the greatest youth movement in history: mandela's disciples

The beginning of arguable the greatest youth activism movement all began with twelve. Twelve young boys inspired by the ideas of Nelson Mandela left on a journey that would change their lives and so many others for years to come. This is the story of how Nelson Mandela's movement began. Social movements often have symbolic leaders, but they are really comprised of thousands, thousands and thousands of local leaders and supporters. The first of these unsung heroes came from Bloemfontein. Most people have never heard of Bloemfontein, but they have heard of Soweto or Johannesburg or Cape Town. Bloemfontein is where the twelve came from.

no more foreign aid institutions. . . it's china

Foreign aid; development assistance; foreign investment; these terms are now gaining another synonym: rouge aid. In an excerpt from the Foreign Policy Blog, rogue aiders are defined as such, "Because their goal is not to help other countries develop. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further their own national interests, advance an ideological agenda, or sometimes line their own pockets. Rogue aid providers couldn't care less about the long-term well-being of the population of the countries they 'aid'."

she's taking on more water; the zimbabwean titanic

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As a ship with a hole takes on water, so too does a state or government sink with a corrupt and ineffective government. Zimbabwe is sinking, many have noted this before, but presently its plunge to the depths seems to be even more imminent. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is losing control of his country and is losing support from his allies. Zambian President Mwanawasa has called the Zimbabwean state to be like a titanic and the BBC notes that, "he said the country's economic difficulties were forcing its citizens to leave like passengers jumping from the sinking ship to save their lives." Zambia had previously been a proponent of quiet diplomacy. However, now even South Africa's criticism is increasing, but has not voiced outright criticism of the Zimbabwean government. The United Kingdom has stated that the solution to the issue of Zimbabwe will be found within Africa. This statment may be gaining strength as the economic crises continue and the devaluation of the Zimbabwean currency continues and fuel costs soar. The final paragraph of this BBC article states, "More than 80% of Zimbabweans are living in poverty, with chronic unemployment and inflation running at more than 1,700% - the highest in the world."

why the US does not become involved in african conflicts

| March 26, 2007 - 2:35 pm

Tags: Africa, Darfur, foreign policy, northern Uganda, numbers, statistics, terrorism

The title of this entry is a question that very often crosses my mind as I continue to read the news and stay up to date on the various African conflicts across the continent. How can the country with the most power sit idly as conflicts that tear nations and governments apart worsen? How can the country with the most power get involved in its own political war games and ignore the dying?

"If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will."

oil to the people?

| March 15, 2007 - 6:03 pm

Tags: Africa, China, development, foreign investment, international trade, Nigeria, oil, US

Nigeria's economic focus on the trade of oil can be reversed from being its greatest downfall to being its greatest achievement. Currently, Nigeria's economy is fueled and supported by the energy sector and the international trade system. Nigeria is Africa's largest exporter of oil, being the number one exporter to China and the fifth largest supplier to the US.  However, the corruption of the government, the un-diversified economy, political instability, and poor management has led to an over-dependence on the oil sector. The oil sector currently supplies 20% of Nigeria's GDP, 95%  of its foreign exchange earnings, and 80% of its budget revenues. The oil sector has not led to an end to the crushing poverty of Nigeria and this leads many to join the rebel groups combating foreign involvement and trade. Nigeria used to be a large exporter of food, but with an emphasis on fossil fuels and a growing population, the agriculture sector could not keep up and now the consequences can be seen.

Seeing (Red): Why Buying a T-Shirt Will Never End AIDS

| March 8, 2007 - 4:35 am

Tags: Africa, AIDS, capitalism, consumerism, economics, philanthropy, progressive, the gap

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By Laura Hadden

It sounds innocent enough.

Bono & The (Red) Campaign simply want to "empower" us as consumers to use our dollars to create change.  Hand over your credit card and in exchange, they will hand back an overpriced t-shirt/cell phone/iPod and the knowledge that "a portion of the profits" will help buy medicine for AIDS patients in Africa.  

But all this feel-good philanthropy simply fails to address the real issues.  Rather than question and challenge the price of America's overconsumption and exploitation in those "developing" countries, we embrace our product-obsessed culture, buy a t-shirt, and feel like we've done our part and erase our collective guilty conscience.  Instead of talking about community organizing or political action to end AIDS, we're encouraged to take a trip to the mall and celebrate our "power as consumers" in solidarity with our "dying brothers and sisters in Africa".  

Like, totally awesome...

teaching african history - ending stereotypes

Press Release:

STUDIES SHOULD MORE ACCURATELY REFLECT HISTORY

State lawmakers yesterday introduced legislation that will require schools to focus on the advanced civilizations of Africa instead of the most primitive Africans who did not represent the continent.

The bills have been introduced by Rep. Brenda Clack (D-Flint) and Rep. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek).

Nofs, who serves on the Advisory Board of the non-profit Ending Stereotypes for America, explained that it's important for world history instruction to accurately portray ancient civilizations.

"The history of Sub-Sahara Africa has been grossly distorted for too long," Nofs said. "This has helped to foster false stereotypes that can lead to discrimination, violence, and a dangerous ignorance about Africa that could have national security implications."

the final battle in the continent

| February 22, 2007 - 2:47 am

Tags: Africa, AFRICOM, Brazil, China, Cold War, colonialism, exploitation, Germany, investment, military aid, oil

The noise will make all else inaudible, not even the whisper of, "here they come," will be understood. The noise will be unbearable. TICK TOCK, time is running out to stop and realize the impending doom. CHING, money is flowing so fast and smoothly for anyone to truly care and take notice. RATTA-TATTA, RATTA-TATTA, anti-terrorism gunships will tear through the sky and open fire marking holes on the cratered dirt roads, the cargo shipments will crash and the cheap goods will burn as the bombs fall, KABOOM, refugees will run from camp to camp to avoid the madness of it all, AHHHH, disease will run rampant as systems of infrastructure are torn apart, rebel groups and religious sects will race to claim control before they are cut down in the streets, RATTA-TATTA, buildings and factories will be contructed and destroyed all in the same day, BOOM KA-BLAM, the force of trade will combat the force of military imperialism in the last great epic battle for the African continent.

helping hands of the US

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Why is it that the simplest methods and the unheard of people do the most good in the world of the poor and oppressed? Why is it that individuals with a cause are the tool for the greatest change in the world? Why is it that you and I can make more of a difference than foundations and governments? How can people be so much more powerful than the institutions and structures? The basic fact and truth is that because we are simply people who care with passion that we are most motivated and connected to the causes and issues for which we fight.

In a recent blog written by Allison Fine of the SocialEdge my sentiments are reflected. She writes about the power of individual activists. "[...] the catalyst for significant social change in the Connected Age will continue to be individual activists. Foundation grants are a perfect vehicle for seeding, supporting, and encouraging these efforts." Allison is also reflecting the idea that it will be the searchers and not the big planners who will create the most significat social change. This idea I covered more fully in a previous blog

S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A.

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Our mission is to combine efforts to save lives with commitment and determination in Africa. S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A. as an organization has a purpose dedicated to converting passion into action. All too often people are presented with extremely moving and emotional experiences, but without an opportunity to act on their new found feelings of empathy.

SB believes that ONE person can make a difference in the world. All ONE needs to decide is what kind of a difference they want to make. SB works to link individuals and groups in North America and Western countries with projects creating sustainable solutions to the crisis of access to basic healthcare in Africa. With the understanding that `big plans' will not solve the problems of the world, SB seeks out the people and organizations, who are making effective and sustainable change on the ground in Africa. SB is focused on partnering student chapters in the West with projects in Africa.