December 2005


The questions for this blog entry were taken from Nnaeka’s blog, who took it from QueenB, so thanks to whoever started it!

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before? Um, that’s private. 😉

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Not even one! (I only had one and decided to give up on making them.)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes. Congratulations my friend and see you soon!

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, my beautiful aunt Freweini Tewolde. Rest In Peace.

5. What countries did you visit? Um, British Columbia? (Let’s say “Province” for this one)

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? A baby! Just kidding, *uncomfortable laughter* but I would have to say, more adventure, excitement, determination to change what I don’t like.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? July 2005. Also private. And September 2005 when my sister returned from her trip abroad safe and sound.

8. What were your biggest achievement of the year? Finished half of my Master’s degree with a course overload…and presented at two conferences. Completed a summer work project successfully despite setbacks.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not sticking to certain plans.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not really, unless you count a broken heart. (Awww!)

11. What was the best thing you bought? iPOD Babbbyy!!!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Kanye West tellin’ it like it is, “Bush don’t like Black People” at the Hurricane Katrina telethon.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? President Bush and PM Blair (as usual), some person I love and one of my close friends.

14. Where did most of your money go? Rent, Entertainment, shoes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Getting a job with some smart professor. (Okay so I had an uneventful year….)

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? Let’s Get Lifted, John Legend and T-Shirt, Destiny’s Child, And Kahsay Berhe’s CD for sure!!! And Mos Def, “The New Danger”, Track 11.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i.i.happier or sadder? Happier but more anxious.
ii.thinner or fatter? same. (not good!)
iii. richer or poorer? Can you be rich while still in debt? If yes, then I’m richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Go to the gym.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worry about situations/people that I have no control over.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? With my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2005? No, but what’s love anyway?

22. How many one-night stands? None, thank you very much!!!

23. What was your favorite TV program? Didn’t watch TV till this November. But I’d have to say BBC. Oprah has also been a new addiction.

24.Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone.

25. What was the best book you read? Just academic journal articles and parts of books, what I call “pragmatic reading”…didn’t really finish a novel, although I started a few, oh! except one and I didn’t love it. (11 Minutes, Paulo Coelho)

26. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery? Gigi and Esthero.

27. What did you want and get? My own apartment.

28. What did you want and not get? A million dollars?? I dunno, answers to political questions such as, “were there really WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq?” But my hypothesized answer satisfies me.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Didn’t watch many. But “Life in Debt” was good, got my activist juices flowing.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Hung out with my friend Nicole. Did you just ask my age?

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Proactivity on choices I feel are critical to my happiness. Errr, ok, that was cryptic. A trip to Africa!

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? Monaco-style black hair and glowing skin in the summer. Black Diadora and Bejeweled.

33. What kept you sane? My ambitions and some friends and family. Reading against-the-grain commentary on African politics .

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I guess Iman?? But really, Beyonce. (shame…)

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Lack of decision on the Eritrean border. And the media coverage on Hurricane Katrina.

36. Who did you miss? My family in Eritrea.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Good question. Had to think on this one … I guess, James CN Paul and Clarence Dias. Two of the founders of International Human Rights Law… Dr. Paul worked in Addis Ababa University as Dean for 7 years in the late 60s and early 70s. Both were fascinating to talk to because of their depth and breadth of knowledge on development issues.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005: Take time to figure out how you feel about something and then act accordingly. Try not to think your way out of your feelings because more often then not they will be operating against you and betraying what you think are your intentions. (Know thyself but don’t overindulge in self-awareness either… a very post-modern and privileged Western thing to do that makes people too self-conscious and self-centred!!! THIS BLOG ENTRY IS A CASE-IN-POINT!)

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year… “I’m not a businessman I’m a BUSINESS, man” (Jay Z on Kanye’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone…but I’d change it to “businesswoman”) and, one more, “Men do leni’yu?” by Abraham Afwerki.

40. If you could travel to two places in 2006 where would they be? BRAZIL and SOUTH AFRICA!

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The UN peacekeepers from Western nations left Eritrean territory on Wednesday December 14th 2005 after an order by the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) ruling party in Eritrea.
Almost 90 western troops have left Eritrea. The UN diplomat in Eritrea, Jean-Marie Guehenno, said he had never experienced a similar situation in 10 years in the job.

Some 180 US, Canadian and European personnel were moved to neighbouring Ethiopia. Mr Guehenno said about half of those affected were already on holiday or about to leave anyway.
Most of the UN peacekeepers monitoring the border following a war between the two countries that ended in 2000 are from Asian and African countries and these will stay.

This exercise of national sovereignty from a poor nation is seen as a big crisis in the peacekeeping mission. Is it really a crisis or an affront to the dignity of the United Nations? The troops have been moved to Ethiopia temporarily where Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian leader widely perceived as illegitimate, will welcome the peacekeepers with open arms, how interesting.

What a beautiful display of global citizenship! The same leader who has created havoc in the streets of Addis Ababa was invited to “wine and dine” at the G8 conference, as Baffour Ankomah (editor of The New African) put it. And now he will be viewed as granting refuge to poor displaced UN peacekeepers.

The question to ask is why were the peacekeepers asked to leave?

The decision of the United Nations Mission for Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) boundary commission was that the disputed territory of Badme is in fact Eritrean. Why has there been half a decade of delay on this decision? Why is the UN spending money on pricey fact-finding missions, assigning world renowned diplomats such as Lloyd Axworthy as ‘special envoy’, if the decision would not be respected, enforced and then implemented?

The Ethiopian government is now being reactive. They are reacting to Eritrea’s decision to send out the peacekeepers of dubious if not destructive nations such as the UK and US by allowing them temporary refuge. They are being reactive because they are safe in thier cozy comaraderie with the US and UK (Ethiopia receives the greatest amount of international aid dollars of all African nations)! Ethiopia has now “pulled back” its troops from the disputed border: but don’t be fooled, this is just another timely and reactive thing to do, making the big bully look like innocence is its middle name.
Power politics is what this is and I say good job to the Eritreans who have decided to exercise sovereignty despite that all odds in the political arena have been against them. And good job for making it political: picking and choosing who should leave the territory. Maybe this will give some recognition to the idleness of the UN on the border decision, even after many pleas by the Eritrean government.

Isn’t this what the UN is designed to uphold in the first place? The integrity of nations; not the lofty ideals of peacekeeping that are, in reality, inconsequential at best and destructive at worst? (read: Somalia mid 1990s)

Read About Stan Tookie Williams
American Hypocrisy is that misunderstood monster. Americans are told citizenship participation means volunteerism and community service; and here was Stan “Tookie” Williams, infamous for co-founding the “Crips” gang in LA in 1971, volunteering with schools, prisons, communities. Although he wasn’t a full citizen, he participated as a citizen and perhaps more meaningfully than the rest of us ever could. He wrote books about Life in Prison, and a series of children’s books on gangs and how they affect different aspect of our lives.
Tookie is One of Many
Read Putting Tookie into Context
(a very balanced article by Julianne Malveaux)
There are 3415 people on death row in the United States. About 650 men on death row are in the State of California alone. Over 40% of them are black even though blacks are only 13% of the population. Black men are more likely to be convicted and executed if they kill white/asian people than if they kill other blacks. There is a disturbing amount of false accusations, although one is too many. For this reason the state of Illinois has put off the death penalty for an indefinate period of time.
The devaluation of human life in the U.S. criminal justice system, particularly black human life, is disgusting.
It’s obvious what the American Dream really is;
or what it is not to too many,
but the monster refuses to come out of the closet.

BBC News Story:
Families seek Nigeria crash dead

Many of the relatives saw the horrendous crash.

Relatives of more than 100 people who died in a plane crash in Nigeria on Saturday have been gathering at mortuaries to try to identify victims. More than 70 of those killed were pupils from a top secondary school. The plane was travelling from the capital Abuja when it overshot the runway at Port Harcourt during a storm and burst into flames.
Investigators have begun sifting through the wreckage of the DC-9 and analysing the flight data recorders. President Olusegun Obasanjo is to hold an emergency meeting with aviation officials to review air safety.
Clutching photographs, family members have been walking past badly burnt bodies laid out on the mortuary floor at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.
The bodies, which were still identifiable, had been sprinkled with disinfectant and tagged with numbers, in a room with no refrigeration or air-conditioning.
“All we can do now is bury our dead and mourn,” one man, among hundreds of wailing relatives at the mortuary, told Reuters news agency. “There is so much suffering here.”
A Catholic Archbishop, John Onaiyekan of Abuja, said 71 pupils from Abuja’s Ignatius Loyola Jesuit College died in the crash. Four others had got off the plane during a scheduled stopover in another city, he said.

Many of the pupils’ families had been at Port Harcourt’s airport to collect their children and witnessed the crash. “So you can imagine the great trauma for the parents watching their own children just roasting there in the air crash,” he told news agency AFP.

“It’s a great tragedy for the school.” The fee-paying boarding school has 600 pupils and is one of Nigeria’s most highly-rated schools. The victims also included a French and a US national working for aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres.
‘Deeply saddened’
The privately-run Sosoliso Airlines, which owned the plane, went into operation as a domestic airline in 2000 and now flies to six Nigerian cities.

The president, said to be deeply saddened by the accident, has cancelled a visit to Portugal to deal with the air disaster, Nigeria’s second in less than two months, and review air traffic safety.
Correspondents say several Nigerian airports have come under criticism in recent months following a string of accidents and near-misses. A Boeing 737 aircraft crashed in October shortly after take-off from the commercial capital Lagos, killing all 117 people on board. The flight recorders from that plane were never found. President Obasanjo had instructed his aviation minister to plug any loopholes to ensure airline safety.

Cover of the book: “The Challenge Road: Women and the Eritrean Revolution”
(By: Amrit Wilson)
what’s inside the heart of a revolutionary?
do they yearn for home or detest the homebound?
can one hope for tomorrow but live for only one second, minute, hour of the day?
does a revolutionary believe in tomorrow –
perhaps they could care less about about whether it comes at all?
do they shed tears for dead sons and daughters;
or laugh until their eyes water,
mocking those who can’t bear the bitterness of life?
what’s inside the heart of a statesman?
do they believe in their goals or merely believe and dictate the goals of others?
do they understand the plight of their citizens when they protest,
“no food, no jobs, no peace”
does a statesmen see protest as greed;
the unwillingness to ask the Kennedy question:
‘what can you do for your country?”
With all these questions we should hesitate to wonder what might be in the heart of a
revolutionary-turned-statesman?

In May 1963, 42 years ago, Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president at the time of their independence (1957) had an 11-point proposal:

1. A union government of African states.
2. A common economic and industrial programme for Africa.
3. An African common market
4. A common African currency.
5. An African monetary zone.
6. An African central bank.
7. A continental communication system.
8. A common foreign policy and diplomacy.
9. A common system of defence.
10. A common African citizenship.
11. A common African army with an African high command.

Will think about the state of affairs on these issues a lot in the next few months. Some of these goals have been embarked upon with more certainty and determination than others (trying to avoid the loaded term, “success”).

The recent attempt to create regional markets in East Africa, for example, have been the closest thing to #3, a common African market; and #10, a common African citizenship.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) established in 1964 had the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa, as iterated by Nkrumah, #6.

The Nigerian attempt during Liberian crisis to send peacekeepers was an anomolous example of creating an African peacekeeping force, or, #9, a common system of defence (I believe his idea would incorporate the ‘peacekeeping’ exemplified by Nigerian forces).

That’s all for now.
g’night


As part of her involvement with the voices for darfur dvd, sade gave an interview recently to the unhcr (the united nations refugee agency). the transcript of the interview is below:

sade, how did you become involved with unhcr and the situation in darfur?
robin millar, who organised the benefit concert at the royal albert hall, asked me to become involved in the project. we made our first 2 albums with him, he produced them, and we’ve remained friends and he’s quite persuasive and although we couldn’t be directly involved at the time i said that if in the future there was anything i could do to help in any way, maybe write a piece of music to accompany footage that is going on the dvd, if it does materialise, then i’ll do that.

what was it that robin said to you that drew you into the situation in darfur?
he committed me by telling me a really harrowing story about a young girl in a camp struggling to put up a tent and she was with her little brother who was the only remaining member of her family. just the two of them alone. she had seen her father and brother being beheaded and her mother raped in front of her and then they cut the mother’s throat. she bled to death in front of her. to finish they took her hands off. after i heard that story i was morally unable to escape involvement, i couldn’t just walk away, i had to do something.

did that make you want to investigate the situation more closely?
yeah, i think it is trying to understand how anyone can hate that much. try and make some sense of it – which i haven’t really, although i understand a little more about the history and background that has led to the situation in darfur, i still don’t really understand – it is sort of a tsunami times a million. that one human being can inflict that kind of pain upon another is really beyond my comprehension.

was there anything memorable about the writing and recording of the song?
it was probably the hardest song i have ever written. it is always much harder when you come to write, harder than you imagine or than you remember. there are great moments when things succeed, when the moment is good, where you have this great rush of joy. but writing this song was really quite painful. it made me wonder if i was any good. it was a hard song to write, obviously. trying not to be too sentimental because then it goes over people’s heads and hasn’t the integrity and substance that it should have, but you can’t be too specific when you are writing about such horrible things because nobody would listen to the song more than one time, it was hard to mix the recipe and yeah there were times when i thought i am just going to give up but something told me that i can’t, that i have this responsibility, a challenge to me in the end, a moral challenge, you have to just not give up when it matters.

you seem to have distilled the situation into a very intimate one – by calling the song ‘mum’ and by singing about that woman…
the song is about the experience of the mother because i imagined the actual circumstances that she was in and it was in a way more from the perspective of the mum because i imagined what it must have been like for her to know that she was dying. i do think that the moment that you die you do accept it, but to see her child watching her die – that is really what the song is about.

had you seen the dvd before you recorded the song? no

so, that came later and fitted with the song?
yes, essentially it did. the limited amount of material that was given to the guys to edit shows individuals and that is what it is in life – each lonely person in their personal experience of the world. that is what crisis is like, that is what life is like.i felt it really expressed that and evoked that feeling of each person struggling with their own little elements in their small world. when you look at it humanity there just seems so fragile, everything seems fragile – the people, the buildings, the landscape, so inhospitable and bleak. it is such a bleak, inhospitable place and they are faced with this huge challenge and then on top of everything the fear, constant fear, the fear of another human’s aggression. there is nothing more horrific.

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