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By FREDDY MACHA 

Turning your life around or as the African American writer, James Baldwin  wrote in an essay for the New York Times in 1962:  “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

That expression suits Layla Mohamed Yahya. She flew from Zanzibar to the UK to get treatment for a defect in her heart. After treatment she settled here, studied, built a family and then boom! 

Through her daughter, Nawal, life moved to another dimension or as musicians say, “went to the bridge.”  Layla and family would take the child back home, in Zanzibar, regularly.  Aged only seven, Nawal was very touched upon seeing the condition of children in Zanzibar. 

Not all attended school and the main cause was poverty. Nawal convinced her mum to kick start a campaign to help these youngsters. That is how Bigger Heart was born in 2009. 

Since then, Bigger Heart has swung into an awesome Swansea based charity sending all kinds of help to Zanzibar. Swansea is known as the famous football team in Wales, but now has an added twinge from East Africa. 

There are a couple of Diaspora based Africans running charities helping folks on the continent. I know Abiodun Enilari Paseda a Nigerian who helps disabled people. His Focus on Disability Foundation is so dedicated to the course that it has not stopped during the pandemic. 

In May 2020 he made a plea to the Nigerian government saying despite us being told we need to wear masks, wash hands  and social distance, disabled people need more.  Another is Tanzanian Asseri Kitanga who before the onset of Covid-19 had (through the charity Computers 4 Africa) made 123, 750 children in different parts of Africa have access to computers. 

Lydia Olet from Kenya who uses her Malaika Dance group as a charity arm too. The hard-working lady has three charities one which she runs through the Kenya in the Park project in London. So it is no wonder Bigger Heart, is trending , shall continue trending and....and... And trends that benefit. 

A major section of Bigger Heart work is health and education. In education (steered by Layla's daughter - now in her late teens) there is an exchange of pupils between Wales and Zanzibar.  While children in Zanzibar study English their opposites in Swansea, learn Ki-Swahili and other positive values from Zanzibar.

This sort of collaboration not only helps the youngsters but also sets the tone. If we let impressively, young citizens grasp and ingest virtuous, righteous, quality things from one another it is a huge investment to future communities and nations. Living in harmony and peace helps transform economies thus making our planet a much better place to live.

Do you want to know more? Here are the contacts:

 http://www.biggerheart.org.uk/

Tel. +44-7376461397  

-Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

-Web: www.makalazangu.blogspot.com

 Freddy Macha is a Tanzanian born, London based writer and musician.

 

Kenya has withdrawn from International Court of Justice hearings on its dispute with neighboring Somalia over territory in the Indian Ocean.

A statement from Kenya's Foreign Ministry cited alleged “procedural unfairness” by the United Nations court and alleged bias by a Somali judge on its bench as among the reasons Kenya decided to no longer participate.

Kenya said it informed the court's registrar that even though the case was merited, the government thinks continuing the legal proceedings denies the two countries an opportunity to resolve the matter bilaterally.

“Kenya restated that it should not have been dragged to the court by Somalia merely because of the neighbor’s resurgent expansionist agenda,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Friday.

The statement said the court also was informed that influential third parties with commercial interests were fueling a case " that threatens to destabilize the peace and security of an already fragile region.”

Somalia filed the case with the International Court of Justice in 2014. The dispute centers around Indian Ocean maritime rights and boundaries. The area in dispute – about 100,000-square kilometers – is thought to be rich in oil, gas and fish.

In its withdrawal statement, Kenya cited concerns about the potential bias of International Court of Justice Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, a Somali citizen who previously represented Somalia at the Third United Nations Conference on the law of the sea.

Diplomatic ties between the two East African neighbors have become increasingly strained by the territorial dispute and recent accusations that Kenya was influencing Somalia's politics.

Somalia’s government severed ties with Kenya in December because of what it described as the imperative "to safeguard the unity, sovereignty, stability of the country.”

The announcement came as the leader of the breakaway territory of Somaliland ended a three-day visit to Kenya, where he was given treatment similar to that accorded to a head of state in meetings with the Kenyan leadership.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 as the country collapsed into warlord-led conflict and it has seen little of the violence and extremist attacks that plague Somalia to the south. Despite lacking international recognition, Somaliland has maintained its own independent government, currency and security system.

Somalia, however, considers Somaliland as part of its territory. Several rounds of talks over possible unification have failed to reach an agreement. By Tom Ondula 104.5Wokv

Photo The Observer

 

Eight people have been shot dead by suspected South Sudanese gunmen at Odujoa village in Nimule. The deceased include five South Sudan nationals and three Ugandans.  

The eight were attacked on Thursday night while fishing on the Ugandan side of River Nile, where they were surrounded by the armed men who were allegedly looking for their cattle. They said that their cattle had been stolen from South Sudan and taken into Uganda.

According to security personnel who preferred anonymity, seven armed men in plain-clothes attacked the fishermen and asked them whether they had seen their cattle. The source says that when the fishermen feigned ignorance, they were taken to the riverbank on the South Sudan side and shot dead.  

“The armed men opened fire on them killing the eight on the spot while one South Sudanese identified as Bosco Kenyi from Arapi village managed to escape,” the source said. Kenyi is currently admitted at Bilbao health centre III in Moyo sub-county.

A team of security officials led by Moyo resident district commissioner David Modo is making preparations to reach the scene of the shooting as arrangements have been made with the counterparts in South Sudan.  

In the past, residents of Gbari village have been attacked by gunmen from South Sudan. Last week, officials from Uganda and South Sudan met in Kajokeji town in South Sudan to discuss how to resolve the continued cattle raids, abductions and the general insecurity situation in the border areas. - URN/The Observer

 

Burundi's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) presented on Friday the results of its activities in Bururi, in the south of the east African state where Investigations, hearings and exhumations of victims of the 1972 ethnic crisis have been going on.

President of the TRC, Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said "the TRC has verified 68 mass graves. And it is only in 11 of these mass graves that we exhumed 1,455 victims of the 1972 crisis. The images of the mass graves show the unheard-of barbarity with which the victims were tortured and murdered."

Meanwhile, there are mixed reactions in the Burundi over the work of the commision. Some persons have accused the commission of leaning towards one ethnic group.

Tatien Sibomana, a politician in the country shares this view.

''The Ndayicariye Commission wants to make the national and international opinion believe that it is the Hutus who were killed. This is not true at all. He can sing it, claim it all day long, it will never be the truth of what happened.

Burundi's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was born out of the Arusha Agreement of 2000 for peace and reconciliation in Burundi.

More than 4,000 mass graves have been found in Burundi following an investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into conflicts since independence in 1962.

The commission, set up in 2018 to shed light on ethnic tensions, says it has identified 142,505 victims. - Africanews

 

A man holds a newspapers following the death of Tanzania's President John Magufuli. Photo Emmanuel Herman/Reuters

 

Zanzibar, Tanzania – Condolences streamed in from across the world on Thursday after the death of Tanzanian President John Magufuli, as many wonder how the East African country could change in the absence of a leader who was loved, loathed and feared.

In a televised address, the country’s Vice President Samia Suluhu said the 61-year-old president had died of a “heart condition” at a hospital in Dar-Es-Salaam, an illness she said he had been battling for the last 10 years.

“We have lost our formidable leader” she said. The country will begin a two-week mourning period, as funeral preparations are under way.

As with much of his five-year presidency, Magufuli’s health decline and subsequent death was marred by controversy. The president disappeared from public view in late February, leading to widespread speculation that he had contracted COVID-19.

As recently as last week, government officials said the president was in good health and working hard. Several individuals have been arrested for spreading rumours that the president was sick. The groundswell of speculation about his health came after Magufuli, who had previously played down the threat of the coronavirus, admitted that COVID-19 still posed a threat in Tanzania.

From infrastructure development to the suppression of political and civil rights, Magufuli’s leadership has left a significant legacy that many are yet to fully comprehend.

“You fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith” tweeted Humphrey Pole Pole, publicity and ideology secretary for the president’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, and prominent Magufuli loyalist.

The leader of opposition ACT Wazalendo party, Zitto Kabwe, described the situation as unprecedented and “one that will move us all in very personal ways”.

In a tweet on Thursday, lawyer and rights activist Fatma Karume described the Magufuli administration as a “horrendous” five years.

“But I am grateful and proud that I kept my humanity even when evil was the order of the day. Thank you to all who made these 5 years bearable” she said on Twitter.

Uncertain future

The Constitution provides that in circumstances of death, the vice president should assume leadership and finish the present term, until the next election.

As such, the soft-spoken Hassan, who hails from the semi-autonomous Zanzibar region, would become the first female leader in Tanzania and the East African region at large.

However, as of late Thursday, there was no confirmation about plans for an inauguration ceremony. The vice president will address the nation on Friday regarding burial arrangements for Magufuli, government spokesman Hassan Abbasi said on state TV on Thursday evening.

“During this difficult time, we look on the incoming president to provide the leadership and unity that we need. We wish her blessings, courage and patience” said Kabwe.

Her ascendancy to the presidency would raise questions about whether there may be a change in the direction of politics and policy in the country, particularly regarding the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and in the areas of civic and political rights; two sets of issues on which Magufuli had attracted sharp criticism.

Columnist and political analyst Elsie Eyakuze said she hoped that the opposition would find new platforms that would enrich and diversify public life.

“I envision that many restrictions pertaining to civic freedoms might relax, and I am anticipating a change in political flavour as happens with every incumbent. I cannot possibly speculate on what his death means for the ruling party. My hope is that we might return to the multiparty democracy we were working on developing between 1995 and 2015,” said Eyakuze.

Dan Paget, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, agreed it was too early to know how Magufuli’s death would affect the ruling party.

“It is not clear how the regime’s actions will change, but a new leader is an opportunity to wash away the sins of the past, in words even if not in deeds. I expect at least a feigning of reform, perhaps a change of course on COVID-19, and token liberalisations. Whether or not Tanzania changes its course on authoritarianism or anything else depends on to what extent there is a changing of the guard,” he said. - Sammy Awami, Al Jazeera

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