Africa in the International Setting meets Ashesi in the AU Session

AU Session
Written by: Daniel Bonsu | Frederick Acquah | Nana Kofi Arhin | Omar Khadi

Intro: on April 15th 2015, the Africa in the International Setting Class of Ashesi University organized an African Union summit simulation to help students appreciate the role, structure and activities of the African Union as well as the economic, social, and political-security issues facing African countries.

The topic at the center of the simulation was ‘The increasing spread of militant Islamist terrorism requires the military participation of all African countries’

The Model AU session, or rather the “Model Kevin Banful” session, for some was a befitting climax to the AIS Course. It put students to the task of knowing the countries they represented in and out. The countries we had spent the semester representing now became an actual, visible representation of our being leading us to assume roles once unknown to us before the AIS Course.

The advantages of the model AU session were endless. For one it introduced us to how disorganized discourse between countries could be. The words courteous or polite seemed so distant at that particular moment. Angers flared, confusion reigned supreme and Kenya and Nigeria were the unfortunate targets of every countries’ cross hairs.

What the session did do for us was to allow us to not only apply all the topics covered during the semester but to also engage directly with issues from the context of countries directly affected by all these issues.

How are these AU meetings important to national development? During the session Kenya was quizzed a little on the Al-Shabab insurgence in the country. However, the seemed the delegate did not know much and for that reason the house was unable to pass any resolution that could help end it. This observation signifies that any delegate that attends any of the summits be it UN or AU must go with a goal and well prepared to bring back home some sort of benefit from the meeting.

Again the model although a simulation, helped students gain a clearer understanding of the capabilities and constraints that shape the policies of AU member states in the arena of intra-African diplomacy on issues of mutual concern.  For instance while the delegate from equatorial guinea was concern about the abysmal economic conditions in his country, the house was deliberating on how to prevent Islamic insurgence.

All is well that ends well and it is our opinion that this session was without a doubt a befitting end to this AIS Course.

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148, not just a number: An account of the Garissa massacre.

By: Phoebe Priscilla Amoako; Amanda Maame Ofosu-Siaw; and Jesse Opoku-Asiedu

Disclaimer: The photos associated with this post are gruesome but they are still  used to convey the message. Viewer discretion is advised.

“All I could hear were footsteps and gunshots nobody was screaming because they thought this would lead the gunmen to know where they are,” he said. “The gunmen were saying ‘sisi ni al-Shabaab’ (Swaihi for we are al-Shabaab),” ~Wetangula.

Over the past years, Kenya has seen an uprise on terrorists attacks that have led to a state of panic in the country. These attacks are nothing new. In 1998. Al-Qaeda attacked the US embassy in Nairobi killing 224 people, and injuring about 4,000, majority being Kenyans.  In September 2013, the Al-Shabab militants attacked the Westgate Mall in Kenya, killing about 67 people. The victims were representatives from all around the world including the famed Ghanaian poet and diplomat Kofi Awonoor; Canadian diplomat Annemarie Desloges and President Uhuru’s nephew. More recently, on 2nd April, 2015, Al-Shabab militants from Somalia crossed over into Kenya and killed 142 Christian students and 6 security officers  in the Garissa University (a predominantly Christian school that was founded in 2011 under the auspices of Moi University also in Kenya) .The quote above is a recount of a survivor from the massacre. One student feigned death by smearing himself with blood from a victim and another hid in a cupboard to avoid being seen. These two students survivors have been greatly traumatized. Less than 24 hours ago, a stampede occurred in University of Nairobi killing 1 student and injuring about 141. The reason for the stampede was a mere transformer explosion in the area which was misconstrued for a terrorist attack. This is the extent to which the Kenyan population has been affected by the Garissa massacre.

Victims of Garissa University massacre
                   Photo credit: Antoinespeaks.blogspot.com

According to Time Magazine, the siege lasted a total of 15 hours and security forces were deployed after 7 hours where they held a 2 hour briefing once they arrived at the scene before attempting to rescue the victims. The magazine adds that, the Anti-terrorism police units in the country had a budget as low as $735  per month  despite legislation passed in 2011 to overhaul police operations.

kenyan massacre
           Photo credit: Antoinespeaks.blogspot.com

Al-Shabab is a terrorist group  in Somalia which literally means youth. It is faced with opposition in Somalia  from the UN-backed government. Al-Shabab is allied to Al-Qaeda , according to the BBC. Foreign Jihadists are believed to be trooping into Somalia to aid this terrorist group. Currently, their numbers are believed to range from 7000-9000 warriors. Al-Shabab is internationally recognised as terrorist group by the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Last week the International Students Club held a candlelight vigil for the 148 students who were brutally murdered; a prayer was said and the Kenyans in the Ashesi community were comforted as they sang their national anthem to honour their country despite the loss. Even though the Kenyan massacre is distant from us, we can fully empathize given that we too could have been called out of our lectures and rooms to face death head first. Ashesi’s candlelight vigil was not done in isolation, universities all over the world held vigil sessions to show solidarity to the Kenyans in this time of tragedy.

Photo credit: Daniel Bonsu
                          Photo credit: Daniel Bonsu
Photo credit: Daniel Bonsu
                 Photo credit: Daniel Bonsu

The candlelight procession is typical across the globe for many universities in countries like Venezuela,  Africa,India to Europe and the US showing solidarity.

Photo credit: CNN
Photo credit: CNN

The picture below reminds us of what we see in our own residence buildings: our friends leaving their shoes on corridors after a game of football or excessive walking up and down the hill to surely wear them again. Unfortunately these shoes left by the Garissa university students will be worn no more because their owners have been wiped at the peril of terrorism a transnational crime. A lot of international efforts should be made to prevent the reoccurrence of such gory events. It is not only the responsibility of Uhuru Kenyatta, but the burden lies on the international community. Such transnational crimes if not nipped in the bud, has the tendency to move into new territories.

We hope for comfort and express sympathy to the 148 loved ones and 148 families who have been robbed of a dear one.

Photo credit: Eturbo News
Photo credit: Eturbo News

The Midas Touch

by Jacqueline Sewornu, Sharon Kpare and Kwaku Osei-Ameyaw

midas-touch

Africa can be described as the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey in the Bible. Africa is a continent that abounds in resources from oil, to minerals such as gold, diamond, uranium, bauxite, ivory, to food crops such as cocoa, beans, pineapples, bananas, cashew just to name a few.

uraniumoilcocoa

Yet, Africa is like the Midas Touch. Midas was a mythical King, very rich and powerful who as a reward for his kindness wished for everything he touched to be turned to gold. His greedy wish him took little time to destroy him till he was rescued from his misery.Africa is like King Midas in many different ways.

Africa is like King Midas, blessed with diverse resources yet plagued with greedy, corrupt politicians, leaders and mismanaged institutions that abuse, misuse, mismanage and embezzle revenues and partnerships the continent earns from the use of these resources. This has crippled development across the different countries in the continent in many different ways.

Africa is like King Midas whose citizens believe the discovery of resources such as oil is source of hope, hope for a better future, one without “dumsor”, schools under trees, one with better roads and institutions, the list is endless. Unfortunately that future is not as bright.

Africa is like King Midas who did not benefit personally from his gift. Unfortunately, no African country has benefited significantly from these natural resources. For the most part, the negative consequences have always outweighed and outnumbered the good. You cannot begin to imagine the bad that the discovery of oil in Africa has done to its citizens. Nigeria for instance after discovering oil in the 1950’s, has been recording a steadily slow development rate since then.

sudan

For 21 good years in Sudan, innocent citizens were killed, injured, women were raped as part of the dispute that arose over which side owns the massive oil fields that lay between the north and the south. Clearly the discovery of natural resources like oil, are not benefitting most African countries. Yet, oil rich country like Norway has been able to manage this resource so well to eliminate the curse that comes along with it. If Norway has done it, what stops our beloved African countries from doing same? What are the Norwegians doing differently and why haven’t we tried it too? What are the African leaders doing wrong?

Africa is like King Midas, with most of its leaders being rich and powerful but greedy and corrupt as well. Their corrupted souls keeps them in the hands of multinational companies and developed countries. They loosen policies and sell what rightfully belongs to the citizens of the country as though it were their own and for what, so that they can further enrich their already fattened selves and their families forgetting the tax payer to whom they promised good roads, hospitals, schools building, among others.

Africa is like King Midas, “rescued” from its miseries by what has been its “god” since it existed, the west, who “relieve” us of our pain.

Is that dope or what?

Transnational crimes are crimes that have real and potential effect across national borders. International crimes involve any nefarious activity that involves elements that traverse borders in one way or the other. These activities include crimes such as human trafficking, people smuggling, smuggling/trafficking of goods (such as arms trafficking and drug trafficking and illegal animal and plant products and other goods prohibited on environmental grounds (e.g. banned ozone depleting substances), sex slavery, terrorism offences, torture and apart. This post focuses on drug trafficking and its effect on Africa in general and Ghana in particular.
Drug Trafficking is a tranmoyressnational crime which involves the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. West Africa in past years has recorded overwhelming volumes of drug trade. According to the UN, last year alone West Africa generated $1.25 billion from drug trafficking alone. It is also disturbing to know that a quarter to two-thirds of the cocaine that is on its way from South America to Europe passes through West African countries with major entry points being countries such as Cape Verde, Benin, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau.
According to the BBC, West Africa has become a major hub for smuggling South American Cocaine ever since the British and American anti-drug efforts have clamped down on the use of traditional smuggling routes. Previously the main routes were along the Caribbean. Drugs are now transported through the Atlantic Ocean, into the coasts of Africa.
The economic implications to the countries that indulge in Drug trafficking are immense. In poor countries such as Guinea-Bissau, the drug trade makes a mammoth contribution to their national income. According to the Africa Economic Institute, the value of illicit drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau is almost twice the value of the country’s GDP. However, this value is dwarfed in comparison to the European cities whose value could be as high as $20 billion. As a result of this type of international trade dealing in billions of dollars, criminal activity correspondingly tends to increase which simultaneously rises with violence.
Apart from geographical proximity with respect to transition to the rest of the world, Western African countries are perceived as having a permissive working environment for drug traffickers due to widespread corruption and poor law enforcement structure. Many countries in the region face difficulties in controlling their territory, to administering justice, and are plagued by corruption. Thus, their boarders are porous enough for such illicit drug trade.
In Ghana, it has become fasnaderhionable for a section of the youth who want to make quick money. It is important to note that it is not only the poor who are interested in such activities. Indeed, many rich youth are keen on keeping up the lifestyles they have grown up with. Thus this phenomenon is very widespread and pervasive of the very moral fabric of African society. Many do not see what the big deal is. They see it as if KFC and McDonald’s freely sell hamburgers and other unhealthy food that get people obese and lead them to their death-bed legally, they might as well deal cocaine for the quick dollar. Why? Because they can get that Gucci rag or Valentino purse and rock it to impress their friends. And that’s dope!
But is it just dope, or a white dust trail to death?

Authors: Aaron Awinloya Ayamga, Patrick Vetsch, and Ekow Addaquaye.

The Greener the Grass

bundu Africa1Greener pastures; the most tired excuse for migration ever and it needs to be put to rest. The great Maya Angelou once said… “If you think the grass is greener over there, rest assured that the water bill is higher there too.” But do we ever think of the water bill? Or the fertilizer? Or the cost of mowing that very green lawn?

Let’s forget the pull factors for a bit and focus on the push factors, why is our grass not as green? I mean how hard is it to keep grass green right? But it all comes down to who is in charge; the person who calls the gardener, pays the water bill, turns the sprinkler on and such. If no one will then rest assured the grass will be browner than a good piece of toast. And people who want to roll around on a magnificent green lawn will definitely pack bag and baggage and go find it elsewhere. So don’t blame the stowaways, the surgeons, the media moguls, everyone is looking for greener pastures. If those running their countries refuse to pay the gardener, they will find it somewhere else, after all there is nothing appealing about brown grass.

 John Oteng-Nyame

Ama Asiedua Akoto

Joseph Amo Nti