Last December, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Los Angeles-based artist and film-maker Hazel Hill McCarthy III visited Ouidah in Benin to make a documentary exploring the origins of the religion Vodun. While there, P-Orridge was initiated into the Twin Fetish, a Vodun practice that celebrates twins – particularly resonant in Benin, which has the highest national average of twins per birth and where they carry a sacred meaning – honouring her relationship with h/er late wife and pandrogyne partner Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge. As McCarthy writes of the film: “In this story we begin to see the link between pandrogyny and the Twin Fetish, an activation of a complete state and in fact the true fundamentals of Vodun religion.”
Old Maps Online, just launched this week, is the reportedly the largest collection of historical maps online.
You can do a text search, or browse around on an interactive map for locations for which you’d like to find older maps. You can filter the results by year. Above is the oldest map of the entire continent of Africa that I could find – from 1717.
European Union countries must drop their biofuels targets or else risk plunging more Africans into hunger and raising carbon emissions, according to Friends of the Earth (FoE).
In a campaign launching today, the charity accuses European companies of land-grabbing throughout Africa to grow biofuel crops that directly compete with food crops. Biofuel companies counter that they consult with local governments, bring investment and jobs, and often produce fuels for the local market. […]
Producers argue they typically farm land not destined, or suitable for, food crops. But campaigners reject those claims, with FoE saying that biofuel crops, including non-edible ones such as jatropha, “are competing directly with food crops for fertile land”. […]
Sun Biofuels, a British company farming land in Mozambique and Tanzania and named in the report, criticised the charity’s research as “emotional and anecdotal” and said that its time would be better spent looking into ways to develop equitable farming models in Africa.
With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there’s no space in the press for British Petroleum’s latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.
On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after “procedures weren’t properly implemented” by BP operators, say state inspectors. “Procedures weren’t properly implemented” is, it seems, BP’s company motto.
Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.
There’s another reason to keep their name off the Pipe: their management of the pipe stinks. It’s corroded, it’s undermanned and “basic maintenance” is a term BP never heard of.
How does BP get away with it? The same way the Godfather got away with it: bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.
Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”
That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.
In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig last month.
That disaster, which claimed the lives of 11 rig workers, has made headlines round the world. By contrast, little information has emerged about the damage inflicted on the Niger delta. Yet the destruction there provides us with a far more accurate picture of the price we have to pay for drilling oil today.
Sam Childers is known in these parts, and back home in Pennsylvania, simply as the Reverend Sam. He is not your typical evangelical Christian missionary, nor, as a white American, is he your typical African warlord. Childers is a former drug dealer and outlaw biker, with tired eyes framed by grizzly muttonchops and a walrus mustache. He claims divine justification for what he does. In firefights, he says, God sometimes tells him when to shoot. He speaks country-singer American, with plenty of grit, and he recounts, over and over, the same stories from his bar-brawling days. He lifts weights, favors army fatigues, and keeps a .44 Magnum tucked in the small of his back. Harley tattoos stretch down his thick arms, and “Freedom Fighter” is airbrushed on the back of his truck. He once owned 15 pit bulls. He seems suited more to bending steel in a motorcycle shop than to saving souls in Sudanese villages.
In 1992, Childers was born again, having promised his wife he would come to Jesus if God granted them a child. A child was born. Leaving behind a life of drugs and crime, Childers set up a hardscrabble church in rural Pennsylvania. In 1998 he used his meager savings to take his first missionary trip to Sudan. He ended up near the border with Uganda, where a complicated and bloody conflict—one of Africa’s so-called forgotten wars—has been raging since 1987. At the center of the fighting is the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group led by a Ugandan named Joseph Kony. The L.R.A.’s stated goal is to overthrow the Ugandan government and install a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments. That effort has entailed systematically ignoring at least one of the commandments, Thou Shalt Not Kill. Most of the others have been breached as well. This forgotten war is the continent’s longest running. It spills across the border from Uganda into Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as the L.R.A. scours the region for conscripts and supplies.
What transformed Childers into a zealot was, as he later wrote, “a metal disk about the size of a dinner plate.” A land mine had been placed along a road near the town of Yei, and a child made the mistake of stepping on it. Childers happened upon the torso. In time, he liquidated his construction business, sold his pit bulls, auctioned his antique-gun collection, and mortgaged his home to help pay for regular trips to Sudan, where he began spending most of his time. He became obsessed with the fate of the thousands of children who have lost their parents to the fighting. In due course he would set up an orphanage in Sudan. But it was Joseph Kony who grabbed his attention. “I found God in 1992,” Childers says, in what is by now a ritual formulation. “I found Satan in 1998.” He has vowed to track Kony down and, in biblical fashion, to smite him. He has been trying for years. But this specific ambition has led to a broader entanglement in the region’s conflicts. Childers is now helping to feed and supply the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (S.P.L.A.), and he has made his home in Uganda available to the rebels for a radio-relay station. An arms depot stands at the heart of his orphanage. Childers also maintains his own paid militia force—a platoon of seasoned fighters recruited from the S.P.L.A.—and for his efforts, he says, the government of Southern Sudan has named him an honorary commander, the only white man to achieve that distinction. The Ugandan and Southern Sudanese militaries give Childers wide latitude to roam an increasingly bloody militarized zone.
An Indian telecom company is deploying simple cell phone base stations that need as little as 50 watts of solar-provided power. It will soon announce plans to sell the equipment in Africa, expanding cell phone access to new ranks of rural villagers who live far from electricity supplies.
Add one more very important name to the growing international list of those opposed to Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Bob Hunter, the man who helped build Uganda’s relationship with the Family, aka the Fellowship, the international movement of “followers of Christ” – some reject the term “Christian” that also includes several U.S. politicians with ties to Uganda: among them, Senator James Inhofe, Senator Sam Brownback, and Representative Joe Pitts. […]
Moreover, Bob adds “I know of no one involved in Uganda with the Fellowship here in America, including the most conservative among them, that supports such things as killing homosexuals or draconian reporting requirements, much less has gone over to Uganda to push such positions.” […]
Last, but not least at all: The question of the relationship between Bob, the Fellowship, and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Bob argues that any connection at all is “absurd.” He takes particular issue with my statement that the situation in Uganda is “a perfect case study in the export of a lot on American, largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda.” Bob is now on record expressing his active opposition to the bill, and many of his Fellowship associates are on record expressing a passive opposition to the bill. That’s what matters most here. The question of cultural influence is more complicated. I’ll say this: The member of parliament most strongly associated with the bill, David Bahati, has, as Bob points out, been associated with the Fellowship. Other Fellowship sources say that Bahati floated the idea at a private event linked to the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast; one source says 2008, Bob thinks it was 2009. What’s most important is that all sources say Fellowship associates politely expressed opposition. Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo, another strong supporter of the bill, is also linked to the Fellowship (though possibly not as closely as Buturo believes) and an organizer of the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast. And President Museveni, a longtime Fellowship associate, has given implicit support to the extreme stigmatization of homosexuality, declaring, “European homosexuals are recruiting in Africa.” Other scholars have noted that Museveni’s anti-gay rhetoric has grown strongly over the years, a period during which Uganda has experienced a great religious revival rooted in the years before Museveni took power. One needn’t take anything away from the very real virtues of that revival – it helped overthrow a dictatorship — to condemn its ugly baggage: an inflammation of anti-gay rhetoric, violence, and now new legal measures on top of Uganda’s existing anti-gay laws, antiquated regulations dating back to British colonialism.***
Somalia’s mobile phone business is booming despite the almost daily artillery fire that flies over expensive satellite dishes and the violence that has brought misery to the population of the Horn of Africa nation.
The three largest firms, Hormuud Telecom, Nation Link and Telecom Somalia, have a combined 1.8 million mobile users who enjoy some of the world’s cheapest calling rates, allowing them to stay in touch with their loved ones amidst the conflict. […]
With mobile phone use at about 18 percent of the population, Somalia lags its neighbour and east Africa’s largest economy Kenya, where it is above 40 percent, but it is ahead of several other poor African nations.
Alfred Sirleaf is an analog blogger. He take runs the “Daily News”, a news hut by the side of a major road in the middle of Monrovia. He started it a number of years ago, stating that he wanted to get news into the hands of those who couldn’t afford newspapers, in the language that they could understand.
Alfred serves as a reminder to the rest of us, that simple is often better, just because it works. The lack of electricity never throws him off. The lack of funding means he’s creative in ways that he recruits people from around the city and country to report news to him. He uses his cell phone as the major point of connection between him and the 10,000 (he says) that read his blackboard daily.