Brand Industries and Shea producing in Ghana

sc-shea

The African Studies Center shared in its newsletter, field work story from Ghana where is the center of Shea production in the world.

The story is by Alice Kubo is a PhD candidate in the research project Society and Change in Northern Ghana: Dagomba, Gonja, and the Regional Perspective on Ghanaian History.

such research work made me stop a while before buying cosmetics from well-known brands such as the Body Shop or products on shelves of popular shops around the city corners.

I have to ask myself not if the ingredients of lotion or cream or shampoo and proper to my skin but what is the story behind producing this cosmetic? where is it produced and by whom?

I think the manufacture place should refer to the origin country produced the core ingredients or a list of all countries or communities contributed in producing the product.

Here is the link of the article by Alice entitled Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship training in the Ghana Shea Industry.

Resistance Flags: Oromo, Biafra and Libya

Yesterday, in African Studies Center (Leiden University), there was a seminar about how Nigerian popular culture captured Biafra war.  the seminar was by Rantimi Jays Julius-Adeoye, Department of Theatre and Film Studies, Redeemer’s University, Nigeria and discussant was Okey Ndubueze, he is Nigerian professor originally from Biafra area.

what caught my eye in the presentation is the flag of Biafra resistance movement. the symbols in the flag are similar to Libyan and Oromo flags and that let me ask myself what is the connection of resistance movements from the North to East to the West of Africa?!

in the Biafran flag , there is sun in the center like the Oromo flag…. yes, peoples of two groups are in contestation with their governments to attain their independence as a coherent autonomous group and the hope motivates their continuous movement.

images                       et-olf

and the colors and order of them is similar to the Libyan flag that was designed after independence from  Italy and then changed and back after the Libyan revolution in 2011- yes I know the colors of flags in many countries after independence are similar  but what I’m looking for here the insistence of Libyans after the revolution to back to the first flag which is a symbol of struggle and how it is like the Biafran one…. might be there is another interpretation I have not reached until now!

images                                       Flag_of_Libya.svg

 

what I’m thinking is there is inspiration or illusion among resistance movements across the continent.

 

 

 

 

Holland is the dragon of water studies

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The picture of the Afsluitdijkthe, the oldest constructed dam in Netherlands, retrieved from https://www.theafsluitdijk.com/projecten/reinforcement-locks/

When I got admission at Leiden University for phd I was excited because I will be able to communicate with the African Studies Center in the University, where specialized professors and rich library.

Nevertheless, Netherlands has strong experts in water issues that extended to African countries.  So I found in Dutch academic institutions my research purpose which is about the Nile.

The topography of Netherlands below the sea levels, made the country struggling with floods, thus the Dutch innovated canals and build dams and dikes to save their lands for life and planting. Check this website for more information: http://dutchdikes.net/history/
also, we can note the suffix of Dam in the name of many Dutch cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Also what’s funny, the name of “dijk” means Dike is familiar here!

This ancient experience to control water flows made Netherlands a home of hydrologic knowledge. Moreover, it has spread over this experience to other countries mainly to developing countries. It is worth noting that the Dutch Ministry of foreign Affairs has a specialized department of Environment and water.

Therefore, I started to look for Dutch organizations tackle the Nile issue and I found a treasure!! I explored institutes, departments and organizations that work on water not only from the engineering background but from political and anthological aspects as well.

Here is the links of some Dutch institutions available in English language, there are others but in Dutch. and I will update the list whenever I reach new ones.

  • UNESCO-IHE

https://www.unesco-ihe.org/

  • Via Water

https://www.viawater.nl/

  • Aqua for all

http://aquaforall.org/

  • Netherlands Water Partnership

https://www.nwp.nl/

  • Women for Water Partnership

http://www.womenforwater.org/

  • Afrialliance

http://afrialliance.org/

 

The Nile: Ethiopian and Egyptian narrativesالنيل سرديات إثيوبية وأخرى مصرية

the Article I published in Egyptian newspaper ( shorouknews) after I had attended the  event “Let’s talk about water” that hosted by UNESCO-IHE in delft on saturday 11/2/2017.

نشر فى : الجمعة 17 فبراير 2017 – 9:55 م | آخر تحديث : الجمعة 17 فبراير 2017 – 9:55 م
يُطلق على نهر النيل أو بشكل أدق النيل الأزرق اسم «أباى» فى اللغة الأمهرية. وفى 2011 عُرض الفيلم الإثيوبى Abay vs Vegas «أباى فى مواجهة فيجاس» الذى يتناول حلم الشباب الإثيوبى بالهجرة إلى الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ويقابله حلم الإثيوبيين المهاجرين بالعودة إلى بلادهم. وهو فيلم روائى اجتماعى كوميدى يمتد لقرابة الساعتين. وفيه تسعى بطلة الفيلم «منة «Menna للهجرة إلى الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية كى تستقدم أخيها الكفيف بعد ذلك ويجرى العملية الجراحية ليعاد إليه بصره، وفى كل مرة يتم رفض طلب التأشيرة، إلى أن تجد الحل فى الارتباط بشاب إثيوبى غنى «سالساوى «Salsawi المستقر فى مدينة لاس فيجاس الأمريكية، والذى يعمل هو وأخوه فى تنظيم حملات توعية بين الجالية الإثيوبية فى الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية كى يتسنى لهم جمع الأموال لبناء المدارس والوحدات الصحية وتوفير الخدمات وبالتالى تهيئة البلاد من أجل عودتهم إليها والاستقرار بها.
ويطلب «سالساوى» من خطيبته «منة» المقيمة فى مدينة «بحر دار Bahir Dar» والتى فيها شلالات النيل الأزرق أن تلتقط صورا للمكان كى يتم استخدامها فى حملات التمويل. فتذهب «منة» هناك مع صديقتها وتلتقى «نيجوس «Nigus الشاب الفلاح الذى تدور حياته فقط داخل القرية ما بين الزراعة بأدوات بدائية وصيد الأسماك من بحيرة «تانا». وهنا يدور المخرج بعدسته حول حياة القرية والطبيعة فى منطقة شلالات النيل الأزرق. وداخل القرية، يتم عرض نموذج آخر من الشباب الذى لا يفكر فى الهجرة وهو «أحمد Ahmed» ابن عم «نيجوس»، والذى درس فى الخارج وحصل على درجة الماجستير فى الزراعة ورجع إلى قريته حالما بالنهوض بها. وجدير بالملاحظة أن طبيعة العلاقة بين «أحمد» و«نيجوس» طوال الفيلم هى علاقة وثيقة، ومن خلالها وثق المخرج لأمر مألوف فى أفريقيا غير العربية وهو تعدد اعتناق ديانات مختلفة داخل الأسرة الواحدة.
ومن خلال أحداث اجتماعية تتطور العلاقة بين «منة» و«نيجوس»، ويرتبطان عاطفيا، ولكن تتلقى الموافقة على تأشيرة السفر للولايات المتحدة، وتدخل فى صراع هل تسافر وتكمل زواجها من «سالساوى» وتساعد أخيها على الشفاء أم تبقى مع «نيجوس»، وفى نهاية الفيلم تقرر ألا تسافر وتستقر مع «نيجوس» للنهوض بحال القرية.
***
مياه النيل كانت حاضرة فى الفيلم فى أكثر من سردية، فيحكى «نيجوس» الشاب الفلاح بموروثه الدينى المسيحى (الشعبي) عن أباى بأنه منذ قرون تمت مقايضة بين مصر وإثيوبيا، بحصول الملك على الصليب المقدس من مصر مقابل السماح بتدفق المياه إلى مصر. وهناك رؤية «أحمد» الشاب المهندس الزراعى الذى يرى النيل بأنه مورد ومصدر مهم للنهوض بالزراعة ويظهر فى الفيلم عمله على حث الفلاحين بالاستفادة من تدفق المياه عند الشلالات. بينما يتبنى «سالساوى» رجل الأعمال سردية أن إثيوبيا هى مالكة مصدر النيل وبالتالى هى صاحبة القوة ومن حقها أن تستفاد منه كما يناسبها.
وبعد عرض الفيلم، علق المخرج «Theodros Teshome» أن الفيلم قد عُرض فى دور السينما بأديس أبابا فى 2011 قبل إعلان رئيس الوزراء ميليس زيناوى بناء سد النهضة، لهذا تعرض المخرج لأقاويل بأن الحكومة دفعت بهذا الفيلم لكى يُمهد للشعب الإثيوبى بناء السد، ولكنه نفى ذلك موضحا أن هدف الفيلم هو مناقشة ضرورة الاستفادة من الموارد المتاحة «النيل» للنهوض بالبلاد، ويذهب بالقول إن من فوائد السد توفير الكهرباء للقرى التى يرتفع فيها نسبة الإصابة بالعمى نتيجة رماد النار الذى تعتمد عليه البيوت فى الإضاءة وتحضير الطعام. ومع هذا يؤكد مخرج الفيلم فى حديثه وفى تتر نهاية الفيلم أن استخدام إثيوبيا للمياه لن يتجاوز 5% من مياه النيل وهذا لن يؤثر على تدفق المياه للسودان ومصر.
جاء عرض الفيلم فى إطار فاعليات المبادرة العالمية «Let’s talk about Water هيا نتحدث عن المياه» التى أسستها Linda Lilienfeld المتخصصة فى إخراج الأفلام الوثائقية العلمية لأكثر من 35 عاما، وتهدف المبادرة إلى خلق تواصل بين لغة العلماء وعامة الناس فى موضوع المياه والتغير المناخى.
ولم تقتصر الفاعلية على عرض السرديات الإثيوبية وإنما شملت سرديات مصرية أيضا، فبعد عرض الفيلم عزفت «أمل جورمازى» باحثة الدكتوراه فى علم الموسيقى بفرنسا مقطوعات مصرية عن النيل بآلة الكمان، منها مقطوعة «النهر الخالد» للموسيقار محمد عبدالوهاب. وتبع ذلك عرض فيلم «النيل والحياة» وليس «النيل والناس» للمخرج يوسف شاهين، وفيه احدى السرديات المصرية حول النيل وقت بناء السد العالى والتعاون المصرى السوفيتى. وتعكس حكاية إخراج الفيلم ديناميكيات القوة آنذاك ما بين الحكومة المصرية التى طلبت من شاهين أن يعيد إخراجه ليعطى أهمية للمهندس المصرى عن المهندس الروسى، وبين الاتحاد السوفيتى الذى رأى أن المدن السوفيتية تستحق الظهور فى الفيلم لأنها أجمل من النوبة!
هذه الفاعلية لمبادرة «هيا نتحدث عن المياه» استضافها فى مدينة ديلفت فى هولندا يوم السبت 11 فبراير 2017 معهد «اليونسكو للتعليم فى مجال المياه» وذلك لوجود برنامج بحثى داخل المعهد يدرس أثر الإعلام فى الصراع والتعاون حول إدارة المياه.
***
لاشك أن جزءا من توتر العلاقات المصرية الإثيوبية حول إدارة النيل ترجع إلى الوسائل الإعلامية التى تبث من الطرفين، ولكن الإعلام لا يقتصر فقط على نشر تصريحات المسئولين، ولكن هناك أيضا رؤية وسرديات «الشعوب» المستفيدين المباشرين من مياه النيل والتى تنقلها الموسيقى والسينما، والمقطوعات الموسيقية التى عزفتها أمل جورمازى أو فيلم يوسف شاهين الذى يرجع إلى ستينيات القرن الماضى، فما هى السرديات الحالية التى يمكن أن يعرضها الفن المصرى؟!

‘Africanist’ Scholar Community in Egypt

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Last September,  I was invited to friends/family gathering at Dr.Hedar Ibrahim Aly’s place here in Cairo.  This gathering was a kind gesture by Dr.Hedar and his wife to thank who supported and prayed for him in his ailment. Dr. Heder is a sociologist has contributed in Sudanese thoughts mainly in criticizing the Islamism in Sudan.
At Dr.Hedar’s place, we met Sudanese intellectuals who live here in Cairo and the chat was about the national dialogue in Sudan particularly with a call for civil disobedience; however, the attendees were in doubt of its outcomes.

When Prof. Helmy Sharawy (the Godfather of African studies in Egypt – I have to write about him) extended the invitation to us (a group of 5 young scholars specialized in African studies) I was hesitant to accept it, because I am not used to visiting professors at their home ( the private place)  usually meet outside in cafes. but with encouraging of other colleagues I went and I enjoyed in being part of this gathering. I returned home thinking about the status of the Africanist scholar community in Egypt.

My observation from academia that social gatherings among specialists in African studies are often comparing to other research groups in other area studies. Is it due to the spirit of Africanity that implicit unity or because of the most of Africanist are tend to socialism and they give attention to the grassroots and community dynamics!! or because in the Egyptian case who are specialized in African studies are small group?!

On the other side, I feel this style of social relation among the scholars who specialized in African studies makes mutual academic criticism a hard job … no one wants to refute seriously the works of the other and this attitude does not help in improving the works published by Egyptian scholars, sure there are other factors explained why the publications of Egyptian scholars are not well known in African studies.

I’m still questioning, can I be specialized in African study without being Africanist?!!

 

In Africa: hair style is a resistance

In the last month, there was two news popped up in African news pages and websites. the first one came from Ethiopia where Oromo and Amharic protestors and activists shaved their hair as a gesture of their solidarity with who killed in the demonstrations. Traditionally, shaving is an expression of sadness of missing loved ones.

While the second one is in  the south by young girls in a high school in  Pretoria (South Africa) protested against the school’s declaration to ban afro hairstyle. and that raised again the dilemma of racist practices by settlers. This incident shows how the post-apartheid generation  challenges and resists ANC policies.

29-pretoria-girls-high-school-protests.w710.h473.2x.jpg

How is the hair a powerful symbol in African precipitation?

I did not read about the anthropology of hair styles in African traditions, but these two recent actions made me reconsider  Rastafari. Regardless the religious origin and interpretation, Rastafari dreadlocks associated with resistance or preaching for African identity and pan-African doctrine since the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie adopted Rastafari as a religion. then it popularized internationally with Bob Marley and his reggae music. then Jamaica, the home of Rastafari, dreadlocks is a symbol of emancipated slaves.

the Kenyan independence movement “Mau Mau” used dreadlocks as one of its symbols. and another narrative , I read mentioned that Massai warriors used to make their hair dreadlocks. also, Afro hairstyle was a symbol of civil movements in USA.

Robert Nzaou Kissolo ( Congolese Photographer) showed in his exhibition “Obsession” that naturality and be authentic are tools to resist the dominant modern/standard life. here is the article on the photo exhibition http://allafrica.com/stories/201610200279.html

Meklit Hydro an Ethiopian singer has a song (Kemekem) that means I like your Afro,

and in this video, there is a trial to document African hair styles across years

Black Women’s Hair Throughout History

 

photo citation: it is retrieved from http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/08/south-african-schoolgirls-protest-to-wear-natural-hair.html

Spatial immobility: I’m Egyptian not African

When I heard or witnessed how my friends  from other African countries are able to move easily to a neighbour country or when they told me how their families belong to two countries …. that make me jealous.

I think Egyptian immobility to other African countries might be interpreted by more than one reason.

first: the most of Egyptians inhabitant alongside the Nile and its delta … this is the long watercourse that extends from the south to the north in one way without hard detours. The rest of Egypt space is deserts have few inhabitants. Some reports state that 99.3% of total population (90 Million) concentrated around the Nile in 3.5% of total space of Egypt.  One of remarkable satellite shoots to Egypt shows the population distribution like Lotus flower (the pharaoh symbol)

nasa_esc_large_iss025_iss025-e-9858-t

There are two main deserts in Egypt: the Eastern one is in the right side of the Nile and the Western desert is in the left side. and the Western desert is bigger than the eastern one .

The Egyptian deserts are not a good connector particularly with poor transport infrastructure; therefore, the possibility of interaction with neighbouring African countries became difficult. and the accessibility to the heart of Africa is through the border of the Western desert.

The family/ tribe extension cross borders are limited to some spots: one with some Libyan tribes and with Sudan  and the most of these inhabitants are nomads. Accordingly,  such nomad tribes who are on the periphery of Egypt  are not able to create strong connection that echo in the centre alongside the Nile.

Another reason is the absence of urban regions that have resources and generate jobs to attract inhabitants to move on like the mobility to the Gulf countries where they crossed the Eastern desert and the Red Sea. Neither the Egyptian governorates nor Libyan and Sudanese governorates are “developed”  thus no motivation for the young people to bear the mobility burden.

Additionally,  political demarcation of African borders are artificial and not coincided with tribal distribution; and that later – after independence- keep good social mobility cross these artificial borders .However, Egyptian case is different.. its borders were defined before European colonisation. and the existence of tribes can be defined clearly in south of Egypt (Nubia) and in this case the mobility of Nubians between Egypt and Sudan is easy. Therefore, the political and social perspectives to Nubia is the Egyptian gate to Africa!!

I think the distribution of Egyptian population that aligns the Nile and poor condition of peripheral  regions have contributed in disconnecting Egypt from the rest of the Continent mainly on social base and that is reflected in our identity

photo citation: Lotus photo retrieved from https://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2010/11/

Ethiopian Uprising: a Silent Solidarity

ethiopia-protest_0

Oromo have been demonstrating against government’s economic policies in different spots around the world.

Oromo are settled in Cairo as refugees and they protested for two weeks in front of the building of UNHCR in October city, the town where I live in.

I have a friend from Oromo who lives here in Cairo and she is active in showing Oromia rights, demands and culture to Egyptians. so she with other Oromo activists participate in different cultural events that took place in Cairo and they present themselves ” we are Ethiopian from Ormoia”.

Some historical narratives claim that there is blood ties between Egyptian (mainly Nubian) and Oromo. Additionally, there was a historical support by Egyptian governments to Oromo. (I need to read carefully about this relation).

Also, I have Ethiopian friends who belong to other ethnicities and they live in their home in Addis Ababa. But I can not dare to ask them about their opinion of Oromo and Amharic demonstrations … though I believe that some of them are against government brutality.

In a group of the Nile people, we show and send supportive thoughts to anyone in the group faces any troubles and to his/her country that passed through  natural or political or terrorist disasters…. but with Ethiopian demonstrations, no one in the group including myself has been shared our supportive thoughts until now!!!!

I feel the stressed political relation between Ethiopia and Egypt due to GERD and Eritrea curb my supportive position to Oromo rights.

I feel that I’m in a dilemma; I need to express my support to Oromo/ Amahric rights and movements loudly and in active way on the social media as I used to do with Egyptian revolutionists….. but I’m afraid that may mess up the relation with Ethiopia; because I adopt the track of  developing peaceful and open relations with Ethiopian as the best way to manage the Nile issue … but the Ethiopian government has a rooted belief that Egyptian government works to destabilise Ethiopian state through supporting Oromo !!! On the other side, I ‘m afraid when I ask and share the supportive positions of my Ethiopian friends who live in Addis Ababa to create troubles to them… still, Ethiopia nor Egypt are not democratic countries that guarantee the right of expression.

Until I found a way to support Oromo rights explicitly…. my position is a silent solidarity!

 

*the photo by REUTERS/DARRIN ZAMMIT and I retrieved from this website http://www.ibtimes.com/ethiopia-oromia-protests-hundreds-killed-thousands-arrested-brutal-crackdown-human-2317808

 

 

 

 

 

Urbanization defines my African Identity

Africa is the Sub-Sahara and the countries that located in the north part of the continent are Arab or part of the Middle East or the south of Mediterranean. so the geographical location is a confused issue and that affect the identity of African people.

I understand that the  historical experience with  the colonial powers ( from Europe or Arabs) was different between countries located in the north and south of the Great Sahara. then the economic and political interactions with other world countries are not similar or do not depart from the same legacy.

Based  on these factors (history, economic and political conditions) many articles analyze why the peoples in the north do not introduce themselves as African or consider Africa is a significant or first container in their identity circles.

But in this globalized world with intensive interactions among every individual  across the world, why we (who belong to countries located in the north part of the continent) still detach ourselves from Africa or look to other African from a tourist’s eye!!

I am thinking about another factor that shapes  our belongingness to Africa..it is the pace of urbanization.

Because we are in a globalized world and due to the location on the shores of the continent, so we have easy and intensive interactions with “modernized” outsiders. Therefore, there is an expectation that other African countries have cities with facilities like the other countries across the Mediterranean sea or the Red sea.

Another layer is the perception of young people who live in the north part, they are the category of a population who are going into global intensive interactions through the internet communication. Our cognitive image to whom is not at the same level of urban status is a poor (uncivilized, lack of resources, dummy capabilities, …).

Therefore, we separate ourselves from other African countries because we do not share the similar urbanized style of life.

My friend from the Republic of Central Africa told me a situation happened in a student activity in Cairo Univerity that aims to introduce Africa to Egyptian students, the presenter depended on pictures of villages in other African countries to show them how other countries look like! here my friend stood up and said to presenter if you would like to show Africa so project villages in Egypt as well  because there are not the big difference among them and when you compare cities across the continent not a city with a village!

This situation shows how urbanization can be a factor in shaping our perception to ourselves as African…

I think that the velocity of urbanization in other countries that located in the south of great Sahara can close the gap in the cognitive image between the north and the south. and it may be made Africa in the closer circle of the identity of young people who belong to the countries in the north of Great Sahara.  1420462086_MG_1587.jpg

*the photo by  Timothy kisambira and retrieved from: http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2015-01-05/184660/