Stories from Quick Reads and Nigeria
The growing migration crisis has recently also affected countries in southeastern Europe, with new issues arising almost daily. Reacting to the inhumane treatment of migrants who pass through Republic of Macedonia, renowned human rights activist Suad Missini started a hunger strike in front of the Parliament building in Skopje. He began the strike immediately after publishing his three demands in a Facebook post on Sunday, June 14, which garnered almost 300 likes and over 90 shares in just the first day.
I am just starting a hunger strike.
In front of the Parliament.
I demand urgently and immediately:
- Urgent adoption of the changes of the Asylum law, that would enable safe transit or temporary stay of refugees passing through the Macedonian territory, as well as free use of all publicly available means of transport.
- Concrete and publicly announced measures by the Ministry of Interior in view to safeguard the life, security and possessions of refugees passing through Macedonia.
- Immediate liberation of all refugees and migrants detained in the Gazi Baba center and its immediate closure.
The strike will not end unless these demands are fulfilled.
Thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other war zones pass through Macedonia, traveling from Greece towards Serbia on a path to try to reach Germany or other well-off EU countries. The migrants used to follow the railway tracks on foot, suffering horrific “accidents.” Lately the migrants buy bicycles, reportedly at inflated prices, in southern Macedonian towns and cycle on the main highway. Many of them fall victim to human trafficking rings and gangs of robbers. Some of the refugees are held as “witnesses” in the Reception Center for Foreigners “Gazi Baba” in Skopje in what Macedonian Ombudsman Idzhet Memeti has called “inhuman, unhealthy, and undignified” conditions.
The government is supposed to discuss the amendments to the Asylum Law on June 16.
Read more of our special coverage: Streams of Refugees Seek Sanctuary in Europe
Join us as we unveil Nwachukwu Egbunike’s debut collection of poems Blazing Moon. Egbunike is a blogger and essayist.
In commemoration of the 2015 World Poetry Day celebration, the March edition of ARTMOSPHERE will also play host to Dami Ajayi, a medical doctor and author of the poetry collection, Clinical Blues.
Both poets will read from their collections and discuss the creative process, governance, political, as well as social issues. There will also be book signings and music performances by D’Jazz Band at the event.
Blazing Moon is a book that draws you out, strips you naked, and asks you to confront yourself, define yourself and know who you are. There is no room for quibbles, for middle-of-the road stances: you must yourself pick up the gauntlet and fight your own battle of honour, of faith, of self. In this you will confront striking contrasts that paint human follies in the garb of lifting sanctity: thirsty, loves the drought; hungry, loves the famine; the contents though spilled, yet never exhausted. You would be telling yourself, I know a story like that.
On February 4, Boko Haram conducted a particularly gruesome attack on the town of Fotokol in Northern Cameroon, right across the Nigerian border. Hundred of civilians are feared dead, 81 confirmed so far by the Minister of Defense. Local Human Rights Organization believes that close to 370 civilians were killed. Local testimonies mention scores of bodies in the streets with their throats slit. The town of Fotokol has been subjected to battles between Boko Haram and Camerronian and Chadian armed forces recently: March 2014, August 2014 and October 2014. Cameroonian Blogger Noelle Lafortune reports that the attack signals that Boko Haram might be losing ground in the region:
Au front, la peur est en train de changer de camp. L'entrée en scène de l'armée tchadienne en appui aux armées camerounaise et nigériane semble être décisive, eu égard à la panique qui s'est emparée de Boko Haram. La puissance de feu des forces coalisées a mis en déroute Shekau et sa bande.
On the frontline, doubt might be switching sides. The emergence of the Chadian army in support of the Cameroonian and Nigerian military appears to be decisive, given the panic moves that has seemingly gripped Boko Haram. The firepower of the coalition forces routed Shekau (head of Boko Haram) and his gang.
Ebola Alert Twitter feed is the creation of evidence-driven group of volunteer professionals working on Ebola prevention interventions. The initiative involves active participation of professionals from different walks of life.
“When will Ebola news go 24/7?,” asks a US/Canadian professor Crawford Kilian:
I have long been used to outbreak news dropping off on weekends. The media, government agencies, and NGOs all knock off on Friday afternoon and show up again Monday morning.
But after the last few weeks of Ebola, I'm losing patience with the folks who make a living covering the outbreak. Yes, good for them and the collective agreements that give them eight-hour days, weekends off, extended holidays, and excellent health benefits.
But if Ebola is as unprecedented as Dr. Chan says it is, how about finding the money to pay those folks overtime so Ebola news carries on over the weekend (not to mention statutory holidays)? Can you imagine news about Pearl Harbor waiting until some reporter sauntered in on the morning of Monday, December 8, 1941? Or JFK's death going unreported until the following Monday, November 25, 1963?
But the West African media, with a few exceptions, go into hibernation on Friday afternoons and revive sometime the following Monday. So do WHO and the other major health agencies. I know very well that they've suffered budget cuts by governments that still think austerity is the road to recovery from the crash of 2008.
On August 19, 2014, the Republic of Cameroon closed its borders with Nigeria in a bid to halt the spread of the Ebola virus. However, the government made this decision without giving enough thought to the thousands of travelers – mostly Cameroonian citizens and Nigerians resident in Cameroon – caught on the wrong side of the border. Consequently, many of these travelers ended being trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for days, in appalling conditions, while waiting to be screened for the Ebola virus before being allowed back into Cameroon.
Batuo's Blog published the first-person narrative of Patricia Temeching, one of the travelers who was trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for over 40 hours:
I go through Nigerian security checks and my passport is grudgingly returned to me. I walk across the bridge. The Cameroonian side of the bridge is crowded, as is the police/customs post that is perched three meters away from the end of the bridge… When I inquire why there are so many people on the bridge a miserable-looking woman replies, “We are waiting for the medical team to screen us for Ebola before we can go into Cameroon…”
‘How long have you been waiting?’ I ask.
“Fifteen hours. I came yesterday just after the medical team had left.”
I join the throng of people on the bridge and we wait and wait. Hunger and anger consume me. All I have in my travelling bag are a few clothes and my academic papers. By evening more and more people have joined us and we are all crowded on the bridge and in the small police post building, where we spend the night on our feet. The stench of urine and faeces emanating from the back of the building combines with the unhealthy sweat from two hundred unwashed bodies and leaves a nauseating sickening feeling in the air.
In the morning we receive information that the medical team will arrive soon. We are all looking forward to it. By noon nothing has happened…
This afternoon, after I have spent 24 hours at the border post, we are allowed to trek to Ekok town. It is a trek an Ebola patient will certainly not survive. We pay boys to carry our bags. When we reach Ekok town we are bundled into an empty building with no lights, no toilet facilities and no beds. This it to be our accommodation until the medical team arrives. Finally the “medical team” arrives. It is the doctor from Eyumojock. We go through the “screening”. This is how it happens: Eau de Javel [bleach] is poured into water. We file in and wash our hands. We also wash our mouths. Then you are cleared.
Once I am cleared (at 10 p.m.), I leave the ‘quarantine’ building and go to look for a hotel. I find a run-down inn and finally crawl into a sorry-looking bed with tired sheets. After spending forty hours on my feet this bed feels like a king’s bed. I sleep the sleep of the dead.
This is my greatest worry: What if one person among us (two hundred travellers) actually came with Ebola from Nigeria? The chances are we might all have become contaminated in the past fifty hours from being held promiscuously together, and we would now be taking the virus to two hundred different Cameroonian families.
Chris Akor's investors’ guide to Nigeria intends to demonstrate how the negatives reports about Nigeria have no basis in reality and that investors who have ignored the reports have been making huge returns on their investments:
Undue clatter has trailed the release of Nigeria’s rebased GDP figures – a purely technical matter devoid of politics – from some groups in Nigeria. These groups are mainly opposition politicians, whose electoral appeal hinges on their ability to paint a grim and gloomy picture of abject poverty, underdevelopment, helplessness and the current government’s culpability in bringing about such a situation. Some civil society groups, who have been making a living from the ‘poverty status’ of Nigeria and who’s survival and funding are now threatened by Nigeria exiting the lower-income category. Ignorant social media activists, whose popularity come from insulting the government and the establishment and putting their country down, and some so-called experts on Nigeria, who make a living out of the ills of the Nigerian society and have been cleverly feeding and sustaining the ‘corrupt, fraudster, never-do-wells’ image of the country in the international community and discouraging well-meaning investors from coming to do business in Nigeria.
Omg Ghana reports about Joshua Beckford's outstanding academic achievement:
At age 8, you were probably practicing a sport or was preparing for the third grade. Well, meet an 8 year old with a twist, Joshua Beckford. This particular young boy is by far not your average 8 year old. He studied at Oxford University at the age of 6, and he is the face of the National Autistic Society’s Black and Minority (BME) campaign. It’s put in to place to highlight the obstacles that people with black minority background often encounter when trying to obtain the access to support and services they need. Beckford is one of a kind, he is too advanced for his required school grade so that lead him into being homeschooled. He excels in Math, Foreign Languages, History, Philosophy, IT and Science.
We, the under signed Nigerian bloggers, view with grave concern the continued detention of the innocent school girls who were abducted from Chibok on April 15, 2014. We are of the strong view that no amount of social grievance either against the government and or the people of Nigeria can justify such an act of violence against school children. We therefore condemn the abduction in very strong terms.
The also called on their government to expedient action in getting back the abducted high school students from the Boko haram terrorists:
We also call on the government of Nigeria to do everything in its power, even if it includes involving an international security agency, to bring the girls back from the hands of those who currently hold them, and restore a sense of security to the country as soon as possible. Elections are coming up next year. Citizens want to be able to feel safe wherever they are. Democracy thrives best when citizens feel empowered to pursue their daily chores without fear or threat to their lives and property.
The Social Media Week Lagos 2014 (February 17-21) is currently going on in Lagos, Nigeria:
SMW Lagos is only in it’s 2nd year and has already claimed its place as the largest, tech, new media and business conference on the continent of Africa. It attracts some of the continents most forward thinkers, brands, learners and creators. With a population of over 20M Lagos is the largest black city in the world and is arguably the epicenter of the continent and home to the powerhouses of Africa’s creative, business and tech communities. Recognizing the importance of a connected continent, while aiming to encourage collaboration, our 2014 conference them is: A CONNECTED AFRICA IS THE FUTURE.
The only event of it’s kind, Social Media Week Lagos is a world class conference with Africa’s brightest minds that is free and open to the public. SMW Lagos is also unique in that 70% of the weeks amazing panels, parties and workshops are organized by the public
In March 2015, Africa's most populous country held its third general election, an historic vote that saw power change hands democratically for the first time since independence. The new government means the coming months will see a reshuffling of political offices, including key positions in the oil industry. Not on the appointment list? Not to worry! Tolu Ogunlesi has a funny, informative guide to how you too can cash in on Nigeria's oil wealth.
Here's step four:
Lower the Bar. This is simple common sense. If you want it easier, you’ve got to make it easier. Again, let’s go back to 2011. Pre-Jonathan, the requirements for qualifying to be issued an oil import licence were quite stringent. You had to prove that you had the capacity to pay upfront for a minimum shipment size of 5,000 metric tonnes of product. You also had to prove that you owned retail outlets for the distribution of the imported product.
For the first time, Boko Haram conducted an assault on Niger's territory and the youth of Niger will not stand for it.
Boko Haram assaulted Bosso and Diffa, two towns in southeast Niger at the border with Nigeria but was repelled by Niger and Chad's army. Boko Haram lost an estimated 100 combatants in the clash but a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the city a few hours later, killing 5 civilians. The youth of Niger was prompt to react to the attacks. Niamey (Niger's capital) High school students got together to condemn the attacks on their country and express in Hausa their support to their troops fighting at the border:
I am sure you have heard of Nigeria before now. Boko Haram, right? The slaughter and blood cuddling rampage. But I doubt if you have heard about this ‘story’ of Nigeria – nature's master piece.
Oluwakemi Ojo curates “100 Instagram Photos That Will Make You Fall In Love With Nigeria“:
Nigeria is one African country that everyone raves about, a very beautiful nation and it is when you visit the country that you will really appreciate its beauty. From its captivating cities, towns and villages, amazing attractions, stunning hotels and resorts, endless restaurants and clubs, unique cuisine, arts and culture; Nigeria has a lot to offer.
While the Islamist group Boko Haram threatens to extend its caliphate in the north -east part of Nigeria, major developments are taking place in the Sahel with respect to the security of the region. Kaci Racelma, a Nigerien blogger wrote in his blog A Niamey ( In Niamey) about the relationship that terrorist groups forge and then undo (in french) :
Fort d’importants relais au Maghreb et en Afrique subsaharienne, le mouvement qui a déclaré, en juillet 2014, un Califat à cheval entre la Syrie et l’Irak, pourrait entrainer dans son sillage d’autres groupuscules. Et ce malgré les discriminations pratiquées en interne à l’égard des combattants djihadistes africains. En prenant appui sur plusieurs groupes terroristes présents en Afrique comme le Mujao, Ansar al-Charia et AQMI, l’EI pourrait gagner du terrain dans la sous-région du Sahel. Une zone d’importance stratégique pour le leader Abou Bakr Al-Baghdadi qui souhaite y étendre son influence [..] Au Sahel, l’EI avance aussi ses pions. Le leader mauritanien du Mujao, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou, qui a à son actif plusieurs attentats contre les services de sécurité algériens, est la principale cheville ouvrière de cette avancée. Même s’il s’est affranchi de Mokhtar Belmokhtar, l’émir algérien d’AQMI, pour créer le Mujao qui rassemble des djihadistes subsahariens, Ould Mohamed Khayrou entretient toujours de bons rapports avec lui. Or ce dernier tisse actuellement des liens avec l'EI. Après avoir prêté allégeance à l’EI, le leader du Mujao a par ailleurs créé à Gao, un Conseil de la magistrature destiné à appliquer la charia. “Nous avons réussi à régler de nombreux litiges. La loi coranique nous sert à trancher et rendre justice” a-t-il annoncé le mois dernier. Même si pour des raisons de compétition, le chef d’AQMI, Abdelmalek Droukdal refuse pour le moment de prêter allégeance à l’EI, beaucoup de ses cadres ont cependant rejoint les rangs de ce mouvement. Cette situation nouvelle fragilise les fondements d’Al Qaida qui perd de plus en plus de terrain.
Thanks to strong connection in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, Daesh, could recruit a few additional groups in its wake, despite their well-known discrimination internally against African jihadist fighters.
Building upon the support of several terrorist groups present in Africa such as as Mojwa , Ansar al- Sharia and AQIM , Daish could gain ground in the Sahel region. A strategic importance for the leader Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi who wishes to expand its influence area [..] In the Sahel, Daish is progressing fast. The Mauritanian leader of Mojwa, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou , who was responsible for several attacks against the Algerian security services, is the leading force behind this progress. Even if he decided to grow his group away from the ifnluence of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ex-leader of Algerian AQIM, to create the Mojwa by bringing together several sub-Saharan jihadists, Ould Mohamed Khayrou still maintains a good relationship with AQIM. Ould Mohamed Khayrou is now the main contact of Daeish in the region . Having now sworn allegiance to Daeish ,Ould Mohamed Khayrou also created Gao, a Judicial Council for Sharia Law. ” We are now able to settle many disputes. We use the Quranic law to sort out justice ” he announced last month. Although for political reasons, the current AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdal refuses to swear allegiance to Daeish, many of its army leaders have now joined the ranks of Daeish. This new situation weakens the foundations of AQIM, who is clearly losing more and more ground in the region.
The Ebola Truth is a Facebook page that aims to document the situation with the Ebola virus on the African continent.
Nigeria's Health Minster, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, recently announced that Ebola though not “totally eliminated”, has been successfully curtailed. Nigeria has only one case of Ebola currently. According to Onyebuchi, as quoted by TheCable:
“As of today [August 26, 2014], Nigeria has 13 cases of Ebola virus disease. That is including the index case – the late Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer. Five did not survive, however two more Nigerian patients have been discharged. Both of them health workers, were discharged yesterday. This brings the number of those discharged now to seven. As I speak to you Nigeria has only one case of Ebola virus. This is thus far an indication that Nigeria has contained the virus.”
Gershom Ndhlovu looks at the reasons why ailing African leaders wont step down:
There have been rumours, innuendoes and even insinuations regarding the health, or the lack of it, of Zambia’s President Michael Chilufya Sata, in office since September 2011. These have been spread by the largely unregulated online media that the Patriotic Front (PF) government is intent on controlling or even shutting down altogether.
The government has not particularly responded to these rumours apart from issuing one-liner statements refuting the stories about the health status of the 76 year-old head of state and veteran politician.
However, when Sata appeared at a May 1 Labour Day parade to receive a traditional salute from workers in the land, the appearance was very brief and only accompanied by a one minute address before getting into his motorcade for a three kilometre drive back to the presidential palace, a lot of people were convinced the President was not well.
If our own children were to go missing we would want the world to come to a standstill and help us find them. We…ask that…you consider why so often women’s bodies become the battlefields upon which wars are fought. This is not a problem that involves a small town in Nigeria, this involves all girls everywhere.
Tillah Willah sends a letter to Goodluck Jonathan, asking that he treat “the disappearance of the 234 school girls in Chibok, Borno…with a bit more urgency.”
In mid-april, over 200 school girls were abducted from a secondary school, in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram, a terrorist group based in the northern region. Although some 57 of the girls have managed to escape, there are still many others at the hands of the kidnappers. On April 30, Nigerian women have organized demonstrations in cities across the country to demand that the government intensifies its efforts to rescue the girls. The Sahara Reporters news site published a photo coverage from Kaduna, Nigeria. Nigerian bloggers have also created a Facebook page with the hashtag #bringourgirlsback, asking to spread the outrage on Internet against this criminal action by extremist rebels.
A group of young volunteers from southern Germany, many of whom have lived in Africa, are calling for photos, essays, videos, blog posts or poems by locals of five major African cities: Lagos, Addis Ababa, Gaborone, Kigali and Kinshasa.
With a forthcoming exhibition called “Sichtwechsel,” their goal is to show another face of Africa than what typically appears in German media — modern, urban, rapidly developing societies.
See their website at Missing-Images.com in English, French and German. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2014.