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Burkina Faso’s former president, Blaise Compaore, has reportedly been indicted by a military court in the country’s capital for the 1987 assassination of political revolutionary, Thomas Sankara. Hailed as a national hero, Sankara was assassinated alongside 12 other government officials in a coup led by Compaore before he ascended to power. In 2014, Compaore was forced to resign from his 27-year-long rule and seek exile in the Ivory Coast after continued mass demonstrations. Thirteen other people were charged in connection with the killing, including Compaore’s former right-hand man, Gen. Gilbert Diendere. Charges against Compaore include undermining state security and concealing corpses, according to military documents seen by The Associated Press

According to AFP, lawyer to the family of Sankara, Guy Hervé Kam, responded to the news saying, “The time for justice has finally come. A trial can begin. It will be up to the military prosecutor to determine a date for the hearing.”

The indictment is certainly a pivotal moment in the now 34-year-long quest for justice for not only Sankara’s family, but the entire nation. While Compaore had repeatedly denied calls to exhume Sankara’s remains during his time in office, following his resignation, Sankara’s remains were exhumed in 2015 and described by his widow, Mariam Sankara, as having been “riddled with more than a dozen bullets,” Al Jazeera reports.

Sankara, who was known as a vocal Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist, was beloved among the Burkinabe people with his assassination at the tender age of just 37, cutting deep into the socio-political fabric of the country even till today.

In four years as president, he became the first African leader to denounce the menace of AIDS, took a stand against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and promoted women’s rights by opposing female genital mutilation and polygamy.

 

While a date for the trial has not as yet been set or announced, Kam is optimistic that it will be soon. There have also been several attempts to extradite Compaore in the past, however, Ivory Coast has refused to hand him over.

 

Twitter announced today that they are building a team in Ghana to establish their presence on the continent. Twitter’s mission is to serve the public conversation, and the positive power of Twitter is what connects them and allows them to impact the world around us. “To truly serve the public conversation, we must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent,” they wrote in a company blog post today

🇬🇭 Twitter is now present on the continent.

Thank you Ghana and @NAkufoAddo. #TwitterGhanahttps://t.co/tt7KR3kvDg

— jack (@jack) April 12, 2021

Twitter posted job openings for a variety of positions ranging from product and engineering to design, marketing, and communications. Individuals will occupy these positions remotely, though, as Twitter expects to open an office in the country later.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo expressed delight at the news, saying, “the choice of Ghana as HQ for Twitter’s Africa operations is excellent news. Government and Ghanaians welcome very much this announcement and the confidence reposed in our country.”

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He also announced that he met with Dorsey virtually on April 7th, where the two parties may have finalized the contract.

“As I indicated to Jack in our virtual meeting on 7th April 2021, this is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana, which is critical for the development of Ghana’s hugely important tech sector. These are exciting times to be in and to do business in Ghana,” he added

Twitter’s decision to begin its African expansion with Ghana is based on the country’s AfCFTA negotiations and access to the internet, according to the company.

“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate. Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa,” the statement read.

Kenya has imposed a new lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a ban on all inland travel in the capital Nairobi and out four other counties.

Kenya’s Covid-19 positivity rate has jumped from 2% to 22% between January and March and Nairobi accounts for nearly 60% of the cases-

Kenyatta said that hospital admissions had increased 52% in the past two weeks and that at least seven people are dying every day from coronavirus.

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What do the new measures mean?

No road, rail or air transport will be permitted in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos and Nakuru.

In person, meetings will also be banned.

As for curfew, hours now start at 20:00 until 04:00 am (instead of 22:00 until 04:00 am`) in the five counties. Special passes that allowed people to travel during curfew hours have also been revoked.

Alcohol sales in the areas have also been banned and restaurants can only provide takeaway services.

The president also ordered “an immediate suspension of all face-to-face teaching, which includes universities”, with the exception of students currently taking exams.

Kenya reopened its schools and colleges in early January, which had been closed for ten months.

All sporting events are also suspended.

International travel is permitted but subject to a negative coronavirus test.

The new measures begin on Friday at midnight.

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This week Kenya recorded between 1,000 and 1,500 cases per day.

“According to our health experts, our third wave started to gain strength in early March,” said Kenyatta.

The peak of this wave is expected in the next 30 days, with more than 2,500 to 3,000 cases per day,” he added.

Recognising the impact these decisions will have on the economy, Kenyatta added that these “measures are temporary and necessary to contain the spread of the disease and therefore to stop further loss of life.”

“I am convinced that the cost of inaction would be much worse,” he said.

Senegalese citizens staged a widespread demonstration against Macky Sall‘s administration, which kidnapped opposition leader Ousman Sonko on his way to a court hearing two days ago .

Sonko, is a 46-year-old leader of the opposition Pastef party and a former presidential candidate who finished third in the 2019 elections. His political career was cast into doubt last month when an employee at a spa where he claimed to have gone for back massages filed rape charges against him.

Sonko’s recent arrest has triggered “the worst unrest seen in the capital of Senegal in years”. Leader of the Pastef Les Patriotes party and a former presidential candidate, Sonko is seen as a formidable opposition figure to current President Macky Sall especially with elections in three years’ time. France24 reports that there is continued uncertainty as to whether President Sall will seek a third term in office.

According to him, the accusation of rape is an “attempt at political liquidation,” as he accused President Macky Sall of fomenting a political conspiracy against him. Despite the fact that the young woman accusing Ousmane Sonko of rape testified in a closed court hearing last month, her case is yet to be resolved.

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“Ousmane Sonko was heading towards the court following a summons from the judicial authority when he was arbitrarily arrested due to the presence on his route of demonstrators and sympathizers. The charges of disturbing public order and unauthorized demonstration against him must be dropped and, as long as these are the only charges justifying his detention, he must be immediately released, along with the three individuals who were arrested in same time as him, ”said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa.

Senegal is one of the very few stable African democracies and the country has never experienced a coup. But the ongoing protests, vocally supported by opposition political parties as well as some in civil society, are the worst in years. As of Saturday, March 6, reports say some five people have been killed with many protesters and police injured. What started as a call for the release of Sonko is now about socioeconomics, as clearly seen on placards and posters. Unemployment is high in Senegal while the strains brought about by COVID-19 have devastated the informal sector.

A Mississippi school district is facing criticism after a class assignment asked middle schoolers to put themselves in the shoes of an enslaved person, and write letters to friends and family.

The assignment given to eighth-graders at Purvis Middle School told students to “pretend like you are a slave working on a Mississippi plantation,” according to a screenshot of the assignment that Black Lives Matter Mississippi posted to Twitter.

Other tasks in the assignment included: “You may discuss the journey to America, as well as the day-to-day tasks you perform [as a slave]” and “You may also want to tell about the family you live with/work for [as a slave] and how you pass your time when you aren’t working.”

More than 12 million enslaved Africans were shipped to the Americas and the Caribbean during the Middle Passage – what the assignment supposedly refers to as the “journey.” Over two million of the enslaved Africans who were forcefully packed into the ships for that arduous and dangerous journey lost their lives.

Following the backlash after the details of the assignment were made public, Lamar County School District Superintendent Dr. Steven Hampton claimed the aim of the exercise was to “show our students just how horrible slavery was and to gain empathy for what it was like to be a slave,” KCRG-TV reported. “We do not discriminate against race. We want to be sensitive to what happened in the past,” Hampton added

The principal of the middle school, Frank Bunnell, also sent an email to parents apologizing for an assignment of such nature to happen under his watch. In his apology, however, Bunnell claimed the assignment was taken out of context as the slide in question was part of a PowerPoint presentation, according to the Daily Beast.

“A person could read just the assignment and draw a very unrealistic view of the true tragedies that occurred. That was not intended,” Bunnell wrote. “However, intent does not excuse anything. There is no excuse to downplay a practice that (even after abolished) spurs unjust laws, unfair economic practices, inhumane treatment, and suppression of a people.”

Activists who spoke to the news outlet expressed their dismay behind the assignment and questioned the logic behind it. “I don’t know how a logical person teaches this,” Jeremy Marquell Bridges, the social media manager for Black Lives Matter Mississippi said. “Like someone who went to school to teach children could think this exercise was helpful in any way. It’s not helpful, it’s hurtful.”

Jarrius Adams, the president of Young Democrats Mississippi, also referred to the assignment as “extremely tone deaf”, adding that it was also “inappropriate to have Middle Schoolers put themselves in the shoes of slaves without proper context.”

“It does not matter what the intention was, the impact is the only thing that matters,” Adams continued. “If I were a parent of a student in the classroom, I would be pissed. There are proper ways to educate students about the history of this nation—this was not one of them.”

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