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Stories from Africa

“Very Difficult to Care about Madagascar”

Thomas Friedman recently traveled to Madagascar and posits that Americans need to pay more attention to the economic and ecological disaster that threatens the island. Some of his readers did not quite agree, like Deosinon in Philadelphia, who argues that Madagascar is too far removed from his needs :

I apologize, but it is very difficult to care about Madagascar. What really concerns me is the valuable space given to this issue by the Times. We are here and need a paper that helps us [..] Today's paper talks of The Met and Madagascar. Please use your space and your writers considerable pool of intellect to speak to us here, and help us with our lives, and tell us things that will improve life here. Maybe I'll read more, I know I'll be happier.

To which Robert counters :

I see your point; after all, this is only a 226-thousand square mile island with over 22 million people living on it, the 47th-largest country in the world, with any number of absolutely-unique species living on it and on its way to becoming Haiti. [..] Beyond the moral considerations, the fact is that we're part of the world and can't wall ourselves off, whether we like it or not. As they say, you can manage the issues or the issues will most assuredly manage you.

In somewhat related news, a few citizens in Madagascar also are in favor of less attention from the West, especially the IMF.

Images of Air Algerie AH5017 Plane Wreckage in Mali Reveals Violent, Abrupt Crash

The first footage of the plane crash are now available thanks to a Burkinabe soldier present on the site of the wreck near Gossi, in Northern Mali. There are no survivors among the 118 people on board, including more than 50 French nationals. Algerian website Algérie Focus reports in French that:

Cette vidéo montre des débris éparpillés et broyés. La zone sablonneuse a été noircie par le crash. Sur cette vidéo, il est pratiquement impossible de repérer les pièces maîtresses de l’avion au milieu des débris.

The video shows scattered and crushed debris. The sand at the site was blackened by the crash. In the video, it is virtually impossible to identify the key components of the aircraft amid the debris.

Second Biggest Arts Festival in the World Taking Place in South Africa

Live reports from the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa:

Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.

Biofortified Bananas for Beta Carotene Deficiency

Félix Moronta Barrios is a Venezuelan biologist who spreads scientific culture among Spanih speaking community. He recently explained the researches and biotechnologic findongs about transgenic bananas in Uganda and the United States.

The banane cultivated in Uganda has no A vitamin. That's why its modification is necessary. Moronta Barrios warns the skeptical:

Antes de que piensen cosas como “natural es mejor”, “otra vez los científicos jugando a ser dios”, “lo modificado genéticamente es malo malísimo”, etc, etc, etc. sepan que la transgénesis también ocurre naturalmente, como expliqué aquí. Que el plátano, banana o cambur que consumimos hoy en día es un invento humano, tal como explica Ciencia de Sofá en “El oscuro pasado de los plátanos“. Y para que no termine ahí la sorpresa, les cuento que es un alimento radiactivo por su alto contenido en potasio; tanto, que camiones cargados de plátanos hacen saltar las alarmas en algunas aduanas. Incluso hay una unidad de medida al respecto, la dosis equivalente a un plátano.

Before you think of things such as “natural is best”, “again scientists playing God”, “genetically modified is not good”, etc, you better know that transgenesis goes on naturally, as explained here. The bananas we eat are human creation, as stated by Ciencia de Sofá on “The dark past of bananas“. And for more surprises, let me tell you this is a radiactive fruit, due to its high content of potasium. So much that banana trucks start the alarms in some customs control. There even is a measuring unit about that, the dose equivalent to a banana.

For updates about biology and biotechnology by an expert written in Spanish with a simple language, visit the blog by Felix Moronta or follow his tweets on morontafelix.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

A Plea to Pope Francis to Take Action Against African Dictators

Abdoulaye Bah, Global Voices contributor and author of the  Konakry Express blog has launched a petition to ask Pope Francis to take action against African dictators. Bah, who previously wrote about his admiration for some of the Pope's political stance, denounces the credit granted by the Papacy to five African leaders by officially receiving them at Vatican City. The petition asked for the same punishment for the dictators as what was recently bestowed on members of the Mafia when Pope Francis visited Calabria.

Your Holiness recently received President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, President Paul Biya of Cameroon, and President Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo. These five presidents broke world records for longevity in power. To do this, they have built oligarchies which pillage resources, kill innocents, rape women, torture opponents and defenders of human rights. These oligarchies also corrupt institutions, pervert their people wishes during rigged elections, and divide populations by sowing hate and provoking uprising..

Highway Africa 2014 Extends Deadline for Registration

The deadline for registration for the 18th annual Highway Africa Conference has been extended to Friday, 08 August 2014:

Due to the influx of interest in the 18th annual Highway Africa Conference, the deadline for registration has been extended to Friday, 08 August 2014.

The world’s largest annual gathering of African Journalists takes place at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, from 7 – 8 September 2014.

With the theme, “Social Media – from the margins to the mainstream”, the event will explore how social media have impacted on all aspects of our lives in the last ten years.

2 Journalists Arrested for Alleged Defamation of a Minister in Madagascar

Two journalists from the daily paper Madagascar Matin were placed under arrest at Antanimora's jail, in the capital city of Madagascar, Antananarivo. Earlier this morning (July 23), both of them were summoned to the Brigade of Fiadanana for a hearing.  Solo Rajaonson, another local journalist,  posted the following update in Malagasy on Facebook :

About the latest news regarding freedom of press in Madagascar: our colleagues, the Publication Manager of the newspaper Madagascar Matin, Jean Luc Rahaga and his Editor-In-Chief, Didier Ramanoelina are placed under arrest at the penitentiary of Antanimora in Antananarivo, Madagascar. This is the result of a complaint of defamation from  Rivo Rakotovao, the Minister of Transport and Industry. So much for breaking away from our recent dark past, I guess

 

Distribution of SMS Printers in Cameroon to Reduce Delays in HIV Testing for Newborns

Afrique IT news reports that [fr] a new type of device (SMS printer) is being installed in several HIV testing facilities in Cameroon thanks to the Clinton Foundation and the telecommunication company  MTN :    

La Fondation Clinton et l’opérateur de télécommunication MTN ont établi un partenariat pour lutter contre le diagnostic tardif de l’infection au VIH chez les nouveaux nés. Comprenant une mini-imprinante, ce dispositif mobile sera installé dans 682 centres de prélèvements à travers le pays. Pour sa part la MTN devrait mettre son réseau, ainsi que ses équipements à disposition, pour un meilleur déploiement du service dans les régions trop éloignées qui semblent être les plus touchées. Les nouveau-nés pourront subir des tests pour le VIH dans divers hôpitaux avec l’impression immédiate des résultats en envoyant des tests via la technologie SMS à deux laboratoires spécialisés du pays.

The Clinton Foundation and the telecommunications operator MTN have partnered to fight against the late diagnosis of HIV testing in newborns.  This new mobile device will include a pocket-size printer and will be distributed in 682 testing centers across the country. For its part,  MTN will share its cell network and its facilities for better service deployment in remote areas that have the most urgent needs. Newborns will be tested for HIV in various hospitals, the results of tests will be printed via SMS technology in two of the advanced laboratories in the country to allow the preparation of the treatment.

Cameroonian Inventor Introduces First Locally-Made Tablet to Monitor Heart Diseases

Arthur Zang at the rolex awards via his Facebook page.

Arthur Zang at the rolex awards via his Facebook page.

Arthur Zang is a Cameroonian inventor specialized in IT and healthcare. His team created Cardiopad, a device that contains an electrocardiograph, a radioscope and a digital monitor. This tablet is connected through a regular mobile phone SIM card that is able to transmit an electrocardiogram from any point of the country to specialized centers where cardiologists can diagnose patients and remotely provide medical prescription. Arthur Zang was interviewed by Beaugas-Orain Djoyum on camerpost.com after he won one of the prestigious 2014 “Rolex Awards for enterprise competition” to explain his vision for the health care industry and innovation in Africa: 

Dans notre stratégie de déploiement, nous travaillons énormément et étroitement avec les médecins. C’est sur cette relation avec les professionnels de la santé que nous basons notre développement et le succès de nos appareils. Nous sommes proches d’eux. Nous comprenons leurs problèmes et c’est en fonction de leurs besoins que nous concevons des solutions aux problèmes de leurs patients. La vulgarisation du Cardiopad dépend surtout du degré avec lequel celui-ci pourra répondre aux attentes des médecins 

 

In our development strategy, we are working hard on establishing a close rapport with physicians.We base the development and success of our products on our keen understanding of the local health professionals. We are close to them and value their relationships. We understand their problems according to the needs they express, we are able to develop solutions for their patients. A wider distribution of the Cardiopad will depend mostly on the degree to which it can meet the expectations of local doctors. 

On Being Young, Black and Queer in South Africa

Leila Dee Dougan shares a music video from the latest album by the South African artist Umlilo:

Umlilo (previously profiled on Africa is a Country here) continues to push societal boundaries, crushing the norms of sexuality and gender roles with ‘Magic Man’, a track from his latest album, which will be released in July 2014. Watch the making of the music video and hear his thoughts on circus troops, being an outcast and how his music has become his freedom.

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