ChatAfrik Network

ChatAfrik Network

Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun are billed to unveil a new book, Nigeria is Negotiable, by journalist and author, Chido Onumah. The public presentation of the book takes place in Abuja on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Nigeria is Negotiable, a collection of informed journalistic essays and commentaries, reminds readers of the political injustices and cruelties of an era. It calls for discussions on the way forward,” says Dr. Anthony Akinola.

According to Dr. ‘Kayode Fayemi, Governor, Ekiti State, “In Nigeria is Negotiable, Chido Onumah re-maps the contours of the remarkable events and processes that have brought our country, Nigeria, to this crucial juncture in its history, and particularly the crises spawned by the June12, 1993 elections and its aftermath, which have – to great extents – careered the country to this vortex of possibilities in its transition towards a more wholesome cultural and political expression. With the keen eye of a journalist and the analytical prowess of a social anthropologist, Onumah shapes his subject through the informed insights of an observer-participant-stakeholder”.    

The 494-page book published by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) is the author’s second book. The first, Time to Reclaim Nigeria, was released in Decemberin 2011.

Chido Onumah’s collection strikes at the very heart of the endemic crises bedeviling Nigeria. The refusal to design and accept the terms under which multi-cultural and multi-ethnic peoples in a country such as ours should co-habit, has held us down in a quagmire resulting in monumental and perennial chaos and political instability that inhibits development and good governance. The time to embrace these terms and conditions has come, so that we can bail ourselves and our country out of an unwarranted and unpalatable situation,” notes Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of the State of Osun.

Other governors expected at the event include Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

Dignitaries, including Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, former Senate Presdient, Senator Ken Nnamani, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Senator Babafemi Ojudu are billed to grace the occasion.

The event, which is expected as an opportunity to further the debate on the quest to restructure Nigeria, will also have representatives of Nigeria Labour Congress, civil society, the academia, students and religious organizations in attendance.


Lewis Asubiojo

Director, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy

August 1, 2013.



By Leonard Madu

On September 5-7, 2013, all roads will lead to Rockville, Maryland as the International Association of African Non Governmental Organizations holds its annual conference. Thousands of delegates from the United States, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean will attend conference to be held at the Hilton Hotel. The theme of the conference is “Empowering NGOS Through Awareness in the Age of Globalization.” The International Association of African NGOS is an organization whose mission is to create global awareness for member Ngos through networking and to assist member NGOS in enhancing their programs and activities. They also seek to partner NGOS and businesses in the United States with those in developing countries.

The conference seeks to bring together individuals from different races, gender and ethnicity to discuss issues ranging from capacity building for NGOS, empowering NGOS with technology and other developmental issues in developing countries.  It will provide a forum where women and men from all over the world will meet and interact with government, diplomatic and business leaders from various countries, as well as from our local governments and citizenry from Maryland, DC and Virginia areas. It will also be a place where U.S policy makers and their foreign counterparts, as well as representatives of international agencies, can discuss their current initiatives as they relate to private sector initiatives. In short, it is a place for effective networking, building coalitions, alliances and partnerships, which can lead to mutually beneficial profitable business and personal relationships.

An investment forum which will bring together major investors, political leaders and business persons will be one of the highlights of the conference.   “This is a conference designed to further empower NGOS and to strengthen educational, and commercial ties between the United States and developing countries”, says Joyce Halliday, Executive Director of the International Association of African Non Governmental Organizations.  “So far the response has been extremely positive.”. Experiences of U.S. NGOS and businesses working in developing countries will also be discussed. This is a must attend conference for those seeking to do build coalitions and alliances that will enhance their developmental objectives and priorities.  Exhibition booths will also be available for purchase.

Several local and international governmental and non governmental agencies will be represented at the conference, including universities, diplomatic missions, pharmaceutical companies, churches, healthcare institutions, investment firms, etc. Some of the distinguished speakers and participants will include,  Mayor Vincent Gray of Washington, DC, who will welcome the delegates to the conference, Mr. Franklin Moore, Deputy Administrator of USAID, Washington, DC, Dr. Sarah Jibril, Special Adviser to the president of Nigeria on ethics and values, Abuja, Nigeria,  Ms. Michelle Kato, Deputy Director, Office of Minority Health, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, Ms. Seema Aziz, President  of CARE PAKISTAN, Islamabad, Pakistan,  Dr. Hernan Dimitriv Forzani, President, Center for Promotion and Development of NGOS, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mr. Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVISCUS, Pretoria, South Africa, Dr. Elsie Okobi, Professor of Library and Information Science, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Ijeoma Otigbua, Professor and Chair, Dept of Biology, Physical Education and Health Sciences, Montgomery College, Germantown, Maryland and special Adviser to President Obama's task force on HIV/Aids, Dr. Agorom Dike, Chairman, African Caribbean Christian Leadership Coalition, Washington, DC, Ms. Denise Jackson, President and CEO, LDJ Solutions, Washington, DC, Dr. Leonard Madu, President of the African Caribbean Institute and African Chamber of Commerce of Nashville, TN, Mr. William Burns, Director of Communications, Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Annapolis, Maryland, Ms. Joyce Halliday, Executive Director, International Association of African NGOS, Silver Spring, Maryland.  President Joyce Banda of Malawi and several First Ladies and Governors are also expected to attend.


A multicultural awards banquet and extravaganza will bring the conference to a close.


*For further information on registration and speakers, contact Joyce Halliday at 240-338-6445 and by email at info@ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saturday, 25 August 2012 10:49

Léopold Sédar Senghor

Léopold Sédar Senghor (born 1906) was an African poet, philosopher, and president of Senegal. He was one of the originators of "Negritude," a "black is beautiful" doctrine begun in Paris during the 1930s.

The map of Africa as it exists today owes something to the efforts of Léopold Senghor who took a leading role in the negotiations that led to independence of France's sub-Saharan colonies. He established relations with the former mother country that endure to this day. While asserting the uniqueness and greatness of black culture, the equal in every respect to that of the Greeks and the French, he held out the promise of an eventual synthesis of diverse peoples' contributions to a coming great "civilization of the universal."

Senghor was born on October 9, 1906, at Joal, the son of a wealthy Catholic trader who descended from a Serer royal family. Raised as a Catholic among an overwhelmingly Moslem population, Senghor attended the school of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost at N'Gazobil in 1914 and went on to pursue his studies in Dakar until 1928, when he left for France. In Paris he was the first African to be awarded an agregationcertificate, in 1935, qualifying him to teach at a lycee, which he did from 1936 to the outbreak of the war, first in Tours and then in Paris. Captured while fighting against the Germans in 1940, he organized a resistance among his fellow prisoners.

Political Career

After the war, Africa's representation in the French National Assembly was greatly increased, and opportunities for indigenous political activity were expanded. In 1945 Senghor joined with Lamine Gueye in cofounding a new political party affiliated with the French Socialist party, the Bloc Africain, which appealed to newly enfranchised people in the rural areas. In the same year, and again in 1946, the people of Senegal elected Senghor as deputy to the French National Assembly. In 1946 he was also selected the official grammarian for the new constitution of the Fourth Republic.

Senghor's alliance with Lamine Gueye soon grew thin, as Senghor turned to cultivate his rural following and as he rejected Gueye's assimilation politics. In 1948 Senghor formed his own political party and rejected affiliation with all metropolitan organizations. In 1951 his organization won both seats to the National Assembly. Senghor's proposal in 1953 that the French government divide French West Africa into two federations, one with its capital at Dakar in Senegal and the other at Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, was defeated. This defeat, as Senghor predicted, meant the "Balkanization" of West Africa, the creation of many small, not really economically viable, political units.

Senghor served as a minister in the Edgar Faure government in 1955; the following year Senghor's group, for the final time, won the elections to the National Assembly and then won 47 out of 60 seats in the newly established territorial council of Senegal. A division occurred among African leaders over the value of these councils, for some saw them as a positive step toward self-government, but others (Senghor foremost among them) argued that what counted was the unity of the region as a whole and that "territorialization" would only make this task more difficult.

Unlike the modernizing Africans in the British colonies, Senghor also argued that "mere political independence" could be a sham and therefore was not necessarily the highest goal African peoples should seek. Economic and technological realities in his day meant that even the "super powers" could not go it alone; what chance then for Senegal by itself? Not surprisingly, in 1958, when the new DeGaulle government offered the territories of West Africa the chance to "opt for independence" in a referendum--on the understanding that all financial and technical aid would be immediately withdrawn--Senghor, in spite of much domestic opposition, campaigned against this type of "self-government." Senegal joined the Sudanese Republic in 1959 to form the short-lived Mali Federation. Finally, on Aug. 20, 1960, Senegal became independent but remained part of a reconstituted "French community."

Thereafter Senghor survived several attempted coups d'etat, the most serious occurring in 1962, at least one assassination effort (1967), and widespread riots and demonstrations against rising prices and government financial policies (1968 and 1969). Nevertheless, throughout all these developments, he maintained his position as president of the republic and head of the governing political party while absorbing the major organized opposition groups and appeasing the central elements of his own coalition.

Negritude and Socialism

The evolution of Senghor's doctrine occurred in three distinct periods--the era preceding World War II, the period of achieving independence, and the epoch following independence. Senghor argued that the work of the black has distinction not in substance or subject matter but, rather, in a special approach, method, and style. In the pre-World War II period, Senghor particularly argued that one must look for the black person's uniqueness in the person himself. "Negritude" arises first, then, from the singular racial characteristics of the black. Later, after the war, Senghor became caught up in the problem of reorganizing societies--in Europe after fascism, in Africa after colonialism.

Revolted by Nazism, he placed increasing emphasis in his theory of Negritude on the historical context of the black evolution as an explanation for the rise of unique civilizations. Socialism he viewed as a way toward a renewed humanism through the ending of exploitation. Revolutionary change in France and the West as well as in the developing areas would allow a new type of community to be created. After independence in 1960, Senghor turned increasingly to the day-to-day problems of building a viable economy.

Significantly, Senghor used the term Senegalese socialism for the first time early in 1962. His ideas and ideology became increasingly pragmatic and technocratic as he attempted to maximize the effectiveness of modern agricultural methods, capital, industry, and social engineering.

Senghor resigned in 1981 after 20 years of being president. He devoted much of time afterwards to developing and publishing his philosophical contributions to the realization of a single, planetary civilization.

His Writings

The year 1945 marked not only Senghor's entry into political life but also the publication of his first collection of poems, Chants d'ombre. In 1948 he published another volume of poetry, Hosties noires, and edited an anthology of new Negro and Malagasy poetry. Later poetic offerings were Chants pour Naëtt (1949), Éthiopiques (1956), and Nocturnes(1961).

Senghor's major prose works were Nation et voie africaine du socialisme (1961), Pierre Teilhard de Chardin et la politique africaine (1962), Liberté I: Négritude et humanisme (1964), Les Fondements de I'Africanité ou Négritude et Arabité (1967), and Politique, nation et developpement moderne (1968).

Saturday, 25 August 2012 10:43

Daniel arap Moi

Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was born on 2nd September, 1924 in a small village of Kurieng’wo in Sacho Location of Baringo District. He was named after his father Kimoi arap Chebii a sot clan herdsman whose ancestors had migrated from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. They settled in the Tugen Hills to avoid intermittent skirmishes with the Maasai in the 19th Century.

Moi was the 5th child of Kabon, Chebii’s senior wife. Moi was named Toroitich which means ‘welcome home the cattle’ espousing how central cattle were in their existence.At the age of four, Moi’s father died and his elder brother Tuitoek played a guardian role. It was Tuitoek who influenced him to go to school at an early age as a way of running away from poverty and injustices that characterised colonial rule.

In 1934, Moi started school at the African Inland Mission school, Kabartonjo where he had to walk 28 miles away from home. On october 20th 1936 he was baptised Daniel. In 1938, he was transferred to African Inland Mission, Kapsabet and later to Government African School, Kapsabet where he was a school captain and a captain of the football team. He took menial jobs in and out of school to meet his basic needs.

In 1945 he was selected to join Alliance High School but to his disappointment he was not allowed by the colonial administration. Instead he was sent to a teachers training college. His character was greatly moulded by Christianity which he had embraced at a tender age. He demonstrated inexhaustible patience and tolerance which later helped shape his political career.

On completion of his course, he was posted as a Head teacher at Kabarnet where he studied privately and passed London Matriculation Examinations. He was promoted in 1949 to the rank of P2 after attending a brief course at Kagumo College and transferred to Tambach Government African School as a Teacher Trainer.

President Moi married Helena (Lena) Bommet in 1950 and they were blessed with 8 children; 3 daughters and five sons, (Jennifer, Doris and adopted daughter June; Jonathan, Raymond, John Mark, Philip and Gideon).

In 1950 he attended a course at the Jeans School (Kenya Institute of Administration) and was posted to Govt African School, Kabarnet where he taught Teachers upto 1955 when he joined politics. His entry into politics followed a meeting with a group of freedom fighters under the command of Brig. Daniel Njuguna who visited him in June 1955. He was sympathetic to their cause and after feeding and protecting them for two weeks he gave them food and money to further their cause.

In October 1955 the electoral college selected Moi from a list of eight nominated candidates to fill a vacancy left by Joseph ole Tameno who resigned from the unofficial benches of the legislative council.

Moi emmersed himself in politics with resistance. As he sat as a member of the Legislative Council with only other four African members on October 18th, 1955 Moi did not know what was in store for him. He however swiftly adapted to the new challenges and in the following year he moved a motion in the Legislative Council (Legco) demanding that African teachers be allowed to form their own association. Thus Kenya National Union of Teachers was formed and registered in 1957.

Brought up in strong Kalenjin culture, Moi is a firm believer in justice, honesty and fairness to all. He worked alongside other leaders like Eliud Mathu, Ronald Ngala and Masinde Muliro in agitating for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and greater African representation in the Legco.

In 1959, he led a group of leaders to visit Jomo Kenyatta in detention in Lodwar. Subsequently, Moi was among the Kenyan delegation under the auspices of KADU who went to the London Constitutional talks of June 1960.

Just before independence (1961), Moi was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry for Education and later served in the ministries of Education and Local Government in the coalition Government. He served as Minister for Local Government at age 37. As all-conference Chairman of KADU, Moi saw the intricacy of politics and opted for a united and nationalistic approach leading to the dissolution of KADU in November, 1964.

In January 1967, Jomo Kenyatta appointed Toroitich arap Moi, now aged 43, as his Vice-President following the resignation of Mr.Joseph Murumbi.

Moi became President following the death of Mzee Kenyatta on 22 August 1978.

Since independence in 1963, Moi has won all elections as a Member of Parliament for Baringo Central and as President in both single-party and the multi-party era.

His leadership has seen many ups and downs. The major test was in August 1982 when a detachment of Airforce soldiers attempted to overthrow his government but they were crushed.

Moi served as Chairman of the Organization Of African Unity(OAU) for two consecutive terms – 1981 and 1982.

He has also been involved in mediation between various conflicting sides in Uganda, Congo, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Mozambique, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi etc. He served as Chairman of Preferential Trade Area (1989-1990), COMESA (1999-2000), E.A. Co-operation (1996- 2002) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development IGAD (1993 – 1998).

He has travelled widely in search for peace in Africa and the world. Many a times he has been called upon as a president to provide peace keeping forces in troubled parts of the world like Chad, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Iran/Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Morocco, Angola, Serbia/ Croatia, D.R. Congo, Sierra Leone and East Timor.

At various fora, Moi has stressed that unless Africans cement their unity and solidarity, solutions to the many internal and external hazards afflicting Africa will remain elusive. He has argued that the hard won independence stands in jeopardy unless Africans embrace co-operation as a means of faster and more diversified economic development. Moi has supported the formation of regional economic bodies to increase trade and as a means for the developing countries to have a united voice in the global economy.

On 30th December 2002, Moi handed over the reigns of power to Mwai Kibaki in a peaceful transition that followed the National Rainbow Coalition’s (Narc) victory over Kanu in the December 2002 General Elections.

Currently, Moi is setting up a foundation through which he hopes to participate in solving conflicts in the horn of African and the Great Lakes Region as well as help rehabilitate street children and those orphaned by HIV/aids.

Saturday, 25 August 2012 10:41

Jomo Kenyatta

Jomo Kenyatta was born Kamau Wa Ngengi at Ng'enda village, Gatundu Division, Kiambu in 1889. He was the son of Muigai and Wambui.In 1896 his father died and Wambui was inherited by Muigai's younger brother Ngengi.That is the union through which James Muigai, Kamau's half-brother was born. Kamau's mother later returned to her parents where she died. Kamau moved from Ng'enda for Muthiga to live with his grandfather Kingu wa Magana who was a fortune teller and medicine man. He took interest in Agikuyu culture and customs and used to assist his grandfather in the practice of medicine.

In 1909,Kamau joined Church of Scotland Mission, Thogoto, where he obtained elementary education and carpentry training. In 1912 he finished elementary school and became an apprentice carpenter. In 1913 he was circumcised at Nyogara stream near Thogoto Mission to become member of Kihiu Mwigi/Mebengi age group.

In 1914,he was baptized a Christian and given the name John Peter which he changed to Johnstone. He later changed his name to Jomo and during his later years was known as Jomo Kenyatta. During World War 1,when the British government was forcefully conscripting Africans into the army, Kenyatta took refuge in Narok where he worked as a clerk to an Asian trader. After the war, he served as a storekeeper to a European firm and this time, he began wearing his beaded belt Kinyatta.

He married Grace Wahu in 1920, with whom they had two children, Peter Muigai and Margaret Wambui. He worked in the Nairobi City Council water department between 1921-26 on a salary of about Kenya shillings 250.00 per month. Though he owned a shamba (farm) and a house at Dagoretti, he preferred to live closer to town at Kilimani in a hut and cycled home during weekends. He took interest in the political activities of the Kikuyu Central Association leaders James Beauttah and Joseph Kang'ethe. By 1926, he was the secretary of KCA. He was also chosen to represent the Kikuyu land problems before the Hilton Young Commission in Nairobi. This marked the beginning of his career in politics.

In 1928, he published a Gikuyu weekly newspaper, Muigwithania that dealt with the Kikuyu culture and new farming methods. The Kikuyu Central Association sent him to England in 1929 to influence British opinion on tribal land. After touring some parts of Europe, including Russia in 1930, he returned to Kenya to fight cases of female circumcision together with the Scottish Mission. He supported the idea of independent schools.

In 1931, he again went to England to present a written petition to parliament. It is during this time that he met India's Mahatma Gandhi in November 1932. After giving evidence before the Morris Carter Commission, he proceeded to Moscow to study Economics at the invitation of George Padmore, a radical West Indian. He was forced to return to Britain by 1933 when Padmore fell out with the Russians and he continued with political campaigns in the UK.
During the gold rush, land in Kakamega reserve was being distributed to settlers, something which angered Kenyatta causing him to speak about Britain's injustice. It is for this reason that the British dubbed him a communist. He taught Gikuyu at the University College, London and also wrote a book on the Kikuyu language in 1937. Under Professor Malinowski, he studied Anthropology at the famous London School of Economics (LSE). In 1938, he published a book entitled "Facing Mount Kenya".

During the World War II, Kenyatta served on a farm in the United Kingdom .He owned his own farm in the UK. He married Edna Clarke, mother of his son, Peter Magana in 1942. Along with other African leaders, including Nkrumah of Ghana, he took part in the 5 th Pan-African Congress in 1945 at Manchester.

When he returned to Kenya in 1946, he married Wanjiku, Senior Chief Koinange's daughter, who was the mother of his child, Jane Wambui. During his travels in the countryside at Kiambu, Murang'a and Nyeri, he always spoke to the local people on political matters. His last wife was Mama Ngina, the mother of Christine Uhuru, Anna Nyokabi and Muhoho. In 1947, he took over the leadership of KAU from James Gichuru.

On October 20, 1952, Sir Evelyn, Baring, newly appointed Governor of Kenya, declared a state of emergency in the country. Jomo Kenyatta and other prominent leaders were arrested. He was tried at Kapenguria on April 8, 1953 for managing Mau Mau. He was sentenced to 7 years in imprison with hard labor and to indefinite restriction thereafter. On April 14, 1959, Jomo Kenyatta completed his sentence at Lokitaung but remained in restriction at Lodwar. Later, he was moved to Maralal, where he remained until August 1961. On August 14, 1961, he was allowed to return to his Gatundu home. On August 21, 1961, nine years after his arrest, he was freed from all restrictions.

On October 28, 1961, Kenyatta became the President of the Kenya African National Union and a month later he headed a KANU delegation to London for talks to prepare the way for the Lancaster House Conference.

On June 1, 1963, Mzee Kenyatta became the first Prime Minister of self-governing Kenya. At midnight on December 12, 1963, at Uhuru Stadium, amid world leaders and multitudes of people, a new nation was born and a year later, on December 12, 1964, Kenya became a republic with Kenyatta as the President.

Mzee Kenyatta is acclaimed from all quarters of the world as a true son of Africa, a visionary leader. During his tenure, Kenya enjoyed political stability, and economic progress. In 1974, he declared free primary education up to primary grade 4.He is also remembered for urging Kenyans to preserve their culture and heritage.

He died on 22nd August 1978 at 3.30 A.M. in Mombasa at the age of 89 years, while on a working holiday.
Today, the late Kenyatta is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest men of the 20th century who played a key role in the independence of Kenya and other African nations. His name is always mentioned alongside the likes of Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere.

Saturday, 25 August 2012 10:33

Félix Houphouët-Boigny

Felix Houphouët-Boigny (1905-1993), president of the Ivory Coast, was one of the first leaders of a successful nationalist movement in the French West African Federation. His policy was based on cooperation with France and moderation in domestic affairs.

Felix Houphouët was born in October 1905 in the village of Yamoussokro to an important Baoule family on the Ivory Coast. In 1946 he added Boigny to his family name. Houphouët attended schools at Bingerville and in 1918 entered medical school at Dakar. He qualified as a medical assistant in 1925 and practiced medicine in the Ivory Coast for more than 15 years, also becoming a successful planter.

In 1940 Houphouët was selected chief of his district. His first political activity was in reaction to the Vichy regime's policies which discriminated against African planters. In 1944, he helped organize the Syndicat Agricole Africain. It was the only large organization to protest against favoritism for Europeans at the expense of African producers. By 1945, the organization had branches throughout the country and served as the base for the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), the first effective party in the Ivory Coast, whose leadership was greatly influenced by Marxism.

Interterritorial Party

Houphouët was elected in 1945 to the French Constituent Assembly. Disappointed over the restrictions on colonies contained in the second constitution of the Fourth Republic, he met with other African deputies at Bamako in October 1946 to form a new inter-territorial party, the Rassemblement Démocratique African (RDA), and he was elected president. In November 1946 Houphouët was elected to the French National Assembly. The RDA and its Ivory Coast base, the PDCI, were supported by the Metropolitan Communist party. In the latter 1940s the RDA organized strikes and boycotts of European imports.

Government reaction, particularly in the Ivory Coast, was severe. Hundreds were arrested, and in January 1950 one police action resulted in the death of 13 Africans. Control of a much-weakened RDA thus fell to Houphouët, who had parliamentary immunity from arrest. Houphouët decided that continued cooperation with the French Communists was a dead end, and he broke irrevocably with them in late 1950. The elections to the National Assembly in 1951 were the low point for the RDA, when it won only three seats.

The five years before the National Assembly elections of January 1956 was a period of rebuilding for the RDA, which had initiated its new policy of close cooperation with France. The elections vindicated Houphouët's decision, since the RDA won nine seats. Houphouët became mayor of Abidjan and later in the year was appointed a minister in the French government. In this influential position he was largely responsible for drafting the loi cadreof 1956, which devolved more authority to the territorial assemblies. The RDA dominated the 1957 elections for these assemblies in all but a few segments of the federation, and the PDCI had almost no opposition in the Ivory Coast.

Failure of Federation

The issue of federation or autonomous development divided the RDA. Some of its leaders agreed with Senegal's Léopold Senghor that the future of West Africa lay in a continued large federation. Houphouët, whose rich Ivory Coast provided a large portion of the federation's budget, wanted political evolvement to take place on the territorial level. The De Gaulle referendum of 1958 concerning association with the revised community was the turning point for French Africa and the RDA.

Guinea, the only territory to vote no, was given immediate independence. In early 1959, attempts to create a strong Mali Federation threatened Houphouët's plans. Bringing economic pressure to bear upon Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) and Dahomey (Benin), he caused their defection from Mali and later associated them and the Ivory Coast with the weak Conseil de l'Entente. These events lessened the RDA's influence in the federation, and Houphouët decided to concentrate upon the PDCI and the Ivory Coast. He resigned as a minister in the French government in April 1959.

De Gaulle's decision to grant independence to the Mali Federation within the French community so angered Houphouët that he demanded independence for the Ivory Coast. French acquiescence to requests for independence ended any chance for a meaningful federation. The Ivory Coast became independent in August 1960, and in November Houphouët was elected president. The legislature, chosen from a single list, were all PDCI members.

Pan-African Leader

Houphouët had a great impact upon pan-Africanism. In 1960 he proposed a meeting of French African leaders to help end the Algerian War, and in October 1960 representatives of 12 states met at Brazzaville. These states soon became known for their pro-Western ideas of gradualism and their opposition to the Ghana-dominated Casablanca powers. Houphouët's opposition to immediate political federation became the attitude not only of the Brazzaville powers but also of other states which were not members of the Brazzaville group.

Houphouët's control of the PDCI and the Ivory Coast did not lessen after independence. There were no serious challenges to his leadership, and the country's prosperity minimized unrest. In foreign affairs he continued to support moves toward greater economic cooperation between states such as the Organization Common Africaine et Malagache (OCAM). While opposing any political unification which would submerge the sovereignty of the Ivory Coast, Houphouët supported the Organization for African Unity (OAU) created in 1963.

The cornerstone of Houphouët's policy was close cooperation with France. His attitudes disturbed the radical bloc, and both Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Touré accused him continuously of advancing neo-imperialism. Houphouët responded by organizing opposition against the expansionist dreams of Ghana and the leftist regime in Guinea. He was instrumental in denying Nkrumah a much-needed triumph during the 1965 OAU meeting at Accra.

After Nkrumah's overthrow Houphouët was ready to call for French military aid against Guinea's threat to restore the Ghanaian leader by force. Houphouët braved the opposition of other states during the Nigerian civil war and recognized Biafra, thus alienating temporarily the victorious military leaders of Nigeria. Houphouët's policies, however they are criticized by some African leaders, have given the Ivory Coast, since its independence, one of the most stable governments in Africa.

The Legacy

While in office, Houphouët built the world's largest basilica in the jungle near his home village, Yamoussoukro, at a cost of approximately $300-million. He convinced Pope John Paul II to appear and bless the marble and glass cathedral with the gold dome.

At the outset of the 1980s, commodity prices of cocoa and coffee plummeted. Economic strife caused a public outcry that resulted in demands for Houphouët-Boigny's resignation. He fled to France where he spent most of his time.

Through most of his time in office, however, the Ivorians were happy with their one-party system, believing it a fair exchange for a time of prosperity. In 1990, pro-democracy protesters forced multi-party elections. Houphouët won with more than 90% of the vote.

Suffering with prostate cancer, Houphouët had arranged for his life support systems to be turned off at dawn on December 7, 1993--the 33rd anniversary of independence from France--the Ivory Coast's National Day. When Houphouët died, he had been president of the Ivory Coast since its 1960 independence, his 33 year reign the longest of any African leader. While he was officially 88 years old at death, many believed he was actually much older than that.

Thursday, 09 August 2012 08:58

Ahmed Sékou Touré

Independence Leader and First President of Guinea

By Alistair Boddy-Evans, Guide

Sékou Touré was one of the foremost figures in the struggle for West African independence, the first President of Guinea, and a leading Pan-African. He was initially considered a moderate Islamic African leader, but became one of Africa's most oppressive Big Men.

Date of Birth: 9 January 1922, Faranah, Central French Guinea

Date of Death:26 March 1984, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

An Early Life

Ahmed Sékou Touré's was born in Faranah, central Guinée Française (French Guinea, now the Republic of Guinea), near the source of the River Niger. His parents were poor, uneducated peasant farmers -- though he claimed to be a direct descendant of Samory Touré (aka Samori Ture), the region's 19th century anti-colonialist military leader, who had been based in Faranah for a while.

Touré's family were Muslim, and he was initially educated at the Koranic School in Faranah, before transferring to a school in Kissidougou. In 1936 he moved on to a French technical college, the Ecole Georges Poiret, in Conakry, but was expelled after less than a year for initiating a food strike.

Over the next few years Sékou Touré passed through a series of menial jobs, whilst attempting to complete his education through correspondence courses. His lack of formal education was an issue throughout his life, and his lack of qualifications left him suspicious of anyone who had attended tertiary education.

Entering Politics

In 1940 Ahmed Sékou Touré obtained a post as clerk for the Compagnie du Niger Français while also working to complete an examination course which would allow him to join the Post and Telecommunications Department (Postes, Télégraphes et Téléphones) of colony's French administration. In 1941 he joined the post office and started to take an interest in labor movements -- encouraging his fellow workers to hold a successful two-month long strike (the first in French West Africa). In 1945 Sékou Touré formed French Guinea's first trade union, the Post and Telecommunications Workers' Union, becoming its general-secretary the following year. He affiliated the postal workers' union to the French labor federation, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT, General Confederation of Labor) -- which was in turn affiliated to the French Communist party -- and also set up French Guniea's first trade union center: the Federation of Workers' Unions of Guinea.

In 1946 Sékou Touré attended a CGT congress in Paris, before moving to the Treasury Department -- where he became the general-secretary of the Treasury Workers' Union. In October that year he attended a West African congress in Bamako, Mali, where he became one of the founding members of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA, African Democratic Rally) along with Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire. The RDA was a Pan-Africanist party which looked towards independence for French colonies in West Africa. He founded the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG, Democratic Party of Guinea), the local affiliate of the RDA in Guinea.

Trade Unions in West Africa

Ahmed Sékou Touré was dismissed from the treasury department for his political activities, and in 1947 was briefly sent to prison by the French colonial administration -- he decided to devote his time to developing workers' movements in Guinea and to campaign for independence. In 1948 he became the secretary-general of the CGT for French West Africa, and in 1952 Sékou Touré became secretary-general of the PDG.

In 1953 Sékou Touré called a general strike which lasted for two months, the government capitulated -- he campaigned during the strike for unity between ethnic groups (opposing the 'tribalism' which the French authorities were promulgating) and was explicitly anti-colonial in his approach.

Sékou Touré was elected to the territorial assembly in 1953 but failed to win the election for the seat in the Assemblée Constituante, the French National Assembly, after conspicuous vote-tampering by the French administration in Guinea. Two years later he became mayor of Conakry, Guinea's capital. With such a high political profile, Sékou Touré was finally elected as the Guinean delegate to the French National Assembly in 1956.

Furthering his political credentials, Sékou Touré led a break by Guinea's trade unions from the CGT, and formed the Confédération Générale du Travail Africaine (CGTA, General Confederation of African Labor). A renewed relationship between the leadership of the CGTA and CGT the following year led to the creation of the Union Générale des Travailleurs d'Afrique Noire (UGTAN, General Union of Black African Laborers), a pan-African movement which became an important player in the struggle for West African independence.


I urge a sixteenth amendment, because 'manhood suffrage,' or a man's government, is civil, religious, and social disorganization. The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!

The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. Society is but the reflection of man himself, untempered by woman's thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the church, the state, and the home. No one need wonder at the disorganization, at the fragmentary condition of everything, when we remember that man, who represents but half a complete being, with but half an idea on every subject, has undertaken the absolute control of all sublunary matters.

People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say 'the right of suffrage will make the women masculine.' That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood are repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition. To keep a foothold in society, woman must be as near like man as possible, reflect his ideas, opinions, virtues, motives, prejudices, and vices. She must respect his statutes, though they strip her of every inalienable right, and conflict with that higher law written by the finger of God on her own soul.

She must look at everything from its dollar-and-cent point of view, or she is a mere romancer. She must accept things as they are and make the best of them. To mourn over the miseries of others, the poverty of the poor, their hardships in jails, prisons, asylums, the horrors of war, cruelty, and brutality in every form, all this would be mere sentimentalizing. To protest against the intrigue, bribery, and corruption of public life, to desire that her sons might follow some business that did not involve lying, cheating, and a hard, grinding selfishness, would be arrant nonsense.

In this way man has been molding woman to his ideas by direct and positive influences, while she, if not a negation, has used indirect means to control him, and in most cases developed the very characteristics both in him and herself that needed repression. And now man himself stands appalled at the results of his own excesses, and mourns in bitterness that falsehood, selfishness, and violence are the law of life. The need of this hour is not territory, gold mines, railroads, or specie payments but a new evangel of womanhood, to exalt purity, virtue, morality, true religion, to lift man up into the higher realms of thought and action.

We ask woman's enfranchisement, as the first step toward the recognition of that essential element in government that can only secure the health, strength, and prosperity of the nation. Whatever is done to lift woman to her true position will help to usher in a new day of peace and perfection for the race.

In speaking of the masculine element, I do not wish to be understood to say that all men are hard, selfish, and brutal, for many of the most beautiful spirits the world has known have been clothed with manhood; but I refer to those characteristics, though often marked in woman, that distinguish what is called the stronger sex. For example, the love of acquisition and conquest, the very pioneers of civilization, when expended on the earth, the sea, the elements, the riches and forces of nature, are powers of destruction when used to subjugate one man to another or to sacrifice nations to ambition.

Here that great conservator of woman's love, if permitted to assert itself, as it naturally would in freedom against oppression, violence, and war, would hold all these destructive forces in check, for woman knows the cost of life better than man does, and not with her consent would one drop of blood ever be shed, one life sacrificed in vain.

With violence and disturbance in the natural world, we see a constant effort to maintain an equilibrium of forces. Nature, like a loving mother, is ever trying to keep land and sea, mountain and valley, each in its place, to hush the angry winds and waves, balance the extremes of heat and cold, of rain and drought, that peace, harmony, and beauty may reign supreme. There is a striking analogy between matter and mind, and the present disorganization of society warns us that in the dethronement of woman we have let loose the elements of violence and ruin that she only has the power to curb. If the civilization of the age calls for an extension of the suffrage, surely a government of the most virtuous educated men and women would better represent the whole and protect the interests of all than could the representation of either sex alone.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton - 1868

Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the International Auschwitz Committee for the invitation to speak to you here today.

In my estimation an invitation of this kind is still not something that can be taken for granted. It would be fitting for us Germans to remain silent in the face of what was the greatest crime in the history of mankind. Words by government leaders are inadequate when confronted with the absolute immorality and senselessness of the murder of millions.

We look for rational understanding of something that is beyond human comprehension. We seek definitive answers, but in vain.

What is left is the testimony of those few who survived and their descendants.

What is left are the remains of the sites of these murders and the historical record.

What is left also is the certainty that these extermination camps were a manifestation of absolute evil.

Evil is not a political or scientific category. But, after Auschwitz, who could doubt that it exists, and that it manifested itself in the hate-driven genocide carried out by the Nazi regime? However, noting this fact does not permit us to circumvent our responsibility by blaming everything on a demonic Hitler. The evil manifested in the Nazi ideology was not without its precursors. There was a tradition behind the rise of this brutal ideology and the accompanying loss of moral inhibition. Above all, it needs to be said that the Nazi ideology was something that people supported at the time and that they took part in putting into effect.

Now, sixty years after the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, I stand before you as the representative of a democratic Germany. I express my shame for the deaths of those who were murdered and for the fact that you, the survivors, were forced to go through the hell of a concentration camp.

Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Maidanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau are names that will forever be associated with the history of the victims as well as with German and European history. We know that.

We bear this burden with sadness, but also with a serious sense of responsibility.

Millions of men, women, and children were gassed, starved, or shot by German SS troops and their helpers.

Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, POWs, and resistance fighters from across Europe were exterminated with cold industrial perfection or were enslaved and worked to death.

Never before had there been a worse breakdown of thousands of years of European culture and civilization. After the war it took some time before the full extent of this breakdown was realized. We are aware of it, but I doubt that we will ever be able to understand it. The past cannot be "overcome." It is the past. But its traces and, above all, the lessons to be learned from it extend to the present.

There will never be anything that can make up for the horror, the torment, and the agony that took place in the concentration camps. It is only possible to provide the families of those who died and the survivors a certain amount of compensation.

Germany has faced this responsibility for a long period of time now with its government policies and court decisions, supported by a sense of justice on the part of the people.

The young men and women in the photo we see here were freed in the summer of 1945. Most survivors went in different directions after their liberation: to Israel, to North and South America, to neighboring European countries, or back to their countries of origin.

However, some of them stayed in or returned to Germany, the country where the so-called 'Final Solution' originated.

It was an extraordinarily difficult decision for them, and often enough it was not a voluntary decision, but rather the result of total desperation. However, hope did return to their disrupted lives, and many did remain in Germany, and we are grateful for that.

Today the Jewish community in Germany is the third-largest in Europe. It is full of vitality and growing rapidly. New synagogues are being built. The Jewish community is and will remain an irreplaceable part of our society and culture. Its brilliant as well as painful history will continue to be both an obligation and a promise for the future.

We will use the powers of government to protect it against the anti-Semitism of those who refuse to learn the lessons of the past. There is no denying that anti-Semitism continues to exist. It is the task of society as a whole to fight it. It must never again become possible for anti-Semites to attack and cause injury to Jewish citizens in our country or any other country and in doing so bring disgrace upon our nation.

Right-wing extremists, with their spray-painted slogans, have the special attention of our law enforcement and justice authorities. But the process of dealing politically with neo-Nazis and former Nazis is something we all need to do together.

It is the duty of all democrats to provide a strong response to neo-Nazi incitement and recurrent attempts on their part to play down the importance of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime. For the enemies of democracy and tolerance there can be no tolerance.

The survivors of Auschwitz have called upon us to be vigilant, not to look away, and not to pretend we don't hear things. They have called upon us to acknowledge human rights violations and to do something about them. They are being heard, particularly by young people, for instance by those who are looking at the Auschwitz memorial today with their own eyes. They are speaking with former prisoners. They are helping to maintain and preserve the memorial. They will also help to inform future generations of the crimes committed by the Nazi regime.

The vast majority of the Germans living today bear no guilt for the Holocaust. But they do bear a special responsibility. Remembrance of the war and the genocide perpetrated by the Nazi regime has become part of our living constitution. For some this is a difficult burden to bear.

Nonetheless this remembrance is part of our national identity. Remembrance of the Nazi era and its crimes is a moral obligation. We owe it to the victims, we owe it to the survivors and their families, and we owe it to ourselves.

It is true, the temptation to forget is very great. But we will not succumb to this temptation.

The Holocaust memorial in the center of Berlin cannot restore the lives or the dignity of the victims. It can perhaps serve survivors and their descendants as a symbol of their suffering. It serves us all as a reminder of the past.

We know one thing for sure. There would be no freedom, no human dignity, and no justice if we were to forget what happened when freedom, justice, and human dignity were desecrated by government power. Exemplary efforts are being undertaken in many German schools, in companies, in labor unions, and in the churches. Germany is facing up to its past.

From the Shoa and Nazi terror a certainty has arisen for us all that can best be expressed by the words "never again." We want to preserve this certainty. All Germans, but also all Europeans, and the entire international community need to continue to learn to live together with respect, humanity, and in peace.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was a direct effect of the Holocaust on international law. It requires people of different cultural, religious, and racial origins to respect and protect life and human dignity throughout the world. You in the International Auschwitz Committee support this with the exemplary work you are doing in the interest of all people.

Together with you I bow my head before the victims of the death camps. Even if one day the names of the victims should fade in the memory of mankind, their fate will not be forgotten. They will remain in the heart of history.

Gerhard Schröder - January 25, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But, we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.

For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, 'Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.' They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.

We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.


And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."

There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.' Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'

Thank you.

President Ronald Reagan - January 28, 1986

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