Wednesday, January 24, 2018

faming and family problems

cross posted from my main blog.

A report on trying to stop slash and burn traditional methods of farming in Central America.

part is the need for land by the hungry, but I know in Africa, the problem was that usually the farm fields got lower yields with time, so they were left fallow for the cattle and goats, while the village moved to better land, burned it off, and then planted new fields.

With the increase in population, of course, the land got over used and ended up a desert. This was especially true when corn was grown.

The answer? Fertilizer.

this guy is pushing fonio: a Sahel crop....but no answer on what is the yield? I don't know much about the Sahel, but there are a lot of different ways to try to get things growing there... the problem is that many of the tribes are goat and cattle raising types, and they have a long history of destroying the crops of the local farmers so they can graze their cattle. StrategyPage report on this in Nigeria, about the casualties of this traditional range war, complicated by the fact that the herders are Muslim and the farmers are traditional or Christian...

Our people in Zimbabwe grew sorghum and other crops that grew better with drought, as a back up if there wasn't enough rain for corn. But the yield was lower... and there are other traditional African crops of course.

I should note that in smaller gardens the women grew peanuts and ground nuts as natural fertilizer, and also grew squash, between the corn plants. And could use the crops for their own use. But because plowing required an ox, the men usually plowed the larger fields which supplied most of the family's food.

Of course, nowadays, men in Africa have long been encouraged to migrate to cities or work in mines, disrupting the family, since they live in dormitories, and the wives are left behind to care for the family's land, which is owned by the tribe, not by the family: if no one is left home to tend the land, it is taken from them to give to someone else. Also since there is no social security, the men need the family to keep the land so they can retire back to their villages.

Am I the only one who notices how modern society destroys family life by separating families?

On the other hand, as the saying goes: How do you keep them down on the farm after they see Paree? Who wants to slave hoeing in the fields 12 hours a day when you can work 8 hours in a factory and go home and watch TV or drink and sing kareoke with your friends at the local bar?

Here in the Philippines, ten percent of our people work overseas, and often the kids are raised by extended family.

But even in China, the kids are left behind in rural areas when the parents work in the city, because government rules limit who can live in the cities...Wikip

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Central Africa: war and progress

StrategyPage on the Congo: bloody borderlands.

Aid organizations estimate that 13 million people in Congo require some type of humanitarian assistance, primarily food and medical aid. A third of the 13 million are IDPs (internally displaced people)..

lots of depressing information about the wars and conflicts etc. in that area of the world.

and then goes on to point out corruption in Angola:

Meanwhile, in Angola, the new government's crackdown on corruption continues -- and at times it looks like an attack on the old regime. President Joao Lourenco has replaced Isabel Dos Santos as head of the national oil company, Sonangol. She is the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. She is very rich with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion. Dos Santos was president of 38 years.
Again, people are urged to give money to charities to help people, but who is condemning the corruption that steals the wealth from the people?

However, not all the news is bad: Volkswagon plans a factory to make cars in Rwanda.

Volkswagen confirmed that in the second quarter of 2018 it will begin manufacturing cars in Rwanda. The first Rwanda-made vehicles may be available by late May. The manufacturing deal has been in the works since December 2016. According to senior management, Volkswagen chose Rwanda as a manufacturing site because the country has political stability, does not tolerate corruption, has a growth rate of almost seven percent a year and "a young and tech savvy population."

Yes, Rwanda of the major genocides, but which since then has tried to make peace among factions by promoting... forgiveness.

AlJ article on "peace clubs".

Friday, January 19, 2018

President Emmerson Mnangagwa says his country is open for business and that all foreign investment is safe, with investors able to repatriate profits.
Mnangagwa was speaking at a meeting with business leaders on Thursday ahead of his maiden trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week. He is under pressure from civic society, investors and opposition parties to implement political and economic reforms.
“I am aware that most of our business require injection of new capital from foreign investors and I want to reiterate that all investments will be safe and secure in Zimbabwe. Foreign investors will be able to repatriate profits from their all investments in our country and all Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection agreements (BIPPA) will be honoured,” he said.
“Come and invest in our country.We are open for business.(For) those who want to do business, Zimbabwe is one destination you can do business comfortably. That is the message that we are taking to Davos.”

Roy Bennett RIP

Zimbabwe civil rights activist Roy Bennett has died in a helicopter crash (in Canada).
In 2006 he became the treasurer general for the mainstream faction of the MDC‚ led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He was also a spokesman in South Africa and made regular interviews on behalf of the MDC.
He returned to Zimbabwe in 2009‚ and Tsvangirai wanted him as deputy agriculture minister – but former President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him in.
He was later rearrested for treason‚ but then released. Afterwards‚ he left Zimbabwe for South Africa and never returned.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cobalt mining in the DRC: the dirty little secret behind electric cars

All the American yuppies pride themselves that they will soon be forced to drive electric cars, which are "non polluting".

Well, ignore those local electric plants, of course.

But as AlJ points out: To make the batteries, you need cobalt, and Cobalt mining is destroying the local environment in the DRC.

 Cobalt is one of the key ingredients added in electric batteries, and more than half of it is currently mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Amnesty says children as young as seven work in dangerous conditions in Congo cobalt mines.
"At the present time, you'd have to say that there isn't a lot of regulation around the mining of cobalt," says Gavin Wendt, the founding director and senior resource analyst at Australia-based Minelife. "A lot of the cobalt that's mined is generated from illegally operated mines that employ almost slave labour: underaged workers, illiterate workers, workers that don't get paid very much ... They're controlled by warlords, and the industry is appallingly run."

Christmas in Africa

I have a Madonna and child that was carved at the Serima Mission school. If you look at Mary, you say: She is a Karanga: she has the facial features of the Karanga clan of the Mashona.

Alas, I don't have a photo of the statue, which I gave to my brother for safe keeping.

There is an article about the Serima school here: some of the students went on to be professional artists.

and here is a picture from the Zimbabwe National Gallery by an unknown artist: titled: Come let us adore him. Note the three kings at the left side.

of course, the locals disliked the primitive art, and the educated , at least, preferred the more sophisticated stuff of the west: hopefully, as in music, they will combine both traditions as their culture evolves into today's world.

Even 40 years ago, many of our nurses came from urban middle class families who owned stores etc.  One of our sisters wrote her PhD thesis on how the family structure and personal interactions were changing with education: I found a copy at a university in the US after I returned, and found it interesting, because she described what I actually saw in the changing society.

This was even more true when I went back to urban Liberia, where few had ties with their villages.

In other words, 90 percent of what Americans (or South Americans or Asians) think about Africa is nonsense, although the CNN reports in their "on Africa" segments are fairly good.

I mean, even my friend in Rural Zimbabwe has had a cellphone for years, and when she was teaching had access to their high school's computer.



too often the west sees Africa via their own eyes, but now there is an active Nollywood to show African stories. Yes, in English because it is the "lingua franca" for Nigeria.

lots of "Nollywood" films on youtube, by the way.

Hopefully, Zimbabwe will have their diaspora return and get their film industry going again.

cross posted to my regular blog.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Good news of the year

Africans are getting fat.

In Zambia, 12.4% of women and 3.6% of men are obese — still below the average for the continent and nowhere close to the U.S. rates of roughly 36% for each gender. But obesity rates here have grown rapidly enough over the last several years to have become a deep concern for national health officials. ​​​“It’s a very big issue,” said Chitalu Chilufya, the minister of health. “It is a challenge that needs to be nipped in the bud now or else it will grow out of hand.” With expanding waistlines has come a rise in health issues. Diabetes, barely heard of here not long ago, now affects around 4.1% of Zambians, according to the International Diabetes Federation. “We’re losing a lot of people due to strokes and heart attacks because of obesity,” the health minister said.

and that doesn't even include the problem of high blood pressure from "western" foods that have a lot of salt in them.

why do I say this is "good news"? because the alternative is starvation, poverty, and dying of TB or other infections.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Update on Central Africa

Mugabe no longer runs Zimbabwe, and I have been away from that country for enough years I don't have inside information anymore.

But I will continue to update various things.

Today's update is about the Congo's civil update from StrategyPage

December 18, 2017: As 2017 ends Congo faces the same problem it faced in 2016: President Joseph Kabila illegally remaining in office. The December Accord of December 31, 2016 (also called the Saint Sylvester agreement) was supposed to create a peaceful political path for Kabila's exit. Congo's Catholic bishops mediated the negotiations that led to the December Accord. New elections were to be held in 2017 -- that was stipulated. Kabila would leave office after the elections and civil war would be avoided. Despite the February 2017 death of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the Congolese opposition coalition Rassemblement continued to demand elections in December 2017 and stage occasional national strikes. UN officials in Congo and the Catholic Church supported the coalition's demand for new elections. However, no national elections are occurring in December 2017.


This does have a "Mugabe" link however, since Mugabe sent his troops there as "peacekeepers" many years ago (since then they have left).


How Mugabe double-crossed Joseph Kabila & the DRC Way before Marange, Mugabe and his military men had already started rampant racketeering, illegal mafia-style smuggling, double-crossing, double dealing, as well as illegal arms peddling with Congolese rebels. In fact, Mugabe double-crossed Kabila by selling arms to the rebels in exchange for diamonds used to enrich, not Zimbabwe, but Mugabe and his security men."

read both articles if you have an interest in civil war, civil rights, refugees, or "blood diamonds".

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