Southern Sudan, Africa’s Next Country?

Southern Sudan, a quasi-autonomous state within Africa’s largest country with a population of about 8 million people, is set to decide in January 2011  whether to remain part of the Government of National Unity or to become independent. For over five decades, the Muslim-dominated north and the south have not seen peace with each other. The reason for these civil wars are partly religious and ethnic differences and partly the desire to hold power on Sudan’s vast oil reserves.

There is every indication that the south is going to vote for its independence. The believe it is their right. It you look at the history of Sudan, there’s enough reason to believe that the long awaited freedom will not come easy.

This is very significant because already over 2 million people have died and several millions fled from their homes in Sudan over the 20- year Sudan’s civil war (according to the US State Department).  Worst have happened in Sudan than perhaps ever conceived under Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Will the US respond to this African issue with the same urgency as though it was a WMD (weapon of mass destruction?). Will/ black leaders stand up and get the western leaders start talking about Sudan

Why should it Matter, in any Case?

The recent debate over the religion of President Barack Obama is not new to most readers. Some say he is Muslim,others ask how can he. Some even think he is agnostic. Obama says  he is a Christian, and I always thought that was good enough.

The President recently said he became a  “Christian by choice”. When I was put into Sunday as a toddler, I was taught that one  becomes a member of a particular faith or religion by choice. I’ve never been taught that once born to parents of particular religion, one is automatically of that faith. Simply put, religion is a choice. If its that simple, why will people not hold the President to the same standards.

Religion is determined by choice, not biology. If Obama was raised by Muslim father and a not-so-religious mother, does that really makes him a muslim? It’s my belief that it’s only politics and race that can make a person miss such a simple premise. Of course both can be very toxic.

I’ve listened to the President talk about religion more often than any President that I’ve seen. (Of course I’ve seen few Presidents.). What is undeniable is the fact that the Presidents shows admirable respect for people of other faith. This is called religious tolerance. Mr Obama does not look down on Islam,  Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism and Atheism even if that will win him some political capital, as the do-to-please politicians like Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann will do. In my opinion you cannot be a leader in the modern complex world and lack the religion tolerance demonstrated by Mr. Obama. Is such open mindedness not a respect to the principles upon which the American nation was founded?

In any case, what is wrong about one being a Muslim? Any politician who resorts to muslim bashing or ‘islamophobia’  for the reason that a few Muslims have hijacked the Islamic faith to unleash terrorism on humanity has no substance.  Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was reportedly raised Catholic and received the sacrament of confirmation (or course I’m not certain about whether he practiced the faith). Will it make sense to blame all Christians or Catholics for the terrible acts he committed? I’m yet to find a politician who will say ‘Yes’.

Not so Chocolate Flavor

A report released by the The Payson Center for International Development, Tulane University will give you a sour taste as you munch your chocolate.  The report critized the cocoa industry for the indiscriminate use of   child labor in various stages of the supply chain. The Cote d’Ivoire was particularly slammed the for child labor.  The report is titled “Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana”

Please use the comment section to suggest how the West can assist in curbing this practice of child labor  so that we can ensure all children of school-going age stay in school. One solution is to the let the food and drug administration (FDA) require chocolate labeling as we have for drugs. Chocolate manufacturers should be required to certify that the raw material the use is child-labor free as passing an inspection process similar to drugs go through. Products that do not pass this will have a black box warning about child labor in the product

Rev. Grahams Mission to Africa is Confusing

Amidst the controversy of whether US President Barack Obama is a Christian or not, Franklin Graham the son of Billy Graham, well known global evangelist and religious adviser to several US presidents, has made a comment on the religious origin of US President Barack Obama that makes a lot of  people, myself included, nervous. Bishop Graham said to John King the CNN Chief National Correspondent and Diane Sawyer of ABC News when asked about any question on the religious faith of the US president.

“I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name.

Another quote from Rev Graham in the same interviews read

“”Now it’s obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed, and he has renounced Islam, and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That’s what he says he has done. I cannot say that he hasn’t. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said,” Graham continued, adding that “the Islamic world sees the president as one of theirs.”

Rev Graham is well known for making tense religious comments in his career. The statements Rev Graham made above are statements that I will expect even Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and United States Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) to make with some hesitations. The Reverend appeared to be fueling the speculation about Mr. Obama’s faith. In any case, if Mr. Obama was a moslem, why should that matter?

The question is if Rev Graham believes that once a Muslim, always a moslem, then why does he spent millions of dollars, and risking the lives of missionaries trying to convert muslims in Africa (and other places) to Christianity? Do I miss the real meaning when I read scriptures like “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)?

To his credit Rev Graham is making a difference in the lives of people in several African communities. Last year (Feb, 28, 2009) the Christian Post reported that the Evangelical leader made Peace Mission to Sudan. The visit was to offer him the opportunity to meet high-level government officials to discuss a faltering peace agreement that affects Sudanese Christians. Rev Graham’s mission has established over 300 churches in Sudan; the target is 500.

I do not want believe that Rev Graham thinks that once a Muslim, always a Muslim. That will make his Mission to Sudan and other African communities of not sense (and cents) to me. Perhaps the religious leader was just doing this for political reasons which is even more disturbing. People of his standing should never forget what their ‘mission’ is.

Archbishop Tutu says Time’s Up

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the man commonly referred to as the conscience of South Africa, announced a few days ago that he was retiring from public service in order to spend more time with his family. TalkAfrique takes this opportunity to pay tribute to Arch. Tutu for his service to South Africa, the African continent and humanity in general. It was Desmond Tutu’s firebrand criticism that built the foundation to eventually bring an end to South Africa’s horrible apartheid system. Archbishop Tutu is 79. It is our hope that he will have joy and peace in the many more years that he will be with us, and that his example will guide current and future leaders of the continent

Arch. Tutu in Video

A Breakthrough in Malaria Research

Scientists from Scotland have reported a major breakthrough  in fight against malaria.

The team from Edinburgh University in collaboration with  a team in Portugal  have discovered a gene that offers the drug resistance trait to the parasite. Drug-resistant plasmodium falciparum parasites are a major hindrance in the battle against the deadly disease. Chloroquine, the most commonly prescribed medicine against malaria has lost its effectiveness due to the proliferation of chloroquine resistant parasites.

Scientists think this is a  major development in malaria research. Malarial kills one to three million people annually, mostly children. These findings may pave a way for a new class of anti-malarials.

The study has been published in Biomedical Central (Sept 2010)

The Hero Mosquito in Sierra Leone

In 2008, Ian McLeod-McClean, a sex offender from Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom, fled to Sierra Leone after he was charged with abusing three girls. Mr.  McLeod-McClean, 48, has just been deported to the UK after visiting a hospital in Sierra Leone after he was hit with malaria. Last week, at a court in Maidstone Crown, he admitted to 23 sex crimes against several girls. His sentence is due Oct 28.

But for the relentless effort of the hero mosquito, the sex offender Mr. McLeod-McClean would be hiding in Sierra Leone doing his own thing to other innocent girls. In an ideal world, we would wish that all mosquitoes will emulate this hero. Unfortunately, a child dies of malarial every 30 seconds. What does that translate to  in a year?

The African Cup of Nations versus European Coaches

The African Cup of Nations is traditionally played during January and February every other year. Over the past few years, African players in Europe and other places and their coaches have on several occasions pleaded with the CAF management to either change the schedule to every 4 years or change the timing to coincide with the European leagues’ off season. Please use the space below to share your thoughts on what you think should be done.