FA Cup in Africa, .cm domains, Fathia Nkrumah, The Trial of Charles Taylor, and more from West Africa

This week's West African blog round-up starts from Burkina Faso where Stephen Davies of Voice in the Desert blogs about Africans’ penchant for football leagues in Europe in “FA Cup Final in Ouagadougou“:

African men care very deeply about their football teams, including the teams they ‘adopt’ from abroad. In Ouagadougou there are passionate Manchester United supporters and equally passionate Chelsea supporters, and today they got together for the Cup Final.
Sparks flew…

From Burkina Faso to Cameroon, Scribbles from the Den blogs about “How Cameroon Auctioned Its Internet Namespace…

Early in August 2006, the Internet was awash with reports of a “typo-squatting” scheme involving Cameroon. According to these reports, “Internet authorities in in the West African nation that owns the .cm top level domain (TLD) have been accused of authorizing a DNS wildcard that has the effect of redirecting all accidental .cm traffic instead of returning an error.”

In layman’s terms, Cameroon Internet authorities were redirecting all misspelled .com addressed (e.g. www.dibussi.cm instead of www.dibussi.com ) to an advert-based website (agoga.com), where they were making millions of dollars in pay-per-click advert revenue (Pay-per-click is an advertising system where advertisers pay an agreed amount for each click delivered to their site).

While not technically illegal, since the misspelled domain names are not being registered but simply redirected to another site, these actions raised serious ethical concerns.

Still in Cameroon, another Cameroonian blogger highlights the recent woes of ex-World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz and the nominant of his replacement, Robert Zoellick.

Enanga's Pov blogs about Robert Zoellick and the World Bank: Putting the Fox in Charge of the Hen-House

In Cameroonian Pidgin English, when a person refuses to give up on something, he is said to “hold grass”. This image is drawn from small animals clinging desperately to grass to avoid being washed away by water.

We all saw how Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, (now, thankfully, former) head of the World Bank, held grass for weeks after it was brought to public notice that he was embroiled in a sordid scandal involving a female companion. Well, Mr. Wolfowitz was swept away by the flood of public opinion. And now the US government is offering to replace him with someone who is, as evidenced by the article below, even worse, especially for the Third World.

The grass-holding of the US government, which in the past few years has squandered whatever moral currency it ever garnered as the leader of the “free world”, should be a cause for great concern for those of us who cannot hold grass when faced with an unprincipled giant.

From Cameroon to Ghana, where Paa.kwesi's blog pays a brief tribute to the late wife of Ghana's 1st President Dr Kwame Nkrumah (also late) in Thinking in English : Fathia Nkrumah, icon of an era.

Fathia Nkrumah is dead. 8:07pm GMT, the message arrived in my email inbox.

Perhaps, the last iconic survivor of an idealist era in Ghana's history, her passing should remind us of the highs and lows of our recent existence and that there is a difference between promise and fulfilment. May we the living pay her tribute by recognizing that because we are neighbors, we must get along, share in each others’ pains and joys. No, we are not descended from one ancestor, do not speak the same languages, eat different foods, celebrate different Gods; but we do share the same space. May our dealings with each other display this understanding that after all is said and done if my house is burning you will necessarily feel the heat. We are in each other's business all the time. Let's all be friends.

My respects and condolences to her family. Due! Fathia, rest in peace.

Now to Liberia. A new blog named The Trial of Charles Taylor has been set up to provide news and analysis on the war crimes trial of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. We're highlighting the Dramatic start to first day of Taylor trial which was posted on 4th June 2007.

In a dramatic opening to the Charles Taylor trial today, the man long-awaited to face justice in the dock in The Hague failed to show. And his lawyer, Karim Khan, interrupted the opening statement of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Chief Prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, by clumsily walking out of the courtroom in defiance of a court order to continue representing Taylor for the day — in an unexpected move, Taylor sacked Khan and asked to represent himself. Rapp, and his Sierra Leonean colleague, Mohamed Bangura, continued to methodically present the prosecution case, reading out prepared statements across the room from an empty defense section — bar the court-appointed duty counsel, Charles Jalloh, who throughout the proceedings continued to sit back in the second row from where Khan originally sat, and three seats back from the gallery. Jalloh, from the Special Court ’s Principal Defender’s office, took over on instruction by the Chamber to represent Taylor in the absence of the accused, and after Khan walked out despite a threat of contempt of court by Presiding Judge, Julia Sebutinde.

Nigerian blogger, Trae, concluded a two-part piece of things he dislikes about his country Nigeria in Things I hate 2: Nigerian styled importation

I hate the importation craze in Naija; yes I really do hate it.

I know importation is necessary in a globalized economy. What, with the comparative advantage theory and all; but Nigerians have taken it too far. Sometimes when I’m walking by and sight stacks upon stacks of imported items, a lot very storage dusty I shake my head and wonder when they’ll ever be completely sold out. In my opinion supply enormously outnumbers demand. As some people say all that remains now is for us to start importing tooth picks. Close your eyes and imagine Dayo Adeneye and Kenny Ogungbe of Kennismusic bragging about their imported tooth picks (P. Diddy style) on TV and you’d get my drift.

I hate it when I hear Nigerians say with relish (instead of with shame…well that’s how I opine they should feel because that’s definitely how I feel when I hear them) that the goods they’re selling are imported or the stuff they’re working with are imported, can’t be gotten any where in the country and so them and their business are the real deal.

I also hate the customer obsession with owning or identifying with imported stuff. Close your eyes here and Imagine Nike and Doshima of Cool FM Abuja on the radio program Girl Talk with their phonetics, annoying girlish demeanor and all.

Upwardly Mobile is the blog of Yomi Adegboye, who describes himself as “a non-conformist pastor & entrepreneur”. He discusses “A Different Type of Pyramid Scheme“. He starts by defining his topic:

You may already be aware of the numerous pyramid schemes being run in the country and around the world. For benefit of doubt, here is the definition of a pyramid scheme: a fraudulent scheme in which people are recruited to make payments to others above them in a hierarchy while expecting to receive payments from people recruited below them.

He then goes on to highlight what he sees as a similar trend, in some churches in Nigeria today.

What may amaze many church people is the fact that such a similar scheme has been run in church circles for years. The ‘gospel’ of sowing and reaping was introduced to the church not too long ago. The basic idea is if you ’sow’ financially or materially into the life or ‘ministry’ of a ‘man of God’, you will reap multiples of what you have sown. If you do it regularly, then you can expect a steady flow of financial and material harvest.

Of course, this is not a Biblical doctrine or practice. The whole idea was formulated into a doctrine by misapplying a few Bible verses as usual. Teaching it as a doctrine guaranteed that this man-made scheme would work perfectly. The result is a self-sustaining pyramid scheme.

Usually sitting at the top of the pyramid is one regarded as a ‘great man of God’ that the next level of preachers and christians give to. Then the lesser ‘men of God’ give to those on this level, and so on and so forth. At the bottom of the pyramid are regular church members who are told that they cannot be blessed by God if they do not keep their pastors in comfort (read: luxury). Of course, like any other pyramid scheme, those at the bottom have to climb up at least one step of the ladder before they can start ‘reaping’ anything, but it so nicely presented that most professing believers in this setup do not even realise that they are part of a pyramid scheme.

The concluding paragraph of the blog entry sums up his thought about this phenomenom.

It is a truly awesome and elaborate scheme. It is coated with Bible verses to give it legitimacy, but it is a pyramid scheme all the same, the product of ’smart’ carnal-minded men who see Christianity as a means of getting rich.

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