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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the first African woman ever to be at the helm of the World Trade Organisation in it’s entire 25-year history

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has appointed former Nigeria’s finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new director-general. Ngozi now becomes the first woman and also African to lead the Switzerland-based institution.

Her appointment came after the WTO had a special general council meeting on Monday.

In September of last year, Kenyan Sports, Culture and Heritage Minister, Amina Chawahir Mohamed, and Okonjo-Iweala were selected as the top candidates for the director-general position for the WTO. They were the only two African women in the running at the time. Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, however, had been blocked by the former Trump administration, according to The New York Times.

According to a press statement by the office of the US trade representative, “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organisation with a diverse membership.” European Central Bank President, Christine Lagarde, also responded to Okonjo-Iweala’s historic appointment in a recent interview saying, “[Okonjo-Iweala] is this wonderful, soft, very gentle woman with an authentic approach to problems but, boy, under that soft glove there is a hard hand and a strong will behind it.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank.

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Okonjo-Iweala, who also serves on Twitter’s board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 fight, saw her candidacy get a boost when the EU threw its weight behind her.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.

The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization altogether.

Okonjo-Iweala said earlier this month that she had broad experience in championing reform and was the right person to help put the WTO back on track.

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans

Who started Black History Month?

Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” developed Black History Month. Woodson, whose parents were enslaved, was an author, historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

He recognized that the American education system offered very little information about the accomplishments of African Americans and founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

In 1926, Woodson proposed a national “Negro History Week,” which was intended to showcase everything students learned about Black history throughout the school year, King said.

It wasn’t until 1976, during the height of the civil rights movement, that President Gerald  Ford expanded the week into Black History Month

Why is Black History Month in February?

Woodson chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a famed abolitionist who escaped from slavery, and President Abraham Lincoln, who formally abolished slavery.

Feb. 1 is National Freedom Day, the anniversary of the approval of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865. Richard Wright, who was enslaved and became a civil rights advocate and author, lobbied for the celebration of the day, CNN reported, citing the National Constitution Center.

Although the day is not a federal holiday, President Harry Truman recognized National Freedom Day in 1949 and urged citizens to pause to contemplate its significance

Why is Black History Month important?

Woodson believed it was essential for young African Americans to understand and be proud of their heritage.

“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history,” he said.

Before the country can move past racial harm, there needs to be “truth, then accountability and then maybe reconciliation,” said Dionne Grayman, who trains schools to have difficult conversations about race.

Failing to understand the history of race and racism and a strong desire to overlook the worst aspects of racist violence in the United States has fueled resentment toward civil rights activism, said Dan Hirschman, an assistant professor of sociology at Brown University in Rhode Island.

That resentment is cultivated by groups including right-wing media and white supremacists, he said.

For example, Hirschman said he sees calls to move past the storming of the Capitol last month. He warned that achieving racial progress, such as electing Joe Biden as president, can trigger an immense backlash.

“We have to sort of assume that’s going to happen and try to work to make sure it doesn’t,” he said.

Hirschman said the outpouring of support, particularly from white Democrats, for the Black Lives Matter movement during the nationwide racial justice protests in the wake of Floyd’s death was a positive step toward recognizing more enduring forms of structural racism.

Like the protests, Black History Month provides an opportunity to center the curriculum and broader public conversation on these issues, but it shouldn’t be the only moment to do so, Hirschman said.

“It can’t do all the work,” he said.

Here’s how to celebrate Black History Month

The theme of Black History Month 2021 is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Many institutions, including the ASAALH and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, offer digital programming for those celebrating at home.

The NAACP offers guidance for businesses on the best way to honor Black History Month.

King suggested blackpast.orgBlack History 101 Mobile Museum and the books “A Black Women’s History of the United States” and “From Slavery to Freedom” as resources for those looking to learn more about Black history.

King emphasized that educators should “teach Black history from Black perspectives.” He offered seven guiding principles for educators to explore when teaching Black history:

  • Power, oppression and racism
  • Black agency, perseverance and resistance
  • Africa and the African diaspora
  • Black joy and Black love
  • Black identities – other than heterosexual, Christian, middle-class Black men
  • Black historical contention and the problematic aspects of Black history
  • Black excellence

One area to focus on is getting “an accurate understanding of Reconstruction,” the period after the Civil War, to help Americans better understand “contemporary forms of racialized violence like mass incarceration,” Hirschman said.

He said it’s important to recognize the many ways racism is baked into America’s foundational systems.

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“It’s definitely deeply worked into the structure of the country,” he said.

Grayman, a staff developer at Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility in New York City, said teaching Black history should go beyond the month of February. A former English teacher, she suggested including more Black authors such as James Baldwin into the literary canon.

“The historical contributions of Black people need to be integrated into the curriculum,” Grayman said.

 

At the age of 22, poet Amanda Gorman is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She is the author of the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough (2016). Her art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She has a history of writing for official occasions and has been asked to read her poetry at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Gorman, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard, became America’s first-ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. According to US reports, it was president-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who recommended her as his inaugural poet. Gorman will be performing on Wednesday alongside Lady Gaga, who will be singing the American national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.“I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It’s been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it’s just for a night,” says Gorman. The Los Angeles resident has written for everything from a July 4 celebration featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra to the inauguration at Harvard University, her alma mater, of school president Larry Bacow.

When she reads tomorrow, she will be continuing a tradition — for Democratic presidents — that includes such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. The latter’s “On the Pulse of Morning,” written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than 1 million copies when published in book form. Recent readers include poets Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, both of whom Gorman has been in touch with.

“The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she says.

Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings,” comes out later this year.

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Gorman says she was contacted late last month by the Biden inaugural committee. She has known numerous public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, but says she will be meeting the Bidens for the first time. The Bidens, apparently, have been aware of her: Gorman says the inaugural officials told her she had been recommended by the incoming first lady, Jill Biden.

She is calling her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” while otherwise declining to preview any lines. Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead” over the departure of President Donald Trump.

Protesters in Tunisia have been holding anti-government demonstrations for the past four days against the worsening socio-economic crisis in the country.

Protests in Tunisia have entered their fourth consecutive day. Hundreds of Tunisians are leading protests across various regions of the country in response to the worsening economic and social crisis. Tension and frustration have grown over high unemployment rates, falling living standards, poor state services and public spending cuts mandated by an International Monetary Fund-backed loan program. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the economic and social woes, further shattering an economy highly dependent on tourism.

The army has since been called in since the protests began and at least 630 arrests have reportedly been made including that of human rights activist, Hamza Nassri Jeridi. International human rights body Amnesty International has called for Jeridi’s release in addition to condemning footage of army officials using excessive force.

Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, released the following statement:

“Even when acts of vandalism and looting occur, law enforcement officers must only use force where absolutely necessary and proportionate. Nothing gives security forces permission to deploy unnecessary and excessive force including when they are responding to acts of sporadic violence.” said , Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.”

Al Jazeera reports that President Kais Saied visited Ariana, which is a city near the capital city of Tunis, and implored protesters saying, “I know the state of poverty and I also know who is exploiting your poverty,” and going on to add, “Don’t let anyone exploit your misery.” Hundreds of youths clashed with law enforcement authorities this past Monday as the former traded gasoline bombs and stones for water canons and teargas with the latter, Reuters reports.

The underlying frustrations of the current protests are linked to how many Tunisians feel that the Arab Spring revolution, which took place a decade ago, has not delivered on the promises made to citizens who are currently battling poverty and hopelessness. The revolution began in the 2010s and comprised a series of anti-governments protests calling for regime changes which began in Tunisia and then spread to several other North African countries including Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Libya.

Jan. 18 commemorates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a national holiday in the United States that serves as a time for reflection and community engagement to honor his social activism.

The day is intended to be a time for reflection and a call for social activism and community engagement.

Over the years it has become indicative of community and service, with Americans encouraged to put their time and money towards those less fortunate.

While King’s legacy is felt throughout the world, only a few other countries honor and celebrate his legacy.

We’ve compiled this list of countries that celebrate the activist’s life and the meaning behind the celebrations.

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Hiroshima, Japan

King, an anti-nuclear activist, spoke out against the nuclear bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In 1967, King expressed a great desire to visit the country and discuss his idea of nuclear disarmament in a letter addressed to the “People of Japan.” He wrote, “Japan knows the horror of war and has suffered as no other nation under the cloud of nuclear disaster. Certainly, Japan can stand strong for a world of peace.”

Dr. King never made it. Four months after he sent the letter, he was murdered.

Nearly 30 years later, a man named Tadatoshi Akiba tightened the ties to Martin Luther King, Jr. Akiba spent more than 18 years studying and teaching mathematics in the US. After moving back to Japan, he entered politics and was elected mayor of Hiroshima in 1999.

He then started an annual banquet at the mayor’s office to commemorate King and his work as an anti-nuclear activist.

Toronto, Canada

It’s not a national paid holiday but a day of reflection and service. The Ottawa municipal government in Ontario officially began observing the national holiday on Jan. 26, 2005.

There are a number of speeches and events held across the city, though the day itself will provide only a time for personal reflection on the activist’s life.

King often spoke highly of Canada in helping slaves find liberation in his Conscience for Change discussions, stating that in the struggle for freedom, Canada served as the North Star.

Wassenaar, The Netherlands

Since 1986 the Dr Martin Luther King Tribute and Dinner has been held in Wassenaar.

Although MLK is not celebrated on King’s birthday itself, but on the last Sunday in January.

The annual event features veterans of the Civil Rights Movement reading King’s iconic I Have A Dream Speech, and ends with people gathering to sing We Shall Overcome.

Source: Travel Noire

Authorities in France have opened an investigation into the sudden disappearance of Diary Sow, a 20-year-old Senegalese student who was enrolled at the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand high school in Paris

She was crowned the country’s “best student” twice, once in 2018 and again in 2019. Sow excelled in literature and science, and her merit is what landed her a spot in high school Lycée Louis-Le-Grand— one of the most prestigious schools in Paris.

She made her community proud. Sow’s worrying disappearance has raised concerns both back home as well as in France.

Following her disappearance, the Senegalese community in France has been posting a missing person flyer on social media with her image and details in a bid to gather clues and information on her possible whereabouts. The Senegalese consulate in Paris also declared Sow missing on January 7, and the police subsequently opened a disappearance inquiry, France 24 reported.

“Neither her parents, nor her friends, nor her tutor, nor the embassy have had any news,” Daouda Mbaye, a member of the Senegalese community in Paris who arranged for the distribution of missing person flyers with Sow’s details, told AFP.

“She is a punctual pupil, very serious, and the alert went out quickly. No one had seen her; she wasn’t in her apartment [student residence],” Henry Sarr, a member of a Senegalese students’ association that launched a social media campaign on Sow’s disappearance, also told the news outlet.

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Back home in Senegal, the media have also been reporting Sow’s disappearance. The 20-year-old won the West African nation’s “Best Student” award in 2018 and 2019, and also published a novel last year, according to France 24.

There’s currently a hashtag circulating on various social media platforms to spread the word about Sow’s disappearance #RetrouvonsDiarySow, or Let’s Find Diary Sow.

Source: face2faceafrica.com

Ghana is reportedly set to open up its first official skate park this late December. According to Vogue, the skate park is expected to open in the capital of Accra in July 2021. This comes after Ghana’s decade long fledgling skate scene caught international attention. American-Ghanaian designer Virgil Abloh, who also serves as Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director, is part of the international project. The international collaboration also includes NGO Surf Ghana and pan-African fashion label, Daily Paper Clothing. The skate park has been aptly named “Freedom Skate Park”.

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Freedom Skatepark, as it will be known, is the manifestation of an initiative that Surf Ghana put into action when it was founded in 2016, aiming to ensure that Ghanaian youth enjoy easy access to board sports and the friendships that bloom therein. Not only will the space be an informal hang-out spot but the creatives behind its construction hope to foster Ghana’s possible participation in forthcoming Olympic skateboarding events.

“With this initiative we hope to evolve the skate culture in Ghana to the next level and give locals a platform to grow their talents within a space that will hopefully become their biggest training ground to date,” said Daily Paper co-founder Jefferson Osei in a statement. “They now have a place where they can be themselves, freely develop their skills together with likeminded people and reach their true potential. Hence the name Freedom Skatepark.”

Before Freedom Skatepark is completed look for a collaborative Surf Ghana capsule and Off-White™ T-shirt to launch at Daily Paper’s Accra, Ghana flagship store on December 21 before hitting Daily Paper’s website January 15, 2021. Daily Paper will also introduce a Tony Chocolonely chocolate bar imagined by Off-White™ in Ghana later this month.

As one would expect from an international label, Daily Paper recently put the finishing touches on a boutique within New York.

Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa has joined Netflix’s board of directors becoming the first African to do so.

Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Global, A telecommunications company that operates across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Econet offers phone, broadband and satellite service, and is also a major provider of mobile payments. The global streaming company is set to increase Netflix’s marketing base in Africa and has reportedly selected Masiyiwa for his connections and historical business enterprise.

Two-time Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is to star in and produce a film based on the remarkable life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta,  A 19th century African princess “gifted” to Queen Victoria after she was orphaned and enslaved by a West African king.

Erivo produces with her Edith’s Daughter partner Solome Williams, alongside Sunny March’s Leah Clarke and Adam Ackland, and Rienkje Attoh from So & So Productions. Benedict Cumberbatch will executive produce.

Development is financed by BBC Film (which underwent a rebrand this year and now is singular rather than Films). Walter Dean Myers’ biography At Her Majesty’s Request has been optioned as source material.

Born Omoba Aina, an Egbado princess of the Yoruba people, she was “gifted” to Queen Victoria in 1850, taken to England and renamed Sarah Forbes Bonetta. The Queen’s patronship was a thorny rose that put Sarah at the centre of British aristocracy but did not shield her from public scrutiny, personal suffering or the dangers of a capricious court that was fundamentally suspicious of her as a strong, educated Black woman.

Sarah Forbes Bonetta

The filmmakers are planning for the biopic to be a celebration of Bonetta as a strategic, determined heroine who found a way to embrace her Black-ness, her African-ness and to ultimately find love, forging a path for herself that honoured both her heritage and her upbringing.

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Erivo said: “I am excited to embark on this journey. It has taken a long time to get to a point where we can even begin to realize this dream. As a Nigerian British woman, to get the opportunity to tell the story of another Nigerian British woman who until now has been erased from the history books, is an honor. Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Omoba Aina, is truly a passion of mine and I’m so pleased to have been able to find partners in the incredible women, Leah Clarke and Rienkje Attoh, to tell the story and finally give her a voice. I cannot wait to dive into her story. She is indeed the forgotten princess, forgotten no more.”

Sunny March’s Leah Clarke said: “It is a real privilege to be working on Sarah’s story with this incredible team. Together we hope to bring audiences a bold, modern portrait of an extraordinary woman.”

Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner Erivo burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple, and garnered acclaim last year for slavery drama Harriet. She currently stars in HBO series The Outsider and upcoming she will play Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha and will star in Universal’s Talent Show.

 

Malawi is to start the commercial production of cannabis for medical and industrial use, according to Reuters, which cited Lilongwe’s new Cannabis Regulatory Authority. The head of the regulatory authority, Boniface Kadzamira, said more than 100 applications have been received for licensing and they are currently under consideration for approval

Malawi’s parliament passed a bill in February to allow legal cultivation and processing of cannabis for medicine and hemp fibre used in the industry but the bill stops short of decriminalising recreational use.

Fees for licensing marijuana for medical and industrial use in Malawi will range from $100 to $10,000 a year. Licensing will cover the cultivation, selling, storage, distribution of either class of industrial and medicinal hemp, said the county’s agriculture ministry.

Malawi will also allow public hospitals to pay $100 as well as $200 for private hospitals as licence fees to dispense cannabis medicines.

“We have received an overwhelming response in terms of applications for licenses, but applicants must appreciate that we’ll not give everyone a license at once,” Kadzamira said, according to Reuters.

Kadzamira added hemp has the potential to surpass earnings from tobacco, currently the country’s main export crop.

“Our view as regulator is that if we get honest investors, the hemp industry can supplement export revenues from tobacco, and in some cases, surpass it. But it will not immediately replace tobacco,” he added.

Malawi’s earnings from tobacco have fallen dramatically over the years in part due to declining demand and poor weather.

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The fall has drastically affected the country’s tobacco auctioneer, Auction Holdings Ltd, which has failed to pay salaries for the last two months.

A growing number of countries around the world are either legalizing or relaxing laws on cannabis as attitudes towards the drug change. They include several in southern Africa, including Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.