affectionately called “papa” by Liberians, has been handed a 50-year jail sentence at the Hague. He deserves it, all of it and then some—the good people of Sierra Leon certainly think so. Mr. Taylor used his journey to power as a rebel warlord, and his time as president of war-torn Liberia to help orchestrate one of the darkest sagas in human history. His particular crime, amongst the many options the prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) had to charge him, took place in Sierra Leon, where in the early 90s Mr. Taylor, after becoming president of his country, moved to bankroll the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in the decade long civil war that took place in that country.

The Sierra Leonean civil war, which lasted from 1991 – 2002, still has few rivals in sheer misery—tales of babies being cut right out of their mothers so RUF soldiers could verify their bets on the sex of the child; public rapes; and displays of severed heads by soldiers at checkpoints are only a few gruesome details to come to light. The war crimes perpetuated by Mr. Taylor’s proxies included murder, rape, the use of child soldiers and amputation of limbs. In return for his instrumental role, Mr. Taylor received “blood diamonds” from the RUF. Basically, without the financial role he played for the RUF the war could have not persisted for that long.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Going Backwards and Forward [Part 3]

Author: Kombeh Jobe

This piece is the third installment in a Series.
To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here.

Because Cham had a small little corner store where he could sell DVDs and CDs, hats, bags, watches and belts, and other cheap merchandise my father believed he had made something of himself.  He envied Cham, and men like him, men who had attained - or appeared to have attained - some sort of status, an achievement, proving that even men like them can be something in this country. 

They let him to believe that it was so easy to do this, that anyone can have and be whatever he wants, that America was a vast testing ground for every man around the world, and that you alone were at fault if you made nothing of yourself. They told him that it was very likely for him, too. That all he had to do was work around the system, look around, find someone, and make it happen. And they made him believe it. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Entrepreneurship - In Vogue

Author: Mariam Ayeni-Salami

fash•ion | ˈfaSHən |

1 a popular trend, esp in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior.
2 a manner of doing something.

It is often said that fashion comes and goes; be that as it may, it is clear that some things never really go out of style, they are merely renovated. The tendency for trends to be recycled is as common in the business world as it is in the fashion world. Products and services are often extended beyond their intended shelf life and the inventor’s contemplation. Business methods are refined and implemented to suit the ever-changing world economy.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Going Backwards and Forward [Part 2]

Author: Kombeh Jobe

This piece is a continuation of a first installment in a Series.
To read the first part, click here.

Perhaps New York wasn't the best city for Bubacarr Bah to begin a new life. It was still rough, many areas run down and dilapidated and almost everyone seemed to be engaged in some sort of criminal activity. It was a seemingly unwelcoming city for anyone, especially for newcomers. As he would often tell people, “you needed a certain mettle to survive in New York.” It is a city that can take or accept you. Or, it could savagely ruin and break you.

The cold was a brutal shocker. Arriving in November, when it wasn't even that cold, maybe around 50 degrees, and beautifully bright outside, with a few leaves on the streets and the trees gently swaying to the light breeze - he explained to me how he shivered to near death, praying to God to help him and look after his family. He said he’d feel the nippy cold on his toes, and felt his bones simultaneously freezing and thawing, as if a lizard was crawling on him.