November 10 marked the 18th anniversary of the state execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and the ‘Ogoni 8’.
Not long ago, the Governor of our state in Nigeria said to the Ogonis: ‘Why can’t you people move on?’ The simple answer is that since Ken’s death in 1995 nothing has been done to stop the devastation brought about by unwanted, dirty oil extraction in our homeland.
In the 1950s, before Nigeria won independence, Shell was given the right to drill oil. Ken Saro-Wiwa, like me, was from Ogoniland, an area of the Niger Delta which, like many others, was destroyed by the reckless exploitation of international oil companies, in particular Shell. Saro-Wiwa’s tireless campaigning let the international community know about our struggle – the conflict, pollution, loss of livelihood, food and drinking water. Ken also gave us hope by inspiring us to mobilize against the military government and Shell. Continue reading The struggle continues, 18 years after the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa→
Church reform is forging ahead. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favor of church reform “at all levels.” He specifically advocates structural reforms — namely, decentralization toward local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favor of a more effective presence of women in the church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favor of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.
All this will meet with wide approval far beyond the Catholic church. His undifferentiated rejection of abortion and women’s ordination will, however, probably provoke criticism. This is where the dogmatic limits of this pope become apparent. Or is he perhaps under pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its Prefect, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller? Continue reading Church reform at all levels by Hans Kung→
The move marks the first time that UN peacekeepers have used surveillance drones anywhere.
United Nations forces in Democratic Republic of Congo have launched unmanned aircraft to monitor the volatile border with Rwanda and Uganda, the first time UN peacekeepers have deployed surveillance drones.
The aircraft will be used to look out for threats from a host of local and foreign armed groups in the mineral rich east where Congo and UN experts have accused Rwanda and Uganda of sending arms and troops to back the recently-defeated M23 rebels, something both countries deny.
“The drones…will allow us to have reliable information about the movement of populations in the areas where there are armed groups,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, said at the launch of the drones in Goma. Continue reading UN forces introduce drones in Congo→
Information and communications technology takes agriculture to a new level in Zimbabwe
Charles Dhewa loved to write about agriculture, especially soil and crops. In early 2000 he decided to turn his words into action by becoming a cattle and horticulture farmer in Zimbabwe. He bought a small farm in Marondera, a town about an hour’s drive from the capital, Harare. His experience as a farmer enriched his writing, as he articulated issues in agriculture in ways that appealed to smallholder farmers. He soon became the communications expert for the Zimbabwe Farmers Union.
But Mr. Dhewa later changed jobs when he was hired as a local consultant for the British-funded Crop Post Harvest Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, an agency that supports poor smallholder farmers. Over the next 10 years he witnessed the power of the mobile phone and how people were using it to improve communication in agriculture and rural development. “Why not start a platform to link farmers, traders, financial institutions, input suppliers and policy makers in Zimbabwe?” he asked himself.
Buffalo, N.Y. — Is the International Criminal Court racist?
Some African leaders have leveled this preposterous accusation against the court, which was established in 2002 to hear cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ironies are rich. It’s true that all eight of the countries where the tribunal has opened investigations thus far have been in Africa. But half of the cases were referred to the court by Africans. (The others originated with the United Nations Security Council or the court’s chief prosecutor.)
Moreover, it seems that African leaders, who overwhelmingly agreed to the Rome Statute that set up the tribunal, now complain about it because it is doing its job too well — by pursuing justice and accountability even, or especially, at the level of heads of state. Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. Continue reading Kenya Tests International Justice→
As Peru continues to push an expansion of oil activities in the Amazon, there’s a new Canadian oil company with grand ambitions. Calgary-based Gran Tierra (“Great Earth”) recently burst onto the scene, gobbling up strategic oil reserves in the northern Peruvian Amazon. But these blocks have been steeped in controversy, forcing oil majors like ConocoPhillips to pack up and leave. Does Gran Tierra not understand the risks they are running, or do they believe they are somehow immune? Whether naïve or just arrogant, they are in for a rude shock.