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Mar-01-2011 18:06printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

New weekly update on the breaking stories in the African nations.

Faces of Uganda
Faces of Uganda. Courtesy:

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Unseen, unheard; no one should be the bearer of these two words. Unfortunately, Africa is often in the forefront of this association.

Our common humanity should change this; we should never look away because it is too distant. Our commitment to one another, to human rights, and the ability to learn should always keep us connected no matter the severity and complexity of problems.

Important insights from last week, not to be missed

The Senate Should Not confirm Scott Gration as US Ambassador to Kenya - TWO WEEKS ago the Obama administration formally announced the nomination of Air Force Major General (ret.) Scott Gration to be the new U.S. ambassador to Kenya. Such a post would give him an important role in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, not least because the Kenyan ambassador helps determine U.S. policy toward Somalia, another country in the Horn of Africa in need of skilled international diplomatic assistance.

57 Somalis reported dead in boat tragedy, UN says - An attempt to flee war-torn Somalia ended in tragedy when a boat carrying dozens of Somalis capsized in the Gulf of Aden, killing all but one person on board, the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday. Fifty-four of those reported dead were Somali refugees, while another three were smugglers, the U.N. said. The only survivor swam for 23 hours before he reached the coast of Yemen, the agency said.

Fizi Diary: Ending the War on Women’s Bodies in Congo - She had heard the rumors—the hurried warnings that soldiers were out for revenge. One of their own had been killed. Now it was time for the citizens they were meant to be protecting to pay the price. The soldiers’ currency: murder, rape, and pillage. But she had nowhere to go. Alone with her husband she could have left—could have run. But you can’t flee into the forest with seven children in the middle of the night. And maybe—just maybe—her house was not on the hit list.

Central African Republic: Idris Gilbert, “Teaching is my passion but to Earn some Money I cultivate People’s Land” - With literacy and school-enrollment rates among the lowest in the world, the continuing fighting between local rebel groups is putting even more pressure on CAR's fragile education system. Years of displacement have caused the collapse of school attendance. Destroyed or looted facilities are still being rebuilt and the recruitment of teachers in areas affected by violence in the North is extremely difficult, leaving humanitarian aid organizations battling to providing basic education.

Cameroon security forces obstructing journalists - Cameroon's government is obstructing journalists from reporting on issues of public interest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Security forces detained a journalist without charge for six days after he interviewed a jailed former official. They also seized footage from reporters covering the brutal repression of a banned opposition march on Wednesday.

Uganda: Escalating Land Disputes in the North - Disputes over land in northern Uganda have escalated, affecting the resettlement plans of former internally displaced people, say locals. “As people return to their villages, they are confronted with the realization that over a period of 20 years, clan leaders, heads of households and the elderly who would have knowledge of the previous set-up in the villages are no more,” Peter Odok, district chairman for Pader, said.

IFJ Condemns Campaign against Media as More Journalists come under Attack - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the planned assaults on at least six journalists by people believed to be supporters of the Mayoral candidate of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) ,Peter Ssematimba. The journalists, who all sustained serious injuries, were covering the local government elections at the Kakeeka polling station in Rubaga Parish in Kampala’s Lubaga Division, on Wednesday, 23 February 2011.

New air attacks east of Jebel Marra in support of Darfur militias - Antonov aircraft, MiGs and helicopters bombed in support of government forces and allied militia’s yesterday morning east of Jebel Marra. A witness told Radio Dabanga that two Antonovs, two MiGs and two helicopters fired a volley of missiles at 11:00 yesterday at Wadi Mura, Tangarara, Tagala, Magalei and Kokai. They were supported on the ground by a force with more than 150 vehicles.

Tanzania: ILO Supports Dar Es Salaam Women Entrepreneurs - THE International Labor Organization is providing skills and access of loans to women in Tanzania to help them becoming entrepreneurs. This was said by a National Program Manager Flora Minja during a focus group discussion held at the ILO grounds on Friday on the development of women entrepreneurship in response to the Global Financial and economic crisis.

Zimbabwe: Free Activists Charged for Viewing Mideast Video - Authorities controlled by the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the dominant party in Zimbabwe's power-sharing government, should drop politically motivated charges and release activists arrested for viewing a video on events in Egypt and Tunisia, Human Rights Watch said today. The 46 people were arrested on February 19, 2011.

Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at:

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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