Somalia – musician and MP Saado Ali Warsame shot dead

BBC

File photo of Saado Ali Warsame Saado Ali Warsame spent much of the civil war in the US

Popular Somali musician and member of parliament Saado Ali Warsame has been shot dead by Islamist militants.

She was killed along with her bodyguard in a drive-by shooting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A spokesman for the Islamist al-Shabab group, Abdulaziz Abu Musab, told the BBC that she was targeted for her politics and not her music.

The BBC’s Mohammed Moalimu in Mogadishu says she is the fourth MP to be killed this year.

The al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab group advocates the strict Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam and is battling the UN-backed government to create an Islamic state.

Daring career

Ms Warsame rose to fame during the time of former President Siad Barre, who was overthrown in 1991, with her songs which were critical of his rule.

She spent much of the civil war in the US and returned home in 2012 to represent her clan in the new Somali parliament.

The car in which Saado Ali Warsame was shot dead, Mogadishu, Somalia - Wednesday 23 July 2014 Saado Ali Warsame’s vehicle was targeted as it travelled along a main road in the capital

BBC Somali Service’s Abdullahi Abdi says Ms Warsame will be remembered most for her daring musical career.

She was one of the few Somali female musicians to go on stage without covering her head and she sometimes wore trousers, which is highly unusual for women in Somalia, he says.

Somalia has been a largely lawless state since the fall of Mr Barre, with warlords, religious groups and clans fighting for control of the country.

But since al-Shabab lost control of Mogadishu in 2011, some Somalis in the diaspora have started to return home to start businesses and take up political positions.

The militants have continued to carry out attacks in Mogadishu – and attacked the parliament building and presidential palace this month.

Some 22,000 African Union troops are helping the government to try and win back territory from the group.

They have taken back several key cities over the last three years, but al-Shabab still controls many smaller towns and rural areas of the country where it has imposed Sharia and banned music which it regards as un-Islamic.

Hate speech worsening in African media

Mail and Guardian

Hate speech on the rise in African media

23 Jul 2014

Hate speech is on the rise in African media and could be avoided if media houses were financially stable and independent, say media leaders.

Hate speech is a prism through which a variety of issues facing the media could be viewed. (AFP)

With a perceived rise in radicalism and hate speech perpetuated in the media, media leaders from across the African continent have launched a campaign against hate speech in the press.

At a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday, members from the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) and the African Media Initiative (AMI) said the intention was to call on media leaders and operators on the continent to support the initiative.

AMI’s chief executive Eric Chinje told the Mail & Guardian that hate speech was a prism through which a variety of issues facing the media could be viewed.

Chinje said the rise was evident across countries. He mentioned Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Somalia and Kenya as examples.

“It’s happening all around us. All of a sudden, Africa again is becoming the land of strife. And in different ways, its not always like Rwanda in 1994 but there is a growing sense of exclusion on the continent, and the media appears to be a part of it,” Chinje said.

Radicalism and racism
He said that hate speech was also an expression of radicalism and racism on the continent, and the media’s reflection of this was an indication that the industry was in crisis on the continent.

“We think hate speech is an extreme case of professional responsibility, so we want to use that also as a reminder of the need for fair and balanced journalism,” he added.

However, Chinje said the initiative had to be clear about its objectives, which were not to call for legislation or to infringe on freedom of speech. Rather, he said the initiative had to be driven by media leaders themselves, and it could not be imposed on them by their governments or corporate interests.

Jay Naidoo, former minister of communications and one of the co-chairs of this year’s AMLF said the issue continued to tear communities apart on the continent and was a serious hindrance to freedom of the press.

Chinje also said that hate speech was an indicator of “media capture”. He said that if media houses were financially stable and independent, they would not be as prone to expressing the voices of politicians wanting to incite violence.

This year’s AMLF will take place in November in Johannesburg. M&G

Nigeria and Boko Haram – dozens killed dead in Kaduna blasts; Buhari attacked

Punch

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An explosion on the ever-busy Alkali Way in Kaduna on Wednesday killed 25 persons, says the Kaduna Police Command.

The police said a suicide bomber carried out the attack shortly after the Ramadan Lecture by Sheik Dahiru Bauchi.  Punch

BBC

Nigeria’s Kaduna hit by by deadly explosions

Muhammadu Buhari pictured in 2011 Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari came a distant second in presidential elections in 2011

Two explosions have ripped through the northern Nigeria city of Kaduna, killing at least 40 people, police say.

The first explosion targeted moderate Islamic cleric Dahiru Bauchi while the second one targeted senior opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, a BBC reporter in the city says.

Both escaped unhurt.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has carried out a wave of bombings and assassinations in Nigeria since it launched a brutal insurgency in 2009.

File photo: People look at damage in a market area after a bomb explosion in Ajilari-Gomari near the city's airport, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria 2 March 2014 Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria have increased over the last year

It often targets Muslim leaders opposed to its militant ideology.

Curfew imposed

There are body parts and damaged cars on the busy Alkali Road in the city centre where the bomb targeting Mr Bauchi exploded, reports the BBC’s Abdullahi Kaura Abubakar from the scene.

Kaduna police chief Shehu Umar said at least 25 people were killed in that blast, apparently caused by a suicide bomber.

Another 15 were killed in the second blast, he said.

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Mr Bauchi had completed a preaching session in the nearby Murtala Muhammed square, and was driving through the area in an open-roofed vehicle, greeting well-wishers when he was targeted.

Followers of the renowned cleric have reacted angrily, throwing stones at the security forces and accusing them of failing to protect Nigerians, our reporter says.

The security forces retaliated by firing tear gas.

About 90 minutes after the first attack, a second explosion ripped through the crowded Kawo area, targeting the motorcade of Gen Buhari, a former military ruler of Nigeria and a senior member of the All Progressive Congress opposition party.

Gunmen rammed a vehicle into his convoy, firing shots at it, our reporter says, adding that two of Gen Buhari’s bodyguards were slightly wounded in the attack.

The state government has now imposed a 24-hour curfew and people in the city are making their way to their homes.

In May, the emir of the northern area of Gwoza, Shehu Mustapha Idris Timta, was shot dead in an attack blamed on Boko Haram.

In January 2013, the then-emir of Kano, Al Haji Ado Bayero, survived an assassination attempt.  BBC

South Africa – Gauteng assembly lays charges against EFF

Mail and Guardian

Charges of trespassing and intimidation have been laid against the EFF, after its members allegedly forced entry into the provincial legislature.

EFF members and their leader Julius Malema's allegedly forced entry into the legislature.

The Gauteng Legislature has laid criminal charges against members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the legislature said on Wednesday.

“We have opened charges of trespassing, damage to property, and intimidation,” said Hlengiwe Bhengu, acting secretary to the legislature. The case was opened in Johannesburg on Tuesday night. She said the charges related to EFF members and their leader Julius Malema’s alleged forced entry into the legislature, looting food catered for the sitting, assaulting members of the South African Police Service, throwing broken bottles at the legislature building, and vandalising legislature property.

Malema led about 2 000 red-clad members to the legislature on Tuesday to protest over the ejection of their MPLs from a sitting because they were wearing red overalls bearing slogans. Legislature speaker Ntombi Mekgwe ordered them out of the house on July 1 for wearing their overalls with “Asijiki”, which means “we do not retreat” inscribed on the back.

Bhengu said transport MEC Ismail Vadi and another person also opened criminal cases against the EFF. Police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse defiant EFF supporters at the legislature on Tuesday evening. Stun grenades were thrown inside the foyer of the legislature where Malema and others were refusing to move. Several people, including Malema, were injured.

Malema was hit by an object thrown from the crowd. EFF national co-ordinator Mpho Ramakatsa came out of the legislature limping and media liaison officer Lerato Motsa was hit on the leg.

Shot at and fell on the ground
Motsa said Malema was not badly injured and he managed to whisk away a member who was shot at and fell on the ground. “The commander-in-chief is fine,” she said.

Party supporters allegedly looted hawkers’ stalls, burnt a mobile police satellite station, and broke windows of several shops on their way to Braamfontein, where they assembled in the morning.

On their way to the legislature, they defied police by refusing to turn right into De Villiers Street, and continued straight on to Rissik Street facing oncoming traffic. On arrival they broke through the police cordon and stormed into the building. They vowed not to leave until their MPLs were allowed back into the legislature. – Sapa M&G

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Tanzania – arrest over dumped bags of body parts

BBC

Tanzania arrests over Dar es Salaam body parts dump

Bags containing body parts The bags were dumped in a landfill site

Eight people from a Tanzanian medical institute have been arrested after 85 bags containing body parts were found in the port city of Dar es Salaam.

A police officer told the BBC that human limbs, fingers, ribs and skulls were in the bags, discovered in a landfill site in the Bunju suburb.

Some of the bags contained surgical instruments and used disposable gloves.

The BBC’s Aboubakar Famau in Dar es Salaam says the find has shocked the usually quiet city.

Dar es Salaam police chief Suleiman Kova said those arrested have links to the city’s Institute of Medical and Training University (IMTU).

Residents said they became suspicious after a truck repeatedly dumped black plastic bags weighing approximately 25kg (55lb) each.  BBC

Nigeria – 100 days on and Chibok girls not free

African Arguments By Debbie Ariyo

DebbieAriyoToday, 22 July, marks 100 days since the abduction of almost 300 girls by terrorists from their school dormitory in Chibok, North East Nigeria. Since then, some of the girls managed to escape from their abductors. However, most of them remain in captivity with reports of mass rape, sexual abuse, sex slavery and even death.

There has also been news of other abductions, including 90 girls who were taken in a series of attacks in June.  The current situation on ground does not offer much hope that a successful effort by the government to rescue all the girls abducted by Boko Haram and to prevent further abductions will occur in the forthcoming 100 days.

That the Nigerian government has handled the Chibok issue abysmally is not in doubt.  Its initial reaction to reports of the abductions was complete denial. This was followed by claims that the girls had been found and returned to their families. This was a complete untruth as nothing of the sort had happened.

The President’s wife provided her own drama when she held a ‘public meeting’ to demonstrate that no girls were abducted and that news of the ‘false’ abduction was to discredit her husband. The President has also shown a total lack of empathy by refusing to meet with parents of the abducted girls to commiserate with them.

A ridiculous attempt to capitalise on Girls Advocate Malala Yousafzai’s recent visit to get the parents to see him failed spectacularly when they refused to honour the invitation. The government has also maintained that it would not negotiate with terrorists; neither would it undertake a military attempt to rescue the girls as it did not want to risk their lives. It is not really clear then what, if anything, the government is doing to secure the girls’ release.

In addition, there has been widespread criticism of the government’s poor handling of the Boko Haram insurgency. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighbouring countries fleeing from terrorists remain uncared for. Schools remain closed and it is not clear how the Safer Schools Initiative established by Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy, would operate in the midst of such widespread chaos and insecurity.

There has been no strategy to safeguard communities as the terrorists continue to operate virtually unhindered, attacking villages on a daily basis, killing people and abducting more women and girls. As an ominous sign of what is to come, last week, Damboa, a town in Borno State was attacked with the terrorists hoisting their flag in the military battalion headquarters to claim it as their territory.

The military itself has been comatose and inefficient, with reports of a large number of casualties among troops.  In May, some soldiers mutinied to complain about the lack of provision of adequate and suitable arms and ammunition to fight with. There have been reports of rogue military men colluding with terrorists to organise raids on communities, military barracks and other places. The terrorists are reported to be better resourced and to have access to better ammunition than the Nigerian military.

In June, Nigerians woke up to the news that their government had spent over $1m to recruit public relations company Levick to help launder its image in the West. Its first task backfired spectacularly – an article it placed in the Washington Post attracted a damning editorial in the New York Times as a response. Nigerians also took to twitter using the hashtag #SomeoneTellLevick to demonstrate the futility of their government’s action.

Yet there are a number of decisive steps the Nigerian government can take to redeem its image and ensure the girls are freed as soon as possible. It must urgently decide if it wishes to negotiate for their release in exchange for prisoners or failing that, attempt a rescue mission, knowing full well that there will be consequences but taking every possible step to ensure there are no casualties among the girls.

It is foolhardy to leave the girls in the hands of terrorists indefinitely hoping and praying that a miracle would happen! The recruitment of a PR company is unnecessary and a waste of public funds. The government does not need to pay to whitewash its image – it only needs to start acting in the best interests of its citizens.

Stronger efforts should be made to protect people from Boko Haram and to take care of victims. The launch of a Victim Support Fund is laudable, but government must ensure the funds actually reach the victims. The government must also start to co-operate with its neighbours to provide care and support for its citizens who have escaped from terrorists and who are now living as refugees.

Most importantly, the Nigerian government must stop dilly-dallying about the rogue military officers in its wing. These are traitors whose activities are inimical to the security of the country and must be treated as such.

100 days later, over 200 Nigerian girls remain as captives in the hands of terrorists. The response of the Nigeria government so far does not inspire any hope that they will be free anytime soon. If the government does not change direction and start to act decisively, the next 100 days might see the girls and many others still being held as slaves by Boko Haram. This would indeed be a terrible indictment of the government of Nigeria.

Debbie Ariyo is Founder and Executive Director of AFRUCA – Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, a UK charity promoting the rights and welfare of children. http://www.afruca.org

Nigeria – Jonathan finally meets abducted girls’ parents

BBC

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan visiting the site of Nyanya bomb in Abuja in April President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not meeting parents earlier

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has met for the first time parents of the girls abducted 100 days ago by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

He assured the parents of his determination to secure the girls’ release, his spokesman said.

More than 150 people attended the meeting after the government chartered a plane for them, reports say.

Mr Jonathan has been under pressure to meet the parents after being accused of handing the crisis badly.

Parents pulled out of a meeting with him last week amid accusations they were being used for political reasons.

The parents of 11 of the girls have died since their abduction, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped Islamist captors alight from a bus to attend a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the presidency in Abuja on 22 July 2014 Some of the girls managed to escape after being abducted from their school
People participate in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil, held on Mother's Day in Los Angeles on 11 May 2014 A global campaign was launched to secure the release of the girls

The abduction of the more than 200 schoolgirls sparked global outrage.

Boko Haram has offered to free the girls in exchange for the release of its fighters and relatives held by the security forces.

The government has rejected this.

Malala’s intervention

The US, UK, France, China and Israel have been helping in operations to secure the release of the girls, who are believed to be held in the Sambisa forest, near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

The girls were abducted from their boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok in Borno state on 14 April.

A total of 177 people – including 51 of the girls who managed to escape Boko Haram’s captivity – met Mr Jonathan, reports the BBC’s Chris Ewokor from the capital, Abuja.

The parents left the meeting without showing emotion but some shook hands with the president, AP reports.

Some of the escaped schoolgirls smiled for photographers after the meeting, it reports.

Ayuba Chibok, who has two nieces among the hostages, told AFP news agency that the government chartered a plane from Yola city in the north-east to fly the group to Abuja.

Mr Jonathan was flanked at the meeting by Senate President David Mark and Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, where Chibok is situated.

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Who are Boko Haram?

A screen grab taken from a video released on You Tube in April 2012, apparently showing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) sitting flanked by militants
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education – Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria – also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013
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Last week, Mr Jonathan agreed to meet 12 parents and five girls who escaped shortly after being seized by the militants, following a request by Pakistani rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai.

The Chibok community called off the meeting at the last minute, saying it had been organised in a hurry, so there was not time to consult with all the parents.

Mr Jonathan accused the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group of playing politics and derailing the meeting.

#BringBackOurGirls was a global campaign launched on social media to secure the release of the girls.

Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former government minister and staunch critic of Mr Jonathan, is a leading member of the group.

Seven parents were killed during a raid by Boko Haram on Kautakari, a village close to Chibok, earlier this month, AP quotes a health worker as saying.

Another four parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses blamed on the trauma caused by the abductions, Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus told AP.

BBC