Africa doesn't need food programs; it needs rainwater programs to alleviate drought
Hi My Name is Yusuf Mallie an Proudly South African innovator, inventor, creative and imaginative writer and thinker. Residing in one of the Poorest Communities on the Cape Flats in Cape Town South Africa.Plastic is an evil in the hands of those ignorant of its true potential-Yusuf Mallie-Is it possible to Promote my Idea's and Conversation ON TED.I am Proudly African and My heart bleeds to see Africa dying.Read my article and respond to the comments. | HEREI believe in Recycling Non biodegradables and recreating a creative energy producing material that would benefit its user more than just a creative design. I try my best to achieve creative idea's on Durable Plastic Innovation and Invention.Please read my post and my conversations on TED. | HEREIts my Revolutionary Idea of a completely new City of Energy, this project would provide Solutions to the World energy crisis, Unemployment, Water Scarcity, Drought and Famine Problem .Its my 2nd edition to my 17 June 2012 article, I revised the article mentioning my Innovations and Inventions.Another one of my projects and Conversations on TED | HEREIt my Self Generating AC propulsion Vehicle . Being creative I decided to make it Food Truck making it financially sustainable also.Currently I am busy with creating the world first self generating vehicle using AC propulsion instead of DC Propulsion. I am seeking Funding through contribution and sponsorship to complete this Working Progress. | HERE | HEREThey allowed it to be Published it on their website.Please Participate in Discussion as all participation is highly appreciated.Writer and Author of Africa's Next Generation Energy City.Yusuf MallieKind Regards
Monday, Aug. 06, 2001
Looting Africa Theft, illicit sales, poverty and war are conspiring to rob a continent of its rich artistic heritageRead more: HERE
The digging began early in 1995, after a farmer uncovered a sculpted terracotta head. For $30, nearly twice what he made a month selling yams, he peddled it to a traveling antiquities dealer. Word of the windfall spread, and locals started tilling the ground around Kawu, 50 km northeast of the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Within months, more than 2,000 diggers were burrowing into Kawu's stony earth. Dealers bid against one another, pushing up prices, in Kawu's version of the Gold Rush. Bars and brothels opened, and newly rich locals bought motorcycles. "Everybody was looking for money," says Abubakar Sala, the local primary school teacher, who headed to the fields after classes to try his luck and found two sculpted heads. "Farmers let their crops rot because they were too busy digging for terracotta."
Africa, its people already plundered by slavers, its animals by poachers and its mineral wealth by miners, is now yielding up its cultural heritage. Across the continent, artifacts are looted from museums, from universities and straight from the ground. Most of the objects-ancient terracotta and stone figures, brass and bronze sculptures, wooden grave markers, masks and doors-end up in the U.S. and Europe, where collectors prize such items as the 16th century Benin bronze castings whose technical finesse rivals works produced by Europeans of the same era. Among the most sought-after items are figurines from Kawu, with their distinctive triangular eyes and abstracted features, remnants of the Nok culture that flourished in central Nigeria from 500 B.C. to A.D. 200.
Nigeria has suffered the most looting. During the past two decades its museums have been robbed of hundreds of their most valuable items. In an infamous break-in at the National Museum in Ile-Ife in 1994, thieves with an inside contact smashed open 11 display cases. Their haul, which included some of the best-known 12th and 13th century Ife terra-cotta and brass heads-all uninsured-was worth about $200 million. It was the museum's third burglary that year. Nigerian traders also target villages like Kawu, buying artifacts from locals or encouraging rudimentary digging. "It's not exactly excavation," says Abiye Ichaba, head of research and documentation at the Abuja Council for Arts and Culture. "There's nothing systematic about it, no pattern to it. We call it plundering."
Some governments have attempted to regulate or prevent the sale of antiquities. So has the International Commission of Museums, which publishes a Red List of African archaeological objects at greatest risk of looting. None has had much success. Interpol, the international police organization, estimates that the illicit trade in cultural property is worth $4.5 billion a year worldwide, up from $1 billion a decade ago. Africa accounts for 10% of this black market, and its share is growing. "It's a fantastically big problem," says Omotoso Eluyemi, director general at Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (n.c.m.m.).
Long tainted with the romance and condescension of the word primitive, African works have come to be valued for their intrinsic beauty and artistic merit. In the 1950s, both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art turned down an opportunity to acquire Nelson Rockefeller's extensive collection of non-European art, prompting Rockefeller to found the Museum of Primitive Art in New York City in 1954. By 1969 the Met had had a change of heart. In 1982 it opened its Rockefeller Wing, which absorbed the entire contents of the Museum of Primitive Art. Smaller galleries have echoed this trend. In September the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York, will display a trove of 145 pieces donated by philanthropist Lawrence Gussman. Next year the exhibition will travel to the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian in Washington.
It is the West's growing enthusiasm for African objects that has placed many of them in jeopardy. Most of Mali's archaeological sites, including graves built into the cliffs along the World Heritage listed Bandiagara escarpment, have been looted. Ethiopia is struggling to protect its oldest silver Coptic Christian crosses and medieval manuscripts. Since 1970, illegal traders in Kenya and Tanzania have carted off hundreds of vigango, or Swahili wooden grave markers. When fighting erupted in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in 1991, one of the first casualties was the National Museum. Within weeks many of its prized exhibits, including ancient Egyptian pottery, were on sale to tourists in neighboring Kenya.
Tourists scoop up some of the illicit bargains, but the best artifacts are bought by dealers filling orders from Europe, the U.S. and South Africa. Using a letter from the n.c.m.m. permitting him to export contemporary arts and crafts-but not antiquities -Lagos dealer Chinedu Idezuna recently booked a crateful of works onto a flight to Amsterdam. "Customs officials check the shipment for narcotics, for this and that, but because I've got the letter, I'm fine," he says. "Our government doesn't permit it, of course, but we gallery owners get [objects] out by telling [customs officials] that we are having a show of African culture."
One catalyst for the booming trade is poverty. Villagers, many of whom have turned to Islam or Christianity and reject the idols of their forefathers, see no point in holding on to the artifacts when they can barely afford to feed their families. "Why do you think we sold them?" says schoolteacher Sala. "We need money."
Political unrest fuels the trade. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, as in Somalia, years of fighting have left many of the country's museums nearly empty. "For starving, unpaid soldiers, anything is good for sale," says George Abungu, chairman of the International Standing Committee on the Traffic in Illicit Antiquities. "Lack of order is a perfect breeding ground for people who want to collect art."
For Westerners, acquiring top-quality African art and artifacts has never been easier. The largest transit point for wholesale African art in the U.S. is New York City's Chelsea Mini-Storage facility, an enormous warehouse whose ground floor resembles an African bazaar. Hundreds of traders, most from West Africa, have set up stalls, a makeshift mosque and a kitchen where women prepare traditional meals. Upstairs, Senegalese dealer Moussa Cissokho displays his wares. The presentation is modest-the figurines are still caked with soil, and the small space is crammed with crates-but the price is right. For a figure about 30 cm high that could, if it is a genuine Nok, command tens of thousands of dollars at a gallery, he quotes a bargain price of $3,000. What you might call a steal.
The makeshift nature of Cissokho's showroom may contribute to the bargains he is able to offer, but similar deals can be found elsewhere. An online auction by the Howard S. Rose Gallery in Manhattan featured a number of Noks, including a "fine large-size sculptural terracotta, low-fire ceramic human head" with a minimum required bid of just $2,300. A woman who answered the phone at the gallery insisted that the items were "certifiably genuine." When asked about Nigeria's prohibition on the export and sale of Noks, she replied, "Maybe they were here before this law was passed."
In all likelihood these items, like many African antiquities on the market today, are fake. Christopher Steiner, a professor at Connecticut College and the author of African Art in Transit, estimates that "90% of what's coming into the U.S. is replicas or tourist art that's being made to look old." The problem is so widespread that even Bryna Freyer, the Smithsonian's African-art curator, can't always spot a phony. "I'm not sure I'd know an authentic Bura piece from a fake," says Freyer, referring to 2nd century artifacts from Niger, "because there simply aren't any in this country legally."
In the softly lit, temperature-controlled rooms of museums like the Met and the Louvre, antiquities are displayed with a respect uncommon in an African museum, where an exhibit may be dusty, unlabeled and all but forgotten. Moreover, the antiquities are safe. Frank Willett, a leading authority on Nigerian antiquities, has advised that disputed items in Western museums not be returned to Nigeria unless they can be properly protected. He compares the illicit art trade to the drug trade. "The stimulus for all this, of course, comes from the West," he says. "If collectors and museums were not interested in acquiring these pieces, there wouldn't be an illicit trade in them."
Some attempts to stem the traffic may be working. Mali authorities have cut illegal exports 75% by enlisting villagers as informants. Mali is the only African country with which the U.S. has signed a treaty restricting the importation of cultural artifacts. In Nigeria, museums boss Eluyemi is talking with a group of illegal traders-who call themselves vendors and have even formed a union-to work out "compensation" for the works they find to ensure that at least some objects remain in the country. The 1995 digging frenzy in Kawu slowed after six months, partly as a result of visits by police and cultural officials.
Idezuna, the Lagos dealer, has prepared for export four worn but beautiful Nok sculptures. They look fragile, their texture slightly granulated, as if built up by sand and glue. Idezuna paid $450 for the lot and expects to make $15,000 when he sells them to one of his European contacts, who will sell them for as much as $30,000. "It concerns me that we are losing our cultural heritage," he says. "But I don't blame myself. If I had the money to collect them, I wouldn't sell them. But they are more protected in Europe. Here we are yet to know the value of what we have."
As long as they are valued elsewhere, Africa's remaining riches will continue their exodus. The rape of this treasure-filled continent is not over.Read more: HERE
Governments, Western corporations grab lands across Africa: Justine Mutale
“We believe that this is a scandal and it’s a scandal that needs to be stopped because land grabs render people refugees, they make people become refugees in their own God-given land. They make people go hungry and making people go hungry is a violence against those people. You take away their rights of livelihood from the people; you take away their rights to shelter to food to clothing to anything they can do with the land..."
An activist says prolific land grabbing across Africa is a scandal by African governments and foreign entities that robs Africans of their livelihoods and dignity.
In the background of this, prolific land grabbing across the African continent by the international community in the hundreds of thousands of hectares, described as ‘the new scramble’ is taking its toll on Africans and contributing to the food and subsistence crisis there. Much of the land being purchased is being used for crops and bio-fuels for outside markets, not Africa. African governments are in a frenzy to sell the land without considering the cost to their own people as the money flows in. Oxfam confirms that this trend is threatening Africa food security.
- Press TV has interviewed Justine Mutale, Diaspora Spokesperson, IF Campaign in London about this issue. Also contributing the program is Nnimmo Bassey, former executive director of Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria; and Ben Oguntala, founder of Developedafrica.com in London. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
- Press TV: You are the African Diaspora Ambassador for the organization IF. And you say if certain things were done then Africa could feed itself, we could rid the world of poverty.
But what about this particular issue (land grabs), how concerned are you about it on the continent of Africa?
- Mutale: I am very concerned about land grabs and I do acknowledge that land grabs... some people might not be aware of this, but it is a wider segment of a wider policy by the international community starting all the way from the Washington Consensus that came into Africa and asked, or rather in a way imposed on Africa, to try and open their borders to international trade. It is part of the trade policy and it’s a policy that benefits foreign investors.
Land grabs also started with colonization. Before that, Africans had a right to their land, we had customary land, land that we inherited from generation to generation for our own use.
To talk about trying to feed ourselves - there was a time in some parts of Africa up til today you don’t need to have money to eat because we have wild fruits we have wild vegetables we have wild game, all you need is to just go out to get that food.
But the moment that a certain way of life was imposed on us where you have to exchange your labor in order to eat, where you have to work to earn money as in notes and coins in order to eat rather than your labor to labor to go and hunt, to go and harvest so that you can eat the food that you directly harvest...
- Press TV: But we’re not going to go back to those lovely bucolic days so what do we do now in today’s world?
- Mutale: We are not going back to that time, but even today we have capable Africans.My own grandmother more than 5 generations ago, she owned a coffee farm in Zambia and she used to export her coffee to all over the world. And this coffee farm, at the time that title deeds and foreign land ownership was introduced has been taken away from our family.It is something that I could have carried on, or one of my children or even my nieces and nephews could have done, but we found that this coffee farm, this land that my grandmother used to farm coffee and export - she even came to England on a trade fair to display her coffee - That land has been taken away from our family because we didn’t have title deeds.
Remember we had the right and access to use the land it was a customary or social contract.
- Press TV: You heard Alex Amoah Sakyi (emailer comment) saying “I’m sure there are good intentions to generate revenue”.Do you believe that there can be some good from these outsiders coming in, particularly from India because they’re leading the so-called land grab, or are you absolutely against any foreign involvement, any foreign acquisition of land even if it can generate more food for people who are living there and who maybe don’t have the techniques at the moment as Ben said, to scale up?
- Mutale: I am totally against any foreigners coming into our land to take our land and to tell us...
- Press TV: Not just to take, but to do a deal.
- Mutale: Even to do a deal I’m totally against that. My Grandmother fifty years ago she managed to feed the country, we used to export her coffee, it’s just that the land was customary inherited so she didn’t own title deeds and when the title deeds were introduced to our countries and to Africa we found that our country lost out on that - I could have done it, my children could have done it or even any of my cousins... could have carried on feeding the country with coffee.
- Press TV: So, what is your campaign, what is IF going to do about this - the campaign to which you belong?
- Mutale: We believe that this is a scandal and it’s a scandal that needs to be stopped because land grabs render people refugees, they make people become refugees in their own God-given land.
They make people go hungry and making people go hungry is a violence against those people. You take away their rights of livelihood from the people; you take away their rights to shelter to food to clothing to anything they can do with the land that they have. You take that away from them and that is what the IF campaign is about is to stop land grab so that indigenous people can have their own dignity; can go back and use their land as they see fit.All these generations we have been able to feed ourselves - until somebody comes and says you can’t feed yourself. We know we can feed ourselves. If these people they come and purchase the land in which natural resources - underneath we’ve got copper or diamonds - they buy it and then they suddenly own the copper and diamonds, which should have belonged to my family or to the family that lived on that land.
- Press TV: In closing thoughts, what do you want to see now, what do you want to see happen next?
- Mutale: First of all I’d like to say that what my colleague said about bringing the people to the negotiating table... It is not a fair playing field because the people you are asking to come to the negotiating table, most of the people in Africa are rural women in fact.
These are women that are subsistence farmers that grow food to feed their own children and own families and they are not educated in all of this jargon that comes about.