Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rinderpest

CIC is a list of trivia at Strategypage and includes this:
Rinderpest, an ancient animal virus that swept across sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth century, devastating cattle, and thus facilitating European imperial expansion in many areas, was accidentally introduced to that continent in 1887, when infected cattle from India were landed at Massua in Eritrea to feed Italian troops on colonial service.
Of course, the reason for this was that, by decimating the wild beasts that allowed the tsetse fly to live, it allowed European cattle to thrive and allowed people to live without the worry of sleeping sickeness.

Wooden "bikes"

LA times article on wooden bikes used in Goma, not to carry people but to carry loads.

Except for termites, muddy roads, and wasting people's energy that could better be used for something else, what's wrong with this picture?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Killing of the disabled in Ghana


also from AlJazeerah:



Thousands of children have been killed in Ghana because the communities they are born into believe they are evil spirits. When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century. The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child. The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them.
Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.
Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child's birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father's inability to find work or provide money to support his dependents, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems.
In this highly patriarchal society it enables heads of family to pass the blame for their struggles onto someone else. And by branding the child a spirit from outside the family, they can disassociate themselves and feel justified in murdering their own offspring, while telling those around them that now all will be well - the evil presence is gone.
But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity. I believe there is plenty of evidence of infanticide in the history of all human societies and its continued and widespread practice makes a mockery of the democratic credentials of the countries, including mine, where this crime still takes place.


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In Zimbabwe, in years long past, often both twins were killed by the grandmother because twins were seen as diabolic or demon possessed. There was a cultural reason for this: An illness where someone got thinner and thinner and died was believed to be demon inspired, and even when we ran the hospital, our nutrition village (to feed up malnourished kids) was full of twins that couldn't get enough nutrition from mother's milk.

However, before you point fingers at primitive Africans, remember that children with Down's sydrome are often killed as late term abortions (when they are already viable) in the USA...the ever so humane Dutch kill kids with meningomyelocoel that could live with surgery, and of course the prominent Bioethicist at Princeton University proposes infanticide to be legalized for any reasons.

Zimbabwe leaders agree to a constitution

From Aljazeerah:

The new basic law would bolster the power of parliament, set a 10-year presidential term limit, and strip away presidential immunity.
"The finalisation of the draft is now being made," said Mugabe. He did not say when a referendum will be held.
The process of drafting the new constitution, which started more than two years ago, was plagued by chronic delays and violence at public meetings.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party has already endorsed the text.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns in Africa


But there is actually a gun problem in the world, which is when criminal gangs get hold of guns.

StrategyPage has an article about a lot of AK47's in Africa used by gangs etc to kill people.



The cheap AK-47s resulted in traditional crimes, like stealing cattle or land, turning into bloody battles. The violence has caused millions to flee their homes and wrecked local government in many areas. Sending in additional police and soldiers, when available, quiets things down somewhat. But the local guys with the guns know where to hide and the government reinforcements usually don't. So, eventually, the police will leave and the AK-47s will still be there....

and anarchy/displacement can kill a lot more people than actual bullets:
The disruptive effect of all these guns has halted, or reversed, decades of progress in treating endemic diseases. Death rates from disease and malnutrition are going up. All because of several million Cold War surplus AK-47s getting dumped in Africa in the 1990s.


It gets worse. Read the whole thing.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tutsi and Hutu and history

StrategyPage article on the history of tribalism in the central area of Afria.

The problem here is that the Tutsi are, by most measures, the good guys. There are only about 2.5 million Tutsi (in Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Uganda) and they represent a distinct culture in the region. The Tutsi are more disciplined, better educated, wealthier and less corrupt. The Tutsi also dominate local governments, if only because they are better administrators and, when armed and organized, more effective fighters. Most other ethnic groups in the area are jealous, hostile or just afraid of the Tutsi.
The Tutsi problem goes back over 600 years. In the 1500's the Tutsi (plural- Watutsi) nomads moved south from their ancient home in the semi-desert Sahel. With a different complexion (an important point for the Tutsi) and a foot taller than the local Hutu, it did not take long for the Tutsi to take over and install their own brand of Apartheid. The area eventually evolved into two Tutsi ruled empires, each roughly covering the territory of modern Burundi and Rwanda. In 1899 the Germans moved in and made both areas colonies. The British replaced the Germans in 1916 and passed the area over to the Belgians in the 1920's. It was assumed that, when the areas became independent nations, the Hutu (over 80 percent of the population) would run the place. The more aggressive and warlike Tutsi had other ideas, and the Hutu knew it.
 
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