Alison's Feed
Apr 18, 2010

Europe’s air travel crisis enters fourth day

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) – Air travel across much of
Europe was paralysed for a fourth day on Sunday because of a
huge cloud of volcanic ash, but Dutch and German test flights
carried out without apparent damage seemed to offer hope.

Many countries closed their airspaces until well into Sunday
or Monday, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded
worldwide, and weather experts said wind patterns meant the
cloud was not likely to move far until later in the week.

Aug 21, 2009
via Africa News blog

Women lead from the front in Rwanda’s parliament

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After next year’s election in Rwanda, women hope they will take around two thirds of the seats in parliament.It would be an ambitious dream for equality campaigners in many countries, but after the 1994 genocide, women made up 70 percent of Rwanda’s population. Rwanda became the first country in the world with a female majority in parliament after last year’s election. Solange Tuyisenge has a rural constituency and has been a legislator for about four years. She says even more can be done to give women even more political clout.“We cannot say that we have empowered all women; we still have a long way to go,” she told Reuters Africa Journal. ”We still have girls and women who need representation, to be spoken for.” She says she believes changing the mindsets of Rwandans is the key, so they “understand that the woman of the 40s is not the same as the current woman, a woman is not only to bear children or stay in the kitchen, there is development”.Rwanda brought in constitutional reforms to boost the number of female parliamentarians, as well as supporting other projects to develop opportunities for women – such as encouraging them to take up farming. ”Well, personally, the initiative to empower women in Rwanda has really made it possible for me to develop,” Alphonsine Umwubahimana, whose husband was killed was killed in 1994, told Africa Journal. She signed up for a farming programme, which gave her three dairy cows. She now has 15 and employs seven male labourers.An estimated 800,000 minority ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in Rwanda by militiamen and soldiers during just 100-days in 1994.Activists from Burundi, where two decades of civil war killed 300,000 people before it ended in 2006, have been to Rwanda to try to learn from its experience. After changing the constitution in 2005, the proportion of women in Burundi’s government rose from zero to 30 percent. ”Right now we are preparing ourselves for the next election in 2010, so that they can work some more on the constitution and increase the percentage of women from 30 percent to 50 percent in all sectors,” Burundian delegate Manairakiza Godelive said. Male delegate Nayishake Eugene said: “We have seen the truth … even if we have not yet started the hard part, we now know that it is possible.” (Photo: A genocide survivor holds wreaths as she attends the burial ceremony for people killed during Rwanda in front of the memorial in Kigali, on the 10 anniversary in April 2004. Reuters/Radu Sighei)

Aug 11, 2009
via Africa News blog

Pirates plunder Nigerian profits

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The first “Nollywood” film, “Living in Bondage”, was a tale of witchcraft, money and betrayal produced by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor.That was back in 1992. Today, Nigeria’s $450 million home video industry is the third biggest in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood.“I actually set out to be a film maker, so I got my training, came to Lagos. But since I could not do a thing on celluloid … I said to myself that there must be a way around it, there must be a new way to do the old things and that new way was trying to invent, you know, to experiment with VHS cameras. That experiment was what we did with ‘Living with Bondage’ and today that experiment has culminated into what we find and people call Nollywood,” Ogunjiofor told Reuters Africa Journal.Despite the successes, money and betrayal still play their part. Film piracy means millions of dollars a year leach out of the industry.An average Nollywood film sells about 50,000 copies, yet in Lagos alone millions of bootleg copies go for just $1, undercutting Nollywood’s price of $2.Fed up with the pirates, Ogunjiofor, who has pioneered an award scheme to reward production excellence in the film industry, has now turned to TV drama and soap operas and wants to see more government support, and legal backing, to help film-makers build a reputable industry.”As long as you are doing a good movie, you are a candidate of piracy. From the moment you go on location, they start buying materials to wait for your job,” Ogunjiofor said.”Piracy is so bad, so bad that almost every Friday here trailer loads of CDs made in Nigeria are crossing borders.”(Photo: Filming for “Covenant of the Ancestors” takes place in the Niger Delta in August 2006.  Reuters/George Esiri)

Jun 26, 2009
via Africa News blog

War child sings songs of peace

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“When you see a Sudanese walking on the street there is a story,” child soldier turned hip-hop star Emmanuel Jal says.That’s certainly true for Jal. He was sent to fight for Sudan People’s Liberation Army when he was just six years old.The exact dates are sketchy, but in about 1987, his village in southern Sudan was attacked by soldiers loyal to the Khartoum government, during more than two decades of north-south civil war.His mother was killed and he was taken into the SPLA and taught to fire a rifle he was barely strong enough to hold. With the help of a British aid worker, he managed to escape to neighbouring Kenya and today is known for his music and messages of peace.More than 20,000 child soldiers have been demobilised since the war that killed 2 million people ended in 2005.His experience was turned into a documentary, “War Child”, which he went back to Kenya from his base in London to promote.”Kenya is my home, this is where I became known as a rapper … so I’m bringing the movie home to see what had happened into the neighbouring country, for them to know why we are refugees here,” he told Reuters Africa Journal in Kenya.His songs draw heavily on his history and that of Africa.One, he told Africa Journal, is a letter to the oil, diamond and gold miners: “You take the riches and you leave the people poor.”"I talk about when it comes to Africa the world don’t care,” he said.Nairobi resident Moses Mbaja said: “Jal gave up his anger, he gave up his hatred and now he is creating peace; he is making peace. We should all embrace it.”(Reuters Photo: Sudanese child soldiers guard rebel military headquarters in February 2000)