Category Archives: LIFESTYLE

BRAFA 2022: Tribal art and “fetishes”

Brussels 17.06.2022 Anna Van Densky: As the centrepiece of its stand, Montagut Gallery will be presenting an exceptional Soninke statue, from the Dogon culture, Mali, thirteenth century.

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A selection of “fetishes” from the Democratic Republic of Congo will also be on display, at Didier Claes.
The exhibition “Nkisi” focuses on the beauty of these “force-objects” which, through the addition of
various elements, were magically charged and enabled access to their ritual function of divination and
communication with the spirits. Dalton Somaré will present a very graphic portrait mask,
Baule, Côte d’Ivoire, late nineteenth century, with traces of polychrome.

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The Guilhem Montagut Gallery has focused primarily on art from the early periods of tribal societies, with particular emphasis on African art. Since 1990, the gallery in Barcelona has provided private collectors and institutions with high quality pieces, offering the highest guarantees concerning value and authenticity. The gallery participates in a number of art fairs every year, including Feriarte in Madrid, Parcours des Mondes in Paris and Bruneaf in Brussels.

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The 67th edition of BRAFA, which will take place from Sunday, June 19th to Sunday, June 26th, 2022,
will open in the summer time season. From the first steps the visitors will be enchanted by a
richly-coloured decor welcoming them to daydream and contemplate. Elegantly flowered, covered with a unique carpet, and embellished by sculptures, paintings and drawings by our Belgian guest of honour, Arne
Quinze, the Fair will welcome 115 Belgian and international exhibitors spread over two Palaces at Brussels Expo, an emblematic and historic venue.

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Whilst this change of scenery has undoubtedly breathed new life into BRAFA, the Fair 2022 has also
retained its essential values: quality, authenticity and eclecticism. Collectors will be able to explore
the aisles where long-standing galleries and 18 new exhibitors will be displayed in a circuit that
promotes discovery and a mix of styles.

EU proposes ban on South Africa flights

Brussels 26.11.2021 Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have caused new wave of travel restrictions in Italy and Germany on Friday, November 26, as Brussels demands the EU-wide flight restrictions. (Image: illustration).

The European Commission will propose to suspend air travel from southern Africa amid concerns over this particular variant, EC President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Friday.

The proposal could be enacted in urgent procedures on Friday night, November 26.

Germany, Italy and France have already announced measures to restrict air travel from the region.

Rome has banned entry on its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa during fortnight, said health minister Roberto Speranza, invoking “maximum precaution” in the face of the new variant.

The countries targeted by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, the Minister has underlined.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, November 26, airlines coming from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens, meaning only repatriations will be possible.

South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant pandemic waves since the beginning. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of the mutations of the virus alike the one they have discovered now.

During a news briefing, South African genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

Kenya lost $100M of tourism revenue

The sector includes tourism, which has been greatly affected by a drop in visitor arrivals due to COVID-19 restrictions. “This led to either complete closure of businesses in accommodation and food service sector or significantly scaled down operation,” the statistics office said.

In early December, the tourism ministry said the sector had lost 110 billion Kenyan shillings ($999.55 million) in revenue between January and October.

Some of the more stringent measures that affected the sector, like stopping movement into and out of regions that were initially most affected by COVID-19, and the total closure of bars, have been lifted.

Providing some support, however, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew 6.3% from a 5.0% expansion in the same period in 2019.

“The impressive performance was supported by increases in tea production, exports of fruit and sugarcane production,” the statistics office said.

Construction also picked up, rising 16.2% from 6.6% growth a year earlier.

The economy contracted 5.7% year-on-year in the second quarter of last year, its first quarterly contraction since the global financial crisis 12 years ago.

The African economy’s performance in 2020 was hit by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that were put in place to contain its spread, forcing many businesses to close and send their employees home.Accommodation and food service activity crashed 57.9%, a sharp deterioration from 9.9% growth in third quarter of 2019, Kenya’s statistics office said on Thursday.

SA wine among world’s best

The world’s most influential and strictly judged wine context, The International Wine Challenge has recently announced its 30 best wines from across the world, and South Africa was one of the top-performing countries, with two wines included on the list.

South Africa’s entries highlight the diversity of white wines being produced in the country with the Elgin Chardonnay 2018 from Boschendal Wines scooping the South African White Trophy.

Groot Constantia Wine Estate’s Sauvignon Blanc 2019 took home the International Sauvignon Blanc Trophy, the first time in 10 years that the award has not been won by either the Loire or New Zealand.

The Elgin Chardonnay 2018 from Boschendal Wines is vibrant pale gold with a glimmer of green. This wine boasts an expressive grapefruit and golden delicious apple aromas detailed with graceful lime blossom, frangipani, and white truffle aromas further embellished by discreet vanilla oak spice. Groot Constantia Wine Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2019 has a pale straw colour with a lime green rim. On the nose, it shows an abundance of ripe summer fruit like passion fruit, sweet melon and white peach mixed with herbaceous and green pepper aromas. The sweet summer fruit gives richness to the palate, beautifully balanced by crisp, fresh acidity.

Winners from the 14 countries have proven themselves to be the absolute finest in their categories following an intensive blind-tasting.

Namibia opens arms to tourists

Namibia has further eased restrictions for international tourists to try to prevent the complete collapse of a sector severely damaged by the coronavirus pandemic after the country closed its borders in March, following the pandemic announcement of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Tourism Ministry said on September 8 that that foriegn tourists could go to their pre-booked destinations and take part in activities for up to five days, after which they will be tested for the virus.

If they stay at their pre-booked destination for less than five days they can proceed to another destination without a test.

According to the rules introduced in July, tourists had to quarantine at their first destination for seven days, which resulted in a large number of cancellations, detrimental for the hotel owners.

The tourism sector in Namibia has not seen any new bookings since the beginning of the month, leading to 115.7 million Namibian dollars ($6.85 million) in cancellations, the ministry estimates.

“This has necessitated a rethink in our approach. The tourism sector is highly competitive and Namibia is competing to attract tourists with countries from all over the world,” Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said.

COVID19: Morocco removed from EU travel list

The European Union removed Morocco from its safe travel list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential voyage, after a review by EU ambassadors on August 7, Friday.

Morocco recorded a record high of 6,385 new cases of contamination in the past week, according to a statistics by the Johns Hopkins University. The official soruces in Morocco have reported a total of 29,644 cases and 449 deaths.

The list is recommended as guideline for the EU’s 27 members, proposing to EU members not to open their borders to all the countries which are not included into safe travel list.

It is based on criteria including the monitoring of number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in a country over the fortnight, whether its case load per 100,000 people is in line with the EU average, and testing capacities.

The decision reduces the list to 10 countries, and it takes effect from August 8, after the EU also excluded Algeria last week.

The safe countries deemed to have the coronavirus pandemic largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

China has been approved, although travel would reumed on reciprocity basis only.

Ghana: «witch camps» controversy

In Ghana an elderly woman was lynched accused of whitchcraft. She didn’t survive the beatings, but some of women who survive the ordeal are sent away or flee to places called “witch camps“.

The recent murder of 90-year-old, Akua Denteh has caused an international outrage. Dentah was accused of being a “witch” by a local fetish priest and as follows was beaten to death in the village of Kafaba near Salaga in northern Ghana. Video of her violent death was posted online. Five people were arrested in the cause of the murder investigation.

The debate on witch camps closure in not a recent phenomenon. Almost a decade ago in 2011, the government announced it would shut down the camps, but they are still there. Contrary to human rights activists demands, the 2012 report by ActionAid gave a piece of advice to the government to restrain from swift action, insisting that for many women these camps offer a refuge, instead of lynching and imminent death. Since the issue came to pubic attention again in a dramatic context of the violent murder of an elderly women, the government and gender ministry are being urged to ensure the definitive closure the camps across the country.

The request of closure concerns also so-called “healing centre” which was established a year ago in Pulmakuom, Pusiga District of the Upper East Region, by father and son Rufai Sumaila. At their settlement near the Ghana-Togo border these self-styled natural healers claim to identify and heal women accused of being witches. They insist that they practice exorcism successfully, diverting women from of exercising the witchcraft, and with the activity of the centre they harmonise community life.

All persons who feel unwell, searching for “healing” at the centre are told their condition is caused by a family member, mostly women, who bewitched them. The relative, becoming a suspect, is forcefully brought to the centre to confess, and participate in ritual, including violent physical abuse.

Those who insist on their innocence are beaten until they confess, and the suspects are accused, being forced into confessing are chained to trees, tortured and made to shave their hair – supposedly to achieve the required result through correctional “therapy”.

In reality the healing centre has only caused physical and emotional pain and suffering to so many women and families, according to the executive director of the Sanneh Institute and a native of Widana, Professor John Azumah.

Accroding to Ghana media, late Dentah was one of 18 women who were identified by self-proclaimed “witch hunter,” Hajia Filipina who had been brought in by some of the villagers to discover who was responsible for the lack of rainfall, which they believed was being caused by evil “witches.” All of the suspected women “confessed” to being “witches” after being tortured in hopes of surviving the abuse, but Dentah, who was the only one in the group who refused to admit she was “witch,” and as therefore she was beaten to death in an attempt to force her to confess.

However, in spite of the shock and international outrage, there are Ghanaians who defend the barbaric tradition.

We have a very wrong perception about the witches’ camp. When I did my research I realized that it is rather this camp that serves as shelter for these old women. Because in the past, killing of these old women was very prevalent in the North. When we destroy this camp we can’t help but experience more of such killings,” said Professor Kwadwo Nimfour Opoku Onyinah, the Ghanaian theologian, while being invited to FM morning show.

Namibia: no alcohol consumption in bars

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to President Hage Geingob announcement.
Subsequenly he imposed limits on public gatherings, deacreasing to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, the President announced.

People will also not be allowed to consume alcohol at bars and taverns. They will only be permitted to drink beverges at home.

Geingob relaxed rules for international tourists, who will no longer be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival but will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted 72 hours before arrival.

They will, however, be required to remain at their initial destination in the country for seven days. A test will be conducted during this period and tourists can proceed with their holiday if the result is negative.

In a televised speech on Friday July 31, Geingob said there is also a decision to suspend schools from August 4 for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

The measures also affect early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school, while Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week.

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob.

#COVID19: Algeria exclused from EU safe travel list

The European Union is set to exclude Algeria from its safe list of countries from which the bloc allows non-essential travel after a meeting of EU ambassadors on July 29, Reuters news agency reports, refering to the European diplomatic sources.

The list of countries will fall to 11, assuming the provisional decision is confirmed in writing by EU members, two EU diplomats familiar with the discussions said. The deadline for submissions was likely to be on July 30 afternoon.

The safe countries deemed to have COVID-19 largely under control are Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors.

Africa lost $55bn in tourism revenues

African countries have lost almost $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy said. 

Ms.Amani Abou-Zeid explained the economic impact of lockdowns and border closures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 would be severe, with the continent’s air industry hit particularly hard. 

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The Commissioner said tourism and travel represented almost 10% of the gross domestic product of Africa.

“We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism,” Ms.Abou-Zeid added, underlining that the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport. 

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“The blow is very hard, between the economic losses and the job losses,” Abou-Zeid said. African airlines have seen a 95% drop in revenues, or about $8 billion, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets. 

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“Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19,” she said, adding the blow came at a time when some airlines were in the early stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were in difficulties even before the pandemic. 

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Ms.Abou-Zeid said more resistant carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines were using the opportunity to acquire smaller struggling companies, but the outbreak had put a halt to the AU’s plan for a single African air transport market. 

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Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, regional director for the International Civil Aviation Organization, told the news conference that African airlines would need an estimated $20 billion to resume operations. 

Cote d’Ivoire national airline Air Cote d’Ivoire, which restarted domestic flights earlier on July 1, confirming it had received 14 billion CFA francs ($24 million) from the government to keep it afloat.

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