Thursday, March 04, 2021
Add this page to Blinklist Add this page to Add this page to Digg Add this page to Facebook Add this page to Furl Add this page to Google Add this page to Ma.Gnolia Add this page to Newsvine Add this page to Reddit Add this page to StumbleUpon Add this page to Technorati Add this page to Yahoo

ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Archive>>Displaying items by tag: African
Displaying items by tag: African
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:54

Redrawing the map of Africa

Daniel Morris: Redrawing the map of Africa

On March 1, 2010, a conference of military officials from the U.S. and various African nations opened to an auspicious start. Flights on time and visas in hand, invitees from Maseru to Ouagadougou had arrived safely at the military base in Washington, D.C., for the opening meeting. They came to network and receive a two-week course in U.S. security concerns: piracy, terrorism, oil security. After introductions, the floor was opened to questions. From the back of the room, sitting among the translators and press, a military official raised his hand.

"Where is my flag, South Sudan?" he asked.

Attendees looked around. The room was lined with flags from 53 African countries, but the one from South Sudan — stripes of black, red and green, with a blue triangle and gold star at the hoist — was nowhere to be found. Then snickers undulated. A referendum on South Sudan’s status was more than a year away. How could the official expect to see his flag, when at least in official terms, his country didn’t exist?

The pointed question reflected a much larger truth about African borders. Their arbitrary, absurd lines, dreamed up by European powers at a conference in Berlin more than 125 years ago, persist in defiance of compelling humanitarian reasons for redrawing them.

Yet the map will be a little less recognizable after tomorrow, when South Sudan celebrates its first independence day. The holiday comes after nearly 99% of the region’s residents voted in January to secede from the sclerotic, savage regime of Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum. Usually a result that high on any side is a sure sign a vote has been rigged. But even al-Bashir accepted the outcome as a reflection of the will of the people. He had tried everything, including stealing the food and medicine of foreign aid, to starve and sicken Southerners into submission. He may have found the referendum result unwelcome, but it couldn’t have been surprising.

Despite some lingering uncertainties, the celebrations will raise a timely question: With a precedent set for rethinking African borders, what other regions might benefit from a status update? In the cold calculus of international policy-makers, even allowing for the possibility of bloodshed over exact border demarcations, where might more lives be saved by creating a new nation, rather than maintaining the fiction of an old one?

Perhaps the most persuasive case for divorce would be the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even if a Congolese president were less kleptocratic than today’s Joseph Kabila, the country’s geography makes effective governance nearly impossible. Roads and railways are decrepit and air travel is too expensive for the vast majority of the population. J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the Atlantic Council, likens DRC to "an archipelago of population centres separated from each other by literally hundreds of kilometers of impassable forest."

The lack of governance has led to decades of war by a mosaic of armed groups proficient in committing atrocities. The UN reports the South Kivu area is contested by groups including the Burundian Intelligence Services; former Rwandan genocidaires; the Congolese army; a loose group of militias known as the Mai Mai; and a network of arms traffickers connected to Tanzanian authorities.

Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, Vice-President of South Sudan, speaks before the United Nations General Assembly. Export processing zone investors should tap into the South Sudan and Ethiopian markets to diversify from the export restriction imposed by the East Africa Protocol.Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, Vice-President of South Sudan, speaks before the United Nations General Assembly. Export processing zone investors should tap into the South Sudan and Ethiopian markets to diversify from the export restriction imposed by the East Africa Protocol.


As the saying in East Africa goes, when elephants fight it is the grass that gets hurt. Congo’s Second War nominally ended in 2003, but the UN continues to document hundreds of instances of the slaughter of defenseless civilians and refugees. A woman in the DRC is more than 100 times more likely to be raped than a woman in Canada. Annual government spending on health care per person amounts to two dollars and is probably closer to zero in the eastern Kivu areas. A more localized form of government, including army, police and health services, could go a long way toward establishing for the first time a social contract between citizens of eastern Congo and their leaders.

Unfortunately, the international community’s scarce resources for Africa are devoted to other hotspots. But maintaining the illusion of a unitary Congolese state is not free. Foreigners bankrolled Congo’s last election in 2006 at a cost of more than $1-billion and the ongoing UN mission costs another $1-billion annually.

While any serious discussion about the legitimacy of African borders is first a subject for Africans, Canada can support African Union (AU) research into regions where the status quo is untenable and where a referendum is warranted. Residents of restive regions in Africa will no doubt be inspired by South Sudan’s independence celebration, in addition to the ongoing protests in the Arab world. Before these groups inquire about their own flags more aggressively, the AU and its international partners should proactively respond to their grievances.

Daniel Morris is a freelance journalist who studied African affairs at McGill University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Sunday, 19 September 2010 00:19

Glaucoma in Blacks


High Prevalence of Glaucoma among African Descents

Eye sight is undoubtedly one of most precious gifts of God that deserves complete care and attention to function to its optimum level. Early detection and timely diagnosis can help to prevent fatal eye diseases. However, if left untreated for long, some eye diseases can lead to permanent and total loss of vision. This is the reason why, physicians & eye doctors urge people to get routine eye checkups done every once in a while irrespective of whether or not they are experiencing any problems since many diseases have symptoms which are almost unnoticeable. Glaucoma is one such eye disease that should not be taken lightly.

Research has shown that African descents are genetically more inclined to developing Glaucoma and subsequent blindness than people of other ethnicities. What’s even more worrying is the fact that black patients generally show signs of glaucoma early on (about 10 years earlier than others).

In order to get timely treatment and care, it is essential for African descents to get themselves checked regularly (every one to two years) for glaucoma, especially after reaching the age of 35-40 years.

What is Glaucoma?

In simple terms, glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve and can lead to vision impairment if not treated on time. Often, an increased and unrelieved pressure in the fluid of the eye (intraocular pressure) is also considered to a factor contributing to glaucoma. This disease can develop at any point of time, making timely diagnosis & thorough treatment very important. Specifically, a balance in the eye fluid production and drainage has to be maintained for normal eye pressure, range between 10 to 20. The front chamber (Anterior Chamber) of the eye is filled with aqueous clear fluid produced from a structure called the ciliary process at the back of the eye lens. The aqueous fluid is slowly pumped into the anterior chamber and then slowly drains out into the blood stream through the channels called the Schlem canals.  In glaucoma, there can be a problem with aqueous fluid not draining out of the eye quickly enough. The reason for such slow drainage can range from chronic eye inflammation from eye injury, increasing age, use of steroid medications, diabetes, or increase genetic susceptibility to abnormal functioning of the drainage channels. Following slow drainage of the aqueous fluid, the eye internal pressure can rise and press upon the optic nerve which is the weakest part of the eye.  This can be likened to squeezing a balloon with the neck or tip of the balloon pushed out as the eye internal pressure increases.  With African descents, it is possible that there is increase predisposition to slowing down of the drainage with time, or increase susceptibility of the optic nerve to damage by the smallest change in the eye pressure even when it seems be within the average normal range.

There are 2 main types of Glaucoma: Primary Open-angle Glaucoma & Angle-closure Glaucoma. In blacks, the occurrence of Primary Open-angle glaucoma is more common.
Common Risks: While several factors contribute to glaucoma formation, some of the risk factors include a family history of the disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and a person’s race.
Common Symptoms: Frequent headaches, faulty vision in the dark, swollen eye, eye pain with mid-dilated pupil, nausea and vomiting, among others. Glaucoma screening involves observing the optic nerve head for changes, changes in the field of vision using special equipments, and excluding thick cornea as the contributing cause of increase eye pressure. Since the symptoms of open-angle glaucoma are more difficult to ascertain, it is of primary importance for ophthalmologists to check aggressively for symptoms.
Prevalence of Glaucoma in Populations with African Ancestry
The prevalence of glaucoma begins to increase in African-ancestry populations at 40 years and rises significantly with age
(According to Glaucoma Research Foundation –NEI).
Glaucoma Treatment Plan & Target Pressure
It has been established that people of African origin are more susceptible to Glaucoma. Hence, when treating glaucoma, it is vital to take into consideration a patient’s race. Treatment usually begins with medical therapy. However, in the case where further intervention is required, surgical treatment, including laser therapy and/or glaucoma may be needed to release the built up pressure in the eye.
Even though several generalizations have been made as to which treatment has given the highest success rate based on research, what cannot be forgotten is that every patient is unique. Hence, it is imperative to take on a course of treatment that is best suited to the individual’s specific medical needs.
Considering the fact that Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among blacks, there is an urgent need for heath care authorities to sensitize Africans on the risks they face & the importance of timely intervention to prevent further damage.
G. Stanley Okoye, M.D., Ph.D. , Chief Medical Correspondent, Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) and St. Jude Medical Missions ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).


Sunday, 05 September 2010 01:37

African youths in White House

Hurrah As Obama's White House Summons Young African Leaders

A gift to African countries on her 50 years independence anniversary. One thing that President Obama, singer Whitney Houston and late Rt. Honorable Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe have in common is the appreciation and admiration of youths. The first President of Nigeria, Dr. Azikiwe in his political campaigns referred to young people as "Future leaders." By this he recognized that tomorrow belongs to the youths and they should be help to realize their God-given potentials and talents.

Whitney Houston, the Grammy winner singer, in one of music albums sang, "Children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess." President Obama practical zed it by inviting young African leaders to the White House on the dawn of celebration of 50 years anniversary of independence of 17 African countries. Many observers and editorials in the pages of African newspapers saw it as a snubbed on the current African leaders.

These observers and editors were reading the tea leaves upside down. The Obama's administration has a bigger fish to fry than wasting time on calculating on how to make African leaders depressed or make their French wine gathering less festive.

Let's make an intelligent guess; Africa is surely not moving forward compare to the rest of the continents and everybody including Stevie Wonder can see it. Therefore most of the problems embedded and occurring in Africa is self infected by the ruling class. The intelligent thing to do is to make sure that ineffectiveness, self-hatred, intellectual laziness and lethargy associated with the current leaders are not passing down to the up and coming generation.

African leaders in exception of few have demonstrated that they are not willing to tackle problems confronting their continent. Many of them may talk the good talk but they are not ready 'to roll' and do thing for their people. We have few pragmatic leaders but not the critical mass to make the difference in the continent with regards to the level of poverty, diseases, hopelessness and apathy.

New York Times writes, "President convened a forum this week to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of 17 African nations, but he did not invite a single African leader to help him do so. Was this, as the African news media and independent commentators see it, an expression of distaste for abusive rulers? Was it an extension of Mr. Obama's own conviction - already enunciated - that bad government is at the heart of the continent's woes and that "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions"? "

Africa rich in natural resources continue to be the poorest, lest productive and disease-ridden continent. Our African leaders are standing by the side corner, partying and throwing away precious time on unproductive and unsustainable ventures. Apart from few productive African leaders there was no justification for inviting rest of the leaders whose propensity are to overlook their responsibilities. If you cannot teach old dogs new tricks you might as well start with the puppies.

In the forum in the White House, "When asked about President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mr. Obama told the young people at the forum, "I'll be honest with you - I'm heartbroken when I see what's happened in Zimbabwe. I think Mugabe is an example of a leader who came in as a liberation fighter and - I'm just going to be very blunt - I do not see him serving his people well. And the abuse, the human rights abuses, the violence that's been perpetrated against opposition leaders I think is terrible."

President Obama would have added that Africans have the greatest responsibilities of developing their continent. The point of being independent is to demonstrate to yourself and to others that you are free and liberated. Freedom comes with responsibility anything short of that is mockery of freedom.


Published in Archive