How the men of Chad’s Wodaabe culture put on their make-up and don their best clothes to impress would-be brides at a week-long festival.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Wodaabe men perform the “Yaake” ritual dance as part of the Gerewol, a week-long courtship ceremony in Chad. It must be one of the only African cultures which allows girls to take the lead in choosing their betrothed and even married women have the right to take a different man as a sexual partner.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Wodaabe means “people of the taboo” – these are subgroups of Fulani and Tuareg, who have migrated around this part of Africa for centuries. Here a Wodaabe man wakes up as dawn breaks in the Sahel desert – his donkeys and very basic shelter his only possessions.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption The Wodaabes mostly live on milk and ground millet, with yoghurt, sweet tea and occasionally the meat of a goat or sheep. Here a child here shakes the milk in a calabash and churn it into yoghurt.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Men start preparing for the Gerewol at daybreak. From early on there is a mounting sense of anticipation, as some years see more than 1,000 people gather for the festivities. The men paint their faces with make-up made from clay, stones and animal bones crushed and turned into a paste. Some men were said to paint their lips black with chemicals from batteries to emphasise their white teeth.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption This participant has shaved his hairline to elongate his forehead and is practising the eye-rolling, teeth-baring aspect of the dance, which shows off the features Wodaabe women find desirable.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption A Wodaabe family shelter from the blazing sun in their basic home. Their wooden beds house all their possessions and the whole family sleep together.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption A Wodaabe man pours his morning brew. Drinking tea is an important ritual in this culture. During Gerewol, men drink a tea made with fermented bark which is said to have a hallucinogenic effect, and also enables them to dance for hours on end
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Preparations for the Gerewol festival are communal and everybody pitches in to help the men look their best. The hours the men spend on their clothes and make-up has led to the Wodaabe being called “the vainest tribe in the world”.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Some make-up is believed to have magical powers and the Wodaabe go to great lengths to secure it. The orange face powder is only to be found beside a special mountain near Jongooria in central Niger, and some clans must undertake a 1,400km (870-mile) round trip on foot to secure a supply.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Gerewol only happens once a year, so the pressure and anticipation is huge and finding a wife is so important.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Wodaabe men make some last-minute adjustments to their costumes for the night’s festivities, checking their reflections in brightly coloured pocket mirrors – indispensable accessories for the Wodaabe male. They look at them constantly, a bit like some people and their smartphones.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Although the girls wear less make-up than the men, they also take great pride in their appearance, plaiting and decorating their hair. The tattoos on this girl’s face are caused by scarification at a young age and indicate tribal affiliations, as well as strength and valour.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Here Wodaabe men grimace during the dance to show off their white teeth. The ostrich feathers in their hats emphasise their height.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption A long line of Wodaabe men and boys, wearing bejewelled leather tunics and sparkling crowns and feathers, sways rhythmically backwards and forwards.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption Two Wodaabe men take a break from dancing to catch their breath. The Gerewol festival is a gruelling test of endurance for the men, who dance for hours in stifling heat in the hopes of impressing a woman. Woman selects husband with the slightest touch of the handImage copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption This is the moment at the end of the week-long ceremony where, with the slightest of hands, a woman selects her husband at Gerewol. It all happens very subtly and quickly, she does not even look him in the eye. The festival is an inter-clan affair, in which women of separate lineages will pick men from opposing clans.
Image copyright Tariq Zaidi Image caption At sunset the ostrich feathers in the mens’ caps resemble palm trees. They make the Wodaabe, already an incredibly tall and lean people, even taller. Once the week-long festival is over, the Wodaabe return to their day-to-day life as nomadic herders. Pictures and words by Tariq Zaidi.
Islamic State-affiliated ADF kills 15 in DR Congo
Bunia, DR Congo – A series of violent attacks on villages in eastern DR Congo, believed to be carried out by Islamic State-affiliated ADF rebels, have left at least 15 people dead, according to local officials. This latest round of violence comes just one week after a similar attack that resulted in the deaths of over 20 people.
“There were simultaneous attacks this Sunday between 4:00 and 5:00 am on three villages…,” said local official Dieudonne Malangai. “In Manyala village we found seven bodies… at Ofay, there were eight dead, including seven women,” Malangai reported to the press, and indicated that the final death toll might be higher. A humanitarian source confirmed seven fatalities in Manyala and “at least eight” in Ofay.
Despite the efforts of local security forces, these attacks have continued to occur on a regular basis in the region. Many local residents have grown increasingly frustrated and tired of the ongoing violence, with Malangai stating, “We are tired of giving the death toll day after day.”
ADF fighters have also been blamed for last week’s raids in the neighboring province of North Kivu, which cost at least 23 lives. In the same province, at least 14 people were killed in a bomb blast at a pentecostal church.
Islamic State portrays the ADF, which has its roots in Rwanda, as its central African incarnation. In an attempt to stem the violence, the government in May 2021 declared a state of alert in North Kivu and Ituri, replacing civil administrators with police and troops. However, despite these efforts, the attacks continue to occur with regularity, leaving local residents feeling vulnerable and unprotected.
In addition to the loss of life, the attacks have also had a devastating impact on the local economy, with many businesses and farms being destroyed. This, in turn, has led to widespread poverty and food insecurity in the region.
The ADF, which has been active in the region since the 1990s, is known for its brutality and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The group’s tactics have been widely condemned by the international community and human rights organizations, but the government’s efforts to combat the group have so far been ineffective.
The continued violence in eastern DR Congo is a tragic reminder of the urgent need for a sustainable solution to the ongoing conflict. The government must take immediate action to protect civilians and bring an end to the violence. The international community must also provide support to help stabilize the region and provide aid to those affected by the conflict. Only by working together can we hope to bring peace and stability to this troubled region.
Cameroon – Ambazonia Silent War May Escalate -JIHA
The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is one of Africa’s newest struggles for liberation. The crisis emerged from legal and education grievances in 2016 and rapidly escalated into a secessionist political conflict that is threatening the unity of the country, with the potential to degenerate into a complex emergency. The crisis has been intensifying and has raised concerns about the potential for it to evolve into a “Complex Disaster Emergency” (CDE) in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
In an exploratory, qualitative, analytical, and descriptive case study research tradition involving document/content analysis, the Robert Strauss Centre’s complex emergency framework was applied to investigate the potential of the Anglophone crisis. The research found that 72.5% of the variables in all the complex emergencies fall within the relevant to extremely relevant ranking criteria. Furthermore, the establishment of a nexus between the Anglophone crisis and a natural hazard-induced disaster suggest an escalation of the crisis to an unbearable level.
The Anglophone crisis has been compounded by the high probability of a novel eruption at Mt. Cameroon coupled with the eminent threat of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This further heightens the potential for the crisis to cumulatively evolve into a CDE in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The existential challenges in providing humanitarian assistance in the conflict region are immense, and by applying the Robert Strauss Centre’s complex emergency framework, this article concludes with an early warning for an impending CDE that could heighten humanitarian challenges unless there is foresight and goodwill by relevant actors to immediately commence a process of adequate contingency planning.
In conclusion, the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is a complex and rapidly evolving situation that has the potential to degenerate into a “Complex Disaster Emergency” (CDE) in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The crisis has been intensifying and has raised concerns about the potential for it to evolve into a CDE. It is important for relevant actors to take immediate action and begin adequate contingency planning to mitigate the potential humanitarian challenges that may arise.
President Biya’s incapacity at US Africa Leaders Summit raises concerns in Cameroon
Cameroon’s President, 89-year-old Paul Biya, recently attended the US Africa Leaders Summit, but it appears that he was completely unaware of his surroundings. This has raised concerns about his ability to effectively lead the country, particularly given the fact that he mostly lives in Switzerland.
Paul Biya has been the President of Cameroon since 1982, and before that, he served as the Prime Minister from 1975 to 1982. He has been in power for over four decades, and during this time, he has implemented a number of policies and initiatives that have helped to shape the country. However, despite his many achievements, there are now growing concerns about his ability to continue to lead Cameroon effectively.
One of the main concerns is that President Biya mostly lives in Switzerland, and it is thought that he spends very little time in Cameroon. This has led to criticism that he is not fully engaged with the country and its people, and that he is out of touch with the reality on the ground. Additionally, there are concerns that his advanced age means that he is no longer able to make important decisions and that he is unable to fully understand the complex issues facing Cameroon.
Paul Biya, who has been president for 40 years, went to the Africa’s leaders’ summit & not only could he not read his speech, he was farting, audibly! This is why we should vote Tinubu!💀 pic.twitter.com/LYjqe1V0Kn
— mazpa_md (@mazpa_md) January 21, 2023
Another major concern is that President Biya’s recent appearance at the US Africa Leaders Summit, where he appeared to be completely unaware of where he was, has raised serious doubts about his mental and physical capabilities. This has led to calls for him to step down, as many believe that he is no longer fit to lead the country.
Despite these concerns, it is worth noting that President Biya has a strong support base in Cameroon and that many people still have faith in his leadership. However, it is clear that there are now significant questions about his ability to continue to lead the country effectively, and it remains to be seen how this situation will play out in the coming months and years.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya’s recent attendance at the US Africa Leaders Summit where he seemed to be completely unaware of his surroundings, along with the fact that he mostly lives in Switzerland, has raised concerns about his ability to continue to lead the country effectively. There are calls for him to step down, as many believe that he is no longer fit to lead the country, but it remains to be seen how this situation will play out in the coming months and years.
Mass graves of 49 civilians found in DR Congo
UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have uncovered mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians following a series of attacks blamed on a local armed group, Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO). The graves were found in two villages in northeastern Ituri province, about 30km (19 miles) east of the town of Bunia.
Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the United Nations, told reporters in New York on Wednesday that 42 victims, including six children, were discovered in a mass grave in the village of Nyamamba, while the bodies of seven other men were found in another village, Mbogi.
“Peacekeepers launched a patrol to the area immediately after receiving reports of attacks on civilians by the CODECO militias over the weekend. This is when they made the gruesome discoveries,” he said. The UN is calling for an investigation to establish if the mass graves and the attacks are linked. The UN regional peacekeeping operation, MONUSCO, is also supporting the Congolese judicial system to investigate the attacks and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Ituri, a restive province bordering Uganda, has seen a spate of violence in recent weeks, after the killing of a teacher belonging to the Lendu community triggered reprisal attacks from CODECO, which claims to represent the ethnic group. The Lendu and Hema communities have a longstanding feud, which led to thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003 before an intervention by a European peacekeeping force.
Haq also warned of a “significant deterioration of the security situation” in Ituri, saying that at least 195 civilians have been killed, 68 wounded and 84 people abducted since December during attacks attributed to the CODECO and Zaire militias. More than 1.5 million people in Ituri province have also been displaced by the fighting. The UN is urging for the protection of civilians and for all parties to respect human rights.
Police disperse Goma protest against slow M23 rebel pullback
Police have fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern city of Goma. Protesters on Wednesday were calling for authorities to enforce an agreed withdrawal of M23 rebels from occupied territory in the region. Regional leaders brokered a ceasefire in November, under which the Tutsi-led M23 group – which launched a fresh offensive last year – was meant to pull out of recently captured positions. The deadline for this was January 15, according to the DRC’s presidency.
But M23 has been accused of flouting the deal and occupying territory elsewhere to compensate for withdrawals that critics have argued were mainly ceremonial. President Felix Tshisekedi made similar accusations on Tuesday. The M23 has denied the claims and in turn, accused DRC authorities of breaching of the agreement.
Civil society groups called protests in Goma on Wednesday to denounce delays in implementing the M23 withdrawal. City authorities had banned the march, but hundreds still took part, chanting and holding signs denouncing the East African Community (EAC), which set up a regional military force last year to end the unrest. Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators and arrested about a dozen people, including three journalists, according to a Reuters reporter on the scene.
China and Gabon strengthen cooperation and collaboration
Ali Bongo Ondimba, the President of Gabon, met with Qin Gang, the Foreign Minister of China, on Thursday in Libreville, the nation’s capital. The meeting was an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss the current state of the relationship between Gabon and China and to explore ways in which they can strengthen cooperation and collaboration between their countries.
During the meeting, Qin Gang sent the President of Gabon the heartfelt congratulations of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He emphasized that the China-Gabon relations, which were created in tandem by the leaders of the two countries’ older generations, have weathered the test of time and remained steadfast. He also stressed that China and Gabon stand firmly in support of one another on matters pertaining to their respective core interests and main concerns, and that they uphold the fundamental principles guiding international relations.
Qin also emphasized that the Chinese side is prepared to cooperate with Gabon to put into practice the significant consensus reached by the two presidents of state, strengthen shared strategic trust, expand practical collaboration, and raise the China-Gabon comprehensive cooperative partnership to a new level. He also emphasized the importance of China’s continued support for Gabon in determining a development path appropriate to its national circumstances, enhancing the sharing of governance experience and synergizing development strategies, jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative with high quality, and assisting Gabon in moving forward with the Strategic Plan for an Emerging Gabon to realize win-win cooperation and common development goals.
Le @PresidentABO s’est entretenu, ce jour, au Palais Rénovation, avec une délégation de diplomates chinois conduite par Monsieur @AmbQinGang, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de la République Populaire de Chine. pic.twitter.com/xFNHqJa1sI
— Présidence de la République Gabonaise (@PresidenceGabon) January 12, 2023
The President of Gabon, in turn, urged Qin to send his warm welcomes to President Xi Jinping and expressed his gratitude to China for its unwavering support of Gabon’s socioeconomic growth. He praised China for standing up for justice in the international arena and accepting responsibility as a major country, and said that Gabon strongly agreed with China’s development philosophy and looked forward to deepening cooperation with China to create more benefits for the people of both countries.
The President of Gabon also emphasized that the two nations’ alliance has grown stronger as they work to advance shared development and protect shared interests. He said that Gabon has consistently been a dependable ally of China and is eager to strengthen cooperation with it in order to jointly defend the legitimate rights and interests of developing nations and strengthen Africa’s voice in international governance.
Qin Gang also spoke with Michael Moussa-Adamo, the Foreign Minister of Gabon, during his visit. The two parties decided to maintain their mutual support, explore opportunities, and increase their cooperation’s high points. This meeting highlights the strong relationship between Gabon and China and the willingness of both countries to continue working together for the benefit of their people and for the international community as a whole.
Go To War Because You Can Win Not Because You Are Angry – Southern Cameroonians Advised
Of recent, there has been increasing calls towards self defence for Ambaland.
Coincidentally, its 50 years anniversary since the Southern Part of Nigeria thought they could defend Biafraland.
Its also about 30 years since Ahidjo and Northerners launched a coup d’etat bc Biya’s government had tricked them out of power.
Is approximately 20 years since Nigeria suffered a big blow in Bakassi in war with lrc
They had one thing in common AK47. They also had one thing in common, they all LOST
Proponents of self defence says there has never been independence without war. On the contrary, all African Countries had independence from the UN except for Ethiopia and Liberia that were never colonized. The rest used diplomatic means. The first being Ghana.
Before you start to buy your AKs evaluate the strength of your enemies. Cameroun has the 7th strongest military in Africa. Nigeria could not move an inch in Bakassi, Ahidjo was crippled in less than hours.
I do not want to overemphasize on human casualties, pictures speaks for themselves.
Diplomacy for SCACUF does not exclude self defence but must be government. Strategy will not be a problem when that time comes.
We can make the land (un)governing for lrc.
Parents should keep their children home for a second blank school year
There is no lrc election in Ambaland ever. Those hosting ELECAM should consider their buildings
CDC SONARA workers etc should consider quitting except they need help
SCACUF’s power rests on us
If you start war now this fight ends up in museums after 50 years. After all the the Biafrans are learning from us.
Lake Chad Basin – One long climate catastrophe
Climate change is feeding poverty, instability, hunger and violence in the Lake Chad basin
Poverty, hunger, suffering. These terms seem inadequate to describe what I witnessed in the Lake Chad Basin, the West African region that is host to the one of the world’s worst – and certainly its most neglected – humanitarian crisis since 1945.
The crisis in the West African region, which includes parts of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, has left approximately 10.7 million people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
INSIDE STORY: What’s behind world’s recent extreme weather events? (25:16)
The human face of this crisis is devastating. When I visited the region as part of a mission with the World Food Programme in May this year, I saw desperate hunger, displacement, and shocking levels of violence and insecurity facing civilians, especially women and girls. Civilians live with the daily threat of rape, kidnappings, killings and terrorist attacks.
Over 2.4 million people have been displaced by the crisis, but there are simply aren’t the resources to meet the most basic needs of these people in the refugee or displaced peoples camps or urban centres where they end up.
With little or nothing left to trade for vital resources like food, sexual exploitation (sex-for-food as it is known) has become the norm, even within the camps.
A report released this week by the UN Secretary-General affirms all I witnessed on the ground in the Lake Chad Basin. It underscores the overwhelming scale of the crisis, and the need for urgent and immediate humanitarian responses.
But it doesn’t quite go as far as thinking about a long-term solution. In my view, the short-term and long-term responses simply cannot be separated, without being detrimental to both.
In order to tackle this crisis with any kind of sustainability – even in the short-run – there needs to be a thorough understanding of what caused it to spiral in the first place.
While the current crisis was triggered by violence linked to armed groups such as Boko Haram, discussions I had with people in the region, and expert consultations convened by my organisation on the issue, agree on some root causes.
Ambazonia (Southern Cameroon) – The Will To Win, The Desire To Change Our Fate By Dr Akwanga
Top Southern Cameroonian Non Violence Freedom Figher, Dr Akwanga Talks on Will to win, the desire to be free and the urge to change our fate. In this video Dr Akwanga speaks on the way forward for the freedom of southern Cameroon.
Angolan Opposition Parties Rejects Election Results Declared By The Electoral Commission (CNE)
Angolan Opposition parties declares the results of the just concluded August 23rd Presidential polls illegitimate. Angola’s long serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been the president of the oil rich African country for 40 years will soon hand over to a successor. However, 4 opposition parties has declared the results of the election illegal and unconstitutional. MPLA and 3 other political parties rejected the results declared by the National Electoral Commission, (CNE)
Something has happened with the Angolan elections of August 23 that may well be a first in Africa, if not universally. The spokesperson of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) yesterday announced “preliminary results” of the general elections when votes had not been tallied at municipal, provincial, or national levels.
The CNE official simply read a statement saying that the ruling MPLA, in power for the last 42 years, had won the elections by 64.57%, a landslide. According to the official, the main opposition UNITA trailed behind with 24.04%, the coalition CASA-CE came in third with 8.56%, while three other parties split the remainder of the votes.
With the 63% of the votes the CNE claims to have been counted, it has already gone ahead to allocate the 220 parliamentary seats, giving the ruling MPLA a two-thirds majority with 154 seats. After the public’s disbelief, CNE lowered MPLA’s majority to 61.10% and 150 seats.
The election results are: “False,” “fabricated,” “invented,” and “made up” are some of the words that various watchers and monitors of the electoral process have used to describe the results and numbers announced by CNE. Nowhere in Angola’s 18 provinces were votes tallied beyond the polling station.
Members of the National Electoral Commission who were on duty at the local, provincial and national level have confirmed that they did not observe or undertake any collation or tallying of results. Seven members of the National Electoral Commission board held a night press conference yesterday to distance themselves from the announced results.
They stated in no uncertain terms that there had been no official tallying of results anywhere beyond the polling stations. Furthermore, they explained that, by law, they must certify the tallying at the national level with all of their signatures for any official results to be valid.
That, however, did not happen. The situation was the same at the municipal and provincial levels. There was no tallying and, therefore, no certification of results took place at either of those levels.
But it does not matter anymore. Prior to the announcement by the spokesperson of CNE, Júlia Ferreira, the head of political and electoral affairs of MPLA, João Martins had already rallied the national and international media to claim victory by a landslide.
What numbers he put out were the very same ones read out later by CNE’s spokesperson.
It does not seem to matter anymore because the international media, whose opinion or verdict is, for better or worse, often important to lend credibility to elections in places like Angola, had already concluded even before a single vote was cast, that the MPLA would win comfortably.
Whether that win would be procured by fair or foul means was of no moment to them. The only thing they seemed interested in was to know a little bit more about Dos Santos’s sucessor – General João Lourenço.
A number of international observers, particularly Portuguese politicians, predictably praised the elections as “perfect”.
What now? As a critical Angolan citizen it is my duty to question the whole process. There is already an international narrative established by the international media and political pundits about the comfortable win of MPLA.
Why couldn’t the National Electoral Commission abide by the law, and have the votes tallied? In the past three elections (1992, 2008, 2012), there was no shame in stuffing ballots, and other tricks in the book to ensure predetermined “landslide victories”. But at least the Electoral Law was observed as far the tallying of the results.
This time there was a major difference.
The opposition organized itself to undertake parallel tallying of the votes. They had battled hard for the electoral law to be observed as far as the monitoring of the polling stations and access of the official and signed copies of local results.
Also, the broader use of smartphones helped. Within minutes copies of the certified polling station results were being disseminated in the social media, as citizens took a keen interest in monitoring the elections.
By law, the results of each polling station must be posted locally for the public to see, immediately after they have been certified by the local members of the Electoral Commision and agents of the competing political parties.
As the evening progressed on August 23, it became clear from the certified results at polling stations across the country that the ruling MPLA would not coast comfortably to victory. In fact, it was well on the way to losing in the capital Luanda. That was when the official tallying of the votes at local, provincial and national levels was suspended.
Ordinary Angolans have long been fed up with the kleptocratic regime of the MPLA and the accompanying neglect by the government of its social responsibilities, a severe economic crisis, widespread joblessness, and decades of misrule and sheer incompetence.
What happened in these elections is that the Angolan people came to understand the value of the secrecy of the vote. MPLA could no longer control the hearts and minds of people through fear mongering, outright repression and corruption.
Yet, MPLA has proven to be a master manipulator of the international media by getting it to buy into its narratives that serve to perpetuate and legitimize its power. This time it has managed yet again to procure international acceptance of the outright stealing of elections in the most crude and unbelievable manner: No tallying of the results.
Angolan voters have been robbed. These elections have cost over half a billion dollars. Recently, the National Electoral Commission received an additional US $250 million from the presidency, from a slush fund, according to some sources. What for?
For the international community it might be just business as usual with the Angolan regime. All that conversation about democracy and rule of law has never been meant sincerely. The Southern Africa Development Community Observation Mission has already declared the Angolan elections free and fair.
Angolans must learn how to overcome the fractures of its social fabric to band together in ending this state of affairs and this regime of bandits.
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