Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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With apologies to Slate's If It Happened There series.

The United Kingdom’s (UK) capital, London, is a city of stark contrasts, where wealthy expatriates and a few home grown billionaires, rub shoulders with the numerous poor, who flock from across the country to make their fortune in the metropolis. However, despite the riots that regularly tear across this sprawling city, there is little sign of ethnic unrest, deep in the heartlands of the English peoples.

The same cannot be said hundreds of miles to the north, where a growing political movement is demanding independence for the Scottish tribe. This would be the first time that borders have changed in Western Europe for half a century, and would represent a severe blow to the southern tribes, who depend on the mineral wealth of the Scottish homeland.

The Scottish have long had a strong presence in this island nation. Local legends describe a Scottish chieftain called James seizing the English throne, which doubtless explains the antipathy between the two groups today. The last two premiers of the UK, Brown Gordon and Anthony Tony Lynton Blair, were both of Scottish background, and depended on support from Scottish voters to retain their grip on power. However, current Premier Dave Mister Cameron is considered English, despite his ethnically Scottish name.

Now, a growing separatist movement, led by the charismatic demagogue Salmon Alexander seeks to change the status quo. Tensions have bubbled up, and though no violence has yet been observed, concerns are growing. Given that the army is divided on tribal lines, with ethnically Scottish and English regiments, the possibility of civil war cannot be ruled out.

The eventual dissolution of the United Kingdom seems inevitable. The whole county is only a few hundred years old, its borders drawn around a collection of countries and dependencies with no historical ties to one another. Many in the Ulster region are of the Irish ethnic group and declare their loyalty to the Republic of Ireland, and the historically subjugated Welsh people have made repeated attempts to declare independence. However, despite the arbitrary nature of the state and its borders, some still declare loyalty to this accident of history. Though without oil reserves, the moribund United Kingdom economy may struggle to support itself. The English leadership may not be ready to relinquish its grip on the Scottish homelands just yet.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact: editor@thinkafricapress.com.

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This Week: News

Northern Governors Meet to Discuss Violence

19 governors of northern states met recently to discuss the bombings that have spread across the region. The governors rose from a five hour meeting in the nation’s capital Abuja with an understanding to disband all militant groups in their respective states. Such groups had been tolerated in the past for political and security purposes. The self-proclaimed co-founder of Boko Haram, Aliyu Tishau recently claimed in an interview with Africa Independent Television that politicians were to blame for the emergence of groups such as his. The Governor of Niger State Aliyu Muazu Babangida who also chairs the Northern Governors Forum expressed to the press the resolve of his fellow Governors to tackle the violence.

Central Bank Converts Foreign Reserves to Renminbi

The Central Bank of Nigeria intends to convert 10% of its $33 Billion foreign reserves into Chinese Renminbi as trade between the two countries increases. The move is a response to China’s bourgeoning growth and stature in the global market place. Tradeinvest, a South African financial news publication conducted an interview with Thabo Ncala, a portfolio manager at Stanlibs’s Africa fund, asking whether the growing support for the Yuan indicates waning confidence in the dollar. Ncala states that China was Nigeria’s largest source of imports (26% of total imports). Ncala further states that Nigeria imports the majority of its goods due to its inadequate capacity for industrial production, leading China to become the major source of foreign direct investment into the nation.

Minister of Finance in Washington

The coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was in Washington DC last week as part of Jonathan’s United Nations entourage. She disclosed that the Nigerian government was in the process of negotiating a $550 million loan from the Bretton Wood institutions (World Bank/IMF). Okonjo-Iweala further elaborated during an interactive session with members of the press corps that “We have an ambitious program to create Jobs and one of the several priorities is Agriculture. We have a detailed plan for the investment in the agricultural sector. One of the things we are doing in Washington was to start negations for extra financing from the World Bank”. The $550 million that Nigeria is requesting is to support the agricultural and environmental sectors. The speed of the loan's conclusion is tied in with the arrival of the new World Bank director for Nigeria.

Chief Justice Ratified by Senate

The controversial appointment of Justice Dahiru Musdapher as the new Chief Justice of Nigeria has finally been ratified by the Senate on Thursday as he was screened and confirmed without any reported hitches. Musdapher became a Justice in the Supreme Court in 2003 and had about eight months left before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. While answering questions from senators during the screening, Musdapher would go on to make some bold pronouncements, claiming that “the judiciary needed cleansing”. He admitted that the public was not very satisfied with the manner in which things were being conducted in the judiciary. The new Chief Justice further promised senators that the restoration of public confidence would be a key objective, alongside challenging the infrastructural inadequacies and the control executive government currently wields over the judiciary.

Central Bank Governor Wins Award for Tackling Crisis

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has won the award for the Central Bank Governor of the Year for the sub-Saharan Africa region for the second year running. The presentation of the award was conducted by the international magazine-Emerging Markets. The Emerging Markets awards, an annual event alongside the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank annual meetings, was held on Saturday, 24th September, 2011 in Washington D.C. Sanusi was praised for the “vigour in which Nigeria’s Central Bank has tackled the crisis in the banking industry, which is a testament to the determination of the governor”. The organisation commended Sanusi’s tightening of the interest rates by 100 basis points to ease pressure on the Naira and tame inflation at 9%, despite calls from banks and businesses to keep them down.

Foreign Minister Endorses Palestinian Statehood

Nigeria has restated its position toward the PLO by supporting the bid by Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations as a sovereign state. Olugbenga Ashiru, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated the nation’s stance during a dinner being hosted in honour of Nigerian journalists attending the 66th session of the UN general assembly in New York. Nigeria became the first African country to openly endorse the demand of the Palestinian authorities to be admitted as a member of the UN. Nigeria will assume the presidency of the Security Council that is currently occupied by Lebanon on October 1 2011. The Minister further explained that “Since 1984 Nigeria has recognized the state of Palestine and in fact, the ambassador of Palestine has been a resident in Nigeria since 1982 as far as I’m concerned our stand and policy is very clear.”

This Week: Politics

Due to the president's absence, to attend the United Nations general assembly in New York, the political terrain has been quiet. On the whole Nigeria was treated with a level of respect that seems to propagate the acceptance of the current administration on the global scene. The Wednesday Federal Executive Council was not held due to the president’s absence, yet they held an emergency meeting towards the tail end of last week so there really is no excuse for the ministers to go on holiday.

Are the CPC still active? What has been heard of them since the elections? Bear in mind they still have a governor in Nassarawa State which means they are not an entirely spent force. Maybe now they will be regretting not working hand in hand with the ACN in the elections. A boisterous opposition will only lead to the strengthening of our democracy. I wish them all the best.

The minimum wage imbroglio is still dragging on and the civil society seems to be confused as to which cause to wage war on. Whether it’s chasing the shadows of the privatisation fiasco or following up on the minimum wage issue their directions seem to be at a crossroads of sorts.

Writers of the Week

In western Nigeria’s first print newspaper, The Nigerian Tribune, Tayo Lewis writes an article titled “Boko Haram: Shehu Sani’s positive activism". Shehu Sani is a multi-talented author and social activist and is well known for his outspoken views going as far back as the nation’s military era. The writer displays his own views on the current problem of Boko Haram and relates it to those highly placed individuals and those with a cause and could make a real difference. The passion and truth of the writing allows the reader to understand the current conundrum from a different perspective.

Joe Igbokwe not only writes about current political issues of the day, but also doubles up as the publicity secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In his article, “The fear of Bola Ahmed Tinubu”, Igbokwe, in his well-known and combative writing style, details the supposed conspiracy that his boss is currently embroiled it. The article is laced with the truths of an insider, which makes for an entertaining read, and provides clarity as to the impending trial of the leader of Nigeria’s largest opposition party.

News Outlet of the Week

Naijafeed.com is a website dedicated to the most current Nigerian news. The stories provide a window to view the latest stories from varies news sites. Naijafeed.com’s material focuses on the areas of entertainment, news, politics and all things Nigerian.


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If you're a (small or big) fan of poetry, chances are you're well aware of Nigerian poet Patience Agbabi and have marked the 6th of October in your calendar already. If you're not, don't think complicated, exhausting or incomprehensible "wanna-be-higher-culture". Agbabi's prose is fast-paced, direct, concise and edgy, and she's a talented performer. She's charming, stunning and very comfortable with the spoken word, a poet and writer well worth checking out live. 

Here's a short, fun reading she did for Oxfam a while aga, a strong performance at a previous Poet in the City event and a good background info interview with Books from Scotland.

The British Council website also has an extensive bio, narrated in the first person, of which I am particularly fond.

The Poetry Breakfast will take place at 8am on the morning of Thursday 6th October 2011 at Bates, Wells and Braithwaite London LLP, 2-6 Canon St, London, EC4M 6YH. It is a FREE event.

 

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Socially conscious and responsive as always, Bidoun magazine has in recent months been working on the compilation of an issue responding to the Egyptian revolution that began on the 25th of January. The "finished product" sees contributions from Gini Alhadeff, Sinan Antoon, Anand Balakrishnan, Hampton Fancher, Sophia Al-Maria, Fatima Al Qadiri and Lynne Tillman to name but a few. So how did this special issue come about? 

"In April and May, a group of Bidoun editors went to Cairo in order to better understand what happened, and what did not happen, during the eighteen days of revolt and since. Bidoun 25 is the result – the product of over fifty unique interviews in Arabic and English, along with roundtable discussions, political party platforms, TV transcriptions, overheard dialogue, dreams, tweets, and email forwards. The result is a composite portrait, at once disjointed and revealing, partial but not trivial.

Inside, you’ll meet the first family of the revolts, an intergenerational (and confusingly named) activist band that includes, among others human rights lawyer Ahmed Self El-Islam, computer whiz Alaa Abd El Fattah, and Sanaa Seif, a seventeen-year-old whose new magazine, Gornal, was born in Tahrir Square. You’ll encounter Ramy Raoof, an activist and new media maven famous for tweeting while being chased by police, as well as Mahmoud Othman, a writer whose 2007 sci-fi novel, Revolution 2053, prophesied a revolution in Egypt that spreads through the Internet. You’ll listen in as an activist who stormed the interior ministry leafs through her monumental security file, and hear the story of how news anchor Shahira Amin quit her job on state TV rather than propagandize against the revolution. Legendary feminist author Nawaal El Sadaawi is at once vindicated and vexed by the revolution; contingency artist Ganzeer is vindicated and vexed by his conversation with Bidoun, especially in re: his project to paint a street mural for each of the 846+ people killed during the eighteen days."

The launch of Bidoun #25 at Artists Space, New York, will bring together friends from the Bidounisphere to reveal, perform, show and tell some of the things discovered in Cairo.

28 September 2011, 19:30-21:00 Artists Space (http://www.artistsspace.org/)38 Green Street, 3d FloorNew York
After-party featuring Egyptian shaabi music by Rainstick and Azizaman: Santos Party House96 Lafayette Street9:30pm until late.

For more info visit: http://www.bidoun.org/magazine/25-25/ &http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=151358714956306. You can actually get a sneak peek into the issue on the Bidoun website.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact:editor@thinkafricapress.com


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This Week: News

Atomic energy commision resuscitated

Nigeria’s Atomic Energy Commission has been resuscitated by the Federal Government with the mandate to develop nuclear power in the country. The main objective of the government’s plan is to position Nigeria as a major nuclear nation in Africa. Nigeria has the world’s seventh largest natural gas reserves but is still blighted by persistent electricity shortages which forces businesses and individuals to rely on diesel generators when they can afford them. The Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1976 to investigate the possible development of nuclear energy but little progress was ever made.

Four new deep water ports announced

Lagos, Ogun and Akwa-Ibom states are set to be enhanced with the construction of four deep water ports. Senator Idris Umar, the current Minister of Transport, disclosed the news in Abuja. Lagos will host two seaports to be built in Lekki and Badagary. The others will be constructed at the Ondo-Ogun Axis and a fourth will be at Ibakla in Akwa-Ibom state. The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority Engineer Suleiman Omar stated that the construction of the Lekki deep water port will commence early next year, while Akwa Ibom will follow shortly. The Minister of Transport stated that his ministry was focused to achieve Nigeria's developmental needs and promised to evolve a world class transportation system in order to reposition the country as a hub in west and central Africa.

Obasanjo visits home of Boko Haram leader

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited the family home of the slain leader of the Islamic Sect Boko Haram Mohammed Yusuf last Friday. Yusuf was killed while in custody of the Nigerian Police in Maiduguri, Borno State after his arrest by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF). Obasanjo was received by the Deputy Governor of Borno State Zanna Umar Mustapha. Obasanjo during the meeting with the family members pleaded “This is a personal initiative. I urge you to forgive and forget the past. I plead with you to give me time to mediate between the family and government”. Yusuf’s brother in-law Babakura Fuggu declared that “This is the first time any high profile figure would be commiserating with the family.” Fugu would become the victim of his hospitality as he was gunned down by assailants the day after the former president's visit. Sources say he was killed by elements who were against such visits and viewed it as an act of betrayal, while others argue that it was due to a failure to share the cash gift he received from Obasanjo with those who felt they had a right to it.

Bigwigs pay respects to deceased former military Vice President

Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, former military president Ibrahim Babangida and current Senate President David Mark led the Federal Government delegation to pay their last respects to the former Chief of General Staff and military Vice President Admiral Augustus Aikhomu who passed away in late August from a prolonged sickness. Aikhomu was described by Vice President Sambo as a fine soldier, a man of integrity and a politician with a conscience. He also described the deceased as a unifying factor who fought for the unity of the country with a high sense of patriotism. Admiral Aikhomu served as the de facto Vice President of Nigeria during the Babangida military administration from 1986-1993.

Special budget meeting

The Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has stated that Nigeria’s 2012 budget will be based on an average oil production of 2.48 million barrels per day and the benchmark price of $75 per barrel. The former World Bank chief said Nigeria would keep its budget deficit to within 3% of GDP next year. The Minister also pledged to trim government spending, boost job creation and finish failing infrastructure projects. A special budget meeting was initiated by the minister to iron out some pressing issues in which they resolved to have the 2012 budget ready by November at the latest.

Nigeria third in All Africa medal tables

The All-Africa games ended yesterday in Maputo, Mozambique with South Africa and Egypt coming first and second respectively in the medal tables and Nigeria coming third. On a positive note, Nigeria finished at the top of the medal tables in athletics. Nigeria’s 42 medal haul included 18 gold, 13 silver and 11 bronze in Elite and Para sports events. Nigeria’s performance should act as motivation, as time edges closer to London 2012.

This week: Politics

The 2012 budget has been promised in November by the current Minister of Finance. This is extremely hopeful. Putting aside the fact that the 2011 budget was only assented to in March of this year, the Minister is bound to face opposition from lawmakers, which has become part and parcel in the current dispensation. Yet if she does present as promised, then maybe such wrangling will lead to a December or January signing. It is comforting to see that she has hit the ground running. Lets just hope she maintains that speed.

The trial of the national leader of the ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) Ahmed Bola Tinubu has taken a step forward in which The Code of Conduct Bureau has initiated proceedings due to Tinubu Operating 10 different foreign accounts during his tenure as Governor of Lagos. I am not delving into hearsay, or gossip. I just wonder why such a blatant act of political witch-hunting is taking place at this period in time. Past governors who had bled the nation dry with nothing to show for it are allowed to maintain palatial houses around the globe and walk free amongst the citizenry. Yet which one languishes in jail at this current moment. None. This smacks of selective prosecution and I am not for it. The government should revamp the EFCC and establish special corruption courts and tackle the menace that has ruined Nigerian society head on, rather than chase certain individuals for political reasons.

Writers of the week

Campaign spending during election periods is always a contentious issue, and one that Eze Onyekpere for Punch Newspaper deems serious enough to write an engaging piece on. The title of the article "Regulating Campaign Spending" delves into the amended electoral act of 2010 alongside the lax attitude in further regulating election campaign funds. The socio-political implications are also discussed, with a critique of the wider implications it has on the Nigerian society.

Simon Kolawale of This Day Newspaper writes an article "Jos: A society without statesmen". The article delves into his past thoughts and opinions about what it is to be a statesman. Who are they in the modern era of Nigeria? And what you mean to a society. A descriptive piece that highlights the current situation that has led to numerous loss of lives in Jos and in other parts of Northern Nigeria. In conclusion he states that all that is needed is a true statesman to stand up and be counted and provide a figure to rally around. The concepts make this a truly interesting read.

News outlet of the week

USAAfrica.com is the first African owned U.S based professional newspaper to be published on the internet. Based out of Houston Texas, the main content focuses on the socio-political issues on the African continent. The main pieces are written by its founder, Chido Nwangwu, and cater for a niche in the market in Diaspora news publications.

Think Africa Press welcomes inquiries regarding the republication of its articles. If you would like to republish this or any other article for re-print, syndication or educational purposes, please contact:editor@thinkafricapress.com


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What I like about the Dakar-based Raw Material Company is that it takes social and political commentary - not to mention education - seriously and doesn’t rely on the “art for art’s sake” philosophy for its programming. RMS’s resource centre Rawbase, for example, offers a sustained, discursive and very exciting program through artist talks, portfolio review sessions, masterclasses, symposia, lectures, panel and round table discussions and research presentations. But, special programing aside, it’s their upcoming autumn show that I’m really looking forward to.

A conceptual work using multiple practices such as installation, print, performance and public lecture, United States of Africa takes an interesting look at the bankrupt policies of Africa’s post independence era.

Press Release In reference to the notorious Congo Conference that took place in Berlin from November 1884 to February 1885 under the spearhead of the first German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, Berlin-based Senegalese artist Mansour Ciss Kanakassy created an art laboratory in 2002 called Laboratoire de Déberlinisation. The laboratory is a conceptual framework for artistic action to unpack the exploitation and mercantile ideologies applied on Africa in the late nineteenth century known as the Scramble for Africa. It works collaboratively by reaching out to diverse professional backgrounds and artistic practices. 

The Congo Conference was convened to discuss economic dominance and partition of the African territories among European powers. It is widely recognized that the partitions and borders drawn then, followed by a ruthless colonial rule, are—among other things—at the root of contemporary crisis and disruptions that undermine economical and political progress in Africa. 

Aware of the insurmountable obstacles that would indefinitely postpone the advent of a single currency and a unified space for mobility and exchange, Mansour Ciss Kanakassy and other contemporary African artists such as Pascale Marthine Tayou have substituted themselves to the states to achieve the seemingly impossible. They do not need endless committees, high level meetings, majority votes and they like to create a symbolic land to assert their political stand. 

The Afro, an imaginary single currency for Africa, is the artistic response to bankrupt policies of the post independence era. The exhibition is accompanied by a newspaper with texts by Simon Njami and Koyo Kouoh as well as an interview of the artist by David Cadasse

EducationIn collaboration with University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD) and Institut Supérieur des Arts et des Cultures (ISAC) the lecture program United States of Africa: utopia or reality, will take place from October to December 2011. Lecturers are Mamadou Lamine Diallo, economist and former project leader of United States of Africa at the African Union, historians Prof. Abdoulaye Bathily and Dr Ibrahima Wone, author and social critic Safietou Ly Sow and rapper Didier Awadi.

United States of Africa September 21– December 31 2011

Opening: Tuesday, September 20 2011, 7–9pm

Raw Material Company, center for art, knowledge and society 4074 bis Sicap Amitié 2BP 22710 Dakar, Senegal+221 33 864 0248

Gallery hours: Tuesday–Saturday from 10am–8pm

More info at: www.rawmaterialcompany.org

 


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One reason I like Nigeria: the spirit of entrepreneurialism and perseverance is embedded into the Nigerian spirit, allowing us to forge forward in the face of adversity.

My attention was recently drawn to an internet campaign titled "419 reasons to like Nigeria". While reading the ideas behind the concept, I began to wonder why such steps to rebrand Nigeria hadn’t been undertaken in the past.

The number “419” has its roots in article 419, chapter 38, of the Nigerian Criminal Code, which criminalises “Obtaining property by false pretenses; cheating”. The decline in the Nigerian economy in the early 1990’s led to a rise in unemployment which had a detrimental knock-on effect on society on the whole. Such economic realities, coupled with the growth of the internet, led to a teeming number of unemployed graduates using their skills reap economic gain from fraudulent emails and other techniques. The numerous ways of committing 419 fraud were exploited, and the returns proved to be an attractive proposition for many.

The perception of Nigeria and Nigerians has been tainted through such illegal activities, causing Nigerians to be seen as corrupt and fraudulent people. How did it get the stage where a select minority were allowed to taint the image of a hardworking and honest majority? Were Nigerians alone at fault, or were their foreign collaborators also to blame for participating in such scams with the hope of ill-gotten enrichment?

The image of Nigeria has been battered and bruised since the advent of 419 scams, and initiatives like “419 reasons to like Nigeria” must be commended. Modern day connectivity allows us to interact on a scale like never before. The growth of social interconnectivity has broken down barriers in communication and  burgeoning group of young Nigerian bloggers, writers, and commentators are becoming more influential as each day passes. And their efforts to change the perception of Nigeria via Twitter, Facebook and other such means is long overdue and truly welcomed.

The official launch of “419 reasons to like Nigeria” takes place on October 1, to coincide with Nigeria’s day of independence. The objective is to provide alternative options to the advanced fee fraud results that would normally accompany an internet search under “419” and enlighten the internet community to the fact that there is more to Nigeria than just corrupt vices and negative stereotypes. As Nigerians, we should seek to project a truthful image of Nigeria and its people. “419 reasons to like Nigeria” should set the ball rolling for reflection, and a step towards the social rejuvenation of our country.


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Cyrus Kabiru is a Nairobi-based visual artist, working predominantly with painting and sculpture. Born and raised in a Kenyan slum, the junk that surrounded Cyrus day by day, inspired him to create some of the most fascinating recycled art objects I have encountered in a while: hand-made steampunk-style eyeglasses. Intrigued by his highly original, self-taught practice, I had a chat with him as he prepared for his first ever show outside Kenya.

Amongst paintings and sculptures you also create eyewear with the use of recyclable materials. I am amazingly curious: why in particular bifocals?

The original idea that inspired me to start making glasses, stemmed from memories of my childhood. I was always fascinated with glasses and loved to wear them, but due to an incident that happened to our family I was forbidden to do so. My grandfather and my father have a deep-seeded hatred for glasses. Whether it be shades (sunglasses) or normal corrective lenses, my grandfather and father to this day have a deep loathing for them. As a young boy my father had problems with his vision, so my grandfather bought him a pair of glasses from the hospital. Two days later, while playing with other boys, he (my father) dropped them by accident and a lorry which happened to be fatefully passing by, ran over them, shattering them completely. The hospital glasses were very expensive at that time, it goes without saying that he received a very thorough beating from my grandfather. From that day on, my father hated glasses.

When did you first start making things with your hands and when did you start creating art with found objects? Did those two moments coincide?

I used to admire sun-glasses; but wearing them was an impossibility because of my father's attitude towards them. Thus, I decided that when I’d grow up I would pick up the pieces that the lorry left behind and make my own. And so I started, using found objects like wire, wood, paper and other things. Many of my friends despised me as I continued nurturing that dream. They called the sunglasses names and said that was nonsense, arguing that it was a strange type of art. What they never knew was that this was my dream and I had made it my hobby as well. Today, many years later, the concept of C-STUNNERS© (http://www.ckabiruart.daportfolio.com/gallery/272754) has been taken to another level. As for your actual question, I was the best toy maker in the area I grew up in, so it is hard to pinpoint the exact time and moment I started; the reason I work with found materials is related purely to the place I used to live in.

Could you give us a bit of a "conceptual background" on your work? What issues are you focusing on and what is it that you wish to get along?

I love the environment and I deeply care about it as well..so when I work with recycled material I feel like, in a way, I am helping our nature as, you know, everyone is against the environment. I am also doing a workshop educating people on how to care about it through art.

As an artist do you believe in inspiration? 

Sure, I believe in inspiration. As I said, my dad inspired me to start making glasses, nature has hugely influenced my sculptures and my paintings; that's how I am and also how I behave.

There's an ongoing discussion about the internet helping young creatives in Africa to get their work exposed on a grander scale. How do you feel the internet & social media have influenced your own exposure and reach as an artist?

A lot of people - like you, for example - have found and approached me through the internet, so I couldn’t underestimate it’s influence on me as a young Kenyan artist. In Kenya there is no gallery that wants to work with me and sell my art, and there are also no real art collectors as you know them. Of course this has also formed my identity as an artist, making me who I am today; I sell my art to people who know nothing about me.

You are a self-taught artist; did this happen more out of necessity or out of choice? Do you feel inclined to take any formal art courses at some point?

My dad wanted me to study electronic engineering but I refused; he then wanted me to go to art college but I refused again. I am a “self-learner” and I also performed badly in high-school because I was completely absorbed in art. But the reason I didn’t (and still don’t) want to go to art college is that I don’t want to follow any teacher’s rules. Now I am free to follow my instincts and be myself.

How would you describe the state of art education in Kenya?

I don’t really want to talk much about art education in Kenya, because all artists aren’t the same. There are people who can’t be artists without specified learning and also most major in graphic design, interior design etc. 

Do you have any favourite artists? What about younger Kenyan ones, anyone you feel stands out?

My favourite artists are the ones I work with. But what you say, about age, in art we don’t have young or old, we are all the same. I learned this when I joined an art organization at a very young age; we were all treated as equals.

Have you ever exhibited outside Kenya? 

No, but I have a show in Holland from the 26th of September on and I’m hoping it will be good!

For more of his work please visit: http://extraimaginary.com/cyrus-kabiru/


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The conflict may have ended in the Ivory Coast, but building a lasting peace is now the struggle. This emphasis is on the rehabilitation of children so they do not suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. It also means giving them a chance to go to school.

Save the Children's work in the Ivory Coast involves reducing the danger of malnutrition among infants. They are using a special food called Plumpy'nut, which was just featured on NBC Nightly News.

Save the Children's Plumpy program has just gotten underway in the West African nation. Sophie Bruneau of Save the Children says there are "182 severe acute malnourished children in Outpatient Therapeutic Care in treatment under Plumpy'nut." In addition, there are another 255 children receiving Supplementary Plumpy which is used to treat less severe cases of malnutrition.

Bruneau says Plumpy'nut has many benefits, including being "ready to eat, easy transport for the mothers, and easy to store." Of further importance Plumpy'nut treatment "Allows the children to stay with the family and follow the treatment at home, that is essential in terms of child care practices." Bruneau adds another key benefit of Plumpy'nut: "Children like it."

The key now is to make sure Save the Children has enough Plumpy supplies to treat cases of child malnutrition. This is essential because during the reconstruction from the conflict, it will be very easy for children to fall into malnutrition. Families are going to be struggling without access to basic services. Rebuilding from conflict does not happen overnight and for communities already in poverty, there is not much to fall back on.

Plumpy'nut helps to keep things together during these emergency and recovery phases. It's a short-term solution with long-term benefits as it can save the smallest children from being damaged for life from malnutrition. Bruneau says Plumpy'nut is very much the miracle food as "we can really see the weight gain week after week".

For school age children the key is getting them fed and back to class. School meals programs, when given enough support, accomplish this. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) "plans to feed 568,000 school children in 3,320 primary schools" beginning in November.

WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. They have enough funds to get Ivory Coast school meals programs started again. WFP has not run the program since October 2010, right before the conflict began after disputed elections.

But will there be enough support to sustain the school feeding? Will there be enough support to help Ivory Coast eventually have its own national school lunch program? As the U.S. and other governments make their foreign policy amid budget crunches, will food aid for Ivory Coast and other countries get left out?

These questions remain to be answered. To help Save the Children, visit their Ivory Coast Emergency fund page. For more about the UN World Food Programme visit their home page and their We Feedback page.

This post was first published on Blogcritics.org


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This Week: News

Airlines Short Change Local Staff

Nigerian Airlines routinely spends over N10billion ($60 million) on expatriate pilots and engineers who operate and maintain the nation’s growing fleet of modern aircrafts. Aviation experts claim there is a huge loss to the airline companies due to the expenditure being paid mainly in foreign currency. This is in comparison to domestic carriers who tend to pay their pilots and additional staff in Naira. The additional perks for foreign pilots include hotel accommodation, visa processing, and additional flight tickets. Such favourable conditions and pay for foreign airline workers is seen in some quarters as contributing to neglect of indigenous staff.

Government Condemns Libya Killings

The Nigerian government described the reported killing of Nigerian and other sub-Saharan Africans in Libya as worrying. The government has asked the National Transitional Council to prevent such incidents. A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the ministry’s spokesperson Damian Agu, reiterated the federal governments support for the Libyan people but urged the rebel leaders to check the excesses of their men. There were reports of 20 black men found dead outside the compound of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli. Their hands were tied behind their backs and some had gunshot wounds to their heads.

Jonathan Fires Counterterrorism Chief

Goodluck Jonathan has discreetly fired his co-ordinator on counterterrorism Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim following the recent spate of bombings. Such moves are being described amongst government circles as “one of the first steps in the major overhaul of the security architecture”. Ibrahim has been replaced by Maj. Gen Sarkin Yaki Bello, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 82nd division of the Nigerian army. Bello was the commander of the joint task force of Operation Restore Hope in the Niger Delta during the Yar’Adua administration.

Metal Smuggling Arrests

A total of 17 Indian nationals and their local collaborators are in the custody of the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) for their alleged involvement in the illegal export of four container-loads of local scrap metals. The market value of the confiscated items are estimated to be over N72 million. The Customs Area Controller in Lagos State Victor Dimka stressed the need to strengthen the economy by ensuring that raw materials that can be locally acquired are to remain local in order for their use to be made available to home grown factories and industries. Dimka stated that Nigeria would need such metals to produce items which the country currently imports.

Nigerian Expedition Continues Search For Seven Wonders

The Nigeria 7 expedition team has concluded plans to complete its tour of 15 listed sites in the northern part of the country, in preparation for the Seven Wonders of Nigeria event. The expedition, made up of journalists, tour operators and judges, will be visiting sites in Kano which include the ancient city walls and the Emir’s palace. After Kano the team will them move to the first UNESCO heritage site in Nigeria which is located in the town ok Sukur in Adamawa State. The search for the seven wonders of Nigeria started with an initial list of 100 sites last year.

This Week: Politics

Security agencies both local and foreign continue to put the pieces together and find further clues to the UN building bombing. Names have been bandied around but no real and decisive arrests have been made. If Jonathan wants to prove he can offer Nigeria stability and security the culprits must be brought to justice.

The unfolding events in Libya seem be proceeding without the input of other African nations. The African Union has been sidelined in favour of the European powers of Britain and France. However, the impact of the conflict is strongly felt in Nigeria. The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador. Olugbenga Ashiru, cut short his Sunday church service to receive personal calls from Nigerian nationals in Tripoli who say they have victims of brutal attacks by rebel forces. The government must proceed down the diplomatic channels to protect its citizens abroad or face backlash from its populace.

Writers of the week:

Emmanuel Onwubiko for Punch Newspaper writes “How Nepotism thrives in Abuja”. The article asks the question which is on the minds of many Nigerians. Are relations, kinsmen or close friends allowed to take up sensitive positions in the administration? The governor of Plateau State Jonah Jang recently appointed one of his sons as his special advisor on Special Duties. Such appointments are becoming common practice and the piece details the history of such appointments and its current reality.

Leonard Karshima Shilgba’s “Nigeria: Deaf rulers behind the curtain” on Nigeria Village Square is a patriotic and hard-hitting piece that details the roots causes of the nation’s underdevelopment and the rise of corruption. The article details the social ills that bedevil Nigerian society such as the judiciary, nepotism and a general moral decay. Yet the piece ends by signposting the road to future prosperity for the common man.

News outlet of the week:

Kunle Durojaiye holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Ibadan and is currently enrolled in a master's degree program at the Cranfield School of Management. His blog touches on many issues that remain relevant to the socio-political aspects of Nigerian society. The tagline of the blog is “Discuss, Analyse, Motivate and Inspire”. A consistent commentator with strong views to match, this blog provides informed and opinionated views.


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