Wednesday

Best of yesterday and last night courtesy of Politico.....

CC Video Playback

Friday

Africa, the International Criminal Court and the West.....

U.S. President Barack Obama (not a party to Rome Statute)
By Lazarus Danjuma, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Leaders of the African Union (AU) are meeting in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the seat of the AU Headquarters, to discuss Africa's relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), among other issues of importance.

The ICC was created by the Rome Statute which came into effect on July 1, 2002. It's birth was in response to a growing need (purportedly at the time) to complement existing national judicial systems. The ICC may only exercise its jurisdiction when the said national courts (of member and non-member nations ostensibly) are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute alleged war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity.

There are currently 122 member states (including 34 African countries) that are party to the ICC statute while the United States, Israel, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, China and India have refused to sign on, much less ratify the statute.

Russia has however signed on but refused to ratify the Rome Statute.

In the history of the ICC since its inception in 2002, the crux of the ICC's activities has focused on Africa.

Currently, the Prosecutor has opened investigations into eight situations in Africa - the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic, Darfur in Sudan, the Republic of Kenya, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. 

Of these eight, four were referred to the Court by the concerned states parties themselves (Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Mali), two were referred by the United Nations Security Council (Darfur and Libya) and two were begun proprio motu by the Prosecutor (Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire). 


Additionally, by Power of Attorney from the Union of the Comoros, a law firm referred the situation on the Comorian - flagged MV Mavi Marmara vessel to the Court, prompting the Prosecutor to initiate a preliminary examination.


The Court has publicly indicted 32 people (all African) and while 
four have had the charges against them dismissed, three of those indicted have died before trial (including the former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi who was tortured and then summarily executed by Al Qaeda-backed Libyan rebels).  

A close look at these clearly explains why Africans and African leaders are increasingly wary of the current motives of the ICC. 


There is the belief that it has been hijacked by the United States and Western European nations (namely France and Great Britain) with the egregious acquiescence of an increasingly discredited United Nations (through its Security Council) to ensure developing countries (mostly African countries) toe the line of their (Western) socio-economic and political agenda.


A graphic breakdown of who pays the piper (below) serves to further buttress the point being made by African opponents of the Court.

The European Union accounts for 60% of ICC contributions
   
According to a recent publication in a journal by the Parliament of Canada, "one recent concern of some significance is the ICC prosecutor’s exclusive focus on sub-Saharan Africa. A number of critics have expressed serious reservations about this practice, and voice fear about bias and the perception that the ICC is yet another instrument of foreign intervention in a long history of Western/Northern interference in African affairs.

Even if various geopolitical pressures have simply made it easier for the prosecutor to begin investigations in Africa rather than elsewhere, commentators contend that this sends a negative signal about how the ICC may continue to work, and they maintain that the ICC cannot investigate African crises alone."

The response by the ICC Prosecutor that some of these cases were actually referred to the Court by the countries in question does not hide the fact that there seems to be a systematic design to humiliate, discredit and embarrass the continent and its leaders, as if Africa is the only place where atrocities are being committed.

Furthermore that the same ICC would argue that Kenya (a country with one of the most sophisticated legal systems in Africa) would be seen as unable to handle the trial of its democratically elected leaders, while Libya (a country where the Premier was recently abducted and armed gangs essentially run the country) is seen as "able to handle" the trial of Qaddafi's former security chief, is at best comical and shows once again the blatant bias of the ICC and its adjacency towards Africa and Africans, south of the Sahara. 

Furthermore that the likes of Kofi Annan and Desmond Dutu were essentially recruited to speak against the legitimate concerns of Africans about the ICC and its imperial backers, is telling, giving the unflattering antecedents of those men.

Kofi Annan should be the one to "wear a badge of shame" for his inglorious and grossly incompetent reign as UN Secretary-General. The once-revered Desmond Tutu, on his part, continues to espouse doctrines and ideas that have no "logical" standing and increasingly portrays himself as a senile and out-of-touch rabble-rouser. 

The ICC has the option of either evolving into the real paragon of law and fairness it was intended to be or face increasing scrutiny and challenges from not just Africans, but people who believe in the true values and ideals of justice and equal treatment, under the law. 

That the United States and at least two other members of the U.N. Security Council are not signatories to the Rome Statute raises serious red flags, more-so when one of the latter (the United States) has had a recent history of leaders (George W. Bush and Barack Obama) who have acted with arrogant impunity and utter disregard for international law, to suit their own agenda. 

Africa's leaders must learn to speak and speak clearly with one voice. It's the only way to ensure that their voices are heard and they must do so with indisputable conviction.

The truth is that the ICC and its sister body, the United Nations, have become caustic tools of imperialism and neo-colonialism of declining and desperate imperial powers hell-bent on imposing their "own way of life" on others. 

That will simply not stand.

Western-backed Syrian rebels accused of war crimes.....

Body of executed government soldier found in mass grave
CC Headliner

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on the killings of Alawite villagers has pointed accusatory fingers of war crimes at the Syrian rebels backed by the United States and its western allies. 
The vast majority of victims were women and children the rights group asserts and after being taken hostage, most (if not all) were summarily executed.
The report also urged an arms embargo on groups suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity and calls for an end to the "unlawful" killings in the war, particularly from the rebels.
It comes as NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he sees no military solution to the 31-month conflict which has killed more than 115,000 people.
HRW said the killings began on August 4, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday ending the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in provincial Latakia villages, a stronghold of the Alawites whose faith is an offshoot of Shia Islam.
"These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters," said HRW's Joe Stork. "This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population."
The 105-page report, based on interviews with 35 survivors, emergency personnel and fighters on both sides, said at least 20 groups were involved, but that five "are responsible for specific incidents that amount to war crimes".
It named them as Ahrar al-Sham, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Muhajireen Wal-Ansar and Suqur al-Ezz.
HRW said that, in some cases, opposition fighters who are mostly Sunni Muslims executed or gunned down entire families, or killed the elderly or infirm who had been left behind by those who fled.
It also said "some of the opposition atrocities... had clear sectarian motivation".
In one village, it said fighters intentionally damaged an Alawite maqam, a site where a religious figure is buried, and "appear to have intentionally damaged and dug up the grave".
It said they had also abducted and executed the area's Alawite religious leader, quoting Al-Nusra as saying he had been executed because he supported the regime.

Wednesday

53 THINGS ABOUT NIGERIA at 53.....

Nigeria's past leaders
CC Insight

Nigeria recently celebrated her 53rd Independence anniversary on October 1st, 2013. Here are 53 unique things you may not have known about this giant of Africa.....

1. The most commonly spoken phrase in Nigeria is "How far?”

2. Nigeria is home to seven percent (7%) of the total languages spoken on earth. Taraba State alone has more languages than 30 African countries.

3. The Walls of Benin (800-1400AD), in present day Edo State, are the longest ancient earthworks in the world.

4. The Yoruba tribe has the highest rate of twin births in the world. Igbo-Ora, a little town in Oyo state, has been nicknamed ‘Twin capital of the World’ because of its unusually high rate of twins that is put as high as 158 twins per 1000 births.

5. Sarki Muhammad Kanta The Great of Kebbi, was the only ruler who resisted control by Songhai, West Africa’s greatest empire at that time. He founded and ruled the Hausa city-state of Kebbi around 1600 A.D.

6. Africa’s oldest known boat is The Dufuna canoe, which was discovered in Dufuna village, Yobe State, by a Fulani Herdsman in May 1987, while he dug a well.

7. Sungbo’s Eredo, a 160 km (99.41 miles) rampart equipped with guard houses and moats, is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument (or ancient fortification if you like) in Africa. It is located in present-day Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State

8. The Jos Plateau Indigobird, a small reddish-brown bird, is found nowhere else on the planet but Plateau State.

9. The Anambra waxbill, a small bird of many beautiful colors  is found only in Southern Nigeria and nowhere else on earth.

10. The Niger Delta (which is the second largest delta on the planet), has the highest concentration of monotypic fish families in the world, and is also home to 60 percent of Nigeria’s mangrove forests.

11. Nigeria’s mangrove forests are the largest in Africa and third largest on earth.

12. According to the World Resources Institute, Nigeria is home to 4,715 different types of plant species, and over 550 species of breeding birds and mammals, making it one of the most ecologically vibrant places on the planet.

13. Ile-Ife, in present day Osun State, was paved as early as 1000AD, with decorations that originated from ancient America.

14. Though the country has three dominant tribes, Hausa- Fulani, Yoruba and the Ibo (Igbo), there are over 250 ethnic groups.

15. Nigeria derives her name from the Niger River which is the largest and the longest river in West Africa and is about 4,180 kilometers (2598 miles) long.

16. The Nigerian movie industry which produces between 150-200 movies every week is known as Nollywood – it is ranked as the world’s second-largest producer of movies and trails just behind the Indian Bollywood industry.

17. Areas surrounding Cross State River and Calabar towards the south of Nigeria are home to the largest diversity of butterflies in the world.

18. Sarki Abdullah Burja of Kano (ruled 1438-1452 AD), the 18th ruler of Ancient Kano, created the first Golden Age in Northern Nigeria and ushered in a period of great prosperity. During his reign, Hausa became the biggest indigenous language spoken in Africa after Swahili.

19. Two of the world’s rarest species of animals live in the mysterious Nigerian forests - the Drill monkey that lives in the Afi Mountain ranges and the lowland Gorilla.

20. Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets became the first team from Africa to win a FIFA competition when they won the U-16 (now U-17) World Cup in China in 1985.

21. Nigeria is the first African nation to have won the football gold medal of an Olympics achieving this feat at Atlanta’96.

22. The 50,000-seater ‘Faith Tabernacle” of Winners Chapel Churches is the largest church auditorium in the world. Its 2008 Guinness Book world record has not been broken even in 2013.

23. The University of Nigeria was the first full-fledged indigenous and first autonomous university in Nigeria. The origins of the university are in Yaba College, founded in 1932 in Yaba, Lagos as the first tertiary educational institute in Nigeria.

24.  Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister is Forbes’ 83rd Most Powerful Woman in the World.

25. Nigeria’s Mrs Esther Taiwo Olukoya and Mrs Emily Kehinde Olukoga-Ogunde, who looked almost identical, are probably the third set of twins in the world to hit the century age and perhaps the first in Africa.

26. A Nigerian man, Aliko Dangote – founder of Dangote Group, is the richest man in Africa and richest black man in the world.

27. The richest woman in Africa, Folorunsho Alakija, is a Nigerian. She is worth about $600 million (N97 billion).

28. Iwe–Irohin, Nigeria's first newspaper was established by a missionary, Henry Townsend in 1859.

29. One in every four Africans is a Nigerian.

30. Nigerian terror sect, Boko Haram carried out its first known attack in Borno in January 2011.

31. A Nigerian university, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State has the most beautiful campus in Africa. It was founded in 1962.

32. The Igbos of Eastern Nigeria launched a series of massive riots that put paid to Colonialism in Nigeria. This was led by the women of Aba, protesting the heavy taxation of the colonial lords. They marched on the colonial offices and chased the administrators away

33. President Musa Yar'Adua was the first democratically elected president to die in office.

34. Okobaba Sawmil, situated at Ebute Meta Lagos, Nigeria is the largest sawmill in Africa.

35. The largest Christian gatherings in the world have been held in Nigeria - (Holy Ghost Festivals; Redeemed Christian Church of God; 5 to 12 million People).

36. If you go to some areas in the Niger-Delta and step firmly on the soil, crude oil will gush out.

37. Goodluck Jonathan is the first democratic president that was not elected after assuming the mantel of leadership with the death of President Musa Yar’Adua in 2010. He went on to win the Presidential election a year later.

38. Late Musa Yar'dua was the first president to declare his assets according to the provision of 1999 constitution of Nigeria.

39. The pastor of the largest church in the United Kingdom is a Nigerian; Matthew Ashimolowo of the Kingsway International Christian Centre.

40. Since Nigeria made her first FIFA World Cup finals appearance at USA’94; she has gone on to appear in three other finals but has never gone beyond the second round.

41. Liberty Stadium Ibadan Oyo State, Nigeria is the first stadium to be built in Africa. The stadium was opened in 1960 during the tenure of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region.

42. Hubert Ogunde was the first professional theatre man in Nigeria who lived entirely by the art.

43. According to reports, the late MKO Abiola sent $10 million to Youeri Museveni to help topple the despot, Idi Amin Dada.

44. Nigerian pidgin (which uses a primary English lexicon) is also a common lingua franca. Roughly a third of Nigeria's population speak Pidgin English which is a simplified form of the language.

45. Some traditional cultural expressions are found in the various masquerades of Nigeria, such as the Eyo masquerades, the Ekpe and Ekpo Masquerades of the Efik/Ibibio/Annang/Igbo peoples of coastal south-eastern Nigeria, and the Northern Edo Masquerades. The most popular Yoruba wooden masks are the Gelede masquerades.

46. The country is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies, and is one of the fastest growing in the world with the International Monetary Fund projecting growth of 9 per cent in 2008 and 8.3 per cent in 2009.

47.In Intercontinental Hotel, Nigeria has the tallest hotel in West Africa built at a cost of N30 billion ($185 billion) located in Lagos, with a 23-storey building containing 358 rooms and 37 suites and a Presidential suite.

48. Lagos is the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh fastest growing city in the world. The newest reports of the Nigeria Census estimate the population is now 21 million, making Lagos the largest city in Africa.

49. Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rate in Africa.  Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of maternal deaths in the world, ranking the second highest after India

50. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) generates only 3,200 megawatts while the nation needs at least 8, 000 megawatts.

51. Nigeria has more writers and authors than the rest of West African combined. And in Professor Wole Soyinka has the region’s first Nobel Prize winner

52. Nigeria has the 4th largest number of physicians in the world.

53. There are more Muslims in Nigeria than there are in Saudi Arabia - 60 million v 20 million. In fact, there are more Muslims in Nigeria than there are in any other country in Africa.

Shocking: Half-Nigerian whose grandfather was a Nazi.....

Amon Leopold Goeth 
CC Insight

Jennifer Teege was shocked to discover her grandfather was the Nazi commandant of Plaszow concentration camp, Amon Leopold Goeth

Teege was born after her mother, Goeth's daughter, had a brief affair with a Nigerian student. She has just published a book, "Amon My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me." This is her story. 

Five years ago in northern Germany, in Hamburg, I was in the central library and I came across a book. It was wrapped in a red cover and for some reason I was immediately drawn to it.
The title, translated into English, was "I Have to Love My Father, Right?" and it had a small picture of a woman on the front who looked faintly familiar.
So I took the book and quickly went through it. There were a lot of photos and as I looked at the book I felt something was wrong.
At the end, the author summed up some details about the woman on the cover and her family, and I realized they were a perfect match with what I knew about my own biological family.
So at that point I understood that this was a book about my family history.
The woman in the picture was my mother, and her father was Amon Goeth, the commandant of Plaszow concentration camp near Krakow.
My mother had told me nothing, but I did not grow up with my mother - she gave me up as a very small child.
A few weeks after I was born I was put in a children's home where I sometimes saw my mother. Then I grew up in a foster family that adopted me when I was seven years old. So I saw my mother until the age of seven but after that we had no contact - except for once.
This was when I was in my 20s and she probably did not tell me anything at this point because she wanted to protect me - she thought it would be better if I did not know about my real past, about the truth, about my family, about my grandfather.
I was completely shocked when I found out - it was like the carpet was ripped from under my feet.
I couldn't do anything. I went home, I took the book with me, and at home I read it cover to cover. There were details about my mother, my grandmother and my grandfather, Amon Goeth.
I slowly started to understand the impact of what I had read. Growing up as an adopted child I did not know anything about my past, or only very very little. Then to be confronted with information like this was so overwhelming.
It was weeks, a month, until I really started to recover.
I think if I had known all of this when I was younger, it would have been easier because I would have had a chance to integrate it into my life. Getting the information so spontaneously, so out of the blue, it was almost impossible to make it fit in with my understanding of who I am.
It was very distressing to know that Amon Goeth and I are genetically linked. I feel part of it, but still there is a distance - which is a difference between me and my mother, because she grew up with her own mother (with my grandmother) and for her it was difficult to leave the past behind.
I have tried not to leave the past behind but put it in a place where it belongs, which means not to ignore it, but not to let it overshadow my life.
I am not a reflection of this part of my family story but I am still very connected to it. I try to find a way to integrate it into my life.
It is a story that is very unique and very unusual, and a story that has a deeper meaning. It is more about the universal question of how to deal with the weight of the past on the present - and it should show that it is possible to gain personal freedom from the past.


Tuesday

Politics as usual: President Obama blames GOP for government shutdown.....

CC Video Highlight

Nigeria: How far we've come at 53.....

President Goodluck Jonathan
CC Headliner

Exactly 53 years today, Nigeria gained independence from Britain thus "ending" 46 years of colonial rule. 

Nigeria was born on January 1, 1914, following the amalgamation of the then Southern and Northern Protectorates by Lord Fredrick Lugard.

The country owes its independence to the struggles of late nationalists such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, among others. These great men of vision spearheaded the movement for Nigeria's independence from the shackles of colonialism and imperialism.

Another prominent figure, the late Chief Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for Nigerian's independence on the floor of the House of Representatives. Though he had proposed independence for Nigeria in 1959, the Northern members of the House were opposed to the motion on the grounds that the North was not ready. The clause, stipulating a date for independence was later substituted with another clause: "As soon as possible."

Eventually, the country gained independence from colonial rule on October 1, 1960 after about 15 years of agitation for self-rule.

Nigeria started off as a federation with three regions: East, West and North, as the federating units and a parliamentary system of government. Today, it is a presidential democracy with 36 States in the existing structure of the democratic dispensation.

Blessed with an abundance of human and material resources, Nigeria showed so much promise at independence. It was taken for granted that within a few years, the country would become a global leader, both politically and economically. 

But that is one hope that has seemingly failed to materialize thus far. The country never truly took off before various crises started dogging its path soon after independence. And since independence, it has been a tortuous ride.

In its 53 years of existence since independence from Great Britain on October 1st, 1960, the nation has weathered nine military coups (including Abacha's palace coup that overthrew Sonekan's interim government), three alleged coups, countless assassinations of its leaders, individual personalities (human rights proponents) and key political figures, debilitating corruption (that has resulted in the loss of over $500 billion between 1966 and 2013) and an ever increasing general state of insecurity and lawlessness from the highest levels of government to various factional (ethnic) groups, ostensibly being used by corrupt regional leaders to advance their incendiary interests.  

As a norm, elections have been massively rigged by political groups, to the disconcerting dismay of both local and foreign observers, the Nigerian masses included. Furthermore, besides the absence of strong institutions, the country's lack of requisite infrastructure needed to engender positive development, has been an enduring problem.

It is therefore little wonder that many (including foreign interests) continue to view the nation as an underachieving edifice, what with its abundant natural and human resources, the latter resorting to exporting their technical and other unique abilities overseas, to the benefit of mostly western nations, including the United States.

While one needs to remain hopeful that somehow, the tide surely must turn in the right direction; the current political landscape remains a source of disturbing concern as Nigeria's current leadership has shown itself not only grossly inept at the most basic function of leadership, but also extremely bereft of innovative and industrious ideas, needed to move the nation and its over 170 million people forward.

Nigerians, from all works of life and all corners of the earth must therefore resolve (regardless of ethnic, religious and other politically created "differences") to truly stand up and be counted.

Failure to do so can only lead to the ultimate death of a promise and a future that seemed so glorious and definitive, just over half-a-century ago.