Category Archives: West Africa

Goddess Osun festival in Nigeria

Fertility goddess Osun festival attracts thousands of Yorubas, an ancient ethnic group in West Africa that numbers around 40 million, the vast majority living in Nigeria.

According to Unesco which named the area a World Heritage site in 2005, the dense forest of the grove and “its meandering river is dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and art works in honour of Osun and other deities“.

Priestesses prepare offerings and sacrifices to the great goddess: a heady mixture of sacrificed chickens, ochre powder, potato chips and gin. Beating drums and the sound of shots from colonial-era rifles build to a crescendo.
Soon tens of thousands of people are marching past. Crowds accompany the  Arugba, a virgin whose face is covered with a scarlet cloth embroidered with shells, to the river where the spirit of the water goddess lives.

The wife of Sango, god of fire and thunder, once demanded a sacrifice to bring prosperity to the community, but today the virgin is just tasked with giving the offerings to the sacred river.

On the riverbank, in the shade of century-old trees, a woman reads the future in kola nuts.

One after another, women fall into a trance and have to be held back so that they do not drown in the river.

Nigerian women will turn to the beautiful Osun to give them children.

Al-Qaeda in Mali claims rocket attack

Nusrat al-Islam militants claim the mortar (or rocket) attack carried out on July 29th 2018 against a military camp in Aguelhok, Kidal region. The group also says that it will not end its attacks against  France until French soldiers have left their country.

Nusrat al-Islam is It is the official branch of  Al-Qaeda in Mali after its leaders swore allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the incumbent leader of the  terrorist group.

Some of the experts monitoring terrorism offered the translation of the text in Arabic:

Cassava disease threatens West Africa

Researchers from half a dozen states in West Africa have united in a battle against what one expert dabbed a root crop ‘Ebola’- a viral disease that could wreck the region’s staple food and condemn millions to hunger.

The cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), a virus that strikes cassava (manioc), which in some of the region’s countries is consumed by as many as 80% of the population.

The West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) project, a multi-million-dollar scheme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to shield the region from the advancing peril.

Headquartered at Bingerville, on the edges of the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan, it gathers six countries from West Africa — Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Togo — as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo to give an answer to a common threat.

Much is already known about CBSD — the virus is generally believed to be propagated by an insect called the silver leaf white fly, and also through cuttings taken from infected plants. But there remain gaps in knowledge about West Africa’s specific vulnerabilities to the disease.

The research includes the understanding of the susceptibility of local strains of cassava to the virus, and identification of points in the cassava trade which can help to localise outbreak of CBSD swell into an epidemic.

EU determined to support Mali in counterterrorism

Mali headquarters of an international counterterrorism task force, G5 Sahel, were attacked on Friday in a car bomb blast, killing six people and leaving many injured, according to officials. “Shortly after Friday prayers, a suicide bomber in a vehicle painted with UN colours blew up at the entrance to the G5 base in Sevare. It was a huge blast,” a military source in the G5 Sahel force told press.

The terrorist attack that has just hit the headquarters of the G5 Sahel regional force in Sévaré, central Mali is directly directed against all those who pledge to bring peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel” –  says the Joint statement by EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.

The European Union offers its condolences and expresses its support for the families of the victims, the Malian government and the G5 Sahel countries.As emphasized at the EU / G5 Sahel Ministerial meeting on 18 June, we reiterate with renewed determination our full support for the Joint Force of the Sahel and our commitment to support the efforts of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, as well as the entire international community, for the peace, security and development of these countries and the region“, – the statement concludes.

 

Outbreak of cholera in Nigeria

A cholera outbreak has killed 12 people and may have infected at least 134 others in the northeast Nigerian state of Adamawa, an official said on Wednesday (23/05/2018).

So far 12 people have died from the disease and there are many more cases”, said Ezra Sakawa, medical director of the general hospital for Mubi, the town where the disease has struck.

We have little manpower to deal with an outbreak of such magnitude,” Sakawa said, adding that nurses were on strike.

Policeman killed in Ouagadougou in counterterrorist raid

Burkina Faso security forces neutralised three suspected terrorists and arrested one more on Tuesday (22/05/2017) morning in an operation on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou, state television reported.

One policeman was killed in the fighting in the Rayongo neighborhood, while five people, including one civilian, were injured, the report said.

Burkinian media reports the seizure of weapons, including explosives, while raiding the house of the presumed terrorist group.

EU pledges €1.45 billion for The Gambia to assist democratic transition

A total of €1.45 billion were mobilised by the International Conference for The Gambia, co-chaired by The Gambia and the European Union.

The reinforced political and financial support by the international community will assist The Gambia in continuing its democratic transition, building on strong democratic institutions, the respect of human rights and the rule of law, and sustainable and shared economic growth.

The Gambia is showing to the world that freedom and democracy are about real people and real lives. After the presidential election in 2016, neighbours and the international community stood with the Gambian people. We stood on the side of freedom and democracy. Two years on, we continue to stand by your side. Today the EU is proud to announce €140 million to invest in opportunities for the Gambian people and further strengthen democracy – said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, co-chairing the Conference together with the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow.

“When people of a country decide to overturn a two-decades long dictatorship, this is a choice to commend. This is what happened in The Gambia one year and a half ago. When new authorities commit to profoundly reform the country and put it on the path of democracy and development, the international community has to answer their call. This is what happened today in Brussels. Out of the €1.45 billion that were pledged today, the EU has committed additional funding of €140 million until 2020, which adds to the €225 million mobilised since the beginning of the transition in 2017. Because nothing is more important today than showing to the people of The Gambia that democracy brings quick and tangible dividends”  – Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, added.

Key outcomes of the conference are:

  • Reinforced political support to The Gambia: A joint communiqué by the co-chairs was issued, reaffirming support and solidarity in assisting the transition from a dictatorship to a fully-fledged democracy.
  • Increased financial assistance for development: The €1.45 billion pledged will help cover needs identified for donor support to The Gambia’s National Development Plan.

The International Conference for The Gambia will be followed by a Business Forum tomorrow, which will bring together interested European, regional and Gambian business representatives for exchanges on sector-specific strategies and projects during panel discussions on Energy & Infrastructure, Agricultural Value Chains, and Tourism.

Following the end of 22 years of authoritarian rule by former President Yahya Jammeh with the change of government in January 2017, the EU and The Gambia have opened a new chapter in their relations. An intense political dialogue is ongoing at all levels, and the EU is actively supporting the democratic transition in co-ordination with other international partners of The Gambia. Areas of co-operation include e.g. security, development for sustainable growth, transitional justice, economic partnership, trade, fisheries and migration.

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