Africa News Briefs

Global Information Network May 7, 2010


May 4 (GIN) – Hundreds of African grandmothers from 12 African countries are meeting this week in Swaziland to discuss the impact of losing adult children to AIDS.

The inaugural African Grandmothers’ Gathering aims to build a “solidarity movement” across the continent, while seeking support from international donors and aid agencies.

“Grandmothers are at the frontline of the HIV/Aids impact. They have to pick up the pieces and move on,”. said Philile Mlotshwa of Swapol (Swaziland Positive Living), which is organizing the event in partnership with the Canadian-based Stephen Lewis Foundation.

“They are the heroes yet no one has gone to them to say we recognize your efforts.”They don’t have time to grieve because the children need to be looked after. They are doing this without any income.”

A delegation of 42 Canadian grandmothers from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation will also attend the summit. The Queen Mother and prime minister of Swaziland will also attend the conference in Manzini, on from May 6 to 8.


May 3 (GIN) – Lawyers for the widows of two African presidents whose deaths set off a genocidal war, failed in their attempt to serve Rwandan President Paul Kagame with legal papers during his recent U.S. visit.

The Rwandan leader was in Edmond, Oklahoma, attending the graduation last week of 10 Rwandese students at Oklahoma Christian University. He slipped away before legal papers could be served.

A leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame’s group had been in a power struggle with the Hutu-led government of Pres. Juvenal Habyarimana. The shoot-down of a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira in April 1994 by unknown assailants set off a horrific killing spree. Ironically, both were returning from a regional peace meeting in Tanzania.

The $350 million wrongful death lawsuit accuses Kagame of ordering the plane to be shot down. Peter Erlinder of the International Humanitarian Law Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, is handling the widows’ claims. Kagame’s government has denied the accusations.


May 3 (GIN) – The two-term national president of the Black Sash human rights group that opposed the white minority government in South Africa since their founding in 1955, passed in Johannesburg. Sheena Duncan was 78.

Black sashes were conceived as a symbol of mourning for the death of South Africa’s constitutional rights, for the erosion on the rule of law, “legal” segregation by race and the damage inflicted by the policy on migrant labor.

Nelson Mandela described the women of the Black Sash as the ‘conscience of white South Africa’ during the Apartheid-era.

Duncan was a leading member of the South African Council of Churches, and chairperson of Gun-Free South Africa. In 2006, she was cited with the Order of the Baobab for her contribution to the struggle for a “non-sexist, just and democratic South Africa.”


May 3 (GIN) – Capping a three-year effort, Congolese national Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo may finally get his chance to pull a racially insulting comic book “Tintin in the Congo” off of library shelves.

A trial is scheduled to begin this week in Brussels, the city where Tintin’s creator, pen-named Hergé, once lived. Mbutu Mondondo, 42, says the book — first published in 1930 — is racist, colonial propaganda and should be banned.

Tinton in the Congo appeared just 22 years after the Belgian-born King Leopold II laid claim to the Congo with Belgian money. In the so-called Belgian Congo, Leopold with his private army, the Force Publique, enslaved and mutilated the population. .

Estimates of the death toll range from two to fifteen million.

“(Tintin) served – and still serves to prop up a sanitized account of Belgium’s colonialism. “It twists history to suggest that everything was happy and fun,” says Mbutu Mundondo. “In reality, it was a tragic, hurtful time.”

The offensive images ranged from Tintin’s faithful terrier Snowy being crowned king by the Africans, to a black woman bowing before the blond boy and declaring “White man very great. White mister is big juju man!”

The Brussels court will consider whether the book should be banned, or sold with a warning across the cover that some readers might find the content offensive. In 2007 a British court ruled that “Tintin in the Congo” should be sold with such a warning.

Mbutu has also tried, unsuccessfully, to have the cartoon banned in France.

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