By Mildred Ngesa
Thursday is Africa Day, but the continent might be too busy nursing a broken heart to even think about it.
Today’s Africa is an Africa that has lost its soul – it pushes and shoves towards the global doors of opportunities with the gluttony that depletes the motherland but enlarges only the radius of the shameless few.
Africa’s audacity to amplify its status on the globalised economic stage has awarded it a new camouflaged status of futuristic possibilities but sadly one that hides the reality of the vandalism within.
Africa is wooed by a flow of over $50 billion worth of Foreign Direct Investment but of which no one speaks of the ultimate loss to the people when the “so-called” investors are done raping it dry and it resources have been vanquished.
Africa’s masses have learnt to surrender their destiny to fate, choosing instead to blame the gods of poverty and natural calamities rather than the wolves masquerading as sheep in the form of leaders exploiting them with a vengeance that is unmatched.
Exactly 54 years today, Africa’s forefathers resolved that never again would the motherland mourn and gnash its teeth over its liberation and sovereignty.
They must have purposed that the colonial blood flowing from Cairo to Cape Town in the dark ages would eternally dry up.
Sadly though, they must be turning in their graves as the continent haemorrhages violations, suffering, desperation, discontent and disillusionment amongst its 1.2 billion people.
Where politicians should have led the way to steady and progressive governance, dictatorial and nepotistic tendencies have gained root, ensuring that power remains the preserve of a minority to the detriment of the majority.
From Angola to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea to Zimbabwe, it is seemingly “unbecoming” for an African president to hand over power to the next at the end of his term without much of a fuss.
Today, whenever a president relinquishes power after one or two terms it makes breaking world news and breaks the Internet, never mind that such occurrences are curiously rare.
Africa is marred by the impunity of corruption and illicit financial flows.
Every year, Africa loses over $52 billion through bribery, money laundering, tax evasions and a myriad of other corrupt practices.
These vices propagated by global and regional bodies have been perfected by our very own fellow African leaders, elites, investors, technocrats and entrepreneurs, most of whom care less about the future of the continent.
In Addis Ababa, where this day was born, Africa’s dignity stands mocked in a towering castle “gifted” to the continent by the Chinese.
One wonders what is worse: The fact that Africa’s liberation headquarters is nestled along a road named Roosevelt Street or the fact that China gave Africa a “gift” specifically to enhance its relations with the continent.
The answer is in the face of Africa’s economic growth that has curiously evolved into being even more Chinese than Beijing itself!
From Marrakech to Maseru, Yamoussoukro to Swakopmund, Nairobi to Porto-Novo, Chinese food and restaurants represent the infrastructural face of Africa with an uncontested certainty.
The real impact of this presumed transformation will only be known in the foreseeable future.
When Africa’s children breeze through life ignorant of the significance of Africa Day, let this be the day that Africa starts having conversations of change with itself.
Let it remind its children of the journey it walked to get here, the price paid, the resolve made, and the future it fathomed in 1963 when it declared through the words of the great Kwame Nkrumah that “We must unite now or perish!”
Africa knows what ails it and thus must be its own antidote and device a cure that will see it through the challenges bedevilling its very survival in the 21st century.
Unless we embrace our true historical identity and instil that consciousness, knowledge and pride into our youth, our future will be forever compromised.
Secondly, we must redefine African political leadership and governance, Truth be told, the club of 54 African leaders that converges at least twice a year in Addis Ababa, claiming to chart the path to Africa’s destiny is taking the continent for a sorry ride.
If they were serious about their mandates then South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and the Central African Republic would not be smouldering to ashes as we speak.
We know what these conflicts are about, who is fuelling them and what needs to be done to end them.
We just do not care enough because we are busy “benefiting” from them.
If the heads of state were serious, then they would act as one another’s accountability partner on crimes of humanity, human rights violations, corruption, constitutional infringement and social and economic injustices.
Unfortunately, this ambition will remain a pipe dream.
Thirdly, it was un-African to eat before the children eat and to dance on the graves of the dead.
But we have now perfected this art all in the name of corruption. We must return to the centre of communal ownership, selflessness, social and economic accountability crowned by integrity.
There is no short cut to it. Lastly, Africa will not rise from the abyss of destruction with a single clarion call and neither will it rise by empty rhetoric and endless policies.
Africa will begin to rise through the careful, deliberate and resilient internalisation of the reality of our perpetual struggles and the determination to always remain focused on overcoming them collectively.
Back then in 1954, Kwame Nkrumah and his fellow freedom fighters had this clarity of vision.
His words run true even today. He said: “On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.
Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist control and interference.”
As we mark Africa Day, his words could never have been so apt.
Exclusive: European Food Safety Authority dismissed a study linking glyphosate to cancer following counsel with an EPA official allegedly linked to the company and who figures in more than 20 lawsuits
Efsa rejected a key study that found a causal link between exposure to glyphosate and increased tumour incidence in mice. Photograph: Rene van den Berg/Alamy Stock Photo
The European Food Safety Authority dismissed a study linking a Monsantoweedkiller to cancer after counsel from a US Environmental Protection Agency officer allegedly linked to the company.
Jess Rowlands, the former head of the EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC), who figures in more than 20 lawsuits and had previously told Monsanto he would try to block a US government inquiry into the issue, according to court documents.
The core ingredient of Monsanto’s RoundUp brand is a chemical called glyphosate, for which the European commission last week proposed a new 10-year license.
Doubts about its regulatory passage have been stirred by unsealed documents in an ongoing US lawsuit against Monsanto by sufferers of non-hodgkins lymphoma, who claim they contracted the illness from exposure to RoundUp.
“If I can kill this, I should get a medal,” Rowlands allegedly told a Monsanto official, Dan Jenkins, in an email about a US government inquiry into glyphosate in April 2015.
In a separate internal email of that time, Jenkins, a regulatory affairs manager, said that Rowlands was about to retire and “could be useful as we move forward with [the] ongoing glyphosate defense”.
Documents seen by the Guardian show that Rowlands took part in a teleconference with Efsa as an observer in September 2015.
Six weeks later, Efsa adopted an argument Rowlands had used to reject a key 2001 study which found a causal link between exposure to glyphosate and increased tumour incidence in mice.
Rowlands’ intervention was revealed in a letter sent by the head of Efsa’s pesticides unit, Jose Tarazona, to Peter Clausing, an industry toxicologist turned green campaigner.
In the missive, Tarazona said that “the observer from the US-EPA [Rowlands] informed participants during the teleconference about potential flaws in the Kumar (2001) study related to viral infections.”
Efsa’s subsequent report said that the Kumar study “was reconsidered during the second experts’ teleconference as not acceptable due to viral infections”.
Greenpeace said that news of an Efsa-Rowlands connection made a public inquiry vital. “Any meddling by Monsanto in regulatory safety assessments would be wholly unacceptable,” said spokeswoman Franziska Achterberg. “We urgently need a thorough investigation into the Efsa assessment before glyphosate can be considered for re-approval in Europe.”
Socialist MEPs last week said that they too would call for an inquiry unless outstanding questions about the relicensing were cleared up.
A reply to Tarazona’s letter from Clausing, seen by the Guardian, also says: “In the light of Jess Rowland’s role in the assessment of carcinogenicity of glyphosate in the US as reflected by the internal Monsanto documents, I have serious concerns that he might have influenced the decision by providing wrong information which has not been scrutinised by Efsa and its experts.”
A Monsanto spokesman said: “Plucking a single email out of context doesn’t change the fact that the US EPA and regulators around the world, as well as a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) that analysed pesticide residues, have concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.”
The WHO’s pesticides panel ruled last May that glyphosate was probably not carcinogenic to humans through diet, a year after the WHO’s cancer arm came to the opposite conclusion.
Efsa though remains bullish about the probity of its assessment of the most heavily used weedkiller in human history.
Tarazona declined to comment on Rowlands’ contribution to the Efsa study but said that Kumar’s paper had been compromised by the use of Swiss albino mice.
“The issue of ‘high background incidence’ is something common to all studies that use that strain of mouse,” he said. “There was [also] the fact that the effect was observed only at a very high dose level.”
Other toxicologists, such as Prof Ivan Rusyn, who contributed to a WHO assessment of glyphosate, contend that where sample sizes are limited, “the most informative animal studies are those conducted with sufficiently high doses”.
Clausing said that there was “almost no difference” between malignant lymphomas in Kumar’s control group, compared to others.
The Pope has given the Vatican’s Jesuit astronomers their marching orders, banishing them and their infernal instruments from his summer palace and billeting them in a disused convent instead.
The astronomers’ eviction from the Castel Gandolfo has been put down to Benedict XVI’s need for more space to receive visiting diplomats, according to The Independent.
According to the paper, the Jesuits who run the observatory are putting a brave face on their enforced removal, with the observatory’s director Father Jose Funes, insisting: “It is not a downgrading of science in the Vatican.”
However, observers will no doubt see this as a negative move in the Church’s relationship with science, which dates back to that other troublesome astronomer, Galileo, and beyond. Benedict has been accused of looking to turn the clock back on his predecessor’s embrace of science, to the extent of apparently endorsing intelligent design.
Alternatively, you could opt for the theory that the observatory’s main problem is that it’s largely run by Jesuits, another group that has a stormy relationship with the Holy See.
After their stint as the Pope’s shock troops in the counter-reformation, the order was suppressed in the 18th century, before being restored in the 19th century. Nevertheless, some apparently feel that the Jesuits are too clever by half and, even worse, have developed a rather liberal tendency.
Earlier this year, Benedict welcomed attendees to the observatory’s summer school with the message: “The Vatican Observatory has sought to demonstrate the Church’s desire to embrace, encourage, and promote scientific study, on the basis of her conviction that ‘faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth’.”
And, if after sufficient contemplation you still feel you can’t get to the truth, the Vatican will be happy to supply it for you.
According to leaked company guidelines, moderators are instructed to take down flagged posts in Israel, Germany, France and Austria, where laws against Holocaust denial are enforced
Facebook’s guidelines for moderators, leaked at the begining of the week by the British newspaper the Guardian, show that the company only takes down content flagged by users as Holocaust denial when it is posted in countries that pursue legal action against Holocaust deniers.
The revelation seems to expose the fact that the social media giant was only deleting such posts so to avoid financial loss.
The documents, published by the Guardian as the “Facebook Files,” lay out the companies policies for moderating content, stated that the company not only forgoes taking action in countries where Holocaust denial was illegal, but does so only in those countries that actually pursue legal action against offenders, that is Israel, Germany, France and Austria.
“We will only use geo-blocking when a country has taken sufficient steps to demonstrate that the local legislation permits censorship in that specific case,” the report quoted the document as saying.
“Some 14 countries have legislation on their books prohibiting the expression of claims that the volume of death and severity of the Holocaust is overestimated,” one of Facebook’s documents reportedly states. “Less than half the countries with these laws actually pursue it. We block on report only in those countries that actively pursue the issue with us.”
One of the examples given in the guidelines, the Guardian wrote, was an image of a concentration camp with the caption “Never again Believe the Lies,” which was deemed permissible anywhere except for the four countries mentioned above.
By Henry Makow Ph.D.
What do the Protocols of Zion say about terror?