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Ugandan Peace Advocate Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

This is Uganda (ThisIs256) is a platform of talented writers from Uganda who are determined to write positive stories about their country, banishing stories about poverty porn, hunger, Ebola, and tribalism, among others. They seek to represent an authentic, reflective, honest, and objectively balanced study about Uganda that you will never find anywhere else in mainstream western media.

Their latest story is about Victor Ochen, a former internally displaced person who was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organisation, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the past, AFSC nominated Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King Jr., and US President Jimmy Carter, who all became winners. The organisation unsuccessfully nominated Mahatma Gandhi, who never won the Nobel Peace Prize, although he was nominated five times between 1937 and 1948.

Ochen, 33, founded the African Youth Initiative Network, based in Lira, Uganda, in 2005, which works in medical rehabilitation of victims of burnings, mutilations of all kinds, rape, and psychological torture as well as promotes youth leadership. It has grown to become an international network of medical professionals who help victims rebuild their homes and livelihoods. According to This is Uganda:

What Victor did out of sheer compassion added him to this prestigious list. As a teenager in Abia camp that was home of over 40,000 people, he formed a peace club with his peers in the camp. This initiative angered the elders “Why are you talking about peace that you have never seen?” He was enterprising; he risked his life to burn charcoal to raise his school fees. Then later he joined secondary school and could barely afford time to do his charcoal business so he became a cobbler, he used to repair shoes of kids at school. One day he landed a big job of mending the shoes of the school football team, unfortunately that money was stolen. His hard work and favor from the teachers saw him through high school

Victor’s heart was home even when he worked with straight talk foundation in Kampala, interacting with the people in the field made him realize that the people of northern Uganda wanted more than hand outs but wanted and deserved more. That is when he left his job and started the African youth initiative Network. This initiative mobilizes communities especially the youth to pursue peace and human rights, reconciliation. They offer psychosocial support to the former victims of conflict, most of who suffer severe emotional pain and struggle with forgiveness, they have also supported over 5000 people with reconstructive surgeries especially the women whose lips were cut off, the initiative also supports income generating activities, have formed 100 peace clubs in schools and universities in northern Uganda and over 6000 young people have gone through the peace building and transitional justice programme.

Voting Underway in Kenya Blog Awards 2015

The voting phase of the Kenyan Blog Awards is ongoing and will continue until April 30, 2015:

The Kenyan Blog Awards seeks to reward bloggers that post on a regular basis, have great and useful content, are creative and innovative. These awards represent BAKE’s efforts in the promotion of quality content creation. Organizer The Kenyan Blog Awards are an initiative of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE). BAKE is a community organization that represents a group of Kenyan online content creators and that seeks to empower online content creation and improve the quality of content created on the web.

Photos and Video of Sierra Leone’s 3 Day Lock Down

Michael Duff shares eyewitness accounts of Sierra Leone's 3 day lock down that was introduced to fight ebola:

Sierra Leoneans can breathe a sigh of relief today as citizens in the capital city and in the North of the country who were under a 3 day government mandated stay at home come can now move above freely.
While there was a clash between police and residents of Devil Hole the Freetown Western Rural area that led to the firing of tear gas, the lock down was quiet for most.

Civil War Separates Peuhl Children from their Parents in Yaloke, Central African Republic

aloke Boys Reunited with Their Family via UNICEF_CAR twitter account - Public Domain

Yaloke Boys Reunited with Their Family via UNICEF_CAR twitter account – Public Domain

Peuhl minorities of Islamic confession have been trying to escape anti-balaka militia since the beginning of the civil war in in the Central African Republic.  One of the camps where displaced Peuhl can find protection is the Yaloke camp by the Cameroonian border in the western region. The health situation in the Yaloke camp is critical where death rates is three times higher than other cities in the region. The refugees are not allowed to move out of the Yaloke Camp which has made it difficult for families to reunite.  The Reseau Des Journalistes pour les droits de l'homme EN RCA (The Journalist Network for Human Rights in CAR) reports on the situation:

Pour Moussa Saidou, deux de ses enfants l’ont quitté et se retrouvent aujourd’hui à Gamba. « Ils sont partis le jour de l’attaque qui a conduit à la perte de nos bétails. Ils ont fui dans la brousse pour se retrouver à Gamba avant de rejoindre Goré au Tchad, où ils séjournent pour le moment»

Moussa Saidou explains that two of her children have escaped and now find themselves in Gamba. “They left the day of the attack that led to the loss of our livestock. They fled into the forest to find themselves in Gamba before joining Gore in Chad, where they stay for now”.

The Collapse of Civilisation Is Already a Reality for the Children of Ambovombe, Madagascar

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

Children in Ambovombe, Madagascar. Photo by John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo, posted on Facebook.

A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.

Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.

That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :

Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..]  Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants

I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of  the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help. 

Another Shark Attack Claims a Teenage Surfer on Reunion Island, Post-Attack Policy in Effect

Cove rphoto of Facebook page to remember Elio Canestri - with their permission.

Cover photo of Facebook page to remember Elio Canestri – with their permission.

A 13-year-old boy was killed by a shark on April 12 near Les Aigrettes on Reunion island.

Elio Canestri was a promising surfer and a member of the local surfing club. The local community is shocked by the tragic news. A Facebook page was set up to commemorate his life, with already more than 3,500 fans within a few hours.

Soon after the events, the local authorities activated the post-attack measures, which include specific fishing targets in the area.

Unfortunately, shark attacks have become a repetitive event on Reunion island: There have been 16 shark attacks off the island since 2011. In February this year, island authorities extended a law prohibiting swimming and other water-based activities except in special areas in response to the high number of attacks. The measure has resulted in a dramatic decline in tourism.       

#JesuisKenyan Trends in Francophone Social Media to Show Support for Garissa Victims

Twitter users show support for Garissa victims via Arnaud Seroy on twitter

Twitter users show support for Garissa victims via Arnaud Seroy on twitter

On April 2, 2015, at least 147 people were killed by gunmen on the campus of Garissa University in Kenya, according to Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre (KRCS). The center also reports that 79 people were injured and 587 people were evacuated at this stage.

The suspected mastermind of the massacre is the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

The tragic accounts of the shooting by survivors triggered a show of solidarity worldwide. The francophone world, still weary after the Charlie Hebdo attack, responded by showing solidarity with the Garissa victims on social networks with the hashtag #JesuisKenyan (to mirror the hashtag #JesuisCharlie). It was the second most trending topics on Twitter in France on April 3.

Here are a few of those posts:

147 died in the horrific #terrorist attack against education and our future. Let's show solidarity #JesuisKenyan

Not enough talk in the media about the terrorist attack at the university in Kenya, are 147 dead not enough ?! HORRIBLE #JesuisKenyan

Open Letter to 60 Minutes Regarding Its Reporting on Africa

Scholars, writers, journalists and researchers write an open letter to 60 Minutes producer about the misrepresentation of Africa by the Tv program:

Dear Jeff Fager, Executive Producer of CBS 60 Minutes,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by 60 Minutes.

In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon.

The third notable recent segment was a visit by your correspondent Lara Logan to Liberia to cover the Ebola epidemic in that country. In that broadcast, Africans were reduced to the role of silent victims. They constituted what might be called a scenery of misery: people whose thoughts, experiences and actions were treated as if totally without interest. Liberians were shown within easy speaking range of Logan, including some Liberians whom she spoke about, and yet not a single Liberian was quoted in any capacity.

13 Eritrean Writers You Should Know About

Woyingi compiles a list of Eritrean literature, which includes Sulaiman Addonia's The Consequences of Love and Taught to hate: observations on madrasas, Astier M. Almedom's Re-reading the Short and Long-Rigged History of Eritrea 1941–1952: Back to the Future?, Alemseged Tesfai's Two Weeks in the Trenches: Reminiscences of Childhood and War in Eritrea (Memoir) and Tekie Fessehatzion's Shattered Illusion, Broken Promise: Essays on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict 1998-2000 (Essays).

Global Voices Author Nwachukwu Egbunike Unveils Debut Collection of Poems

Global Voices author and writer Nwachukwu Egbunike will unveil his new book Blazing Moon today in Ibadan, Nigeria:

Join us as we unveil Nwachukwu Egbunike’s debut collection of poems Blazing Moon. Egbunike is a blogger and essayist.

In commemoration of the 2015 World Poetry Day celebration, the March edition of ARTMOSPHERE will also play host to Dami Ajayi, a medical doctor and author of the poetry collection, Clinical Blues.

Both poets will read from their collections and discuss the creative process, governance, political, as well as social issues. There will also be book signings and music performances by D’Jazz Band at the event.

Blazing Moon is a book that draws you out, strips you naked, and asks you to confront yourself, define yourself and know who you are. There is no room for quibbles, for middle-of-the road stances: you must yourself pick up the gauntlet and fight your own battle of honour, of faith, of self. In this you will confront striking contrasts that paint human follies in the garb of lifting sanctity: thirsty, loves the drought; hungry, loves the famine; the contents though spilled, yet never exhausted. You would be telling yourself, I know a story like that.

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