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Africa Update


 Vol. XV1. Issue 4.  (Fall 2009)

Table of Contents

1.       M.T. Gumbo:   ‘The Afrocentric and Africa- centered
                                         Curriculum: A Quest for Relevance.’

2.       Mohamed Abshir Waldo:  ‘Piracy and Somalia.’

3.      Gloria Emeagwali:  From  the  Glories of Ancient Aksum  to
                                         the Realities of  Ancient Egypt: A Tale of Two
                                         Memorable Scholarly Events.’ The Harlem
                                         Book Fair of 2009 (cont’d)


Our focus in this issue of Africa Update is on South Africa and Somalia. African philosophy should be a major influence on the curriculum in African countries, in the context of a holistic approach to learning, argues Dr. M.T. Gambo of the University of South Africa. The community should no longer be marginalized in the learning process, and, the experiences, skills and expertise from that sector should become an important aspect of the curriculum. Such a curriculum should also pay attention to mathematics, the natural sciences and technology, with major emphasis on community service, needs and goals.

At present, Somali piracy has gone beyond the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean, the latest victim being a Chinese bulk carrier, 700 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. But what triggered this tragic trend of events in the first place?  Mohammed Waldo points to the decades of illegal fishing and industrial, nuclear and toxic waste dumping in Somali waters by Western countries and others, following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. He concludes with some recommendations, including the creation of a joint United Nations and Somalia agency aimed at solving the ongoing problem. His article was written before this latest round of piracy.
This issue of Africa Update concludes with reflections on two notable events related to Africa’s past,  and more interviews from  the Harlem Book Fair of 2009.


Dr. Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor

Return to Table of Contents


The Afrocentric and  Africa-  Centered Curriculum: A quest for relevance

M. T. Gumbo
Department of Further Teacher Education
University of South Africa

There is a close link between culture and education. Curriculum can be viewed as a transmission tool for culture. Niewenhuis (1996) and Thompson (1981) argue that education should not be divorced from its cultural and social context. Ade Ajayi (1992), Anim (1992), Anwukah (1992), Grundy (1987), Kizza (1999), Lalonde and Morin - Labatut (1993) view education from a cultural context – a system that a society, in the course of its history, evolves to generate skills, knowledge, ideas and attitudes necessary for its survival to sustain continuity, renewal and growth of that society. Kelly’s (1986) assertion of the function of education can be understood in the light of protecting the oppressed cultures from the oppressive cultures – to protect individuals from the impositions of dominant cultures in the society, to encourage the development of different value and culture systems.

The link between culture and education can be illustrated through the etymological concept of culture. According to Kelly (1986), the very etymology of the word culture with its horticultural, agricultural, etc. connotations, for instance, implies a very close relationship with  education. The Latin version of the term culture is cultus of which the earliest meaning used to be cultivation in the sense in which we find it used in agriculture, horticulture and silviculture (Kelly, 1986). Later the meaning shifted to refer to the control of natural growth, to the bringing of certain kinds of growth in nature. Educationally then, it means the cultivation of learners for educational excellence so that they do not become cultural misfits in their own contexts. It follows that different societies in their own cultural ways grow their children in regard to skills, technology, science, history, literature, philosophy, values and ways of life to the young (Kelly, 1986; Lawton, 1975; 1982). Curriculum is therefore an enabling tool to sustain and advance knowledge, skills and competence from a cultural point of view. It passes along the cultural code from one generation to the next as DNA does the genetic (Martin, 1993). Waghig and Schreuder (2000: 86) cite Marrow who declares: “education deepens a person’s understanding of his life and the world, including the cultural world in which he lives. That is not to be achieved by locking him behind closed doors into a particular culture.”

Curriculum is partly a selection of content and experiences from the cultural realities out there. It is conceived in this way to strike a balanced representation of the cultures prevalent within the society. It should be designed, planned and practised in such that it serves the interests of the existing cultures, especially the historically oppressed cultures. Lawton (1975: 6) attests, “certain aspects of our way of life, certain kinds of knowledge, attitudes and values are so important that their transmission to the next generation is not left to chance in our society.” This attestation highlights an important relationship between culture and education – culture is educationally transmitted, culture is learned, and culture is shared. Culture is therefore a commodity in which schools quarry their content for education (Stenhouse, 1981). The cognitive activity is inseparable from its cultural milieu, hence every society educates its younger generation as a means of passing down its socio-cultural attributes that guide what a child learns and becomes (Jegede, 1998 citing Glaser). Culture subsumes all we undertake and, according to Jegede (1998), even science and technology education are human enterprises that involve the transmission of cultural heritage. By implication, teachers and other role-players in  education should understand the fundamental culturally based beliefs about the world that learners bring to class, and how these beliefs are supported by learners’ cultures (Jegede, 1998).

As learners belong to cultures outside the school, so should the curriculum that they learn in school acknowledge the realities of their cultures (Jackson, 1999). This teaches us that the school serves as a distribution of the learning experiences rather than a manufacturer thereof, demonstrating its perfect correlation with the cultural reference outside the school for what it teaches (Stenhouse, 1981). It is therefore incumbent that the process and efforts of curriculum design, development and practices take into account the multiplicity of the cultures reflected in the society, and not just ever predominantly elevate  Western culture. Furthermore, it is important to realise that the history of mankind pivots upon his interaction with environment. He interprets this interaction in various ways. In doing this then, he acquires a degree of mastery over his environment. Thus, the accumulation of many generations’ interaction with the physical environment is called knowledge (Lawton, 1982). As a result, each culture’s generation has a threefold task, that is, to efficiently learn the knowledge acquired by previous generations, to add to it or modify interpretations, and to pass this improved knowledge onto the next generation (Lawton, 1982).
Amadou-Martar M’Bow (1992) relates an African perspective on the function of the school. The view is that the school is supposed to be regarded as a privileged centre for the transmission and perpetuation of the cultural heritage of every people. In Amadou-Martar M’Bow’s (1992) view, experience has shown that efforts to increase the level of scholarisation and literacy can only have limited success so long as they fail to blend into the realities of everyday life. This is because those that are taught are and should not be perceived as lifeless objects to pump content into but live beings who are engaged in daily life practices in their environment with a potential to share their accumulated knowledge and skills.  Consequently, education should be made more effectively and easily adaptable to the natural, cultural and human environment it is meant to serve (Amadou-Martar M’Bow, 1992). Specifically on Africa, Amadou-Martar M’Bow (1992) argues that school subjects frequently have nothing to do with the world familiar to African children. Technology education is specifically implied in this instance, as Amadou-Martar M’Bow (1992: 14) contests, “it is from this concern about the nature of subjects being offered to African children, that the curriculum of technology education must be examined.” It is true that technology education today is indispensable if we are to cope with challenges of the future. It is also true that greater emphasis should be laid on it at all levels and in all types of teaching right from the nursery. However, it is equally important to question the relevance of its curriculum to the needs of indigenous communities, their problems, and the social and human values by which they live. Indigenous knowledge and techniques have a role to play in this instance (Amadou-Martar M’Bow, 1992).
A need arises, then to explore the  Afrocentric and Africa centered perspectives on the curriculum.
Afrocentric and Africa centered curriculum perspectives
The Afrocentric and Africa centered curriculum can be expressed through an Akan term, Sankofa.  Tedla (1995: 1) defines Sankofa as “return to the source and fetch”. The source in this case is African culture, heritage and identity. It implies that, as we forge forward into the future, we need to reach back into our past and take with us all that works and is positive (Tedla, 1995). The idea is not to suggest a trapped-in-the-past approach to curriculum. Rather, it is about the progressive call to acknowledge and promote African culture, heritage and identity. Many tertiary institutions are now repositioning themselves to embark on African relevance in their programmes. An example is that of Unisa, which encapsulates Africanism in its vision and mission statement. The challenge is now to practically infuse it in the programmes being offered. This approach should also be embraced right from schools so that learners are better prepared by the time they come to the tertiary institutions. In this way they will engage meaningfully with programmes that they will be offered. The curriculum policy documents are informed by this approach in terms of the curriculum principles (Gumbo & Mapotse, 2007). For instance, one of the curriculum principles is “valuing of Indigenous Knowledge Systems”. In the light of this, Amadou-Martar M’Bow (1992) advises the revival of more dynamic elements of Africa’s traditional heritage in terms of today’s challenges with a critical and forward-looking attitude.
The point being made here is the need to effect curriculum that is versed in African philosophy and indigeneity (Daun, 1992; Mazrui and Wagaw, 1985; Tedla, 1995). The Sankofan concept of education promotes increased understanding and appreciation of the sensibilities, experiences and creations of continental and Diasporan Africans (Tedla, 1995). It is education that places Africa and African values at the centre of African people’s lives. The values and criteria it uses for judging African people’s work, behaviour and creativity is African (Tedla, 1995). It prepares learners to live and contribute meaningfully in the African world. According to Tedla (1995), such education adopts skills, principles, thoughts, strategies, practices, expressions, ideas and words from antiquity to the present, from the continent to the Diaspora. Thus, the purpose of Sankofan education (Tedla, 1995) is to:

  • empower African people,
  • reclaim the brothers and sisters who are being lost to alienating educational systems, to prisons and individualism,
  • reclaim African history which has been omitted, hidden, distorted or suppressed, and
  • teach African indigenous crafts, technologies and medicine to the young. It also stands to inform, skill and benefit everyone else about the undistorted realities of Africa from a multicultural point of view.

The basis for such teaching and learning is espoused by Jegede (1998)
It is related to the background of the learner: The learner hails from an African society and background. The curriculum offered him should as such take into serious cognisance the African lived world within him. He will develop interest in the teaching and learning activities that he can better identify to from his lived milieu.

  • It is practical and it involves learner participation: The curriculum that acknowledges the Africanness of the learner will carefully embrace teaching and learning activities that speak relevantly to the world of the learner and as such will instil a motivated participation in the learner.
  • It incorporates local ideas and examples: Careful observation of the learner’s world is a platform for gathering ideas and examples that can offer a curriculum rich with African reference and relevance.
  • It uses material resources within the immediate environment: The material and resourceful environment that learners are part and parcel of need to be tapped into to provide the learner support materials. African communities who are custodians of such rich environments are more than prepared to avail them for teaching and learning.
  • It takes place anytime, anywhere, anyhow and with due consideration to seeing the environment in holistic terms: Open classrooms are ideal for this kind of approach to curriculum. With well planned collaboration with the communities that learners are part of, a community-based learning can be realized where learners are assigned with activities that most of the time engage their communities. Later on they will then graduate to be a perfect fit in their communities.
  • It uses all competent people within the community as educators and instructors: This is where a partnership with community members, especially the elders who command rich knowledge, experiences and skills, can be forged. By Western standards these community members are labelled as illiterate when they have so much to offer.  

Pondering on what makes one an African, Tedla (1995) anchors any educational effort on Africanised academic excellence, spiritual development, physical fitness and health and community development. These are outlined subsequently:
Academic excellence is about:

  • creating a new form of education whose content reflects the reality and needs of African people;
  •  combining abstract learning with practical learning and book learning with experiential learning;
  •  involving the entire community in the educational process by making the local communities actively participate in shaping their educational destiny;
  • producing communities of scholars and learners who are Africana-oriented;
  • forming study groups which focus on expanding knowledge about African people and creating new ways of solving problems;
  •  avoiding purely individualistic and competitive approaches to education, for education is communal by its nature, to enable one to live in harmony as a contributing member of Africa and world communities.

Spiritual development
To Africans, spirituality permeates all aspects of life. Since this is a sacred world, reverence for life dictates that everyone acts right by each other. This means that spiritual education must include the development of character of virtues that are related to:

  •  respect for life, i.e. to preserve, nurture and affirm the life that surrounds us;
  • taking care of elders, orphans and the weak;
  •  learning from the wisdom of elders;
  • being generous, honest, just and diligent;
  • striving for excellence in everything one does;
  • fighting oppression with a clear heart and strong spirit; and
  • believing in the community, in self, and in life.

Community development is about:

  • understanding the inseparability and the complementarity of the individual and the community, men and women, young and old;
  • showing respect for elders;
  • building and maintaining strong family ties;
  • participating in the political, economic and educational life of African traditional communities;
  • taking full control of the education of African children and ensuring their mastery of many practical skills that include indigenous crafts, technologies and medicine;
  • changing the content that is taught to African children so that it reflects the values and needs of African people;
  • learning and teaching all that is positive in traditional leadership and governance;
  • striving to minimise individualism and competitiveness;
  • participating in providing voluntary community service on an on-going basis; and
  • realising that adults and elders have a duty to mentor the young.

Physical fitness and health entail:

  • teaching of preventative health measures;
  • reorientation towards food that is currently proven to promote good health;
  • learning from African women in agriculture about naturally cooked food as a community involvement; and
  • learning activities which include African methods of teaching and games.

These anchors are proclaimed bearing in mind that we cannot conceal the fact that over the millennia, Africans have distilled and encoded their experiences and philosophy in countless ways, i.e. African experiences and philosophy are found encoded in their symbols, rituals, designs, artefacts, music, dances, proverbs, riddles, poetry, drum texts, architecture, technology, science and oral tradition (Tedla, 1995). These are very much live in their daily contact with their environment. They are expressed when they sing, when they gather together, when they perform community functions, in their family chores, etc. Africanness is self-expressive in these forms.
Core aims and values

Afrocentric and Africa centered education
It enables a person to understand the bondedness of cosmic life and the primacy of affirming life, to understand one’s place and role in the family, the community and creation (cosmic life), and to gain the various skills necessary to become a contributing member of the community. As a transmitter of skills and knowledge, indigenous African education aims at teaching the various professions, technologies, sciences, art, music and traditional laws and governance of Africa, essentiality of the community for one’s own survival and the formation of one’s identity as a person, transformation of one from being an unincorporated entity at the periphery of communal life (during infancy and childhood), to one who is an integral part of the community body (in old age), change of one’s orientation from “I” to “We”, from individualism to communalism, lifelong journey of preparation for communing and fusing with the whole of life, development of virtue and character – to produce a person who is honest, just, respectful, skilled, cooperative and who lives according to the social order of the community. Learning is rigorous, based on the habit of physical exercise, apprenticeship in trade, a religious upbringing, a respectful attitude toward one’s elders and active participation in the community life. All these are indispensable conditions for any African wishing to be considered a person of consequence. Its seven cardinal goals are to:

  • develop the child’s latent physical skills,
  • develop character,
  • teach respect for elders and those in position of authority,
  • develop intellectual skills,
  • acquire specific vocational training and develop a healthy attitude toward honest labour,
  • develop a sense of belonging and encourage active participation in family and community affairs, and
  • understand, appreciate and promote cultural heritage of the community at large.

Western education
It aims at producing Western styled leaders, bureaucrats, intellectuals, technicians, professionals and military persons who are supposed to articulate development strategies and carry out the task of nation building. It transmits the liberal values and behaviour deemed essential for a modern state – liberalism, champions, individualism, secularism and materialism. Individualism gives primacy to individual interest over community centredness. It mismatches what is taught in school and the community as though the community had nothing to do with African personhood or identity. Schools are isolated and fenced away from the vast majority of African people. Subjects and languages of learning are not intelligible to parents and the community because they are not connected to African life. The focus is on the hierarchy of highly paid jobs that lie outside the security of traditional community. The rich experiences of elders and other traditional specialists are rendered useless. If elders want anything from the modern sector, they have to turn to the newly educated young for advice, permits and funding and they are often patronised or treated condescendingly. Through modern education industrialisation and urban life are accorded high value as symbols of advancement. Traditional music and dance are not appealing to the “educated young” as those coming from overseas, as products produced outside matter more than those produced on the continent. It imparts polarised values. Morality, virtues and character-building have little or no place in the school curriculum. Intellectuals and other educated professionals by Western standards are held in higher esteem than the traditionally educated leaders and professionals. Virtues such as generosity, honesty, diligence in work, perseverance and a sense of responsibility for others are not taught directly – African youth graduate without understanding their responsibility to building their communities. Values are out of touch with African realities and are impractical and alienating because the formal education system runs counter to the core concepts and values of traditional life.
Period of learning
Afrocentric and Africa centered education
It is a lifelong learning based on the following three phases of life:
Infancy to puberty (from birth until about the age of 12 or 13)
This phase is divided according to the developmental stages. The first is from the time of breast-feeding. The second is from the time of weaning, a period associated with the appearance of milk teeth up to the appearance of permanent teeth. The third stage extents from this point to the onset of puberty. It starts with verbal and non-verbal teaching (physically, affectionately, emotionally). From the time of birth, the baby is held, embraced, washed, fed, cuddled, cooed at, sung to, showered with kisses and blessings, and admired by family, kin and neighbours. The community, through family members, kin, friends and neighbours has a claim to the infant, for it is the baby of the community. As the link between the past, the present and the future, the baby is the living proof of the immortality or continuity of the lineage, the family, the parents. Ceremonies and rituals are held to mark points of one’s first stage in life following birth. The taking of the baby outside the house is also cause for celebration. The naming of the child is very important and carries varying degree of ritual or celebration. The name often reflects the circumstances surrounding birth and carries protective and life-enhancing messages. Circumcision and baptism mark transition to personhood journey. The Soul-father/God-father is appointed to be responsible for the moral upbringing of the child.
Later, weaning and speech development through songs and talking by family mother and members. Names of family members and their relationship to it are taught. Once able to talk, the child learns phrases of respect and greetings for elders, then days of the week, household utensils, some plants, animals and insects until they are mastered. The mother, as a primary teacher until age five or six repeats songs and lullabies.
Older children are involved in word games (rhymes, tongue-twisters and games for testing mental agility), singing and dancing. All these become more difficult and challenging as children grow. The boys do wrestling and gymnastics, etc. to strengthen their physical endurance, while girls expand their repertoire of songs and dances. Playing out the behaviour of grown-ups in their daily occupations and their periodic ceremonies is very common. Both boys and girls are taught general knowledge until age six or seven. From then on boys are close to their fathers to learn by observing, listening and assisting in ways they are capable of helping, e.g. garden activities like weeding or turning the soil, acquainting them with names of various plants and roots and their uses, many fruits and flowers, and about their family and their people’s lands as well as teach them about the operations of councils and gatherings to which they take them. Mothers centre girls in African womanity by teaching responsibility as givers, sustainers and nurturers of life and keepers and teachers of African culture. They assist their mothers through doing and observing – raising poultry, milking cows, goats, etc. When engaged in outdoor activities, they are shown various curative herbs and learn trading skills from their mothers during market day. They learn weeding, growing vegetables, harvesting the produce, etc.
Prepuberty through early adulthood (from about 12 to 30 years)
Education in this phase ranges from non-formal and unstructured to formal and structured. Initiation process take place and there are societies/learning centres that offer intermediate learning and eldership education to produce titled and untitled leaders, royalties, medicine persons, seers/diviners, traditional weather forecasters, etc. Learners receive spiritual and physical education, knowledge of geography which includes the fauna and flora of their region. Boys learn swimming, running, climbing, wrestling, farming, fishing, hunting and trapping animals, house-building, bridge-building, rowing, carving and making of tools. They learn songs, dances, making of drums and other musical instruments. They receive moral education – virtues, justice, honesty and respect for elders. They are also taught self-reliance by providing their own meals, kindling fire, bearing hardships without complaining. At the end of initiation, the boy who entered the forest dies (symbolically) and resurrects or is reborn (symbolically) as a man into the adult world and he is received with singing and dancing. Girls are taught gracefulness, cooking, child care, home care, diligence in work and all the virtues, craft, gardening and farming, bead work, spinning, dyeing cloths, etc. At the end of initiation they are received ceremonially into adulthood, wifehood and motherhood. Education during this phase extends through mentoring or apprenticeship with an accomplished specialist(s), e.g. master drummer, craft person, etc. It is through experiential learning by observing and participating in community work, and in ceremonial and festive gatherings.
Eldership education (from about 28 years to death)
Mentorship or preparation for eldership is more emphasised. One’s standing in the community has become clear in this phase. There is advanced teaching in spiritual matters, traditional governance, customary laws, medicine, astronomy, metallurgy, etc. Eldership is the crowning height of indigenous education.
Subjects learned
Afrocentric and Africa centered education
Traditional education does not compartmentalize learning. Thus, one is taught many skills and knowledge (subjects). It combines physical training with character-building and manual activity with intellectual training. It is undergirded by the fact that knowledge encompasses reason, emotions, concrete, abstract, practical, visible and invisible realms. Thus, there are many ways of knowing through vast subjects – history, lineage, geography, astronomy, healing or doctoring, preparation of medicine from plants, animals and insects, agriculture (teaching farming, fishing, animal care and rearing skills), metallurgy/metal work, leather work, making of musical instruments, mathematics (through variety of games), navigation, music dance, spinning and weaving cloth, jewellery making, parasol making, beadwork, learning activities in physical development (dance, wrestling, running, jumping, sparring with sticks and shields, lifting weights and stones, club-throwing). Moreover, there is teaching in developing one’s power of observation and memory – helpful in rapid and complex mathematical calculations, recognising the plants and animals that grow in one’s environment, in recognising one’s herds of sheep, goats and cattle, in becoming a medicine person, in becoming a hunter, and learning by heart the history and traditional laws and rules of one’s people. As a result, later, one has the opportunity to become a lawyer, a judge and a peace-maker in the community. Observation and memory are also important tools for mastering epic poems, long lists of lineages and for mastering the sciences of Africa.
Western education
The primary education curriculum simply equips African learners with smatterings of mathematics, general science, geography, history and European languages. What is taught in schools is often left disconnected and suspended from the learners’ African experience. Much of it is concentrated liberal arts and humanities subjects. Very few of learners who are enrolled in African third level institutions are in science and engineering based disciplines. In mid-seventies there were 6.3% in natural sciences, 0.4% in mathematics, 10% in engineering, 8.1% in agriculture, forestry and fishing. In most cases, what enrollees are taught in the liberal arts and humanities is Western thought and experiences using Western models and methods of research. Africa’s curriculum should be designed to address the needs of African farmers, pastoralists, fishers, craft people and other rural workers. There should be provisions for inter-Africa student exchange programmes in various fields rather than African students being stolen to learn outside. Curriculum should have the room for learning by doing. It should integrate with practical projects, e.g. road construction, aforestation, improvement of sanitation, etc. It should transcend being a simple means for obtaining a job or economic gain. It should anchor the young in the community and thus prevent alienation or anomy.
Methods of teaching and learning
Africa centered and Afrocentric education
They are based on oral and written instruction, symbols, stories, proverbs, singing, dramatizing, observing, repeating, imitating, memorizing and participating. Indigenous African education relies on observation and memory – names of animals and plants, size and type/shape of horns of animals. It also takes place through initiation to advance bondedness of self, community and creation as a whole. Initiation takes place in three phases of separation (from familiar surroundings), transformation (abandon old thinking at new location, habits and manners) and reincorporation (resurrection/reborn with new knowledge, insights and skills).
Western education
They are based on lectures, reading, writing and memorizing. The methods and learning are mostly confined to classroom to advance restrictive and affectiveless atmosphere. Teachers are often distant and uninvolved with their learners’ life. They perceive their responsibility as ending when school hours are over. They feel no obligation to reinforce what is taught at home and in the community. Classroom confinement eliminates the opportunities of teaching through rituals, festive celebrations and other types of activities that take place at wakes or funerals, market places, in the building of houses, farming and harvest times. Teaching materials in the school system are often imported from foreign institutional materials – books, pencils, pens, rulers, erasers, geometry sets and notebooks/exercise books.
Responsibility for education: Africa centered and Afrocentric education
There is communal responsibility. The education is a lifelong process engaging everyone, as teachers and learners. The corps of teachers is composed of young and old, and males and females alike. The importance given to education is seen in the fact that the whole community takes part in it in various ways – the individual intervention of any adult in the education of any child, or the management of various aspects of education, in varied and carefully defined circumstances, by elected or designated members acting in the name or for the benefit of the community. There is peer teaching – peers share their experiences, warn one from repeating their mistakes and also show or explain to one what one does not understand. The community sees to it that there are no failures. There are only degrees of success, with everyone mastering the minimum requirements for his/her age group. Learning takes place in the home, the fields or farms, the gathering places, the marketplace, the forest, caves or shrines, by the lake or riverside, at weddings and festivities and funerals. Thus, life is schooling itself.
Western education
It is not quite clear who or what groups or organisations bear the responsibility for the state and outcome of the Western-based education because it operates independent of the traditional community seeking very little, if any, input from its leaders and elders, i.e. there are no elders on school boards or in the policy-making rooms to ensure that all the positivity of traditional life is included in the curricula. The numerous talented, knowledgeable, skilled and wise teachers of traditional Africa are excluded from joining the ranks of teachers and staff in the formal education system.
Implications for an  Africanized curriculum
What do these contrasted views hold as pointers to an Africanized curriculum? Let us first reflect on the fundamentals. An African philosophy proclaims a responsive approach to the curriculum development process and practice. This brings under spotlight curriculum designers, curriculum developers, curriculum officials down to teachers in class. The African learner’s academic excellence can only be realised through the curriculum that nurtures and develops him in the dimensions of physical, spiritual and community with an African philosophy being the cornerstone.
It follows that the curriculum should adopt a holistic approach to the learner’s life. The educational dimensions can be bridged by introducing an open-class approach – learners and teachers literally interacting with the communities by opening up to the community service, that is the community servicing the learners as a source of knowledge, experiences, skills, values and attitudes and not only the other way round. The general orientation to community service is that of only institutions doing something for the community. Within the context of African philosophy the young need to learn more from the old outside of the four-walled classroom. Elderly and other community experts could be invited to share their knowledge, experiences and skills.  
It is highly important to develop learners in maths, science and technology against the false perception that was instilled in African learners about such subjects being tough and insurmountable. However, that should not compromise the need to develop the social and moral side of learners otherwise Africa will ultimately develop economic giants on one hand, who on the other hand will be moral dwarfs. We need economic giants who are equally virtuous and have character. Optimally education must also advance the spirit of ubuntu through the open-class policy so that learners can learn from elders important human values like respect, love, responsibility, discipline, etc. The elderly wisdom should inform efforts to re-instil ubuntu. The National Curriculum Statement is poised to target learner competencies through learning outcomes in the areas of knowledge, skills and values and attitudes. Such curriculum needs to respect the pre-knowledge that learners are presumably enriched with from their communities. This happens within the context of lifelong learning with the learner immersed in the community to observe and learn from the moral fibre lifelong. Thus, African education systems and training deserve an overhauling wherein a balanced approach will at least be forged. Western domination should be restrained and Africans should be  accorded the opportunity to take an active role in curriculum development processes. Moreover, their active role should penetrate both the intended curriculum in policies and the actual curriculum in practice.
Initiation schools offer a model of an Africanized school and curriculum. They are regarded as the core of African education as they drive the bonding force of self, community and creation. The author is aware that he is touching on the matter that many will most probably swallow with a pinch of salt. It has created mixed feelings because everyone only raises eyebrows when it is that time of the year for initiation schools to run. Hardly anyone acknowledges good things it they can offer. The education ministry should explore the possibility of extracting from this programme what can be integrated into the school curriculum. Concentrating only on the negative side of initiation schools creates an impression about their uselessness at the expense of their usefulness. Initiation schools forums can be established to learn about the activities of initiation schools.
Initiation schools are the learning centres that introduce different roles and careers to learners – leadership, royalties, medicine, divinity, climatology, environmental education, geography, cooking, childcare, home care, gardening, beadwork, spinning, dyeing clothes, etc. Graduating at the end of initiation is a milestone not only for the graduate but for the community. The community ushers the graduate into internship in the community in a particular specialisation career. Internship, coupled with mentorship culminates into eldership.
Introduction into more community inclined elderly responsibility is a mentored process which only comes to an end at death. Thus, the release of the child into the professional world after training is not to be viewed as a license for independence like it happens within the formal school system. It is not divorced from mentorship to ensure a continuance of responsibility. Mentorship at this stage happens as an advanced training in the context of training fields mentioned above.
The main focus of Africanized education is to promote a communal life orientation in the community. Teachers in particular need to be aware of this so that they can embrace the fundamental aim of consolidating the membership of the learner in his community, rather than excommunicate him from it. This aim culminates in the seven cardinal goals mentioned under the section on core aims and values.  The purpose is to develop the whole person academically, socially, morally, spiritually and economically. The role that one has to play in the context of the family, community, nation and creation is valued in this case. Learners are trained not to become social misfits in their communities because the values are clear which should enable them to advance their roles.
Another noteworthy point is that curriculum should prepare learners for various professions prevalent in their communities rather than steal them away. This relates to whether curriculum design takes into cognisance and appreciates the multiplicity of professions existent in the learners’ communities so that it can draw from them to steer education in a desired direction. Such curriculum should also develop and promote active participation by learners in the context of their communities because they belong there. This links with the teaching strategies where assignments that are context-specific, i.e. designed to involve learners in their communities are given.
Most importantly, curriculum should strive to re-cultivate an African pride by making one know and cherish one’s identity. Being proud of one’s Africanness was something that was muddied by efforts to Westernize Africans. Thus, teachers shoulder an onus to re-cultivate this pride in African learners.
Then, subjects taught are implied. The principles of integration, coherence and relevance lie at the core of Africanized education and training. The SKVA (skills, knowledge, values and attitudes) present an opportunity to Africanize the curriculum. The child learns content, puts it into practice as guided by adults and is taught human values, e.g. respect, caring, a sense of belonging, etc. It is therefore crucial that curriculum embrace this if it at all aims to achieve relevance to what learners are made of. Different careers which are integral within the day-to-day life translate into the subject areas and the list is inexhaustible: history (develops the learner’s power of observation and memory as he learns by heart the history and traditional laws and rules of his people); lineage (develops the learner’s power of observation and memory to master epic poems and long lists of lineages); law (also develops the learner’s power of observation and memory to master the history and traditional laws and rules of his people); moral education (virtues, justice, honesty and respect for elders, gracefulness, diligence in work, etc.); self-reliance skills education (provide own meals, kindling fire, bearing hardships, etc.); leadership and royalties; geography; astronomy; environmental education; medicine (healing/doctoring); botany (preparation of medicine from plants); veterinary (includes learning about animals and insects); agriculture (farming and methods, fishing, animal care, trapping animals, rearing skills); architecture and engineering; metallurgy; leather work; art (making drums and other musical instruments, dance, beadwork, craft, etc.); mathematics (power of games (develops the learner’s power of observation and memory for rapid and complex mathematical calculations); textile (beadwork, spinning, dyeing clothes); domestic education (cooking, child care, home care, gardening, etc.); jewellery; parasol making; extramural (dance, wrestling, running, jumping, sparing, weight lifting, club-throwing, hunting, swimming, climbing, etc.); science and technology (develops the learner’s power of observation and memory to master the sciences and technologies of Africa); communication (includes oral, learn networking system), etc.
To give an illustration about subject content, the whole value of naming children and the celebration that goes with it provides a rich content for language development in terms of praise poems and subjects like history. The babyhood of the baby is a very important celebration not only by biological family but by the entire community. In music and music competitions African songs need to be fully integrated rather than concentrate a lot on English songs in particular. African learners also have a potential to compete with the world through African indigenous games word games, wrestling, gymnastics and the arts, which can earn them careers like their Western counterparts. They need to be appreciated and encouraged in the school curriculum.
Methods and strategies of teaching and assessment are implied as well. The aims and subjects that provide content impact upon methods of teaching. Teachers should create opportunities for African learners by balancing their teaching methods and methods of assessment between written and oral modes. Africans, through poetry, songs and other forms of expression have proven their strength in oral communication. Symbols, stories, proverbs, singing, dramatising, observing, repeating, imitating, memorising and participation all provide ingredients for teachers to shuttle between methods of teaching and of assessment to accommodate relevance. Almost all of them are catered for in today’s teaching. But, coupled with the Africanised content and experiences, teachers will most probably realise how they may need to re-sharpen their skills in exploring them further. The basis for these methods lies in the principle of the power of observation and memory. The principle of the constructivist theory is implied here where learners should be taught by letting them deal with new knowledge and experiences in relation to what they bring from their indigenous home backgrounds. With the core aim of Afrocentric curriculum being to promote community membership, groupwork, cooperative learning, teamwork, role-playing, verbal discussion, peer teaching, etc. are some of the methods that come to light and they need to be contextually applied within the Africanized curriculum. Team teaching, not only formal school-based, but between teachers and the community members should be considered.
We should also look at the duration of learning. The child’s developmental stages by Piaget and Erikson have influenced education to this day. Schools’ phases or grades and what to learn have been structured in line with them. These theories can be enriched through African perspectives on the child’s development in as far as how the community views the child. There are African “Piaget’s” and “Erikson’s” to learn from. The infancy-to-puberty development has a bearing on what and how the child learns and on who carries the teaching responsibility. The development tapers from general orientation towards role-focused orientation which is gender-based, e.g. from learning about trees to legal system. In the light of this, the fundamentals of the child’s education being immersed in the community need to be observed by the formal education role-players.    
Lastly, who is responsible for educating the young? The Afrocentric education places the responsibility to educate the young within the collective efforts of the community. In other words, the formal school teacher should not be seen in isolation. It encourages collaborative venture among community members. So, the community, teachers and learners themselves are responsible for education. The aim, like it was said elsewhere, is to train the child to be a responsible member of his community. This teaches us as well that teaching and learning should not only be confined within the four walls of the classroom, neither boxed into time blocks. Many contexts do exist where learning for the child continues to consciously take place, e.g. the home as a primary learning situation, fields or farms, gathering places, marketplaces, forest, caves, lake or riverside, weddings and festivals and funerals. In such contexts adults have the opportunity to impart their knowledge and skills. Thus, life itself is seen as a school.
The author has demonstrated the differences that exist between Western and African views and approaches to education and how they impact on the curriculum. The article thus provides important aspects about what should inform an Africanized curriculum. It is thus crucial for curriculum designers and planners to be aware of the two worlds’ perspectives on education so they can effect change in the curriculum by adopting a dual approach – to embrace both and not only a linear approach which is Western.
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 Piracy and Somalia

Mohamed Abshir Waldo*

Much of the world’s attention is currently focused on the Somali sea lanes. The navies of big and small powers are converging on the Somali waters in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The hijacking of the Saudi oil tanker and Ukrainian MV Faina, laden with arms for Kenya, off the coast of Somalia by Somali pirates captured world media attention. War has
 been rightly declared against this notorious new piracy of ships. But the older, mother of all piracies in Somalia - illegal foreign piracy of fish - in the Somali seas, is ignored, A call for tougher international action resulted in a multi-national and unilateral naval stampede taking control of Somali territorial waters. The UN Security Council, a number of whose members may have ulterior motives to indirectly protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali Seas, passed Resolutions 1816 and 1838, giving a license to any nation who wanted a piece of the Somali marine cake. Both NATO
and the EU issued orders to the same effect, and Russia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and anyone else who could afford an armed boat and its crew on the sea, for a few months joined the fray. For years, attempts made to address piracy in the world’s seas through UN resolutions have failed to pass, largely because many of the member
nations felt such resolutions would infringe greatly on their sovereignty and security.

They have been unwilling to give up control  and patrol of their own waters.
UN Resolutions 1816 and 1838, which were objected to by a  number of West African, Caribbean and South American nations, were then tailored to apply only  to Somalia, which had no strong Somali representation at  the United Nations, to protect its sovereignty. Also, objections by Somali civil society to the Draft Resolutions were ignored. This massive “Global Armada” is carried out on the pretext of protecting the busy shipping trade routes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali piracy of ships, which threatens to disrupt these international sea ways.

More damaging economically, environmentally and security-wise, is the massive, Illegal, foreign,  piracy of fish-  that has  been poaching on and destroying Somali marine resources for the last 18 years, following the collapse of the Somali regime in 1991. With its usual double standards, when such matters concern Africa, the “international community” came out in force to condemn and declare war against the Somali fishermen pirates,
while discreetly protecting the numerous Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets there from Europe, Arabia and the Far East. Biased UN resolutions, big power orders, and news reports, continue to condemn the hijackings of merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. If the response to both piracies were
balanced and fair, these condemnations would have been justified.  The European Union (EU), Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen are  all on this piracy campaign, mainly to cover up and protect their illegal fishing fleets in Somali waters.

Why do the UN Resolutions, NATO Orders and EU Decrees
fail to include the protection of Somali marine resources from IUU
 violations in the same waters? Not only is this piracy of fish disregarded, but the illegal foreign marine poachers are being encouraged to continue fishing piracy, since none of the current resolutions, orders and decrees apply to the IUUs, which can now freely violate the Somali seas. The Somali fishermen can no longer scare away the IUUs for fear of being labeled pirates and  being attacked by the foreign navies unlawfully
 controlling the Somali waters. Even the traditional Somali trading dhows are in panic of being mistaken for pirates.

a) The IUU Menace and Fish Laundering Practice

According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF),  The IUU does not respect national boundaries or sovereignty, puts unsustainable pressure on stocks, marine life and habitats, undermines labor standards and distorts markets. “IUU fishing is detrimental to the wider marine ecosystem because it flouts rules designed to protect the marine environment which includes restrictions to harvest Juveniles, closed spawning grounds and gear modification designed to minimize by-catch on non-target species….In so doing they steal an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and ruin the livelihoods of some legitimate fishermen; incursions by trawlers into the inshore areas reserved for artisanal
fishing can result in collision with local fishing boats, destruction of fishing gear and deaths of fishermen” says HSTF. In its report, ‘Closing the Net: Stopping Illegal Fishing on the High Seas,’ HSTF puts worldwide value of IUU catches at $4 to $9 billion,  a large part of it from Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Somalia.

IUUs practice fish catch laundering through mother ship factories, transshipment and re-supply at sea. “This means that vessels can remain at sea for months, refueling, re-supplying and rotating their crew. IUU fishing vessels never need to enter ports because they transfer their catches onto transport ships. Illegally caught fish are laundered by mixing with legally caught fish on board transport vessels”, writes HSTF. Apparently, fish
laundering, which generates hundreds of millions dollars in the black market is not as criminal as money laundering! Countries used for Somali fish laundering include Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives.

As  the EU closed much of its fishing waters for 5 to 15 years for fish regeneration, as Asia overfished its seas, as international demand increases for nutritious marine products and as the fear of worldwide food shortage grows, the rich, uncontrolled and unprotected Somali seas became the target of the fishing fleets of many nations. Surveys by UN, Russian and
Spanish assessors just before the collapse of the Barre Regime in 1991 estimated that 200,000 tones of fish a year could be caught by both artisanal and industrial fisheries and this is the objective of the international fishing racket.There is no doubt that the actions of the shipping pirates are reprehensible and this paper does not seek to justify or explain their
 odious actions. They must be stopped. But the notorious shipping piracy is unlikely to be resolved without simultaneously attending to the fraudulent IUU piracy, too.

b) The Origin of the Somali Piracy War

The origin of the two piracies goes back to 1992 after the fall of the Gen. Siyad Barre regime and the disintegration of the Somali Navy and Police Coastguard services. Following severe droughts in 1974 and 1986, tens of thousands of nomads, whose livestock were wiped out by the droughts, were re-settled all along the villages on the long, 3300kms Somali coast.
They developed into large fishing communities, whose livelihood depended on  inshore fishing. From the beginnings of the civil war in Somalia (as early as 1991/1992) illegal fishing trawlers started to trespass and fish in Somali waters, including the 12-mile inshore artisanal fishing waters. The poaching vessels encroached on the local fishermen’s grounds, competing for the abundant rock-lobster and high value pelagic fish in the warm, up-
swelling 60kms deep shelf along the tip of the Horn of Africa.

The piracy war between local fishermen and IUUs started here. Local fishermen documented cases of trawlers pouring boiling water on the fishermen in canoes, their nets cut or destroyed, smaller boats crushed, killing all the occupants, and other abuses suffered as they tried to protect their national fishing turf. Later, the fishermen armed themselves. In
response, many of the foreign fishing vessels armed themselves with more sophisticated weapons and began to overpower the fishermen. It was only a matter of time before the local fishermen reviewed their tactics and modernized their hardware. This cycle of warfare has been going on from 1991 to the present. It is now developing into fully fledged, two-pronged illegal fishing and shipping piracy conflicts.

According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUUs fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005 taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The IUUs, which are estimated take out more than $450 million in fish value out of Somalia annually, neither compensate the local fishermen, pay tax, royalties nor do they respect any conservation and environmental
 regulations – norms associated with regulated fishing. It is believed that IUUs from the EU alone take out of the country more than five times the value of its aid to Somalia every year. Illegal foreign fishing trawlers which have being fishing in Somalia since 1991 are  owned by EU and Asian fishing companies – Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Yemen, Egypt and many others. Illegal vessels captured on the Somali coast by Somali fishermen during 1991 and 1999 included Taiwanese trawlers Yue Fa No. 3 and Chian Yuein No.232, FV Shuen Kuo No.11; MV Airone, MV De Giosa Giuseppe and MV Antonietta, all 3 Italian vessels registered in Italy; MV Bahari Hindi, Kenyan registered but owned and managed by Marship Co. of Mombasa. A number of Italian registered SHIFCO vessels, Korean and Ukrainian trawlers, Indian, Egyptian and Yemeni boats were also captured by fishermen and ransoms of different sizes paid for their release. Many Spanish seiners, frequent violators of the Somali fishing grounds, managed
to evade capture at various times. According to a report in the Daily Nation of October 14, 2004, even Kenyan registered  fishing vessels are known to have participated in the rape of the Somali fishing grounds. In October 2004, Mr Andrew Mwangura, Kenya Coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) asked the Kenya Government to help stop illegal fishing in Somalia. “Since Somalia has been without government for more than 11 years, Kenya trawlers have been illegally fishing along the country’s territorial waters contrary to the UNCLOS and the FAO
 instruments, he said. SAP further reported that 19 Kenyan registered fishing vessels also operated illegally in the Somalia waters.

In arrangements with Somali warlords, new companies were formed abroad for bogus fishing licensing purposes. Jointly owned mafia Somali-European companies set up in Europe and Arabia worked closely with Somali warlords who issued them fake fishing “licenses” to any foreign fishing pirate willing to plunder the Somali marine resources. UK and Italy
 based African and Middle East Trading Co. (AFMET), PALMERA and UAE based SAMICO companies were some of the corrupt vehicles issuing such counterfeit licenses as well as fronting for the warlords who shared the loot.

Among technical advisors to the companies – AFMET, PALMIRA & SAMICO - were supposedly reputable firms like MacAllister Elliot & Partners of the UK. Warlords Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidiid, Gen. Mohamed Hersi Morgan, Osman Atto and Ex-President Ali Mahdi Mohamed officially and in writing gave authority to AFMET to issue fishing “licenses”, which local fishermen and marine experts call simply a “deal between thieves”. According to Africa Analysis of November 13, 1998, AFMET alone “licensed” 43 seiners (mostly Spanish, at $30,000 per 4-month season. Spanish Pesca Nova was “licensed” by AFMET while French Cobracaf group got theirs from SAMICO at a much discounted rate of $15,000 per season per vessel. Not to be outdone, in October 1999 Puntland Administration, gave carte blanche to another group known as PIDC, registered in Oman to fish, issue licenses and to police the Puntland coast. PIDC in turn contracted Hart Group of the UK and together they pillaged the Somali fishing grounds with vengeance, making over $20 million profit within two years. The deal was to split the profits but PIDC failed to share the spoils with Puntland administration, resulting in revocation of their licenses. Having reneged on their part of the
deal, PIDC/Hart quit the country with their handsomely won chips.
Somali Complaints and Appeals on Illegal Fishing & Hazardous Waste Dumping

Another major problem closely connected with the IUUs and illegal fishing is industrial, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in both off-shore and on-shore areas of Somalia. Somali authorities, local fishermen, civil society organizations and international organizations have reported and warned of the dangerous consequences of these criminal actions. In a Press Statement dated 16 Sept 1991, the SSDF, which then administered the Northeastern
 Regions of Somalia, sternly warned that  “all unauthorized and illegal foreign fishing vessels in the Somali waters are prohibited, with immediate effect, to undertake any further illegal fishing and to stay clear of the Somali waters”. In April 1992, SSDF Chairman, Gen. Mohamed Abshir Musse wrote to the then Italian Foreign Minister, Gianni De Michelis, drawing his attention to the robbery of the Somali marine resources and ecosystem
destruction by unlicensed Italian trawlers. In September 1995, leaders of all the Somali political factions of the day (12 of them) and two major Somali NGO Networks jointly wrote to the UN Secretary General, Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali, with copies to the EU, Arab League, OIC, OAU and to other involved parties, detailing the illegal fishing and hazardous material
dumping crises in the Somali sea waters and requesting the UN to set up a body to manage and protect these waterways. They pointed out that since ICAO already manages the Somali airspace, so could IMO or a newly created organization run Somalia’s seas until an effective Somali national government is able to take control of it. Again, from 1998 to 2006,
 consecutive Ministers of Fisheries of Puntland State of Somalia repeatedly appealed to the international community: UN, EC, African Union, Arab League and to individual nations, advising the members states of these organizations to help keep poaching vessels and crews from their countries out of the Somali waters. The Ministers also complained of oil spills, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in the Somali coast.

Somali fishermen in various regions of the country also complained to the international community about the illegal foreign fishing, stealing the livelihoods of poor fishermen, waste dumping and other ecological disasters, including the indiscriminate use of all prohibited methods of fishing: drift nets, under water explosives, killing all “endangered species” like sea-turtles, orca, sharks, baby whales, etc. as well as destroying reef, biomass and vital fish habitats in the sea (IRIN of March 9, 2006). Fishermen in Somalia appealed to the United Nations and the international community to help them rid the country's shores of foreign ships engaged in illegal fishing. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated 700 foreign-owned vessels were engaged in unlicensed fishing in Somali waters in 2005. However, the  FAO said it was "impossible to monitor their fishery production in general, let alone the state of the fishery resources they are exploiting….there is also strong suspicion of illegal dumping of industrial and nuclear wastes along the Somali coast", IRIN 09/03/06.

"They are not only taking and robbing us of our fish, but they are also trying to stop us from fishing," said Jeylani Shaykh Abdi, a fisherman in Merca, 100km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed our boats and cut our nets", he added. Another Merca fisherman, Mohamed Hussein, said [Our] existence depends on the fish. He accused the international community
of "talking only about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships." Jeylani noted that the number of foreign ships had increased over time. "It is now normal to see them on a daily basis, a few miles off our shores" (IRIN 09/03/06).

Describing the activity as "economic terrorism", Somali fishermen told IRIN that the poachers were not only plundering the fish but were also dumping rubbish and oil into the sea. They complained the Somali government was not strong enough to stop it. "We want the international agencies to help us deal with this problem," said Hussein. "If nothing is done about them, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters." Musse Gabobe
 Hassan and Mohamud Hassan Tako of the Mogadishu Maritime and Fisheries Institute accused foreign ships of illegal fishing and dumping of hazardous waste in Somali waters. “Somalia’s coastal communities who eke their livelihood from the sea are appealing to the international community for help stop the illegal fishing fleets from both the developed and developing countries that are robbing our marine wealth and destroying its habitats”, they added.

Like the UN Security Council, Chatham House, an International Affairs Think-Tank, in a much publicized paper on piracy in Somalia, failed to present a balanced view of the issue and concentrated on the ‘shipping piracy’ side of the coin. Roger Middleton, the author of the paper, however, mentioned in passing that Europeans, Asians and Egyptians and Kenyans illegally fished in the Somalia waters. Roger Middleton seemed to be either misled or pressured to take this one-sided course, by powerful interests who wanted to cover up and protect the profitable business of illegal fishing.

Illegal fishing, waste dumping, and the loud complaints of the Somali fishermen and civil society, have been known to UN agencies and international organizations all along. The UN agencies and organizations, which have been fully aware of these crises, often expressed concern and lamentations but never took any positive action against these activities. It appears as if they have also failed to inform the UN Security Council of this
 tragedy before it passed its resolutions 1816 and 1838 in 2008.

Mr. Ould Abdalla, UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Somalia, who should know better, continued to condemn Somali shipping piracy in a number of press statements. In his Press Statement of 11/11/08 on the subject matter, he warmly welcomed the agreement by European Union member states to send ships to combat piracy off Somalia. “I am extremely
 pleased by the EU’s decision,” said Mr Ould-Abdallah. “Piracy off the Somali coast is posing a serious threat to the freedom of international navigation and regional security”. But he forgot to condemn fishing piracy, mention the Somali fishing communities’ livelihood, reflect on  the security of the Somali fishing communities, or, to propose concrete actions to
deal with the two inter-related piracies.

Actions of the UN, NATO and  the EU
The Global Armada deployed in Somali waters  is there illegally as it is not approved by the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). It is also unlikely to achieve its stated objectives to curb the shipping piracy as it is now conceived. The TFP and the members of the European Parliament rejected these UN and European decisions to police the Somali seas
(both the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden) as both illegal and unworkable. At a Press Conference in Nairobi on October 18th 2008, the Deputy Speaker of the TFP, Mohamed Omar Dalha, termed the deployment of foreign warships to the country's coast to fight piracy an invasion of its sovereignty and asked the foreign warships to “move out of the Somali waters”. The Speaker questioned the intent of the deployment and suggested that the powers involved had a hidden agenda. He said if these powers were genuine in curbing piracy they would have supported and empowered the Somali authorities, who would be more effective in stopping the menace. “If the millions of dollars given to the pirates or
wasted in the warship policing there were given to us, we would have eliminated this curse”, he said.

Several EU members of parliament (MEPs) called the EU naval mission to be against pirates off the coasts of Somalia as a "military nonsense," "morally wrong" and having "no international legal basis." German green MEP Angelika Beer underlined the lack of international law to sustain the proposed European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) mission. "There is no clarity to the limitations of this mandate. Will the EU be able to sink
ships and arrest pirates?" she asked. Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Maria Gomes gave a fiery speech on the "moral problem" of the EU mission, which, in her opinion, is only about "protecting oil tankers." "Nobody gives a damn about the people in Somalia who die like flies," she said (EU Observer of 15th October 2008).


The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be an illegal, criminal act. It may temporarily reduce the intensity of shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and  the ecological impact of a major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the ecosystem destroyed by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became. The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. ‘Shipping piracy’ is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external approaches based on partnership. The illegal ‘fishing
 piracy’, is  the root cause of the crisis.  The national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with piracy issues. Local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards and training and coastguard facilities. A joint Somali and UN agency should be considered.


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‘From  the  Glories of Ancient Aksum  to the Mysteries of  Ancient Egypt:   A Tale of Two  Memorable  Scholarly  Events’
Gloria Emeagwali

On October 24, 2009 the curtains went down on one of the most memorable events of the year,for those who took the time to view the exhibition, ‘Lucy’s Legacy, the Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia,’ hosted by Discovery Times Square Exposition. The exhibit provided an evolutionary narrative of our ancestral family tree,  ranging from the seven million year old Sahelanthropus tchadensis to Ardipethecus kadabba, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, and, the star of the exhibit, Australopithecus afarensis, Dinkenesh, alias Lucy. We were reminded during the exhibit that the discovery of the skeletal remains of Dinkenesh took place the very year that Haile Selassie was overthrown. The 1974 discovery marked the end of an era, and the start of a new episode in Hominid history which propelled Ethiopia to the forefront of research in this field. Most of the fossils discovered to date,  have been found in Ethiopia, considered by some scholars to be‘ the cradle of mankind.’ Most instructive, for scholars of ancient northeast Africa, were the numerous artifacts on display from Aksum, including some of the world’s earliest coins in silver, copper and gold. The coins represented several Ethiopian  monarchs,  including King Endubis (270-300AD),  King Kaleb ( 520 AD), King Wazena (6th century), King Halaz (575 AD),  King Gersen (600AD),  and King Armah (614 AD). On display were medicinal scrolls, book stamps, pens and locally made ink,  and  processional and hand held crosses, representing everlasting life. There were diverse  swords, spears and daggers of various dimensions, with and without sheaths, one of which was about 6 feet in length. Also on display were board games,  and musical instruments such as the bagana, an  8 or 10 string lyre,  and the sistrum, an ancient Egyptian musical instrument still used in the Ethiopian orthodox church.  An exquisite outfit of velvet and silk, traditionally worn by Oromo horsemen, was also on display. One of the cherished items for  viewers was a replica of the remarkable Church of Beta Giyorghis,  or, St. George’s Church, chiseled and sculptured  in the shape of a cross, being one of eleven churches attributed by some scholars to the era of King Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty. Lalibela, the city,  previously known as Roha, was  Ethiopia’s capital in the 12th and 13th century. The Aksumites were associated with Christianity from its early inception, according to Biblical references. The kingdom   later adopted Christianity officially,  just about a decade after Rome. Ethiopia continues to be the alleged host of the Ark of the Covenant, and to date has the largest Christian  Orthodox Church, built by Emperor Haile Selassie before his assassination in 1974.
The Ethiopian Aksumites constructed the largest stone monument in the world, a carved stone monolith, weighing 500 tons and 100 ft high, taller than the Egyptian pyramid of Giza, and one of the eight UNESCO heritage sites of Ethiopia. The largest existing  stela is 68 feet tall and ten stories high, inscribed with false  windows and doors. Emperor Fasilidas is credited with the establishment of Gondar in  1636, in the post -Aksumite era.  Monasteries, baths and a series of castles are among the attractions of this city, located  south of Aksum and north of Lalibela. There were ample illustrations of this wondrous monument in the exhibit.
Ethiopia is also home to the third largest Muslim population in Africa. Ethiopia’s Harar hosts  the fourth most important Islamic center after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.  Ethiopian contact with Islam dates back to 615 AD when King Armah, provided protection for exiled supporters of the Prophet Mohammed, including one of his future wives. Four Korans from Harar were on display.  There were some illustrations related to Ethiopia’s Jewish population, or Beta Israel, 20,000 of whom remain in Gondar. The interconnections between Emperor Haile Selassie, Rastafarianism and Marcus Garvey were commented on in the exhibit, and attracted  the attention of  several visitors.
The exhibit was not flawless. The timeline on display at the entrance to the exhibit  could have included more references to the rest of Africa, to situate Dinkenesh (Lucy),  and Aksum, for that matter, in the wider African story.  Yeha was founded around 900 BC,  but about 10,000 years before Yeha, Malian and Nubian pots were being fashioned in the West African and northeast African regions. About seven thousand years before Yeha, Nigeria’s famous Dufuna boat would have been constructed.  Seventy five
thousand years before them all, artifacts would have been created by early South Africans at  Blombos. Aksum must therefore be placed in a wider context of African historical growth. Another observation is that during the exhibit,  the use of the Ethiopian name Dinkenesh was half hearted, with insufficient attempt to truly redefine the naming process,  in the interest of Ethiopian realities.One area for improvement in museums and exhibits in general is in the area of donor acknowledgement. Where possible, the original source of the object should be identified,  in addition to the gift donor. The glorification of gift donors should not be done at the expense of the original village or town from which  the object came.  Finally, the exhibit’s representation of  Homo sapiens sapiens attempted to reflect diversity but failed. African representation was inadequate, weak, subdued  and peripheral. The image was a vast improvement on the old Eurocentric image of Homo sapiens sapiens,  which used to be exclusively Caucasoid in
appearance, but this present image is not inclusive enough.
Three weeks before the closing of the Discovery Times Exhibition, the University of Manchester hosted a conference of great significance to scholars of Ancient Northeast Africa. The goal of the conference was 
 to situate Egypt in its African context,  and  for that purpose,  several scholars were invited. The conference was opened by the Curator, Egypt and the Sudan at the Manchester Museum, Dr. Karen Exell. This was followed by an excellent presentation by  Dr. Shomarka Keita of the National Human Genome Center, Howard University and the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Keita  presented  an illuminating powerpoint presentation on  the peopling of the Nile Valley, making reference to linguistics, archeology
and human biology. Dr.  Amon Saakana proceeded to point to the pictographic, petroglyphic and other forms of writing as they illuminate the role of Nubia in shaping the emerging Egyptian state. He emphasized that by 7000BCE,  in Nubia, there was the cult of cattle, incised drawings on rocks, and megalithic structures mapping the Orion constellation, all predating later Egyptian adoptions. Saakana’s arguments basically correlated with  those of Dr. Alain Anselin whose main argument was that Egyptian civilization originated in Naqadan cultures which were basically derived from an early African pool of cultures. Muzzolini (2001), Wendorf (2004), Friedman (2002), Le Quellec (2005), Hassan  (2002) and Kobuciewicz  (2004)  have provided relevant scholarly  research related to the Chadic, Nilo-Saharan and Nilotic foundations of Ancient Egyptian civilization, according to Dr. Anselin.
Dr. Ana Navajas-Jimenez of Oxford University looked at the African context of pharaonic power and kingship,  with emphasis on the predynastic cattle culture from which it emerged,  while  Dr. Kimani Nehusi of the University of East London focused on similarities in libation practices in ancient Egypt, and other parts of Africa and its Diaspora.  He raised the issue of cultural continuity and interconnections between the ancient northeast and the rest of the continent. In similar vein Dr. Abdul Salau would explore the linguistic interconnections between the Yoruba language and ancient Egyptian, developing farther some arguments made by J.O Lucas a few decades ago. Dr. Sally -Ann Ashton of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, wondered whether there was the fear of a Black land, and so did Robin Walker of Black History Studies, London. Ultimately Western scholars decided to sacrifice Nubia to save Egypt from ‘Afrocentric heresy’  but the Egyptologists were prepared to compromise on Dynasty XXV and perhaps on Dynasty X11, but that was all, according to Walker,  in his incisive critique of Eurocentric methodology with respect to Egypt. The present writer, in her presentation, concluded that out of 20
World History textbooks examined,  six models emerged with respect to the identity of ancient Egypt, inclusive of  Isolationist, Eurasian, West Asian, Aegean,  Afro-Eurasian and African centered  models. She concluded that authors of World History Textbooks in the United States must ultimately situate their discussion of ancient Egypt squarely in ancient Africa for a more logical and  intelligible  analysis of ancient Egyptian society. 
These memorable events represented two positive scholarly initiatives on Ancient Africa,  on both sides of the Atlantic.

More interviews from the 2009 Harlem Book Fair
Interviews with James Alston and Wahida Clark

JA:     My name is James Alston.  I am the author of No More Mr. Nice
          Guy. My book was released last year. It is my first book. It is about
          corporate America. I worked for a company for 30 years after
          college. I stayed with the same company. The book is rather
          unique because it takes the reader through corporate culture,
          looking at the entire company from top to bottom. I was fortunate to
          be able to tell my story so that others may benefit from  what I saw
          in corporate America.  The book is not concerned solely with
          discrimination but on corporate culture. My objective in writing the
          book was to help corporate executives and employees of companies
          realize that any type of discrimination can be expensive. So if I can
          help one corporation, one employee, or  one executive to feel
          empowered and not to spend a great deal of money going through
          a court process, I feel  I have done my job. That is the reason why I
          wrote this book. My second book is not completed yet. I am one
          third through. It deals with service
          in America  and the impact service has on us.
GE:    What inspired you to become an author?
JA:    I had a story to tell that I thought would benefit
         a great number of people.  When I wrote the book,  it put a face to
         many of the people I saw
        during my career that were treated unfairly, and never had a chance to
         tell the
        story  about how they were treated in the work place.

GE:   Are they aware of this book?
 JA:    Yes. Most of the people I worked with are aware of the book.
          At this point I feel that  most of them are happy that I wrote the
          book. The book is written under fictitious names to protect the
          identity of people and to  move it forward.
GE:    It is situated in the food and beverage industry?
JA:    Yes. It is based also on a business model.
GE:   I hope you continue to find the enterprise financially rewarding.
 JA:   The book is self published by me,  through Book Surge.
         The ISBN number is owned by me. I didn’t write the book to be a
GE:   But at least you want to break even?
JA:    Yes. The book is doing very well. I was  recently invited to Hampton
         University to be on a panel. The book has also been launched in
         North Carolina.
GE:   Thank you for your time.
 Interview with Wahida Clark
GE:    Wahida Clark, I am told you are the Queen of ‘Thug Love Fiction’
 WC:  Yes. I  am the official Queen of TLF. I have seven  Essence
           Magazine best sellers under my belt, and one New York best seller.
           I  have  my own publishing company, W.Clark Publishing.
GE:     I notice here several of your books, including Thugs and the Women
          who Love Them (2005), Every Thug needs a Lady (2006),          
          Payback is a Mutha (2006) and  Thirsty Cheetah(2009).
WC:   Yes.  I have seven books under my belt. I am trying to keep it
GE:     Which is the most successful?
 WC:   Since this is a series started by Thugs and the Women who Love
          Them, buy the first one and you’re hooked.
GE:      How long have you been doing this?
WC:    I have been writing since 2003.
           I was incarcerated. I had two young children.
           My husband was also locked up.
 GE:    What inspired you?
WC:    Survival ……..and life’s experiences.
GE:      What advice for up and coming writers?
WC:     Become a student of the game, master the craft and write.
            Finish the books.
GE:       How? By studying other authors. Study the craft.
 WC:    Were you inspired by any particular writer?
 WC:    I am  a book junkie.  I read tons of authors,  from Christine
            Feehan to Donald Trump.
GE:      Happy to have met the Queen.

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