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Jamaican officials are petitioning Britain to compensate them 7.6 billion pounds (around $10.5 billion USD) as reparations for the European country’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, Reuters reports

Reuters reports Jamaican lawmakers are preparing to submit a petition to Queen Elizabeth II seeking billions of pounds in compensation over the enslavement of Africans that generated fortunes for British merchants. Enslaved Africans were forced to work on plantations, cultivating sugar and other crops.  An estimated 600,000 Africans were shipped to Jamaica to be chattel slaves, according to the National Library of Jamaica.

Jamaica became an English colony in 1655 after the British seized the Caribbean island from the Spanish. While the country gained its independence in 1962, Jamaica remains part of the Commonwealth, and the queen remains head of state.

When Britain formally abolished slavery in 1834, it paid reparations…to slave owners. As Reuters reports, the British government took out a 20 million pound loan to pay them, and only finished paying the interest payments in 2015, a reminder that history that seems like a distant past is still very much shaping our present.

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“We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced,” Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s minister of sports, youth and culture, told Reuters.

“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labor to the benefit of the British Empire,” she said. “Redress is well overdue.”

The British government in the 19th century took out a roughly $27-million loan to compensate slave owners after the empire abolished slavery, recently paying off the interest payments in 2015.

Reuters reports Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, who is a member of Jamaica’s Labour Party, said the price tag of reparations could be worth some $10.5 billion.

“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners,” he told Reuters.

The petition will be filed pending advice from the attorney general and several legal teams.

 

Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday to protest a lack of food and medicine as the country undergoes a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions.

According to one Cuban, who spoke to the BBC on the condition of anonymity, “there is no food, no medicine, there is no freedom. They do not let us live.”

The outlet further reports that at the crux of the Cuba protests lies the issues that have arisen from American economic sanctions, the Cuban government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and food and medicine shortages. The perfect storm of these three issues has collapsed the country’s economy.

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The issues were exacerbated by the Trump administration, according to CNN. During the Trump era, tourists — which power the economy — were limited from visiting, and some even canceled their travel altogether. This further contributed to the failing economy — and it was all but toppled when the pandemic hit.

That’s why Bernie Sanders blamed the American sanctions on the island for the current Cuba protests.

“It’s also long pastime to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people,” he said.

But the real answer isn’t that simple. While protests are common in the United States  and enshrined in the Constitution. They’re forbidden in places like Cuba, where protesting against the government will result in arrest and incarceration. That’s what’s happening to these protestors — and according to the BBC, the only reason we know about it is that the Internet is shining a light on all of it.

For Sanders, though, the Cuba protests speak to a larger need of the people that’s no longer being met by their government.

While this is not to say that American-style democracy is the correct choice for Cuba — the Batista administration was just as corrupt and murderous as the Castro regime — it is to say that anything’s better than what they have now.

For his part, President Biden is supportive of the Cuba protests.

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement.

 Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in an attack on his private residence, the country’s interim prime minister said in a statement Wednesday, calling it a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act.”

First Lady Martine Moïse was hospitalized following the overnight attack, interim Premier Claude Joseph said.

Mr Joseph said that “all measures had been taken to guarantee the continuity of the state”.

Haiti was already in a precarious political situation before the assassination, having grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moïse. The president ruled by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections and the opposition demanded he step down in recent months.

“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti,” Joseph said in a statement from his office. “Democracy and the republic will win.

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In the early morning hours of Wednesday, the streets were largely empty in the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, but some people ransacked businesses in one area. After the attack, gunshots could be heard throughout the capital.

Joseph said police have been deployed to the National Palace and the upscale community of Pétionville and will be sent to other areas.

Joseph condemned the assassination as a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act”. He said some of the attackers spoke in Spanish but offered no further explanation.

Moise has faced fierce protests since he took office as president in 2017, with the opposition accusing him this year of seeking to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate and becoming more authoritarian – charges he denied.

In addition to presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

The Kingdom of Eswatini is one of the most unique and controversial states in the SADC Region. The nation’s Constitution gives the king absolute powers, and the monarchy has been in power since 1986. Although the nation holds elections every five years, the exercise of absolute powers by the monarchy has seen recent human rights protests by Eswatini citizens for the government to reform the Constitution. The protest actions began on the 20th of June 2021 in the Manzini region when the nation’s youth took to the streets, demanding the right to democratically elect a prime minister. The pro-democracy protesters defied an overnight curfew to call for constitutional reforms as tensions increased in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. These protests have led to internet shutdowns and the injuring and alleged killing of protestors. Protestors and human rights activists have accused the king of running a repressive government and evading calls for reforms in Eswatini. The king has also been accused of using public coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle off the backs of 1.5 million citizens, most of them subsistence farmers. As a result, the protestors are calling for a democratic government that will serve the people’s interests.

Peaceful Assembly

Pro-democracy protest action erupts in Manzini and Mbabane

Following the peaceful protest actions on 20thJune 2021, later that week the acting Prime Minister Themba N. Masuku issued an order suspending the delivery of memorandums, which hampers citizens’ freedoms of association and expression around development concerns. Following the circulation of a video from King Mswati’s children mocking the people who were demanding democracy in eSwatini, this became a spark to a fire which had already been set and led to a further series of protests.

“I was kicked all over the body, held by my genitals and bundled into a police van to Siphofaneni police station” – Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, the deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland

On 28th June the protesters gathered in the streets of Manzini and Mbabane, carrying pamphlets as well as blocking major roads and burning tyres, while they sang and petitioned for constitutional reforms. The policemen intervened in the protests, firing gunshots and using tear gas on the protesters, leading to severe injuries and fatalities. The peaceful protests led to serious violence when there was an interaction between the protesters and the security forces. Security forces also set up roadblocks to prevent some vehicles from accessing the capital, Mbabane. In the country’s townships and rural areas, security forces have reportedly been going from house to house, dragging young people out of their homes and beating them. There was an allegation that King Mswati could not withstand the pressure caused by the uprisings, to the extent of fleeing from the country into South Africa, but the Eswatini government deniedthese allegations. The Eswatini opposition party explicitly highlighted that at least 21 people have been killed and 250 injuries by the police officials. There has also been a video in circulation showing the military forceing citizens out of their homes and assaulting them after accusing them of being the masterminds behind the protest actions.

“We slept with the sound of gunshots and woke still to gunshots fired…The looting and destruction of property became intense” said Mbongwa Dlamini, head of the Swaziland Teachers’ Association told AFP News Agency

Protestors arrested for protesting

The protest action that unfolded in Siphofaneni in the Lubombo region resulted in protestors and human rights activists being arrested. As a result of this protest action, it is alleged that over 47 protesters were detained by the security officers. The arrests mainly targeted human rights activists and political opposition leaders. Zanele Maseko whom is a vice-secretary of the Women’s League of the People’s United Democratic Movement was one of the political opposition leaders who was arrested during the protest action. The main purpose of the protest was to call for democratic reforms in Eswatini, this includes the demand for citizens to elect a prime minister. The current regime permits King Mswati together with cabinet members to be the only one who are eligible to elect the prime minister.

 

Activists and CSOs condemn human rights abuses

The government proceeded to introduce a curfew from 6pm to 5am in order to halt the protests, citing rising corona virus cases. Lucky Luckele, a spokesperson for the Swaziland Pro-Democracy Solidarity Network indicated that he witnessed 28 human rights activists being shot dead by police since they proceeded with the protests despite the curfew. A brewery partially owned by King Mswati III and other properties in Mbabane and Manzini were also torched during the series of protest actions.

“I can hear gunshots and smell teargas. I do not know how I will get home, there is nothing in the bus rank, there is a strong presence of riot police and the army” Vusi Madalane, a shop assistant in Mbabane told Reuters Agency

On the 1st of July, the South African government highlighted that it was concerned about the developments in Eswatini and urged the Eswatini security forces to exercise restraint to protect the lives of people as well as property. The Economic Freedom Fighters, one of South Africa’s opposition parties, conducted a solidarity protest by shutting down the South Africa-Eswatini border for the government of Eswatini to promote and protect its citizens’ human rights at the Mananga border post. Furthermore, the African Union has released a statement calling for “immediate steps to protect lives of citizens and their property” in Eswatini.

Internet shutdown hampers information circulation

Several activists and residents in Mbabane reported that the internet was shut down from about 4:30 p.m. local time on June 29th until around 9 a.m. on June 30th. The reasons for the internet shutdown are not certain, however, activists allege that it is an effort to stop the spread of information about the protest. On 30th June 2021, media groups African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX), Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), Panos Institute Southern Africa, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) sent a joint petition to acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku to ensure that the internet, social media platforms and all other communication channels are open, secure and accessible regardless of the protests currently taking place in Eswatini.

“The government of Eswatini has ordered network providers Eswatini Post and Telecommunications, Eswatini MTN and Eswatini Mobile to turn off internet connectivity as protests continue in the country.”Lucky Luckele, Spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network said on Twitter

South Africa’s highest court found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison on Tuesday, a landmark move in the country’s long-running corruption saga.

The Constitutional Court of South Africa ordered that Zuma present himself at a police station in his home town of Nkandla or Johannesburg within five days.

In a scathing judgment, Justice Sisi Khampepe ruled: “There can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court.”

The order stems from Zuma’s refusal to appear at an anti-corruption commission to answer questions about his alleged involvement in corruption during his time as president. Zuma has repeatedly denied the allegations.

While the judgement has been welcomed by various politicians, law experts and ordinary citizens, it has been touted as “political targeting” by fervent supporters of Zuma. Additionally, there is also some skepticism as to whether Zuma will actually see the inside of a prison cell. This is after all, South Africa and stranger things have happened.

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Judge Khampepe said that Zuma attempted to corrode the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court by conducting a “politically motivated smear campaign” against it, the commission and the judiciary.

“No person is above the law … whatever his rank or condition,” she said, continuing: “An act of defiance in respect of a direct judicial order has the potential to precipitate a constitutional crisis.
“If with impunity litigants are allowed to decide which orders they wish to obey, and which they wish to ignore, then our Constitution is not worth the paper on which it is written.”
Zuma served as South Africa’s President from 2009 to 2018. He  was forced to step down in 2018 over corruption scandals and the inquiry has become one of the most powerful symbols of the clean-up under Zuma’s successor Cyril Ramaphosa — as well as of its limitations and torpor.

“This is a historically significant moment,” said Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch, an anti-graft non-governmental organisation. “For the first time in South Africa, we are seeing a former head of state held directly accountable by way of a prison sentence.”Read some of their reactions on social media below:

Zambia’s first president and champion of African independence Kenneth Kaunda has died at the age of 97, the country’s president Edgar Lungu announced on Facebook Thursday evening.

Zambia will have 21 days of mourning, said Lungu.

Kaunda’s son, Kamarange Kaunda, also gave the news of the statesman’s death on Facebook Thursday.

“I am sad to inform we have lost Mzee,” Kaunda’s son wrote, using a Swahili term of respect for an elder. “Let’s pray for him.”

Kaunda had been admitted to the hospital on Monday and officials later said he was being treated for pneumonia.

The southern African country is currently battling a surge in COVID-19 cases and the country’s founding president was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a military hospital which is a center for treating the disease in the capital, Lusaka.

At the time Kaunda asked for “all Zambians and the international community to pray for him as the medical team is doing everything possible to ensure that he recovers,” according to the statement issued by Kaunda’s administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo.

A legal battle is looming over plans to build Amazon’s multi-million-dollar African headquarters on land cherished by South Africa’s indigenous Khoi San people.

Amazon is setting up its African HQ in Cape Town — a project with the promise of thousands of jobs in a country where unemployment is cripplingly high.

City authorities last month approved the construction of a nine-storey business and residential complex on a greenfield site that will be anchored by Amazon.

Its offices will provide total floor space of 70,000 square metres (7.5 million feet) — equivalent to almost 10 football pitches.

But some of the country’s first inhabitants, the Khoi Khoi and San — whose presence in the southern tip of the continent has been dated by archaeologists to thousands of years — say the project desecrates ancestral land.

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They say it lies on a battlefield in which the Khoi defended the territory from Portuguese colonisers in 1510.

“Our heritage will be completely wiped out,” paramount chief Aran Goringhaicona told AFP this week. “There is so much spiritual significance to this place.”

He represents the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoi Indigenous Traditional Council, which is among the indigenous, environmental and community activists contesting the scheme.

Led by a neighbourhood group, the Observatory Civic Association (OCA), they wrote to the developer Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust (LLPT) this week stating their intention to appeal the project in the courts.

Construction of the four-billion-rand ($283 million / 234 million euro) complex is due to start little more than a month from now.

The group is also questioning environmental approvals for the riverside site, said OCA chair Leslie London.

Cape Town is already struggling with episodes of severe floods and drought — a risk that could be amplified when climate change goes into higher gear, London argued.

City authorities say the impact on floods is “minimal” and the site will be built up above the 100-year flood

Amazon, which has been operating in South Africa for 15 years, declined to comment on the development.

A Gauteng woman has given birth to 10 babies, and has now set a new record in the book of Guinness World Record.

The South African woman, Gosiame Thamara Sithole, 37, who underwent a caesarian operation to birth three girls and seven boys at 29 weeks, now holds the record for the woman who birthed the most children at once.

According to reports, Sithole and her husband, Teboho Tsotetsi had expected eight babies when they had their scan but the scan missed two of the babies.

She takes the record which was held by Malian Halima Cissé who gave birth to nine children in Morocco last month.

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“I am shocked by my pregnancy. It was tough at the beginning. I was sick. It was hard for me.It’s still tough but I am used to it now. I don’t feel the pain anymore, but it’s still a bit tough. I just pray for God to help me deliver all my children in a healthy condition, and for me and my children to come out alive. I would be pleased about it,” Sithole said told local media.

Speaking to the Pretoria News, Tsotetsi said Sithole gave birth to their bundles of joy 29 weeks into her pregnancy and that her pregnancy was natural as she was not on any fertility treatment.

 

Reports show that only two other sets of nonuplets have been recorded since the 1970s, but the babies all died within days.

LeBron James is teaming up with Ghanaian-born designer Mimi Plange for a four-part LeBron 18 Low collection that celebrates diversity and a sense of community. The series of colorways collections is the second collaboration between the NBA star and a female designer. It is the first-time-ever Plange is designing sneakers.

Plange is a household name in the fashion industry and most notably known for her designs worn by former first lady Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Gabrielle Union.

“We are so honored to have created ‘Higher Learning,’ our first sneaker design in collaboration with LeBron James and Nike,” Plange announced on Instagram. “We are beyond excited and thankful to have had this opportunity to continue to share inspirational stories with the world.”

She added that the latest design was inspired by James and varsity style.

“There is nothing more empowering and enlightening than education,” said Plange. “The design is inspired by Lebron James and varsity style. The shoes are a powerful symbol of sport and school.”

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Plange, who migrated to the United States from Ghana at the age of five, said she has had a lot of experiences with many different groups of people. “…So I’ve lived through contrasts, like coming from Ghana and growing up in California, like not having a lot of money growing up and yet participating in honors classes, which included a specific kind of student. I think those experiences, along with the ability to travel as an adult, were big reasons why I design the way I do, because you’re able to see that the world is a lot smaller than you think, and that people are not as segmented or opposite in thought as you might think they are.”

Working with James, according to Plange, has been nothing short of amazing. She got the opportunity to bring forth his personality and influence in education, sport, and culture in her designs, thus making the world see James from four different perspectives. The four-part series will show him as a young superstar, as a family man, as an educational advocate, and more.

The collection of four shoes will drop throughout the Holiday season, with the first going up on Plange’s website, SNKRS and other select retailers from June 2.