Egypt: Student Imprisoned for 3Yrs for Online Sexual Harassment

A former Cairo student was incarcerated for three years for sexually harassing women using social media and will face sexual assault charges this month in a case that rekindled a #MeToo moment in the country.

Ahmed Bassam Zaki, former student at the American University in Cairo, will appear in court again on January 9 on charges of indecent assault and blackmail investigated after scores of women joined an Instagram campaign to accuse him of sex crimes.

The case has drawn extensive attention from media, religious figures and women’s groups in a country where rights advocates say sexual harassment or abuse goes unpunished very often.

“Thanks to all the girls who believed in us when we told them that we will go to the court and get your rights,” Ahmed Ragheb, lawyer of the girls in the case, mentioned.

“We still have another round against the defendant before the criminal court.”

Neither lawyers for Zaki – who is in his early 20s and from a wealthy background – nor his family could be reached for a comment. Last week’s verdict can be appealed to a higher court.

The case surfaced after Instagram activist Nadeen Ashraf used the account Assault Police to encourage women to go public with allegations against Zaki dating back to 2016.

Ashraf said she was happy with Tuesday’s verdict and keenly awaiting the next court date that would decide the punishment for the “heftier and more violent crimes of sexual assault”.

“I think the court hearing on January 9 can truly set a precedent for all future sexual assault crimes in Egypt,” she said.

In September, the public prosecutor referred Zaki to the criminal court on charges of “sexually assaulting three girls under 18 years and threatening them alongside a fourth girl with exposing matters related to their honor”.

Zaki could face a life sentence or death penalty if the prosecution proves rape with evidence.

Zaki’s case activated a #MeToo movement in Egypt after it surfaced last July, with hundreds of women starting to speak up on social media, exposing several men and revealing a high-profile rape case that took place at a Cairo hotel as far back as 2014.

In August, the public prosecution arrested two suspects in that case and stated that seven others had fled the country. Lebanese authorities later handed three of them over to Egypt.

Egypt also passed a law in August giving victims the automatic right to anonymity in the conservative, Muslim-majority nation. This was in a bid to embolden more women to report sexual assault so that action can be taken in a as soon as possible.

Reda Eldanbouki, a lawyer and executive director of the Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness, accepted last week’s verdict and was awaiting the January verdict.

A United Nations survey in 2013 saw 99% of women had experienced harassment in Egypt, a nation where women have been accused of provoking sex crimes.

“We hope that Zaki would get a strong punishment in order to prevent similar cases in the future and reduce violence against women,” Eldanbouki stated.

China Cautions Against Holiday Traveling.

Officials have tested hundreds of thousands of people in Beijing and millions in the port city of Dalian, after the country recorded 42 locally transmitted coronavirus cases in the previous week. 

The outbreak disrupted months of almost-zero case numbers. Denizens of Dalian have been advised not to leave the northern port city.

The recurrence comes just before the Lunar New Year; when hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel to their hometowns. The authorities are already looking forward to security: this year’s travel helped spread the virus.

The government is dissuading Beijing residents from traveling and crowding. It has also instructed travel companies not to organize any group tours to Beijing during the holiday, which falls on Feb next year.

Other parts of the country are equally taking safety measures. Being a home to many of China’s migrant workers, Anhui Province, intends to test and monitor all those who return for the holiday. 

Experts say with a plan to vaccinate 50 million people (although with unproven vaccines) and efforts to ramp up testing, there is no cause to worry about the travel period.

Cameroon: Scores Die in Major Road Accident

An accident along the Bafoussam-Yaounde road in Cameroon has left scores of people dead.

State media reports that over 35 people died early Sunday December 27th, when a heavy-duty truck and a public transport bus collided.

A rescue operation is underway, as the death toll remains on the rise. Injured passengers have been rushed to hospital.

The country’s Ministers of Transport and the Interior are rushing to the scene, to take stock of the situation.

Another Sunday morning road accident

Meanwhile, in Buea, in Cameroon’s South West, a man has been arrested after he hit a family of three with a vehicle on Sunday morning.

He is said to have run away immediately after the incident, but was later caught by local police.

The three victims, a woman and her two children are feared dead.

The two accidents come barely two days after the celebration of Christmas.

Ethiopia: Ethnic Tensions: At Least 100 Villagers Dead

Armed men have killed over one hundred people in the western Ethiopian region of Benishangul-Gumuz.

The latest attack has no direct link to the ongoing separatist conflict in Tigray. Analysts however, suggest that the increase of security forces in the north around Tigray has created a security vacuum in other parts of the country.

At least 100 people died in the attack that took place on Wednesday morning. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published images taken by survivors from the scene of the massacre, portraying them as “worrying evidence”.

The armed group shot at residents, set fire to homes as they lay asleep, killing no less than 100 people.

Belay Wajera, a farmer in the western town of Bulen, told the Reuters news agency that he counted 82 bodies in a field near his home after the Wednesday morning attack.

He and his family awoke to the sound of gunshots, he said. The killers shot dead Wajera’s wife and five of his children; he was shot in the back. Four other children who escaped are now missing.

Another resident of the town, Hassen Yimama, said armed men stormed the area at dawn. He had counted 20 bodies in an area aside from those described by Belay Wajera. The killers shot Yimama in the stomach.

A local doctor explaijed he and colleagues had treated 38 injured people, most of them having gunshot wounds. Patients had told him of relatives killed with knives, and of gunmen who set houses on fire and shot at people trying to escape, he elaborated.

Other survivors told officials of the EHRC that the attackers had destroyed crops. Meanwhile, some of the survivors claim to have recognised the attackers.

The attack came just one day after the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and the army chief of staff, Birhanu Jula, visited the region to urge calm after a number of clashes between rival ethnic groups in recent months. The most recent incident in the area was on 14 November, when 34 passengers in a bus lost their lives.

Government briefly augmented security in the area earlier this week to prepare for the visit by the government and army leaders. However, survivors of Wednesday’s attack say no police or soldiers were on duty when the killing was on. Federal forces have been strengthened in the north of Ethiopia since fighting broke out in Tigray in November.

Prime Minister Ahmed blames instability in western Ethiopia on Sudan, asking Khartoum to intensify border security against the transit of fighters who, Abiy claims, are trained and armed on Sudanese territory.

The prime minister’s office has not released an official statement on the latest attack.

Zimbabwe: Travellers Go for Illegal Border Entry Points to Elude Covid-19 Charges

Some Zimbabweans living in South Africa are using illegal routes to enter Zimbabwe for the festive holiday. This move is in a bid to avoid paying the extravagant charges for Covid-19 tests.

Zimbabwe and South Africa demand that travellers entering or leaving the countries must have Covid-19 travel clearance certificates.

That said, one needs to cough up at least US$60 for a Covid-19 test; an amount which is out of reach for most Zimbabweans staying in South Africa,who want to go home for the festive season.

Consequently, they have opted to use illegal entry points into their country to reunite with their families during the festive period.

However, there are chances they could be exposing other travellers and relatives back home to the coronavirus since they are not tested.

Police have also intensified patrols along the Beitbridge border post and have arrested a lot of Zimbabweans illegally making way into the country.

“Police in Beitbridge arrested a group of 40 cross borders who were trying to illegally gain entry into the country from South Africa through undesignated points. Members of the public are warned against entering/exiting the country through illegal points,” the police said in a statement.

Meanwhile, activities have increased at the Beitbridge Border Post as Zimbabweans based in South Africa start flowing in for the festive holidays under very strict Covid-19 guidelines.

Travellers have to provide a Covid-19 clearance certificate with a validity of not more than two days.

Cameroon’s President Gives Aid to IDPs, Forgets Refugees in Nigeria

Ahead of the celebration of Christmas, Cameroon’s President has offered material aid to internally displaced persons who fled the armed conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions. However, nothing has been said about Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who escaped from the same conflict.

On Monday December 21, the country’s Interior Minister Paul Atanga Nji gave goods such as rice, soap, oil, mattresses and other items to some internally displaced families in the country’s capital Yaoundé. He announced that those in other regions will receive their share in the coming days.

President Paul Biya’s offer to the IDPs costs a little over $1 million. Of this amount, nothing has been programmed to provide aid for Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria who have been living under horrendous conditions for about three years now.

The UN estimates that over half a million people are internally displaced in Cameroon, with about sixty thousand others living as refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

They were forced to flee their areas, because of continuous fighting between state soldiers and Anglophone separatist fighters in the North West and South West regions. Since they left home, life has not been easy for most of them.

Cameroonian refugees and the spate of exclusion

This is not the first time refugees in Nigeria are left out from receiving relief packages from the state. The government launched a humanitarian assistance plan in 2018, to help those displaced and affected by the armed conflict. However, Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria did not benefit from it, even though they were supposed to.

Cameroon’s Prime Minister at the time, Philemon Yang said in part: “this action will include assistance and visits to show compassion to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.”

Government, through the interior minister, rather paid more attention to internally displaced persons. The materials distributed under the humanitarian assistance plan were worth over $23 million.

So far, no government minister from Cameroon is known to have visited the refugees in Nigeria to assess their situation. The most recent visit by a Cameroonian official was in November this year, when the country’s Consul in Clabar, Nigeria, visited some refugees in Akwa-Ibom State.

The consul gave aid to 300 people in that state. Nigeria, however, hosts a total of about 60,000 Cameroonian refugees.

Mr. Onana Patrice “distributed humanitarian aid kits to 300 Cameroonian refugees in Akwa-Ibom State (Uyo, Eket, Oron, Ikot Ekpene, etc) as part of a special gift from the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya, to Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria…” according to Cameroon’s Foreign Ministry.

The festive season is very well on course. While some internally displaced persons in Cameroon will celebrate Christmas and New Year with the gifts received from the state, the circumstances under which refugees in Nigeria will celebrate remain highly uncertain.

Cameroon’s First Regional Election Could Change its Governance System

Municipal councillors and traditional rulers in Cameroon, are voting regional councillors, in the country’s first ever regional election.

Voting is underway across the Central African nation, including in the two restive Anglophone regions, where an armed conflict has been raging for four years now.

However, the election in the Anglophone regions is being conducted under tight security, because of threats from separatist fighters.

Anglophone non-state actors had disapproved of Sunday’s election, and imposed a three-day ghost town. This has been observed partially in some parts of the North West and South West regions.

This election could end Cameroon’s centralized system of governance

The regional election is meant to give the ten regions greater autonomy. It will also facilitate local administration in a country where power is highly centralized.

For decades, citizens have had to grapple with the fact that most administrative functions rest in the nation’s political capital, Yaoundé.

The country’s 1996 amended constitution clearly stipulates decentralization as the form of governance. Decentralization prescribes that government devolves powers to local authorities in the different regions. For 24 years, this has not been the case.

Many see Sunday’s vote as a leeway to the decentralization process. Municipal councillors and chiefs will elect regional concillors and traditional rulers into the regional councils and House of Chiefs respectively. Those elected are expected to facilitate local governance, and supervise the decentralization process.

People consulting the voting list in a local polling center (Picture: Municipal Updates)

The birth of a “Special Status” for the Anglophone regions

The government says this election will pave the way for the Anglophone regions to have a special status. This, according to government, will recognize the specificities of the Anglophone system in Cameroon, thereby leading to an end to the Anglophone crisis.

It remains unclear whether the special status can end the four-year-long conflict, especially as hardcore Anglophone separatists continue to oppose it.

Critics say the special status is vague, without any precision as to its content or how it will work. However, government supporters see the special status as a good offer, which could end the crisis.

Over three thousand people have died owing to the Anglophone armed conflict, with close to a million others displaced internally and externally. The hope of most of these displaced people is for the crisis to end, so they can finally return home.

Are Corsets/Waist Trainers Good for your health?

It is a typical desire for women to have a slim waist and a slender figure.

Of course, the 18th-century women have proven that wearing corsets and waist trainers can give a seeming effect on the body. 

It can shrink your waistline if you wear it consistently and certainly, the intention is to wear it for at least 8 hours in a day.

While wearing a corset and slimming your waist might look like a clean magic trick, the reality is that you are NOT eliminating the fat. You are simply moving it around to produce the hourglass shape you fancy.

The real question now is where does the fat go when you do corset training? 

When you wear a corset, you are not magically eliminating fat. You are simply moving it, and when you do it correctly, the effect can be very satisfying.

However, several doctors from all over the world hold that corset/waist training can hurt your external body parts and also squeeze the frame of your internal body organs.

Doctors urge that you move with care when undergoing waist training. Also, do not allow unnecessary pressure on your midsection as this too limits the flow of blood to your organs which could be very harmful. Besides, the upper organs can move upwards and the lower organs can move downwards. As your internal organs become misplaced, the results can be painful, not to mention dangerous.

It should be made clear that corset/waist training has its positive and negative effects. You ought to keep your mind open to the negatives too, because it is your own body that is in danger.

US-based Cameroonian Empowers Communities of Colour with Latest Innovation

The CEO and Founder of EboniGram Communications, Blessed Efilo Ngoe, has launched a new service, EbonigramPlus, meant to connect and empower black and brown communities around the world.

The innovation, according to him, seeks to give people of African descent a chance to grow their own community online.

He says “EbonigramPlus is designed for a group of people that has been very disenfranchised in the media world – people of Afro descent. So, EbonigramPlus is their own niche; built for people of this group.” Efilo believes that the platform gives this group of people an avenue to interact with the rest of the world.

What is it all about ideally?

EbonigramPlus is a platform for professional and social networking, with a mission to enable black and brown people:

  • Build a strong value-added professional presence on the web
  • Build professional communities through networking
  • Learn new skills and meet people who inspire them
  • Take part in grassroots empowerment and the transformation of interactional spaces
  • Rejoin old friends while growing their community online

Make no mistake! EbonigramPlus, is not solely meant for people with African descent. It is also open for all those who sympathize and empathise with persons of colour.

“They don’t necessarily have to be of African descent. But, as long as they sympathize with, and love Africa, they are welcome to be in EbonigramPlus,” the company’s founder underscored.

Features and how they work

For social interaction and networking, users create profiles, follow friends and mentors, and can be followed back as well. This gives them the exposure they need in their communal space.

More importantly, there are professional avenues in the site, where users can freely market their goods, services and ideas which can boost the black community. Users can create their own stores, forums, groups and pages to promote their businesses.

EbonigramPlus equally has an advertising platform which handlers can use to advertise their various brands.

EbonigramPlus is different, but what makes it so?

Many people of colour use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to interact and bond. These platforms have arguably seduced users with their offers. But, with them, comes a price.

EboniGram Communications says it is not out to compete with these giant firms. In fact, it is bringing something much different to the table.

“We are not out to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and all those guys. We are out to live despite them. Ours is not about making a lot of money, it’s not about making billions of dollars. It’s about giving Africans the opportunity to actually express themselves in a space that is actually theirs,” Blessed Efilo said.

“EbonigramPlus is largely free. Most of the features are free, which means that you can create your market place without necessarily paying for it. But that’s not true in other platforms.”

“You can do so many things with EboniGram without necessarily paying for them. But, there are certain added functions that can help you spread your message maybe to a wider audience, for which you pay a very small fee, compared to Facebook and things like that.”

Most communities of colour are faced with economic challenges. The EboniGram team intimates that it has taken this into consideration, reason why it is making the site affordable for this community.

Meanwhile, management guarantees that it will only permit genuine businesses on the platform, to avoid any fraudulent activity on its site. “This is a platform that cares about the image of Africa…We will be very strict with the kinds of things that are marketed on our platform. We are not going to allow people to take advantage of our platform to exploit the same people we are trying to give a voice.”

Empowering grassroots through education, mentorship and training

Cameroonian-born CEO and founder of EboniGram Communications, Blessed Efilo is an instructor in the University of Colorado, USA. He is passionate about seeing the African continent advance in education.

For this reason, he will use EbonigramPlus to create learning platforms where courses will be taught mostly for free, to help black and brown people develop themselves intellectually and professionally in diverse disciplines. Plans are also underway to bring in professionals from different fields to mentor and train younger black people. This, Efilo believes, will empower the grassroots.

Feel free to explore EbonigramPlus

EbonigramPlus, a division of EboniGram Communications, has been commended by many people. Some have already begun exploring the offers of this latest platform.

If you would like to be part of this community, feel free to visit www.ebonigramplus.com and begin your journey.

Cameroon: Tha Sanctified announces Gospel Rap “Devil go tire” Song Release

Cameroonian born Christian rapper Tha Sanctified has announced the release of his song titled “Devil go tire”.

Tha Sanctified was born in Ekondo Titi in Ndian Division as Nyendi Yanick Esinoh.

However, both his parents Mr Motale David Nyendi and Mrs Motale Emilia Nyamah hail from Dikome Balue, in Ndian Division, Southwest region of Cameroon.

In an interview with Ebonigram, he explained “I have written many other songs which are yet to be released.

Currently working on the new projects which will be released before the end of this year 2020:-

  • Devil go tire
  • Pikin 4 God
  • I no go suffer

Tha Sanctified started rapping in 2014 but never considered it a career up until 2020 when he realized how much impact his songs were creating. “Then, I decided to go out there with my music to be a blessing to many others.”

His songs are very popular in Christ light assemblies where he is a pastor, especially because his christian family and his senior pastor Apostle Samuel E. Molombe have been passionate consumers of his songs.

“I am a Pastor. I consider music as a means of reaching out to God’s people out there, especially the youthful generation.” He said.

He added that “I want to reach out to the youths with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and I know they can relate more with hip-hop and rap.”

Sharing his thoughts concerning people who criticize gospel rap, he states “I think they just haven’t heard me.

Here are some of his songs available on YouTube, SoundCloud, Audiomack, spotify, iTunes, Tidal and Amazon music.

  • New Dawn
  • Live 4 Jehovah
  • I’m High
  • Big boys now
  • No concept
  • Sunny day.