Guinea Bissau: Govt to Transfer Remains of Former President to New Grave

The remains of Guinea Bissau’s former President, João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira will be relocated from Bissau municipal cemetery to José D’Amura fortress, a heroes’ corner. This development was announced after the country’s cabinet authorised the iconic move.

The relocation slated for Monday implies that President Vieira will now be officially declared a dignified statesman and national hero.

The fortress harbours tombs of the country’s first President Amílcar Lopes Cabral who was buried side-by-side other national heroes and Bissau-Guinean influential personalities. Icons such former Prime Minister Francisco Mendes who died in a car crash in 1978, pre-independence hero Osvaldo Vieira in whose honour the main international airport of the country is named, Titina Silá – an independence heroine and Pansau Na Isna, another independence war veteran in Guinea Bissau.

Nino Vieira, who died at 70, was a liberation fighter murdered in his house on March 2, 2009. His death was thought to have been a revenge attack, following the army chief of staff’s death in an explosion a few hours earlier.

He was the longest serving president of the country. He ruled twice, firstly from 1980 to 1999, and later from 2005 to 2009. His charisma was however tinted with controversy.

Guinea Bissau government shelved his death investigation in 2017.

José D’Amura fortress was built in the heart of Bissau in 1696 by the Portuguese colonialists in order to protect the country from French invasion.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest states in the world with a history of coups and has become a major passage for smuggling cocaine to Europe.

Guinea-Bissau has been overrun by coups and political unrest since the country gained independence in 1974 from Portugal.

African Leaders Congratulate Biden, Despite Trump’s Denial To Concede Defeat

Some leaders in Africa have congratulated US President-elect, Joe Biden following his victory in the US Presidential elections.

After the polls showed the Democratic candidate had crossed the threshold of 270 electoral college votes on Saturday, African leaders began sending their congratulatory messages to the new man who will run America.

Their acknowledgement of Joe Biden’s victory comes amid refusal by incumbent President Donald Trump to concede defeat. He claims the electoral process was marred by gross irregularities and fraud, and is taking legal action.

However, Mr. Trump and his campaign have failed to provide any evidence of these claims.

What have African leaders been saying?

Most of the leaders on the continent took to Twitter, expressing their support for Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They also pledged to collaborate with the new administration.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa said in separate tweets, that they were ready to strengthen the friendship between their countries and the US.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said Joe Biden’s election was “a reminder that democracy is the best form of government,” adding that Biden’s “track record gives us hope that he will add value to the presidency and word affairs.”

For his part, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni appealed on President-elect Joe Biden, to maintain the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This trade act favours the quota and tax-free exportation of some African goods to the US.

Leaders from other countries like Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Niger, Liberia, Namibia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Somalia have equally sent their well wishes.

What the Biden Victory Means for Africa

A good number of Africans are happy that power is changing hands in America. Some see former Vice President Joe Biden as the man who will bring the desired change.

Some Africans greatly opposed outgoing President Donald Trump and some of his policies. The height of their opposition to Trump came after the US President allegedly called black countries “s…hole” nations in 2018.

He received a lot of backlash in Africa, thereby upsetting his support on the continent.

Trump was also criticized recently, for allegedly calling anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela “no leader.” The allegations were found in a book released by Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Cohen quoted President Trump as saying “Mandela f—d the whole country up. Now it’s a s—hole. F—Mandela. He was no leader.”

These words were enough to pit South Africans against the American leader. To them, it was a denigration of a man considered to be global icon; a hero.

Now, the continent hopes for a morally upright American leader; one who respects democratic principles, and who will recognise the strength of Africa.

Some countries like Zimbabwe hope to see economic sanctions heaped on them by the US, dropped under the Biden administration. Other countries across Africa hope to boost trade, diplomatic and security cooperation between their nations and America’s new leadership.

Well, these hopes can only come to fruition, if President Donald Trump and his campaign team lose their electoral lawsuits in court.

Cameroon’s President Declares Day of Mourning for Victims of School Shooting

After the killing of seven school children by armed men in Cameroon, the entire country will observe a national day of mourning this Saturday.

The tragic episode on October 24 in Kumba, a locale in the restive South West region of Cameroon, remains fresh in the memories of Cameroonians.

Armed men stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, and opened fire on students in a classroom. Five died on the spot, while two others later died in hospital. Meanwhile, the attack left more than ten other students injured.

Since then, the nation has been in grief. However, amid the sorrow, citizens have staged emotional protests in some parts of the country. They have continued to denounce the act, and its perpetrators.

The President wants the victims remembered

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing of the school children. He, just like many people across the world, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved families.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms, this barbaric and cowardly crime against innocent children,” President Biya wrote on Twitter.

Moreover, he went further on Wednesday, to declare Saturday, 31 October 2020, “a day of national mourning in memory of the victims of the attack, on 24 October 2020.”

“The national flag shall be flown at half-mast all day long throughout the national territory,” Paul Biya declared.

Citizens hold memorials to honour deceased children

In some parts of the country, citizens have held memorial candle lighting ceremonies, to pray for the victims of the “Kumba massacre.”

Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)
Cameroonians mourn victims of the Kumba school shooting, in memorial candle lighting ceremony (Picture: @KreativeKwame)

Kreative Kwame recently lit a candle at a local memorial site in Buea, in memory of the deceased children. Thoughts of his loved ones compelled him to do so.

“I thought of my junior sister, little cousins, nieces…I thought about the children who had nothing to do with whatever is going on in the country,” he told EboniGram.

Kwame equally “prayed for a permanent end to all the suffering that we have seen for four years today: to the cries that our mothers have left; the families that have been scattered; the people who are nowhere to be found; the bodies which have been buried. I prayed for an end.”

As the country remains aggrieved by the frequent loss of lives in the restive Anglophone regions, the general cry is for the armed conflict there to end. But, at what cost?

Condemnation Rises over Cameroon School Shooting

Condemnation has heightened in Cameroon, over the brutal killing of at least seven school children, in one of the country’s restive Anglophone regions.

On Saturday October 24, gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, South West region, and opened fire on students in a classroom.

Five students are said to have died on the spot, with over ten others injured. Two students later died in hospital.

The perpetrators of Saturday’s act are not yet known, but both government and Anglophone separatist groups have traded the blame. This is not the first time both actors in the Anglophone armed conflict are blaming each other for atrocities committed in the crisis-hit English-speaking regions.

What has the reaction been like?

Since the act against school children on Saturday, there has been a wave of mass criticism from within and out of Cameroon. The condemnation keeps rising by the day.

On Monday, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya condemned the killing in a tweet, calling it “barbaric” and “cowardly.”

Barrister Akere Muna, a Cameroonian politician and international human rights lawyer, was appalled by the news. He tagged the killing as “savagery” and “mayhem.”

Meanwhile, Barrister Felix Agbor Balla could not hold back his indignation. He is a human rights lawyer, and founder of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, which has documented numerous atrocities committed in the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

“It is unacceptable for anyone or groups of persons to harass, attack, and or kill children. It is a fundamental right for children to be educated. Hence, the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be held accountable. My sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families,” he tweeted.

Moreover, the event on Saturday equally triggered grave international response. In fact, the reactions have been massive and global. The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat was among those who denounced the attack.

Cameroonian athletes, artists, civil society actors and ordinary Cameroonians have also expressed their anger. On Sunday, Cameroonians in Kumba — where the shooting took place — and in other Francophone regions staged protests, denouncing the killing of the students. They equally demanded an end to the four-year-long armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.

Cameroonian women mourn dead school children in street protest (Picture: 237 Info Mill/Facebook).

International organizations such as the UN, have also condemned it. Many other individuals and groups abroad have added their voices to denounce what is now known in Cameroon as the “Kumba massacre.”

What next?

Amid the blame game, the Cameroonian public is now confused about who the actual killers of the school children are. However, they are unanimous that the perpetrators of the act need to face the law.

The government has announced an investigation, but it remains largely unclear whether the findings will be made public.

Saturday’s killings might just be an indication that the situation in Anglophone Cameroon remains dire, and needs an urgent solution.

Sudan is No More a State Sponsor of Terrorism — US President

US President Donald Trump has removed Sudan from America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Friday’s move by the US was received with joy in Sudan, as it marks a new turning point in the economic development of the African nation.

The US, however, did not delist Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism for free. President Trump promised to take the country off the list, only if it paid $335 million, as compensation for victims of terror.

On Monday, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter, that Sudan’s new government had agreed to pay the compensation levy.

Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok thanked President Trump on Monday, shortly after he declared his intention to expunge Sudan from America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Why did USA include Sudan in its list of state sponsors of terrorism?

In 1993, the US named Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. This was primarily because the country hosted Osama Bin Laden, the then leader of al-Qaeda. He was a guest of the Sudanese government.

Moreover, in 1998 while Bin Laden still lived in Sudan, al-Qaeda bombed two US embassies in Africa — in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings left more than 200 people dead, with several others injured.

The US government considered Sudan complicit in the act, and demanded that it pay compensation to US victims and their families.

President Trump’s latest move will help Sudan

Since 1993 when US enlisted Sudan in its list, relations between both countries have been rough.

In fact, for 27 years, the US made it hard for Sudan to receive economic aid from major international financial institutions, thereby crippling the country’s economy. Foreign investment in Sudan was also barred to an extent, by the US’ action.

But, Mr. Trump’s new move paves the way for the African nation to receive financial aid and investment.

If Congress does not object to the President’s decision, then Sudan can conveniently secure loans from international institutions.

It will have a chance to revive its poorly-performing economy, and this might open doors for foreign investment.

US-Sudan relations bolstered

On the same day Mr. Trump dismissed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, he equally made another major announcement.

He revealed that Sudan had agreed to normalize relations with Israel. Sudan becomes the fifth Arab nation to accept fixing relations with Israel.

This is a big deal for the US president because, his administration has convinced three Arab nations — UAE, Bahrain and Sudan — to change their negative attitude towards Israel. All three arrangements were done in 2020, which is an election year.

By Sudan accepting to normalize relations with Israel, it has bridged its tense gap with the US.

Many are now eager to see how the country will evolve in the years to come.

Nigeria: #EndSARS – Lagos State Orders Close Down of Schools.

The Lagos State government has commanded all primary and secondary schools across the state to be shut down as protests against police brutality intensify.

The instruction, according to the statement given by the commissioner for education, Folasade Adefisayo, is for both the public and private schools.

The statement, which was signed on behalf of the commissioner by the spokesman to the ministry of education, Kayode Abayomi, stated that the new development is in response to the intensifying protests against police brutality in the state.

The instruction came on the same day schools reopened fully for all classes including daycare, kindergarten and nursery groups.

The state holds that the safety of the pupils and their teachers is paramount and so deserves priority.

Mr Abayomi wrote; “She however advised parents to keep an eye on their wards and not allow them to be used as willing tools in the hands of those who might want to hijack the protests to unleash mayhem on the society.”

The commissioner also encouraged schools to make use of distance teaching and learning on radio, television and online media as they have been doing during and post the recent COVID-19 lockdown.”

He announced that a new date for resumption of all classes will be announced as soon as it is favourable.

Apart from the state government secretariat and offices of various government agencies that were closed on Monday, many more roads were blocked by enraged youth accusing the government of impunity, corruption and faulty administration.

24-hour Curfew

Still on the violence that has been emmittedp in different parts of Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced a 24-hour curfew, effective 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Mr Sanwo-Olu stated that no one, except essential service providers and first responders, should be found on the streets by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

There has been chaos in different parts of the city including Ikorodu, Ketu and Orile-Iganmu.

“I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society. Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our State,” Mr Sanwo-Olu cried.

“As a government that is alive to its responsibility and has shown a commitment to the movement #ENDSARS, we will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.

“I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State as from 4 pm today, 20th October,2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders must be found on the streets,” Mr Sanwo-Olu said.

The #EndSARS protests, which have been mostly peaceful, have turned into a panic stricken chaos.

Zimbabwe: Lockdown Pregnancies Cause Over 400 Girls to Quit School

No less than 400 school girls have dropped out of exam classes in Manicaland province, Zimbabwe due to marriage and pregnancy fueled by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Yet, only five boys dropped out of school for marriage reasons in the province.

Edward Shumba, Provincial education director remarked that schools in the province ought to augment guidance and counselling while encouraging parents to give their children a second chance.

“We all want to enhance guidance and counselling where these things are happening,” he told the media.

“And for the parent, if the child has become pregnant, let those deliver, give them a second chance.

“The Ministry allows us to go for the second chance because, right, they could have made a mistake but who does not make a mistake. We all make mistakes and yes, we have learnt from our mistakes.

“Others learn from other people’s mistakes.”

Munyaradzi Rubaya, the provincial development officer, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, stated that schools have to accommodate the girls to ensure their continued learning.

Rubaya said there was a need to make the school environment to address the needs of the returning girls.

“Since the education policy was amended to allow pregnant girls to continue attending schools, we are encouraging education institutions especially secondary schools to accommodate these girls and create a conducive environment for their continued learning, because in most cases, these girls are stigmatised,” he explained.

According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, in 2018, 12.5% of 57,500 school dropouts were due to pregnancy or marriage reasons nationwide.

In 2019, 7000 girls dropped out of school across the country because of pregnancy.

Out of these dropouts, 367 were from primary schools and 6,419 were from secondary schools.

In August, the parliament passed a legal amendment making the expulsion of pregnant students a criminal offense.

Deported Immigrants from USA Arrive Cameroon

81 Cameroonian immigrants who were deported from the United States of America, are back in their home country.

The US government says they — together with millions of other immigrants — entered US soil illegally.

Prior to their deportation on Tuesday, US Members of Congress, Amnesty International, and individuals appealed to the Trump administration not to let the asylum-seekers return to Cameroon.

They argued that most of the immigrants who entered the US fled violence, occasioned by the armed conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions, among other reasons.

Cameroon is struggling with three concurrent crises:  the widening conflict between the anglophone and the francophone regions; clashes between the government and armed separatists who are demanding greater autonomy; and a culture of impunity to human rights violations that has been created by the 37-year administration of President Paul Biya.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, USA

Cameroon’s state media reported that the Cameroonian government collaborated with the United States, to repatriate the asylum-seekers.

Meanwhile, some have accused the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of coercing Cameroonian asylum seekers into unwillingly signing their deportation documents. Reports say they used force, and in some cases, torture, to compel them to sign.

As the immigrants arrived Cameroon on Wednesday, they underwent COVID-19 tests. They will be under observation for some days.

The immigrants might have risked their lives for greener pastures abroad, but the grim reality of what they fled from now faces them back home, once again.

Cameroon’s Gov’t in Court for Placing Opposition Leader under “House Arrest”

The Cameroonian government has been taken to court, to answer why security forces continue restricting the freedom of the country’s leading opposition figure.

For close to one month now, security agents have surrounded the residence of Professor Maurice Kamto in the capital, Yaounde. The leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) party and his supporters believe he is under house arrest.

State forces barred Mr. Kamto and his family from leaving their compound. For this reason, Kamto’s lawyers filed a complaint in court, against key state officials whom they accused of being behind their client’s situation.

According to the group of lawyers, the case will be heard on Thursday October 15th, at the Yaounde Court of First Instance. 

Why is Maurice Kamto under “house arrest”?

The CRM party of Professor Maurice Kamto opposed President Paul Biya’s decision to schedule regional elections in December.

The party warned against holding elections without resolving the Anglophone crisis in the country’s two English speaking regions. It also urged government to reform the electoral laws — which it said were faulty — before any elections could take place.

Together with some other opposition parties and civil society leaders, the CRM promised to organize peaceful protests. The aim was to demand President Paul Biya to step down, if the government did contrary to their proposal.

So, government banned the opposition’s protest scheduled for September 22, calling it illegal and “insurrectional.” It promised to crackdown on anyone who would defy the ban.

On the eve of the planned protest, security forces surrounded the premises of the CRM leader, barring him from leaving his home. Since then, he says he has not left his compound.

Any hopes for Mr. Kamto after the court hearing?

Party members and supporters of Mr. Kamto see the restriction on his freedom as against the law. Thursday’s hearing might give them a chance to hope.

However, it is not clear whether or not the court will rule in their favor. One thing is clear, though: Mr. Kamto cannot wait to live as a free man again.

Nigeria: YouTube Adds Nigeria to U.S.$100 Million Black Voices Fund

YouTube has declared that artists and creators from Nigeria can apply for grants from its global $100 million Black Voices Fund.

Alex Okosi, Managing Director of Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA, mentioned in a statement that the global fund will support black artists and creators over the next three years.

He explained that Black Voices Fund would invest with the desire to present fresh narratives that underline  the intellectual power, authenticity, dignity and joy of black voices, and to educate audiences about racial justice.

The $100m fund was first unveiled in June and was officially named the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund.

He explained that this year, the fund will be focusing its efforts on creators within the US, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

“Our goal is to expand funding to more countries over the course of the next three years,”

“Additionally, we hope to provide a consistent drumbeat of educational training, workshops, and community events to Black creators and artists globally.

“The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund is part of the work currently underway to ensure that YouTube is a place where Black artists, creators and users can share their stories and be protected,” he outlined.

According to Mr Okosi, along with their pledge to amplify marginalised voices through content, they are also investing in product and policy changes that will continue to promote YouTube’s mission; the mission of giving everyone a voice and showing them the world.

Mr Okosi added that YouTube believes it is only by taking a stand against those who would try to bully, harass, silence and intimidate others that it really moves closer to achieving this mission.

He said that YouTube’s new efforts included scaling up enforcement and closing more accounts that frequently post hateful comments.

Interested artists and creators could now apply for funding.