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COLUMNISTS

Slobodan Milosevic: Cheating Justice at Death?
By Max Ese Anderson

Maria Mutola: Track & Field Queen and a Patriot
By K. Jemael Mohamed

Africa
By Barbara Gwanmesia

Towards a world free of Tuberculosis
By Jacqueline Lampe, Director AMREF Flying Doctors

Is oil worth a drop of blood? Part 1
By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama

New Ghanaian Generation wins Dutch Local Elections
By Nana Kuntu Jackson Amankwaa

Break the Silence, Part 1
By Elliott Rivera


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Restrain and Rights
By A. G. Badmus

And the stone was rolled away!
By Pastor Sunny Emmanuel


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April 2006 Edition

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Editorial

 

The Rise and Fall of Charles Taylor

 

Charles Taylor, former war-lord and ex-president of Liberia was a fulcrum of instability in the West African region of Africa. His departure brokered by an international deal heralded new hope and ended the 14-year civil war in the once prosperous nation.

 

It was necessary and magnanimous of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria in 2003 to give Taylor shelter in order to remove him from power, stop the civil war and give Liberia space to calm down.

 

Only sycophants who saw nothing wrong with the miserable and squalid state of affairs in Liberia would lament the decision to hand him over to the democratically elected government of Liberia which had formally sought his extradition and indeed his eventual release to the Special Court in Sierra Leone to face justice.

 

Taylor masterminded one of the worst mass killing, torturing and gang raping of defenceless citizens ever witnessed. He presided over a famished country that saw more than 1000 citizens slaughtered in his last two months in power with hunger and epidemics among most of the displaced 1.3 million citizens that survived the carnage. He even went across the borders to unleash unjustified torment and brutal wars in Sierra Leone and Guinea during his six years of misrule.

 

A UN-backed War Crimes Court indicted him with serious violations of the Geneva Convention, which establishes the rules of warfare and crimes against humanity.  Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also campaigned for him to face trial for the untold hardship caused by him.

 

Having butchered over 250,000 innocent citizens, it is sad that he was allowed to ride out of Liberia in style, to a comfortable exile in Nigeria in 2003.  Two extra airplanes loaded his household goods, including two-four wheel drive jeeps cars and a limousine Mercedes Benz to a mansion befitting a super king.  He lived with over 100-strong entourage which included maids, cooks, servants, bodyguards and family members.

 

The statement by Nigeria government that the government of Liberia is free to take him into custody is a good tiding.  He should not be allowed to evade the consequences of his misrule but made to face trial and account for his crimes. It would serve as a deterrent to other criminals masquerading as leaders who use state power and money to fund and wage atrocities on innocent citizens.

 

Charles Taylor did promise Liberians that he would return. Indeed his prophesy is being fulfilled, except that he missed telling them that he would do so as an arrested criminal and in hand-cuffs for that matter.

 

Maria Mutola: track & field queen and a patriot

Maria Mutola is a lady with great prowess of sports from young age. She was the only female player in the boys club in her native Mozambique. Young Mutola was forced to abandon pursing football as career after numerous protests.

 

She was advised by a prominent Mozambican poet Jose Craveirinha to try athletics at which she could excel. The 15-year old felt running the track was not the sport she could do better. Doubtfully, the talented and naïve Mutola decided to give running a trial after persistent persuasion.  She was faced with the challenge to take up athletics as a career.

 

Born in the Chamanculo district of Maputo the capital of Mozambique, Mutola debut at the 1988 African Championships brought home silver medal which put her among the top contenders.  The young sprinter had difficulties having proper training in her home country for major competitions. The International Olympic Committee Solidarity Programme was forced in 1991 to the aid of Mutola by awarding her scholarship to train and study in the USA.

 

*Maria Mutola

Since then, the Mozambican has over the years dominated the 800m event. With several honours to her name; she has broken the world indoor record for 1000m and has become the first woman ever to run the 1000m in less than two and a half minutes.

 

In 2003, Mutola received the International Association of Athletics Federations Golden League Jackpot of US$1 million for maintaining an unbeaten streak in 800-metre races. It is reported that the Mozambican is recorded as the highest-earning woman track athlete in history.

 

Maria Mutola is Mozambique’s famous flag bearer. Her gold medal victory at Sydney Olympics in 2000 was heartwarming achievement for the sprinter and her country. A street in the Maputo was named in honour of the spinster.  The 800m track and field queen has not turned her back on her native poor and war-ravaged Mozambique.  She has been involved in promoting sports and raising awareness of HIV/AIDS as an honorary United Nations Ambassador.

 

Mutola is one of those athletes that have refused to switch her Mozambican’s passport to pursue her career. She is proud to be identified with the impoverished African state of Mozambique as her motherland that was engulfed in 17 years of civil war. The queen of women's middle distance running lives and trains in the US and her heart is undoubtedly in Africa. She has set up a foundation aimed at providing scholarships, kit and coaching to promising young athletes in Mozambique.

 

The Lady widely recognised on the track by her muscular figure has been going beyond athletics.  The Maria de Lurdes Mutola Foundation has been part of joint UNICEF and Mozambique’s ministry of Health immunization campaign against measles and polio and housing development initiatives in Maputo.

 

The 33-year old athlete has financed the construction of the sports ground in Mozambique where she had trained originally at the age of 15.   It is also reported that Mutola has given the green light for proceeds from the sales of t-shirts that featured her image go to towards helping the Grupo Desportivo do Maputo out of financial difficulty.

Maria, the youngest of six children and the Maputo girl that scuffed round at football with the boys has become arguably the world best middle distance runner ever and the pride of Black Africa.

 

Mutola shows no sign of slowing down. She beat top contenders recently in Moscow to take gold of the 800m event at the World Indoor Championships which increased her title to seven. The reigning 800m women’s commonwealth champion is in Melbourne Australia for the 2006 Commonwealth games. Winning gold in Melbourne will not be a surprise; she has been around since 1988 and commands the respect with tactical wisdom that crowns her the queen of 800 metres.

New Ghanaian Generation wins Dutch Local Elections*

Photo & Story by Nana Kuntu Jackson Amankwaa

 

Two second-generation Ghanaians, Augustina Osei, 28 and Ama Asabea Carr 24 are up in the mantle of community leadership. Their affability, down-to-earth posture and a better working knowledge of the Dutch society with the language plus-point had been the popular appeal that saw them win the last March 7 Dutch municipal and district elections on the ticket of the Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid).

 

They have since been inducted into a 29-member district council of Amsterdam Southeast for the next four years thus wrestling leadership from community elders whose 12 years of representation has been nothing but marked by community factionalism. The young ladies are expected to build bridges over the community.  

 

Nonetheless, the only first-generation Ghanaian, Ernest Owusu Sekyere, 51, out of the five male candidates that stood for election in Amsterdam and The Hague, and also on the bill of the Labour Party, could win the nod of the community, thus notching an unprecedented three consecutive run as a councilor.  

 

*Augustina Osei (left) and Ama Asabea Carr (right) in African cloth seated with a cross-section of the Ghanaian community standing behind them in this photo taken after the official inauguration in the new Amsterdam Southeast District Council Hall in The Bijlmer

 

In contrast, Stephen Oduro and Kwabena Adanse-Pipim lost the fray on the wings of a local party that called itself Liveable Southeast (Leefbaar Zuidoost) whose influence hardly goes beyond the southeast district.

 

Emelia Ampomaah, also a young lady in her late twenties; James Atta Nuamah and Vincent Gambrah were the other Ghanaians who ran for office in The Hague on the ticket of the Solidair Nederland Party, Multivolks Party and the Christian Union, respectively and also lost.

 

The election results in the Amsterdam Southeast district council, saw the Labour Party sweeping 17 of the 29 seats, three more than the pre-elections projections of 14, with the liberals (VVD) 3; the Green Left, hitherto a seemingly dying party in the district won two seats while, the Christian Democrats were severely punished with reduced seats from two to only one. The Socialist Party had three and the Democrat 66 got no seat at all.

 

Liveable Southeast (Leefbaar Zuidoost) won woefully only two seats, down from five, four years ago when it ranked the second largest party while the Christian Union retained its lone seat.

 

Mokum Mobile, Solidarity Southeast, Multicultural Southeast (MUZO), Future 21 (Toekomst 21) and other groups did not all win seats.

 

Official sources said up to about 3,500 eligible Ghanaian voters may have cast their votes in the Southeast district alone being part of the over 80 per cent of migrant vote for the Labour Party which the national trend. Details on exact number and pattern of voting, however, are still yet to be confirmed.

 

In the Southeast district, one of the 14 districts of Amsterdam municipality, the overall count put Surimanese Labour Party Elvira Sweet at 5138 votes, a strong showing for Ghanaian vote, while Ernest Owusu-Sekyere at 1222. Augustina Osei had 572 votes and Ama Asabea Carr, 495, completing a Labour Party sweep.

 

Kwasi Oduro and Kwabena Adanse-Pipim, however, roped in only 63 and 52 votes respectively for Leefbaar Zuidoost translated Liveable Southeast from Dutch.

 

On the basis of the results, Ernest Owusu-Sekyere moved up to the second position from eight position in the party rankings thus pushing down the former number 2 (Els Verdonk) on the list. Augustina Osei, rose from 14 to number 5, displacing former number 5 on the list, Ama Asabea Carr, to the number 6 position. It can, however, be inferred that most Ghanaians voted for Ernest Owusu-Sekyere.

 

Elvira Sweet technically got all the votes of people who voted for only the party and not for a particularly candidate. The exact number of Ghanaians who voted that day is yet to be confirmed. But the preference vote for this particular election was 224.

 

This is the minimum number of votes a candidate must get in order to climb up the ladder in party rankings and it is the yardstick to measure how a candidate fares in the Dutch proportional representation electoral system.  

 

*Credit: Akasanoma Radio/Sikaman Foundation Netherlands

Africa House to close after 25 years!

By Taiwo Feyisipo

 

The Afrika Huis (Africa House) in Amsterdam in existence for the past 25 years rings a bell to many Africans in the Netherlands and beyond. It’s a place of refuge for many and it has seen many people pass through it for various reasons.

 

An interview with Fr. Timmermans gave an insight into the past, present and future of the centre.  According to him, the idea was pioneered by Fr. Frans Thoolen of the SMA (Sociëteit voor Afrikaanse Missiën), a part of the Dutch Catholic Mission in Africa particularly Ghana. In 1979, he embarked on a mission to various European cities and started a centre in a flat at Geinwijk 526 Bijlmer Amsterdam in 1981 providing assistance initially to Ghanaian women in need.  Three years later, when the flat could no longer contain the numbers of visitors, it was moved to Govert Flinckstraat 191 where various social and spiritual assistance were rendered.  Such vital assistance included address to receive letters, hot meals on Mondays and Thursdays, tea and bread Monday to Friday, 2-3 days accommodation in a youth hostel (the Shelter), immigration assistance and support to asylum seekers, travel assistance to those willing to return to Africa, bible studies, language lessons, computer lessons, and a good listening ear to those in need.

 

*Fr. Timmermans with Taiwo Feyisipo of TAB

 

There and then, the number of African men and women coming to the centre grew steadily and again, the space could not accommodate the crowd.  In 1994, it was moved to its present location at Van Ostadestraat 270 where the combined Church and the Huiskamer (social centre) became known as “Afrika Huis”.

 

The African visitors grew further only to start dropping steadily for the last 2 years.  At present, the majority of the visitors are homeless Europeans and people of Eastern origin. In addition, about 75% of the letters received go uncollected and have to be returned undelivered. These reasons have compelled the management to make a painful decision to close the centre by 30th June 2006. They have however concluded that they will still leave their doors open 24 hours and 7 days a week to Africans who are in need of assistance as usual. Fr. Timmermans acknowledged that some people might feel emotional about the closure but between now and 30th June 2006, they would welcome any advice or comment on the decision.

 

The African Bulletin on behalf of Africans commend SMA for the great 25 years of meritorious service to thousands of Africans over the years and salute the past and present heads of the “Huiskamer” namely Fr. Frans Thoolen, Antonie Te  Molder, Fr. Edmund Akordor, Fr. Felix Amofah, Fr. Gé Buurman, Fr. Jude Ampah, Fr. Paul Mensah and at present Fr. Gerard Timmermans, the volunteers who cook, serve the tea and bread and cleans the hall, the church congregation who contribute part of the financial upkeep and the other organisations for their assistance over the years.

 

A new “AFRICA HOUSE” by Africans for Africans should be a challenge to keep alive the vision of a place where Africans can feel at home in a strange land.     

 

For more information or enquiry call: (+31) 020 673 65 83 or (+31) 020 673 48 28.

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Legal matters

By A.G. Kleijweg

Many people have debts and many people cannot pay their debts. This is a serious problem because in the end you cannot pay for anything anymore, so who pays the rent? To create a solution for problems like these, there is a law named “Wet Schuldsanering Natuurlijke Personen”.
 
I am an old fashioned man who has been raised with the rule that you should better not borrow money. Borrowing money for an investment like a house was OK if you had saved a substantial part of the sum required and you were sure that you could pay the interest anytime with any humble job you might have. Better to always stay at the safe side!
 
Borrowing money for consumer goods like cars and holidays was strictly not done. The reason being the product you borrowed to buy is gone or became practically worthless while you have not paid your debts and the (high) interest. In plain English, the more you borrow and consume, the poorer you get because the only thing that do last, are the debts...

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Other Articles in this edition

 

 Africa News

 

 Dutch News

  • U.S. thanks Moroccan leaders for Cooperation
  • Media to debate HIV/Aids
  • 1.3m asylum seekers in 2005
  • EC gives Kenya €5m for drought relief
  • Guinea president on medical treatment
  • Tony Blair's Africa Commission Report - one year after!
  • Major Cabinet reshuffles in Libya
  • Comoros election dates announced
  • Summit of African cocoa producing nations in Nigeria
  • Ex-military commander imprisoned for abusing children
  • Integration exams abroad introduced
  • Labour & Socialists scores big in local elections
  • PvDA Worries about immigrant members
  • Macintosh to buy Scapino shoe chain
  • Dutch policy on labour migration
  • Energy for 10 million people
  • Netherlands Antilles is a historical mistake
            …says Minister

 

 Spanish News

 

 Sports News 

  • S.A. Ambassador bids farewell to Spain
  • Child internet pornography network uncovered
  • Spain-Mauritania joint immigration commission
  • Shots fired in the Supreme Court
  • Spain issues first electronic ID card
  • Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund: Walking for charity

Edited by K. Jemael Mohamed

  • Frenchman named caretaker of Gabon’s Panthers
  • Profile: Maria Mutola:  track & field queen and a patriot
  • Nigerian Athlete launches Sportswear Company
  • East Africa to get FIFA supports
  • 2010 African Nations cup 
  • A Cameroonian replaces Roy Keane at Man. Utd?
  • Children races in Africa and Nepal
  • Chelsea may sign a German player maker
  • Kalou may become Dutch citizen
  • Another Ivorian lost to Switzerland
  • Owusu-Abeyie refuses to play for Ghana
  • Maria Mutola and Kenenisa Bekele made records at IAAF
  • IAAF general secretary dies
  • The Swiss tennis star is back and strong
  • Former Guinean coach to go to Senegal
  • Rafel Nadal shattered Roger Federer’s dreams

 Other News  

  • MoneyGram’s Habitat for Humanity Home in Nigeria Dedicated
  • TAB Quiz
  • Black Pinocchio comes the Netherlands
  • Kelvin Iria @ 10


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