Wouldn’t Miss It For The World

By Rose-Anne Clermont | TheRoot.com

Oct. 31, 2008–We communicate daily in languages we didn’t grow up speaking. We have learned to adapt to cultures that have not entirely adopted us. Barack Obama might call us, as he has himself, “citizens of the world.” But for Americans living abroad, it’s our chance at changing the world as American citizens that is calling many of us back to our hometowns next week.

“I feel an incredible drive to get home for the election,” says Tioka Tokedira, who has lived in Paris for the last five years and is traveling to Philadelphia to vote and volunteer. “Obama gives me a feeling of hope and pride, especially after dealing with negative French attitudes toward Americans.”

Read Rose-Anne Clemont’s artcle in full.

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Zimbabwean Immigrants Face Harsh Realities in Musina

Thursday, 30 October 2008 13:01


The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) is appalled by the treatment and arbitrary arrest of Zimbabwean immigrants in Musina, the majority of who are fleeing torture and persecution and are genuinely seeking asylum and peace in South Africa. These victims of human rights abuses face insurmountable challenges, from lack of access to the Refugee Reception Office for service, to being kicked out of places of safety where they would have sought refuge by intolerant local authorities. Their only option is to stay within the show grounds where the Reception Offices are. Here there is no shelter from the harsh Musina weather, with only a few toilets to cater for hundreds of applicants, many of them unaccompanied minors, women and children. If they try to leave, they risk being detained and deported, if not, they are abducted, robbed and assaulted by the ever lurking magumaguma (robbers) or malayitshas (human traffickers) who take anything and everything.

During a 3-day mission to the Zimbabwe-South Africa border on the 15th of October, the ZEF team visited the show grounds where the asylum seekers are staying. ZEF was alarmed by the level of suffering the applicants were experiencing, amongst them hordes of women and children. There are hundreds of asylum seekers cramped into the little spaces where there is shelter from the sun and the rain, huddled together for protection. These brothers and sisters are hungry and scared, and there seems to be no one to hear their pleas.

Upon being interviewed, most of the applicants alleged that they were exposed to all sorts of challenges, among them lack of access to legalise their stay, exploitation and intimidation by officials, being chased from places of safety such as churches, as well as in some instances experiencing abductions, rape and assault. There were also reports that minors were detained with adult detainees under inhumane conditions in the Detention Centre at the Musina Army Base or at the police station. ZEF also received confirmation of these incidents from local humanitarian organisations operating in Musina. It is unbearably hot in Musina (38 degrees Celsius) and the detainees are made to sit on the floor, in a warehouse building with no air conditioning. The roof of the detention centre is of corrugated iron, which makes the heat inside the building intolerable.

From the migrants ZEF interviewed, it is clear that the majority fled from Zimbabwe fearing for their lives either because of starvation or political intolerance. As such, these people deserve fair treatment in line with universally accepted refugee principles to which South Africa is a party. It is no secret that gross human rights violations are still ongoing in Zimbabwe, despite the so-called deal between the major political parties. Instead, the asylum seekers are subjected to all forms of harassment and labelled economic refugees.

The unfair treatment and inhumane conditions to which asylum seekers from Zimbabwe are subjected to are in contravention of universal human rights norms and principles to which South Africa is party. Breaches of this nature seem to be carried out irrespective of whether these men, women and children are genuine asylum seekers or not, the determination of which can only be made after a transparent, victim friendly process, in respect of the South African Refugee Act and Constitution.

In this regard, ZEF is appealing to the South African Government, Local and provincial authorities and the reception office to address the needs of migrants in Musina. The urgent needs are food, security, shelter and medical assistance. It further appeals to the responsible authorities to allow humanitarian and other service organisations to offer such assistance without fear of retribution. ZEF believes that a partnership between authorities and these organisations would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of the already traumatised migrants. Lastly, ZEF appeals to all humanitarian organisations, churches and well wishers to help the asylum seekers who are in such dire need, not only in Musina but all over South Africa and the Diaspora at large. It is no secret that unaccompanied minors, women and children are bearing the brunt of this suffering.

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Women of the African Diaspora Website Celebrates First Anniversary

Website for Black Women is about to unveil a new look for its anniversary.

Rotterdam, NL/Stockholm, SWE October 29, 2008 – Women of the African Diaspora website is having a birthday complete with gifts for its readers. The website, which celebrates Black women, will unveil its new look and a new domain name on November 1, 2008.

“Women of the African Diaspora website is simply better than ever,” says Sandra Rafaela, Women of the African Diaspora’s co-founder and co-editor. “We are working very hard to create a website that provides information, inspiration and more for Black women around the world.”

Women of the African Diaspora website leverages the global reach of the Internet to share relevant news, event notices and showcase a wide range of talented Black women including authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and others. And with Black women living on virtually every continent, it certainly has a large market.

“Women of the African Diaspora’s website content is very compelling and shines a positive spotlight on Black women that main stream media far too often ignores,” says Adrianne George, Women of the African Diaspora‘s co-founder and co-editor. “The number of visitors to the site has increased each month over the past year, and our new look and new domain name make us the perfect choice for advertisers who want to reach the important market of Black women consumers.”

The year has been marked with highlights for the Women of the African Diaspora co-editors, with Ms. Rafaela’s Afro European Sisters Network blog being awarded blogged’s “great” rating. Ms. George’s Black Women in Europe blog was a member of a credentialed blogging team at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Her blog also won the Helping Hand Award, a 2009 Black Web Award for Best European Website, and was a finalist for a 2008 Black Weblog award.

Within the next year, Ms. Rafaela and Ms. George have big goals for the website: to introduce new categories including a section showcasing photographers, increase the number of visitors, attract quality advertisers, and continue to fill every page of Women of the African Diaspora with inspiration and information for Black women.

“We’ve come so far in just one year,” explains George. “We haven’t just built a website, we’ve built a community with the Women of the African Diaspora Social Network. Rafaela explains, “We have really enjoyed meeting accomplished and positive Black women while providing them with a unique platform for exposure. We’re ready to take on year two.”

Anniversary gifts are provided by Creating Tomorrow, iPavilion, Marsha T. Jenkins, Lutishia Lovely, and Victoria Wells.

More information is available at http://blackwomenineurope.com.

Contact: Sandra Rafaela sandra@blackwomenineurope.com
Adrianne George adrianne@blackwomenineurope.com


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Opinions From Women of African Descent Wanted

We received this request today:

My sorority is sponsoring an International Awareness 1 day conference in March 09 – the focus will be women of the African Diaspora, working together. So, of course I thought of you.

Before the conference, we’re trying to gather information and opinions from as many women of African descent – all over the world, that we can, so wanted to ask if you’d be interested in participating. Basically, I have a 10-question survey that asks about your views of women in your country. The idea is for us to understand what’s good and what’s bad, so that we can work together to develop an action plan to address the issues facing all women.


The MyAfricanDiaspora Team

If you would like to participate please email the ansers to the following questions to Veronica:

Tell me how you see the role on women in your culture/country?

What shaped your view?

Do you agree with this role for women in your culture/country?

What are the strengths for women in your culture/country?

What are the challenges?

How do and or other women you know cope with the challenges?

If you had a magic wand what changes would you make and why?

What would you like for your sisters in America to know about the culture of women in your country?

Is there a particular group of women in your country that are in need of special assistance?

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

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FE-MAIL TIES – Still waters

FE-MAIL TIES – Still waters
by D-Empress

Word is that when it comes to handling relationship issues, most Jamaican women are sometimes extremely vocal in articulating their desires and dissatisfactions. Word also suggests that women in Africa, as a rule, are generally less outspoken (at least in public spaces), and so, the logic reasons, less emancipated than their Jamaican sisters. True? From what I’ve observed, emancipation in relationships is an elastic truth that women both sides of the Atlantic are grappling with.

Yes, women of the diaspora have been brought up to tell it like it is, claiming their space in fearless self-expression. After all, our history of slavery literally yoked our voices for too long. Strategically, we had to cultivate survival strategies and defence systems which have permeated our psyche, our culture and implicitly, our intimate relations. So, whenever we feel under attack, we lash out – even against our men. Emancipation, you say?

Cultivated Techniques

Sisters this side of the world, have cultivated techniques to manage love feuds in a less confrontational style. This is often interpreted from, Western influenced eyes, as subjugation and misogyny. Now, it’s true that many women living across the African continent have not experienced the trauma of the middle passage, but most probably have historical (many recent) memories of war and displacement and the need to devise survival strategies.

However, when it comes to managing relations with their significant others, emancipation is clearly a matter of interpretation. Honed over many generations, there is an alluring quality to the power of less noise.

Talk so much

A close male friend from Ghana (let’s call him Kobi) says he can’t understand why women from other cultures talk so much, and why they throw away their power so easily and so often. There’s logic in his reasoning.

Recently, he successfully mediated a sensitive situation between a Ghanaian man married to a Jamaican woman, who were on the brink of divorce. Despite the troubled past, both parties wanted to salvage the relationship and were willing to talk through someone they trusted as a mediator – enter Kobi.

Driving his sister friend to the meeting, he advised her to simply state her issues as calmly as possible, listen and chill. She, seething in a volcano of resentment and hurt, could not imagine anything more disempowering. However, feeling she had nothing to lose, she followed his advice.

Long story short, within a week, the mountains of distrust that had grown between the couple began to crumble. The couple, which could now talk calmly to each other and not at each other, made moves to reunite within a month.

Kobi is convinced that his advice paved the way to the peace table. The sister in question agrees. Despite her upbringing, she saw the power of still waters in the midst of turmoil. She understood that her lava contribution would have fuelled the fire as opposed to getting her voice heard. It was heard. She recognised that her internal defence system was designed to shatter resistance at all costs – sometimes necessary. However, in the relationship arena, she is learning to build trust through love-anchored stillness. Emancipation you said?

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First Female Vice Chancellor Inducted into Office


By David Alan Painstil Cape Coast

The University of Cape Coast (UCC) became the centre of attraction, for thousands of people from all walks of life, as they gathered in the university’s science auditorium to witness the induction of the first female Vice Chancellor of a state university in the country, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang.

The University Primary Cadet Corps and Regimental Band, heralded the occasion with a brilliant cadet display, as the students cheered them on.

The procession, led by the Chancellor of the university, Sir Sam Jonah, former president of AngloGold Ashanti Company, entered the auditorium, which was filled to capacity.

In his welcome address, Sir Jonah indicated that the UCC would never cease to impress, as it has made history in transferring power from a male outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof Emmanuel Adow-Obeng, to a female Vice Chancellor, Prof Opoku Agyemang.

“Once again UCC is offering a fine example of how power can be transferred from one administration to the other. In 87 days time, the people of Ghana would vote for a new administration. It is our hope and prayer that the processes will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful,” he said, attracting large applause from the crowd.

According to Sir Jonah, who inducted Prof Opoku Agyemang into office, the woman has joined an exclusive club of female vice chancellors on the continent, and in the world, and that he was proud to be the first Chancellor to preside over that groundbreaking event.

“Naana, you have certainly earned your stripes; you have exhibited great courage; you have simply refused to accept status quo, which imposes unfair disadvantages on the role of members of your gender in all endeavours of life. Indeed you have shattered the glass ceiling, and today you have done more for the future of members of your gender,” Sir Jonah described Prof. Opoku Agyemang.

Sir Jonah revealed that nobody challenged the nomination of Prof. Agyemang, and that alone, indicated that she was qualified for the job.

Sir Jonah also praised Prof. Adow-Obeng, for his immense contribution towards the development of the UCC, which has led to the astronomical increase of students from 8,959 in 2001, to about 40,000 in 2008, including 21, 489 distance learners across the country.

In her acceptance speech, the 56 year-old former Dean of Graduates Studies and Research thanked the University Council for the confidence reposed in her, and promised to run an open and transparent administration.

She also promised to establish a museum at the university, to preserve successes of Ghanaian personalities and Africans in the Diaspora, as a means of telling the African story.

Prof. Agyemang promised to expand scholarships for graduate students, in order to motivate them to bring out innovative ideas for the development of the country.

Mr. Isaac Ohene was also inducted into office, as the new Registrar of the university.

Present at the event were Prof. Dominic Fobih, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah, Trade and Industry Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, Central Regional Minister and Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Omanhen of the Oguaa Traditional Area.

Others were Nana Pra Agyinsem, former Council of State Member and Nana Kodwo Kru, Omanhen of the Komenda Traditional Area, as well as Vice Chancellors from other universities.

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