Mandela was a true freedom fighter

It is with sadness that I heard of the news of Mzee Nelson Mandela’s death.

Museveni-ICCThe sad and heroic story of Mzee Mandela starts in 1453 AD when the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (Istanbul as it is called today) from the Byzantine empire.

That capture blocked the overland route from Europe to Asia that had been established by Marco Polo many centuries before.

That route was important to Europe especially for spices and silk trade.

With that blockage, the Europeans started looking for an alternative sea route to the east, around the massive African continent.

Prince Henry, the navigator, of Portugal established a naval school at Cadiz to improve on the construction of ships and on navigation techniques so that they could have ships that could withstand long ocean voyages to Asia, around Africa.

This is not the time and place to go into the details of that European effort of circumventing the Moslem blockade.

Suffice it to say that by 1498, a mere 45 years after the fall of Constantinople, the Portuguese, Vasco Da Gama, had rounded the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town) and spent the Christmas of that year at Natal, that is why that area was so named, remembering the birth of Christ.

With the discovery of the sea route to the Far East by the Europeans, that is where the sad but also heroic story of Nelson Mandela and Africa begins. Initially, the Europeans came as traders, establishing refuelling and replenishment stations for their ships on the way to the Far East.

Within a few centuries, however, the traders had become the colonisers. The sad thing is that while all this was unfolding, the African chiefs and other leaders never made serious efforts to co-ordinate in order to guarantee our future as free people. Yes, various tribes fought the colonialists. However, the co-ordination was either not there or too late.

On account of internal weaknesses within Africa, therefore, by the birth of Mzee Mandela in 1918, the whole of African continent, except for Ethiopia, had been colonized. Therefore, Mandela had the misfortune of being born under colonialism like many of us were.

Various individuals reacted differently to this situation.  Many acquiesced and accepted colonialism or even collaborated with it. However, a few others like Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, etc., chose the difficult, hard route of resistance to colonialism.

That resistance invited reprisals from the oppressors. The African National Congress (ANC) people are more qualified to go into the details of that resistance by the party and the individuals that were involved. On account of our Pan-Africanist orientation, we linked up with the ANC in 1967 in Dar esSalaam.

Ever since that time, the NRM, or its precursors, have been working closely with the liberation movements of southern Africa – ZANU, ZAPU, FRELIMO, ANC, SWAPO, MPLA, etc, etc.

The resistance of all the colonized peoples in the world had benefitted from three factors: the continued resistance of those colonised peoples, the fratricidal fighting among the imperialists (the first and second World Wars); and the solidarity from the socialist countries (Soviet Union, China, etc, ever since 1917).

That resistance had led to some of the cleverer imperialists giving back the freedom of the people peacefully, examples being India and many of the African countries, including Uganda. However, those who were not so clever, such as Portugal and the Boers of South Africa and Rhodesia, thought they could maintain their colonial or minority and racist regimes.

It was the lot of freedom fighters like Mzee Mandela and his colleagues to sacrifice and fight those regimes. Mzee Mandela spent almost the whole of his adult life fighting for freedom, starting as a youth in the 1940s.

Eventually, he went to jail where he spent 27 years. Out of his 95 years on earth, given to him by God, it is only in the last 22 years, since 1991, that he has lived as a free man. What a sacrifice!!

Even those 22 last years of his life, he was not out of danger. Did I not recently hear of South African racists that were plotting to kill him for fighting for freedom?

Didn’t Chris Hani die, shot dead, when South Africa was preparing for the first democratic elections? Chris Hani had been at Rwakitura to visit me where I tried to prevail on him not to go back to South Africa yet, but in vain.

Mzee Mandela and his colleagues in the ANC have fulfilled their mission of throwing out the oppressors. It is the duty of the present generation to immunize Africa against future colonisation.

Salutations to the sacrifices and achievements of Mzee Mandela and his colleagues.

The author is the president of Uganda.

via The Observer – Mandela was a true freedom fighter.

Turkey denies involvement in US raid in Somalia


Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gives a speech at the European headquarters of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

ISTANBUL: Turkey denied Sunday that its forces were involved in an assault in Somalia by US commandos against a suspected military leader of the Islamist Shebab group.

“We deny these allegations completely,” a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

US Navy Seals stormed two militant targets in Africa on Saturday, snatching a top Al-Qaeda suspect in the Libyan capital Tripoli and raiding a Shebab leader’s home in the Somalian port of Barawe.

The action in Somalia came two weeks after the siege by Al-Qaeda linked Shebab fighters at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi which left at least 67 people dead.

The raid in Barawe failed to capture the wanted militant and it was unclear whether he had been killed, but a US official said several Shebab operatives had been slain.

Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP that the “failed” beach assault had been led by Britain and Turkey.

London has also denied any involvement.

via Turkey denies involvement in US raid in Somalia | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR.

Where Is The $80 million Gold From Ghana Seized In Turkey?

Turkey stopped cargo freight flier with Gold from Ghana. Turkey is gradually becoming the busiest hub for gold shipments to the Middle East. The Turkish authorities gave four days in Istanbul to a freighter laden with 1.5 tons (worth $80 million) of gold from Ghana. The plane landed around early January at the airport Ataturk in Istanbul and was arrested for four days with 1.5 tons of gold on board by the authorities.

The Turkish fleet origin, an Airbus A300, cargo aircraft was chartered for transporting Gold from Ghana to Dubai. Other media reported that the machine had come from Algeria. For safety reasons, the Turkish authorities (customs) sealed the aircraft, since the crew had no genuine documents covering their freight on board, they were requested by the Turkish authorities to present required requisite documents.

Not quiet long ago, the Turkish Government was repeatedly criticised and advised from the international community to be watchdogs since large quantities of gold from Turkey in the Islamic Republic were delivered in the past few months despite an international embargo against the Iran.

The Geological Survey Department (GSD) has absolved itself from blame in the on-ongoing investigations into the seizure of an aircraft in Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly carrying 1.5 tonnes (worth $80 million) of gold originating from Ghana and destined for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The GSD Director, John Agyei Duodu insists his outfit only carried out laboratory analysis on mineral samples and not on gold bars, when speaking to in an interview. The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) carried investigation into how a shipment described as mineral samples could turn to gold bullion. It will be recalled that sections of the media reported on the supposed gold bars seized at Istanbul-Turkey due to lack of documents. It was widely conjectured that the said shipment was payment by Ghana government in respect of some financial transaction with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Government, in two separate responses, denied any involvement in the use of gold to settle any transaction with the Government of Iran. Following that denial, President John Dramani Mahama directed that the matter be investigated by the security agencies. Even though president John Dramani Mahama had to rush to Turkey, we were later told he went there to commission Ghana Embassy in Istanbul/Turkey.

Before the BNI could come out with its initial findings, sections of the media published that the US$80 million supposed gold bars, have mysteriously changed into thirty (30) boxes of mineral samples weighing 1,500kgs.

The publication further accused state officials at the GSD and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority of collusion for the detained Gold from Ghana. The publications also questioned why and how state officials at the GSD, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SG-SSB Bank Limited, with the speed of light, hurriedly prepared and signed for “Omanye” Gold Mining Limited, the company at the centre of the whole DEAL on December 31, 2012, to enable them haul the 30 boxes of so-called mineral samples to Dubai.

The publications further sought to malign the integrity of the GSDsaying the claim on the certificate that the 30 boxes of minerals for laboratory analysis only and are of no commercial value could be a clever means by the Geological Survey Department to outwit tax officials because the regulations mandates Bank of Ghana to collect tax from both the buyers and the sellers.

The absence of proper documentation on the said gold, according to the publication citing experts’ opinion, is said to have accounted for the lie that the gold was on its way to Iran to settle Ghana’s bilateral transactions, leading to the Turkish officials seizing the consignment on board the cargo aircraft chartered from Tripoli-Libya.

Now, figures here, figures there, investigations yesterday, investigations today and investigations tomorrow, fact and the question is! where is the 1,5 tonnes of the Ghanaian Gold, worth $80 million which was temporarily confiscated in Turkey? Was is really a DEAL meant to settle (Ghana) debt in Iran or where ever, a THEFT or an act of CORRUPTION?

FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg – Germany)

via Where Is The $80 million Gold From Ghana Seized In Turkey? | Feature Article 2013-04-23.

Nigeria: Selling Turkey As a Tourist Destination

Turkey and Nigeria have over the past few years consciously made efforts to forge stronger bilateral ties. This is evident in the numerous trade expos organized by the Turkish Ministry of Economy, the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment and other bodies. One of such events was held late last month at the Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites.

One of the outfits selling a service was VEFA Tourism and Travels. They were offering tours of Turkey. What is the selling point? A touch of holiness and history at the same time in the Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ephesus, Antakya, Capadocia and Tarsus.

Istanbul is the most famous of these cities and it’s increasingly becoming a favourite destination for tourists. Seven million tourists visited in 2010 when it was named the European Capital of Culture, making the city the 10th most popular destination in the world. Istanbul’s biggest merit remains its historic centre. The city itself is divided into European and Asian parts and is partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ephesus too has a claim to fame. It was the city where the Christian evangelist Saint Paul wrote his famous Epistles. The city is also home to the House of the Virgin Mary and the relics of Roman Library of Celsus.

Tarsus is sold as the focal point of many civilizations including the Roman Empire, when Tarsus was the capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of Paul the Apostle.

The other cities too had unique reasons why they are tourist attractions and the way these cities were being sold by the Turks at the Lagos Expo made it seem like the only place to go for those who have a thing for “holiness and history”.

via Nigeria: Selling Turkey As a Tourist Destination.

How Turkey is emerging as a development partner in Africa

Turkey provides assistance for relief aid and reconstruction, but also works as a business partner and invests in youth education

  • Alpaslan Özerdem
  • Guardian Professional, 
Turkey aid in Somalia
A displaced Somalian man walks away with food at a centre run by Turkish aid agency in the Howlwadaag district of southern Mogadishu. Photograph: Feisal Omar/Reuters

Turkey has emerged as a generous donor for humanitarian crises across the world over the past five years, especially in the context ofAfrica.

In 2011, while official development assistance (ODA) fell in 16 DAC countries, Turkey’s net ODA increased by over 38%. Following the ‘Turkey – Africa Co-operation summit’ in Istanbul in August 2008, the African Union declared Turkey a ‘strategic partner’ and in May 2010, Istanbul was the venue for the 4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Though Turkey is relatively new in African politics, trade and aid circles, it has already expanded its area of influence in the continent by linking its soft power tools of transportation links, trade and education closely with its foreign policy.

In the most simplified terms, this is the process undertaken by Turkey: once an African country is identified for bilateral relations by the Turkish foreign ministry, a diplomatic presence will be established, Turkish Airlines will launch a flight destination and economic links will be formed by globally active Turkish companies.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry might sign an agreement to ease the existing visa regime to increase interaction in commerce, academia and culture. A number of Turkish schools run by the Gülen Movement – highly sought after by local communities – also play an active role in consolidating relations and the Turkish government may provide scholarship opportunities for graduates of these schools to take a university degree in Turkey.

Though some of these measures are fairly traditional means of forming bilateral relations for other donor countries, what Turkey seems to do differently is that it joins up its efforts in the realms of diplomacy, economics, trade, culture and education.

In Somalia, for example, Turkey has become the largest donor among non-OECD-DAC countries and one of the most active actors in humanitarian aid and peace-building. There are a number of reasons for Somalia to become an interest for Turkey in this way, including geopolitical interests, socio-cultural and religious ties and Turkey’s wider business interests in Africa as well as Turkey’s newly gained confidence in tackling global challenges.

In August 2011, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied by a large entourage, travelled to Somalia to raise awareness among the international community of the ongoing conflict – the first non-African leader visiting Somalia over the past two decades. The visit brought Somalia back to the attention of a number of other donors, as it received a huge coverage by international media. For Turkey’s internal politics too, such high profile coverage meant strong public support for the Somalia aid campaign and popularity for the governing party.

Turkish aid organisations such as Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) and theTurkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) are highly active in a wide range of infrastructure, welfare and service sector programmes in the country such as clearing rubbish, providing clean water, building hospitals and running the Mogadishu’s permanent settlement for displaced Somalians. In 2011, the Turkish government donated $49m (£32m) to Somalia, but its successful mobilisation of private donations resulted in another sum of $365m. In 2012, over 1,200 Somali students received full scholarships to study in Turkey with a budget of nearly $70m.

One key to Turkey’s success is that it has much more presence in the streets of Mogadishu than many other actors. Some UN agencies and international NGOs have been running their programmes through remote management from Nairobi due to security challenges, however Turkish officials and aid workers have continued to work in the city. This is because Turkey has established a high level of trust within government, various armed groups and war-torn communities. Its Islamic background is also an important factor, according to Kilian Kleinschmidt, the UN’s deputy humanitarian co-ordinator in Somalia.

So, the Somalia experience shows that Turkey’s main strength in response to peace-building challenges is the way it uses its different capacities and resources in a co-ordinated way; providing assistance for relief aid and reconstruction, but also working with Somalia as a business partner and investing in the youth education.

However, this is not going to be a trouble free journey for Turkey. Although a joined up humanitarian strategy co-ordinated by its ministry of foreign affairs seems to increase effectiveness on the ground, Turkey may have to face tough future questions on the ethics of such a strategy, due to the dual principles of neutrality and impartiality for humanitarian responses.

Also, being an emerging power and getting involved in humanitarian crises around the world demands a sophisticated aid strategy and there is a huge need for Turkey to learn from the experiences of traditional donors such as US, EU countries and Japan. Avoiding their mistakes is key, but at the same time, there is no point in re-inventing the wheel.

Turkey hasn’t yet come to terms with the fact that it would make more sense to work with these actors and take a co-ordinated response rather than going it alone as often it does. In the long-term this is likely to create unnecessary tensions. If it wants to become a long-term player in the field of humanitarian response, Turkey will need as many friends as possible.

Professor Alpaslan Özerdem is director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University. He tweets [email protected]

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