Banning women from the ballot: discrimination or part of democracy?

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Does Egypt national soccer team dops during African soccer Competitions ???

Egypt Football doping ????

I might be doing something biasing, but it seems to me like there is something the Egyptian national soccer team is hiding from us.
How would you explain the fact that the Egyptian team never wins or qualify for competitions organized by the FIFA, but dominates all competitions organized by the CAF (African Football Federation)? This has been going on for years, they are on the eve of winning their 7th ACN (African Cup of Nations), and 3rd in the row against the same teams they can’t win during world cup qualifiers; something is really wrong.
Lately, a local African newspaper had an article implying that some football experts in Algeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and other countries conducted a research in order to clarify this issue; they all came to the conclusion that Egypt national soccer team is doping during the ACN competitions. This team refuses any doping controls during the ACN (doping controls done by the CAF are not compulsory). Some Egyptian players refused to participate in the current CAN because they were scared to ruin their carriers when returning to their European clubs (drugs tests are compulsory in Europe).
It’s very strange CAF doesn’t force teams to do drugs tests before, during and after the competition. I guest, one way to know the truth is to test at least 3 to 4 Egyptian players after the final of the African nation cup, the tests should be done by the FIFA, not by CAF, and the tests samples shouldn’t go through Egypt, where the CAF headquarters is located, but directly to FIFA headquarters in Europe.

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Invasion of privacy or safe travel?

In the heat of such a discussion, it is always good to remember the fundamental rights citizens have.

The failed attack on a passenger flight over Detroit has aroused debate on the use of body scans at airports. The suspected bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, passed through airport security both in Lagos and Amsterdam without the explosive PETN powder he carried aboard Northwest flight 253 being detected.

In the heat of such a discussion, it is always good to remember the fundamental rights citizens have. Under the Dutch constitution for example, all people have a right to privacy (article 10) and the integrity of the human body (article 11). But in both articles the constitution says the right can be limited by formal law. In other words: these constitutional rights are not sancrosact. Still, because of the current state of affairs, they may be casually pushed aside under the guise of increased security.

The European Commission was an early adopter of the idea of using full body scans at European airports. But the initial release date planned for next year was pushed back by European parliament. British conservative Philip Bradbourn in a debate last year pointed out the "technology has the potential to turn a legitimate security concern into an unacceptable peepshow for security industries." He felt the dignity of innocent travellers was at stake.

Italian communist Giusto Catania said: "The mania for extracting ever more information that could be useful in the fight against terrorism is fostering an authoritarian interpretation of the rule of law." Others raised questions about possible health risks of the radiation wave technology.

The debate in parliament focused on the voluntary use of the body scan on passengers who object to being searched manually or simply prefer the quicker scan. European Commissioner for transport Antonio Tajani said the his Commission’s proposal only concerned "he application and use of body scanners in airports as a non-mandatory checking system". He also promised imaged would be "immediately deleted and absolutely not recorded".

In all likelihood, most passengers would opt for a sense of safety over their privacy and fear of a Big Brother-like governments. And Schiphol airport says it now has two scans that are fully automatic. The machines themselves rather than a person behind a screen can detect any suspicious objects underneath a person's clothes. This should reduce some of the privacy concerns.

But that is no reason to take the implementation of the body scans lightly. The arguments brought to the table by MEPs last year have not suddenly lost all merit. And what will be considered safe travel if tomorrow's terrorist doesn't take a plane, but boards the high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris wearing a bomb belt, remains an open question.

 

Should Balkenende step down over Iraq?

ENG-Davids-en-Balk

The Balkenende government seems to have narrowly averted a full-blown crisis by admitting that “in hindsight” it could have done better in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The admission did not come easily, following a day of tense deliberations between government parties.

The special committee of inquiry, chaired by retired supreme court judge, Willibrord Davids, did not mince words in its description of the political failures that paved the way to the invasion of Iraq.  Its conclusions resonate with critical appraisals of the decision-making process leading up to the war in the UK and the US: politicians based their views on poor intelligence data and they deliberately misconstrued the little information they did get.

The legal case for an invasion was exaggerated, with precedents from international law misinterpreted through wishful thinking. After a limited number of executives decided to go through with the war, little room was left for debate. These failures had varying political consequences in different countries.

Not all Western countries fell victim to what might be labeled groupthink. France and Germany, notably, refused to support the American invasion of Iraq, which makes the question why the decision making process in other countries had such a different outcome all the more relevant.

What do you think? What could the Netherlands have done better in the run-up to the invasion? Has Balkenende done plenty by admitting some fault, or has his position been so badly damaged that he should step down?

(NRC - 2010)

Debating with the extreme right parties in the Europe & the Netherlands

An issue that has been the subject of some heated discussion in the Netherlands over recent weeks is how to, or whether to, engage in public debate with the far right political parties like the Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders and Pride of the Netherland (TON) of Rita Verdonk. For those who may not be familiar with it, the PVV is a party that bases its political outlook on what it says is the need to ’secure a future’ for the ‘indigenous peoples’ of these little country and Europe as a whole. In other words, its raison d’être is a racial and discriminatory one: to advance the case for what we call ‘white’ people, and therefore by definition to oppose non-western immigration and policy measures to protect the rights and liberties of all those who don’t come from the racial groups it supports. This is reinforced by the fact that, until now at least, the party has no members, the leader of the party, Geert Wilders makes all decisions on his own, even parliament members of his party have nothing to say about policies of their movement.
The PVV also promotes a number of other policies, some of which are also race-related, and some of which are presumably intended to resonate with those who favour traditional or semi-mystical or xenophobic views of the Dutch people. It seeks a withdrawal from the European Union, deportation of immigrants who commit crimes, the restoration of traditional weights and measures, and so forth.
The PVV has been able to gain some electoral ground in the Netherlands, albeit only in certain settings and locations. It entered the European Parliament for the first time at the elections earlier this year, and it has been eligible to be able to gain seats on some local councils. The approach of all the established parties in the Netherlands has been to denounce it and to oppose its policies as racist, discriminatory and unacceptable.
One thing we all know, or at least should know if we have read and understood European history, is that the extreme right in politics makes use of economic uncertainty and in such a setting sows the seeds of racism, intolerance and bigotry, and that this can translate into major social unrest. It is I believe the duty of our societies to protect the values and principles that we have taken from the 20th century experience with fascism. However, when we encounter those who don’t share those values, what do we do? Do we ignore them? And if we take them on, do we allow them a public platform so that we can debate them?
I confess I am not sure what the correct answer is. I am uneasy about parties such as the PVV (Geert Wilders) and TON (Rita Verdonk) being given the respectability that an appearance on a prominent political television programme may suggest. On the other hand, I also hope that those who appear with them may be articulate enough to demolish them and their views. I think I shall be watching the programme, but will probably do so with a deep sense of uneasiness.

 

Ed'son de Pary (2009)

Will development aid really change because of Moyo risin'?

Dambisa Moyo during Wednesday's debate in Amsterdam.   Photo WFA
Dambisa Moyo during Wednesday's debate in Amsterdam.  Photo WFA

Published: 9 October 2009 16:57 | Changed: 9 October 2009 20:07

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, who advocates scrapping aid to Africa, creates a sensation wherever she goes. Her critics say she is nothing but a media hype, but she is nevertheless an African voice in a debate dominated by white men.

By Mark Schenkel

Dambisa Moyo has been described as the 'Ayaan Hirsi Ali of development aid.'   Photo Geraint Lewis
Dambisa Moyo has been described as the 'Ayaan Hirsi Ali of development aid.'
Photo Geraint Lewis
 

It was standing room only during Damisa Moyo's lecture on friday at the Veerstichting, a student organisation in Leiden. Just like on Wednesday in Amsterdam, Moyo delivered her message in a few strong sentences: "Stop all development aid to African governments. A trillion dollars have not helped. Aid has only corrupted Africa and made it inert."

Her book, Dead Aid, in which she makes the case against development aid, propelled her to The New York Times best sellers list early this year. Time magazine included Moyo (40) among the 100 most influential people on earth. African leaders ask for her advice. Everywhere she goes she creates a sensation, including in the Netherlands, where her book has just been published in the Dutch translation.

'She's cute'

The question is why. The criticism that development aid isn't working, or is counterproductive, is almost as old as development aid itself. And experts have torn Moyo's book apart because of its juggled statistics, one-sided interpretations and lack of a credible alternative to development aid.

Ton Dietz, scientific director of the institute for development issues at the University of Amsterdam, offers an explanation: "She's cute, glamorous and well-spoken. This works well in an entertainment-driven society."

Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib, also refers to Moyo as a 'media hype'. Karimi attended Moyo's lecture on Wednesday in Amsterdam, where an extra room had to be opened up to accommodate the hundreds of people who showed up. Karimi says it's a good thing Moyo has given the debate about the effectiveness of aid a new impulse, but she feels the "shortsighted" way she has done so is "inherent of the times we live in".

Karimi compares Moyo to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch anti-Islamcrusader. "In the end, what has Hirsi Ali really accomplished with her harsh criticism of Islam? She offered few solutions for the integration issue, and she polarised people. Who still talks about her now?"

Dietz is afraid the media's portrayal of Moyo as an expert has undermined the support base for development aid at a time when more nuance is what is needed.

'Very naive story'

The Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) is about to publish an evaluation of 60 years of Dutch development aid. Politicians and aid organisations are preparing for a debate about the fundamentals of policies. Development minister Bert Koenders has anticipated the criticism by announcing his own cuts in what he called the "aid industry". The right-wing liberals in the Dutch parliament want development aid cut by half; the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom (PVV) wants to scrap it altogether.

Jan Willem Gunning, a professor of development economics at the Free University of Amsterdam, was Moyo's promoter at Oxford. Gunning too calls Dead Aid "a media hype" and "a very naive story", but he is less concerned about the book's negative impact.

Gunning: "It is good that Moyo's African voice is being heard, because until now the debate has been monopolised by white men like me." He thinks readers will see Dead Aid for what it's worth. "My students browse through it to stay up to date, but they are not fundamentally changing their opinion because of it."

But Dietz is more worried about disgruntled voters who will never read Dead Aid or attend a Moyo debate, but only remember the sound-bites they picked up on the internet. He compares Moyo with Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders (PVV). "The same professionalism, the same extreme simplification of the message, the same lack of serious alternatives."

The subject of all this controversy sighs deeply when she is confronted with the criticism. Then she responds like she does during all her public appearances: driven, firm and self-assured. "I stand by everything I have written in Dead Aid," she says. "Western countries have had their chance in Africa. It is time for different solutions."

We voelen ons enorm tekortgedaan

En dus verwijten Nederlanders elkaar geen rekening te houden met anderen

Wat een grap!!!

Door Paul Schnabel

Zelfs tijdens een recessie maken Nederlanders zich vooral druk om het asociale gedrag van anderen. Zelfkritiek is er niet. Daar zijn we veel te bijzonder voor.
  

Onbewust asociaal is het motto van de honderdste campagne van SIRE. Een hoffelijke manier om horkerigheid te verontschuldigen. Erg vriendelijk, maar hebben we dan echt niet in de gaten dat we met onze muziek anderen erg kunnen hinderen?

Valt het lege colablikje zomaar uit onze handen en zien we niet dat de hond midden op de stoep poept? Hebben we in de volle trein werkelijk niet door dat iemand wil zitten op de plaats waar onze tas staat en zien we pratend in ons mobieltje echt niet dat er met grote letters ‘stiltecoupé’ op het raam staat? Natuurlijk wel en als anderen het ons aandoen, twijfelen we er geen moment aan dat onze belangen en rechten bewust worden genegeerd. Dat vinden we dan met recht asociaal.

SIRE heeft voor de nu lopende campagne een aantal van de meest voorkomende ergernissen in kaart gebracht. Op het eerste gezicht gaat het om relatief kleine vergrijpen tegen de wellevendheid, tegen de regel dat je anderen niet moet hinderen. Het wordt allemaal al wat heftiger als we na het SIRE-spotje in programma’s als Wegmisbruikers automobilisten eerst elkaar in gevaar zien brengen en vervolgens de verkeerspolitie horen uitkafferen. Een beetje op zijn Amerikaans verwacht je dan boeien te horen klikken en de wegmisbruiker wegens belediging van een ambtenaar in functie achter slot en grendel te zien verdwijnen. Helemaal niet, in Nederland vindt de rechter zelfs dat een politieman er maar tegen moet kunnen hufterig behandeld te worden. Dat kan hij gelukkig meestal ook. Je ziet de vrucht van vele uren psychologische training als hij op de treeplank van de auto gaat zitten en met het gezicht naar de bestuurder vriendelijk gaat uitleggen waar en hoe deze de fout is ingegaan.

Hoffelijkheid, inschikkelijkheid en wellevendheid zijn geen nationale deugden in Nederland. Tot op zekere hoogte zijn we daar ook trots op en dan heet het dat we zo eerlijk en rechtuit zijn. Iedereen geboren en getogen buiten onze grenzen zal eerder zeggen dat Nederlanders vooral bot en lomp zijn. In de zeventiende eeuw was dat al het internationale oordeel over ons, te beginnen bij de veel te grote vrijheid die aan Nederlandse kinderen werd gegund. Er is sindsdien niet veel veranderd. Als een Nederlander zegt ‘ik zal het maar eerlijk zeggen’, weet je dat er geen bekentenis maar een belediging volgt. Hoewel het wel wat verbeterd is, heerst in de Nederlandse horeca nog altijd de angst dat dienstbaarheid en service als slaafsheid en kruiperigheid gezien worden. Eén bezoek aan de Verenigde Staten is voldoende om te weten dat je heel dienstbaar kunt zijn zonder slaafs te worden. ‘Ja, maar dat menen ze niet hoor’, is dan de typisch Hollandse reactie. Nee, misschien niet, maar het is wel heel prettig.

Toen Sander van Walsum voor de Volkskrant correspondent was in Berlijn, schwärmde hij regelrecht over de aangename omgangsvormen in wat zeker niet als de meest hoffelijke stad van Duitsland bekendstaat. In zijn voor iedere internationale zakenreiziger onmisbare Native English for Nederlanders benadrukt Ronald van de Krol de noodzaak om in het Engels ongeveer minstens één keer per zin woorden als thank you, please of sorry te gebruiken. Wie dat niet doet, spreekt gewoon geen goed Engels en wordt gezien als een unspeakable oaf. Dat is een ontzettende pummel, zegt het woordenboek beleefd, maar in gewoon Hollands heet dat een ongelooflijke oetlul. Dat wil je niet zijn, maar in dit geval inderdaad onbewust zijn veel Nederlanders het wel.

De SIRE-campagne laat al zien dat het onvermogen of de onwil rekening te houden met de belangen, de wensen en de gevoeligheden van anderen toch ook door Nederlanders zelf hinderlijk gevonden wordt, zodra zijzelf de ‘anderen’ blijken te zijn. Simpel gezegd, ook de doorsnee Nederlander wil graag vriendelijk en voorkomend behandeld worden. Wie oud of gebrekkig is, hoopt dat in een volle bus iemand zijn plaats aanbiedt zonder dat je er zelf om hoeft te vragen. Wie durft dat trouwens nog? Een mes tussen je ribben kun je krijgen, heet het dan, al gebeurt dat gelukkig natuurlijk bijna nooit.

Meer dan 70 procent van de Nederlanders vindt dat in ons land de mensen met steeds minder respect met elkaar omgaan. Een nog iets hoger percentage is van mening dat het met de normen en waarden in Nederland meer de verkeerde dan de goede kant op gaat. Anders dan in bijvoorbeeld de Verenigde Staten richt de zorg zich dan niet op onderwerpen als abortus, euthanasie of het homohuwelijk – wij vinden op dit gebied de kritiek van de Amerikanen op ons ongepast en hypocriet – maar op de wijze waarop mensen met elkaar omgaan. Inderdaad, zoals minister-president Balkenende (CDA) pleegt te zeggen, ‘zo gaan we niet met elkaar om in dit land’.

Het probleem is dat we dat wel doen en anders dan de media is de bevolking het wel met Balkenende eens dat het hier een ernstig probleem betreft.

In het Continu Onderzoek Burgerperspektieven van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, maar recent in nauwelijks andere bewoordingen ook weer in de 2009-editie van 21minuten.nl, worden problemen in het samenleven en met normen en waarden steeds genoemd als de „grootste problemen”, als de zaken waar men „zeer negatief of boos over is of zich voor schaamt als het om de Nederlandse samenleving gaat”.

Ook in 2009 eindigen, ondanks crisis en recessie, normen en waarden steeds op de eerste plaats, boven inkomen en economie, boven criminaliteit en veiligheid, boven immigratie en integratie en ook boven politiek en bestuur. Overigens rangeren normen en waarden ook op de eerste plaats als het gaat om de zaken waar men trots op is, maar dan duidelijk in verbinding met de waardering voor de burgerlijke en democratische vrijheden.

De boosheid en de schaamte komen voort uit het idee dat er in de huidige samenleving sprake is van een groeiend gebrek aan respect, fatsoen, verdraagzaamheid en tolerantie. Meer dan 90 procent van de Nederlanders vindt andere Nederlanders te egocentrisch. Dat heeft iets tragisch en komisch tegelijk: in feite verwijt dus iedereen elkaar te weinig rekening te houden met anderen. Dat past weer wel heel goed bij het beeld dat in onderzoek steeds weer naar voren komt. Van zelfkritiek is nooit ook maar één spoor te bekennen. Het zijn altijd de anderen die moeten veranderen.

Dertig jaar geleden schreef Christopher Lasch The culture of narcissism, waarin hij vooral de leegheid van de eigenliefde aan de kaak stelde. Wat hij nog niet zag of in Amerika niet hoefde te zien, was de andere kant van het narcisme: de boosheid op en de afgunst tegelijk ten opzichte van iedereen die niet tot de eigen directe kring van partner, kinderen en vrienden behoort.

Dat zit als volgt. Aan wie wat verder weg van je staat, hoef je geen liefde, aandacht, erkenning of respect te geven, maar omgekeerd wordt dat juist wel verwacht. De echte narcist deelt immers niet uit, maar eist op. De anderen geven, ik neem. Als iedereen zich zo opstelt, verbaast het niet langer dat er zoveel ongenoegen in de samenleving is.

Is dat nu in Nederland sterker het geval dan in andere landen? Misschien toch wel, omdat dat wat we meestal als ons calvinistische erfgoed aan normen en waarden beschouwen wonderlijk mooi aansluit op de narcistische positie. De steilheid, zuinigheid en eerlijkheid die Johan Huizinga nu 75 jaar geleden al als nationale ‘geestesmerk’ herkende – met de daarbij horende zelfgenoegzaamheid die hem ook niet ontging – is in een ontzuilde samenleving van sinds de jaren zestig zeer zelfbewust gemaakte mensen veranderd van een karaktertrek in een houding ten opzichte van anderen.

We zijn niet meer streng voor onszelf, maar voor anderen. Die mogen niet wat we onszelf wel toestaan, geleerd als we hebben om voor onszelf te kiezen en het eigen gevoel tot uitgangspunt van ons handelen te maken. Wie gehinderd wordt door de muziek van anderen, de poep van andermans honden, de tas op de laatste zitplaats, voelt zich dan ook allereerst tekortgedaan in de erkenning van de eigen bijzonderheid. In wat we benoemen als een gebrek aan hoffelijkheid en inschikkelijkheid gaat het uiteindelijk niet om een zitplaats, maar om de ereplaats. De krenking is niet alleen dat er niet aan ons gedacht wordt, maar vooral dat er niet uitsluitend aan ons gedacht wordt.

Dat lijkt wat overdreven, maar de overdrijving zit dan toch bij degene die het zo beleeft, ook al zal hij zich daar niet van bewust zijn. De overdrijving van de bijzonderheid van de eigen persoon – dat is waar het om gaat bij het narcisme – verklaart niet alleen de vergroving van de omgang met anderen, maar ook het merkwaardige feit dat in een periode waarin veel mensen bezorgd zouden moeten zijn voor hun baan en hun bezit, ogenschijnlijk kleine bronnen van ergernis het beeld blijven bepalen.

Dat zal veranderen als de recessie een realiteit wordt in het eigen leven, maar dat betekent niet dat de mensen dan ook aardiger, meer verdraagzaam of sterker betrokken op elkaar zullen worden. Dat kan wel, maar alleen als we erin slagen de verandering niet van anderen, maar van onszelf te verwachten. Met een variant op een oude Chinese wijsheid: „Meester”, vroeg de leerling, „hoe word ik een aardig mens?” De meester: „Doe er eens een tijdje eentje na”. Bewust sociaal dus.

Paul Schnabel is directeur van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau en als universiteitshoogleraar verbonden aan de Universiteit Utrecht.

Corruption Is Why We Win

Philip Kisob Philip Kisob Managing Director at Hudson Partners Inc.

retrieved from LinkedIn |Cameroon Network Group

I have been guilty recently of getting all indignant about corruption and how it’s at the root of all evil. This I believe is why Africa is suffering from under-development and uncaring despots. If we could only curb corruption things would get better! Right?
I sent out about four emails in the last month to forum friends, quoting heavily from a Global Witness report “Undue Diligence: How banks do business with corrupt regimes”. The emails detailed how recent investigations tracked illegally gained oil kick-backs controlled by an Anguillan offshore company were deposited in a Hong Kong bank account and then lavishly spent with a credit card in procession of the President of Congo-Brazzaville’s son at designer boutiques in Paris. The amounts accounted for were incredible and disgusting. The leaders from Gabon, Congo, Angola and Equatorial Guinea were reported to be worth millions or billions. The report was the same old sad story of rich African leaders ruling over poor people and nations.
Four recent incidents have had me thinking about the “cancer” called corruption:
1.The British government suspension of self government in the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos because of fears of corruption.
2.A heated argument that I had with two English expatriates at a pizza bar in Anguilla. I pointed out the hypocrisy of the British government. Did they not know that Her Majesty’s Government sanctioned the largest corporate corruption deal in the history of man! I was referring to the BAE – Saudi Princes bribery cover-up that amounts to payments well over 8 billion dollars. (watch a great documentary on this scandal on PBS - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/blackmoney/view/ ) I didn’t bother to waste my breath on the petty cash involved in the House of Commons expense scandal that is still going on.
3.President Bongo of Gabon’s death – A man believed to have amassed a fortune of over two billion dollars during his 42 years reign of power.
4.Another vigorous discussion I had, this time in Maryland, with a Cameroonian attorney who claimed his president (Paul Biya) was corrupt free and only had a modest fortune of only $100 million dollars. After all he had been in power for 26 years and that amounted to a $3.8 million dollar a year pay package! My only knowledge of Mr. Biya’s net worth comes from a 1997 New York Times article that had his bank account at $75 million after 15 years in office (I make that $12 million a year). (NY Times October 5, 1997 - http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/05/weekinreview/the-world-in-africa-there-s-more-than-one-great-dictator.html )
Before you have me signing up as a volunteer for Transparency International, let’s just say that I remembered a great scene from the movie “Syriana” when an angry Texas oil man informs a US justice department lawyer that “Corruption is why we win”. No truer words have ever been spoken before in a movie!
The US government in the puritanical Carter days and post Watergate passed the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and have since been wagging their finger at the Europeans and the rest of the world for “sanctioning” corruption.
I have already mentioned the British BEA-Saudi affair; we were all shocked by the ten year investigation into Elf Aquitaine of France’s “caisse noir” and how the French government bribed and stole its way around the world. The ever-so-efficient Japanese can’t function without corruption. The World Bank estimates that corruption is a trillion dollar a year industry. So I would like to throw up a few questions:
•Could Corruption be a vital part and way of doing business?
•Should it be legalised and seen as justifiable commissions/bonuses (Wall Street Style)?
•Wouldn’t the newly legalised Black Money become more productive to the world economy?
Nobel laureate Milton Friedman said "Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations".

 

FLUSHING PAUL BIYA’S SHIT

09.13.2005

I have always wondered what a man like Paul Biya, France’s Cameroun puppet, who enjoys spending so much of his time in Switzerland and other parts of Europe thinks about after he takes a shit and flushes, confidently knowing that his shit will actually go down. I wonder what he thinks about when he’s sure that flipping the switch will turn the lights on in his sumptuous suite in the various European hotels he fancies so much. I say this because the vast majority of the people like him, Africans, who inhabit the country he’s been the titular president of for over 22 years do not have a toilet to flush, or the confidence that if they flip the switch, the lights will turn on. For many of Biya’s countrymen who have these amenities, it is always a gamble when they flush or flip.

For over 500 years, at the bottom of an economic system that has created massive amounts of wealth for humanity, has been the unrewarded toil of the African, first as slaves, then as the colonized. People like Biya make up that pedigree of Africans that Charles de Gaulle called the chiefs and notables, who in French-occupied Africa are cultivated and held personally responsible for power. They date back to the chiefs and notables who willingly sold fellow Africans into slavery, putting them as free labor for the creation of the wealth the west flaunts today. It really elicits pity more than anything else that people like Biya continue to allow themselves to be used for the perpetual fleecing of their fellow African and their  homeland in this day and age.

For those of us in the Southern Cameroons, whose political senses have become highly developed and tactile because of the burden of French brutal colonial rule in our homeland, we must analyze reports like these from Amnesty International differently. The companies involved in the consortium of the Chad-La Republique du Cameroun pipeline have signed agreements with the African chiefs and notables in Chad and La République du Cameroun, “that could force them to pay cash penalties for ‘disrupting’ operation of the 650-kilometre pipeline, even if they are intervening to protect human rights” must be noted with scorn, dismay and put in the proper context. This is evocative of the deal that had Haiti having to pay France reparations after a successful revolt against French colonial rule (a legacy that Haiti is yet to recover from), or SONARA paying royalties not to Victoria in the Southern Cameroons, but to Douala in La République du Cameroun. Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” could not be more apt in describing the black experience.

The irony of Amnesty International’s report should not be lost on Southern Cameroonians. It is increasingly apparent that the much ballyhooed glamour pipeline project is not making a difference for the better in the lives of the affected populations and peoples of Chad and La République du Cameroun. We must recall that studies carried out prior to the initiation of this project called for the most economical path for the pipeline to be via Victoria, at the Atlantic Coast of the Southern Cameroons. Nonetheless, the French and their colonial state of La République du Cameroun, knowing fully well that the Southern Cameroons, despite appearances, is not and has never been part of La République du Cameroun, made sure that the pipeline did not go through that foreign occupied territory. A territory inhabited by a people who the French and Camerounese disparagingly call “les Nigeriens,” “les Biafriens,” “les anglofous” and “les ennemis dans la maison.” France and La République du Cameroun therefore undertook the destruction of unique natural habitats and fishing communities in Kribi to make it known that the Southern Cameroons and her inhabitants, will never have even the most remote of possibilities at anytime in the future of ever reaping any so-called benefits from their 3.7 billion US dollars glamour project. Loïk Le Floch Prigent, the then President of the French petroleum company ELF, revealed and explained his role in the Chad-Cameroun pipeline project to the French daily L’Express in these terms: “My role was to persuade the Americans, discreetly, to have the pipeline go through the French part of Cameroon.” Monsieur Prigent, in an article written by François Bambou of La Nouvelle Expression in February 21, 2005 is also quoted as saying that “It is thanks to ELF that France maintains a presence in francophone Africa and is moving into other countries. So in Gabon, ELF has Bongo; while in Congo, it is true that even when it was Marxist, was still under the control of ELF; it is also true of Cameroun, where president Biya did not only take power with the help of ELF, but also to contain the Anglophone Cameroon community.” Mr. Prigent does not end there; he then purrs that Biya’s maintenance in power in 1992 was due to the resources of ELF whom Biya paid back with future petrol revenue from SONARA. Southern Cameroonians should also recall that the refinery in Victoria was only built after comical plans of transporting crude from the field in the Southern Cameroons to be refined in La République du Cameroun were ridiculed for the folly that it was.

Practices like these may in part answer the question of the mayor of Buea, Mr. Mbella Moki, who recently wondered aloud where the revenues and royalties from the black gold that emanates in the Southern Cameroons ends up. The other part of the answer is to be found in the colonial policy instituted by the French in the Southern Cameroons, and which they plan to institute in Bakassi, called “francophonisation forcée.” This policy according to Mr. Aboya Endong Manasse, a lecturer in the Law and Political Science Department at the University of Douala, writing in Le Monde Diplomatique, said the political alienation of the Southern Cameroons was intended to completely wipe her out economically. In that December 2002 (No. 585) issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, Mr. Aboya Endong Manasse writes about the strategy implemented by Ahidjo, obviously on the advice of his ubiquitous French experts, lawyers and assorted technical advisers, intended to “completely rid the anglophone part [Southern Cameroons] of all of her economic levers. Such that SONARA based in Limbe [Victoria] in the anglophone part, curiously continues to pay a large percentage of her receipts in royalties to Douala, in the francophone part.” He continues by saying that, “this policy of economically extinguishing [the Southern Cameroons] has been reinforced via a strategy of political alienation.” This will also be the French master plan for the Bakassi Peninsula. This is what old France is doing in Côte d’Ivoire masquerading as the New Forces (a name even George Orwell will envy).

The French, especially, have always been clear in their policies in Africa as an unequal partnership between the center—Paris, and the periphery—their African colonial states. This underpins the French droit du seigneur attitude of: “we the French, who understand the souls and mentalities of the African natives, are superior human beings, and any and all business conducted in our periphery must be done on our terms or with our blessing.” This has come to mean that Africans or African institutions that resist this doctrine must be destroyed even if it means sponsoring genocides like in La République du Cameroun in the 1960s and Rwanda in 1994. In the Southern Cameroons, this translated in the destruction of the market oriented economy that was in place, the destruction of the democratically elected government that ruled the country and the Native Authority (NAs) local governments, the destruction of the legislative bodies that represented the people and their interest, the emasculation of the Southern Cameroons independent judiciary and her Common Law system, and in targeting of individual entrepreneurs like Fomenky Direct Supplies, Nangah Company, Kilo Brothers, Che Company etc. etc. for destruction.

The authors of the agreement cited by the Amnesty International report that perpetuates the dehumanization of the black race are the same people who benefited from African slavery and colonialism. The Africans who work with them like Biya in La République du Cameroun and his counterpart in Chad are integral members of the françafrique club. Only people like these will sign contracts in this century that basically says the human dignity of their fellow citizens-- the owners of the land--comes at a prize. This is slavery all over again. The people of Chad and La République du Cameroun are paying a severe prize: in a lost way of life, in lost land, in lost income, in lost opportunities, in lost dignity, in disease, and in premature death. They remain amongst the most repressed people in the poorest countries on earth that are heavily indebted, and having presidents who have sworn allegiance to French Masonic Lodges against the interest of their own people whose citizenship and humanity they should share. La République du Cameroun is hoping to extend these ravages to the population of Bakassi as they have in the rest of the Southern Cameroons.

Today, La République du Cameroun continues to send her officials overseas to beg for money as a proud and shameless member of the poor and heavily indebted club even after the oil is flowing from the 3.7 billion US dollars project that now sells for over $60 a barrel. La République du Cameroun’s partner in this glamour project, Chad, is of course doing just as well. The BBC reported last Monday that because of consistently going for months without pay, “Chad’s biggest workers’ union UST – brought N’Djamena to its knees, with hospitals, government offices and post offices deserted.” The BBC report continued that “At one stage in August, even deputies at the National Assembly threatened to strike because they claimed not to have been paid for two months.” But both Chad and La République du Cameroun, with presidents-for-life, are sitting on a 3.7 billion US dollars oil project.

When next France’s Cameroun puppet, Paul Biya and his friends enter one of his new planes on another one of his incessant trips to Europe, he must understand that a human mind was behind that invention; that a human mind is behind the sewage system that carries his shit from his toilet in Switzerland, human beings maintain that sewage system so his shit does not back up on him; the satellite systems that deliver the images and sounds he and his friends enjoy, whether in his jungle palace or in European cities, are all the inventions and the doings of the human mind. The hospitals and clinics he has the benefit of patronizing on his European holidays are all the workings of people with a mind like the Africans he and the French system that sustains him so ungodly dehumanize. For this human mind to accomplish these things he leaves his jungle Palace to go and enjoy in Europe, it must live in peace and dignity to pursue the inventions and doings that give people their dignity. Africans too must have the same rights of citizenship that the French have in France and the Swiss in Switzerland. Only then can they give themselves and their fellow Africans the same amenities and luxuries that he leaves behind to go avail to himself and his friends in Europe. The humanity and dignity of Africans should not be offered at an altar of greed and evil to a consortium of oil companies, in the process sacrificing any opportunities for them to lift themselves and their families to a life of hope and pride in the only place on earth God in all his wisdom created for them.

It is obviously too late for the Biyas of the world to change, or to effect change in their countries even if they wanted to; they have taken oaths in Masonic Lodges in Paris that bind their fates personally to the enslavement of their people; but a new Africa must be born on the ashes of their wasted lives. For us in the Southern Cameroons, the journey will begin and end at home, free at last from the evil virus emanating from Paris and infesting the African continent.


Stephen Joseph
Moderator, Southern Cameroons People Forum

The Observing Citizen

by Ed'son de Pary

During a political debate in the Netherlands, right-wing politicians couldn’t help it pointing at foreigners as origin of all the flaws’ in this country. Political leaders like Marc Rutte (VVD), Geert Wilders (PVV) or Rita Verdonk (TON) said foreigners who do not want to participate in this society should be shown the doorway or shot in their knees.
It’s true, there some bad apples out there, who do not want to make any effort to achieve something in their own lives, there are others who do a lot, but only for the interest of the own country of origin; I mean, they work and send all the profits back home.  However, during this whole debate, no one said anything about the walls and glass ceilings foreigners come across when the try to participate in this society. Take for example those looking for a place in a university or some college, seeking a job or at the locket of public services. At all these places we time and again come across close doors, or bizarre treatment because we don’t look alike.
Those are all realities not taken into account when politicians ask citizens of non-European decent to participate in this society.
A while ago, I went to the Rabobank to open a new bank account; the bank director kindly informed me that, contrary to my Dutch friends, I was only allowed to have an account without credit allowance, because I am a non-European citizen.  It was very frustrating for me, because I saw myself making an effort to participate, but was stopped short selectively.
I carried on, went to a computer store to buy a Macintosh computer. This store had a sales, whereby you could purchase a PC, get a €100 value gift-card, and pay in ten different installments. I said to myself, this is my chance. So I registered with all the required documentation needed, I was refused that possibility, because, again, I am not from western decent they told me.  I took my frustration once more home and started to wonder how big and deep the gap between the politicians who ask us (non-European citizens) to participate, and the reality, the people actually responsible for enhancing the required taken measures.
The direct consequence of my little experiences, and surely that of many others out there, is that; to fully participate as a non-Western citizen in the Dutch society, you need to forcefully apply for the Dutch nationality. I emphasize on ‘Forcefully’.
Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I am not interested in becoming a Dutch citizen. My theory of become citizen of a country is that, you have to give your heart to that country, so, I don’t see how one could give his or her heart to several countries at the same time.
I am a Cameroonian citizen, and I love my country very much, I want no other passport than that of Cameroon. Now, I am faced with a couple of choices; I could migrate to somewhere else where there is no discrimination based on peoples’ nationality, I could apply for the Dutch nationality, or I could simply chose not to participate in this society.

The facts cited above leads to the next national discussion in the Dutch society; the question of double nationality. Facing so many blocks, I could imagine someone applying for the Dutch citizenship for all the wrong reasons. When my economical situation or that of my family is out in question, I could apply for citizenship, because it comes with certain benefits. So you create a new category of citizens who simply became citizens for practical reasons.
Don’t get me wrong when I say I love only Cameroon, I mean by that, that I am a patriot (sometimes firmly nationalist) and therefore only loyal to my country. It doesn’t mean that I do not like the Netherlands, I really do, that’s why am here in the first place, but ‘like’ & ‘love’ are very distinguish adjectives.
Having faced these contradictions on the field myself, I became aware of the bitter sense of reality most politicians in the Netherlands lack, when trying to score political points. During the discussion about the double nationality, no one, not even the media evoked these types problems non-Europeans come across when trying to participate in this society, no one even mentioned discrimination during recruitments, etc, because most people involved in societal discussions have never been faced with the reality of what they are talking about. It’s really a pity to see people jeopardize important issues for the sake of populism.

De zaak over Shell in Nigeria had niet in New York, maar in Nederland geschikt moeten kunnen worden

Het recht op een schoon milieu moet ook in Nederland worden verankerd

Gepubliceerd: 11 juni 2009 14:04 | Gewijzigd: 12 juni 2009 13:46

Buitenlandse slachtoffers van verrichtingen van Nederlandse bedrijven moeten in Nederland verhaal kunnen halen, menen Ruud Lubbers en anderen.

Door Ruud Lubbers e.a.

Demonstratie van leden van de Nigeriaanse Ogoni-gemeenschap tegen oliegigant Shell, eind mei in New York.   Foto AP
Demonstratie van leden van de Nigeriaanse Ogoni-gemeenschap tegen oliegigant Shell, eind mei in New York.
Foto AP

Shell en de nabestaanden van de geëxecuteerde Ogonileider Ken Saro-Wiwa hebben maandag hun rechtszaak geschikt. Deze zaak, die klaarstond om door een New Yorkse jury te worden beoordeeld, is hiermee tot een eind gekomen na dertien jaar juridisch gevecht. Shell betaalt 15,5 miljoen dollar als gebaar aan de nabestaanden, ter compensatie van schade en leed. Echter, ook andere Ogoni-mensen hebben geleden. Met 5 miljoen dollar van het schikkingsbedrag zetten de nabestaanden daarom een fonds op ten gunste van het Ogonivolk.

Voor alle partijen is dit een goede oplossing: voor de nabestaanden zijn de rechtszaken nu afgelopen. Die procedures hadden immers nog jaren kunnen voortduren als er hoger beroep zou worden ingesteld. Zij kunnen nu hun leven op een positieve manier invullen. Shell is verlost van veel negatieve publiciteit. Deze schikking kan voor Shell ook een nieuwe basis bieden voor verder overleg in de Ogoni Delta. Het zal de dialoog met belanghebbenden bij de oliewinning in Nigeria bevorderen.

Terug naar Nederland. Anno 2009 toont deze zaak ons twee lacunes in het Nederlandse recht. Wij kennen geen recht op een schoon en gezond milieu en wij bieden slachtoffers van internationale mensenrechtenschendingen geen mogelijkheid om hier naar de rechter te stappen.

Waar ging de zaak over? Wiwa junior is de zoon van de in 1995 geëxecuteerde advocaat, schrijver en schoon-milieubepleiter Ken Saro-Wiwa uit de Ogoni Delta in Nigeria. Wiwa junior had het olieconcern Shell gedagvaard voor medeplichtigheid aan milieuwandaden, moord en marteling van het toenmalige militaire regime van generaal Abacha. Dat het Nigeriaanse regime mensenrechten had geschonden, werd al in 1996 vastgesteld door een VN Fact-finding Mission onder leiding van de Indiase rechter Justice Malimath.

De Afrikaanse Commissie voor de Mensenrechten kwam in 2002 met een zeer interessante uitspraak over de kwestie. Naast politieke rechten bevat het Afrikaanse Mensenrechten Handvest het recht op een schoon en gezond milieu. De Commissie vond dat het Nigeriaanse bewind dit recht had geschonden door aan oliebedrijven de ruimte te geven de Ogoni Delta te verwoesten. Het recht op levensonderhoud was ook geschonden, omdat vervuilde rivieren en landbouwgrond minder vis en producten opbrengen. Dit terwijl de overheid de rechten van haar burgers had moeten beschermen.

Een recht op een schoon en gezond milieu is ook in het Amerikaanse Mensenrechtenverdrag opgenomen en in honderd nationale grondwetten. Dichterbij huis is het met dit recht slecht gesteld. Dit recht is niet in de Nederlandse Grondwet noch in het Europees Verdrag voor de Rechten van de Mens opgenomen. Er moeten spoedig stappen in die richting worden ondernomen.

Ook op een ander front is het in Nederland met het recht slecht gesteld: de mogelijkheid voor slachtoffers om in Nederland verhaal te halen. Wiwa junior moest zijn heil zoeken in New York, in plaats van in Nederland of Engeland, de thuislanden van Royal Dutch. In de VS biedt een bijzondere wet aan (niet-)Amerikanen de mogelijkheid een rechtszaak aan te spannen wegens internationale mensenrechtenschendingen, ook als deze in het buitenland gebeurden. Als Nederlander en Europeaan zouden we ons moeten schamen dat Wiwa’s familieleden niet in Nederland terechtkunnen met hun klachten. Hier is werk aan de winkel voor onze parlementariërs.

Dit punt komt ook prominent naar voren in het vorig jaar verschenen rapport van professor Ruggie, de speciale VN-vertegenwoordiger op het gebied van mensenrechten en bedrijfsleven. Hij stelt vast dat overheden mensenrechten moeten beschermen en bedrijven mensenrechten moeten respecteren. Bovendien moeten ze samenwerken om slachtoffers verhaal te laten halen. Ruggie adviseert bedrijven om zorgvuldig onderzoek te doen – binnen hun eigen bedrijf en bij partijen waarmee ze samenwerken – om zeker te weten dat zij niet (indirect) meewerken aan mensenrechtenschendingen. De maatschappij verwacht maatschappelijk verantwoord gedrag van bedrijven en zeker van multinationals vanwege hun grote macht en invloed.

Komt een negerin bij de dokter

In literair opzicht stelt 'Alleen maar nette mensen' weinig voor en is de bekroning ervan met de Gouden Uil een belediging voor  literatuurliefhebbers, vindt Stine Jensen.
Robert Vuijsje is ineens overal. Verhit debatteert men over het vermeende ‘seksisme’ en ‘racisme’ in Alleen maar nette mensen. Dat boek gaat over een Joodse jongen die eruitziet als een Marokkaan en op zoek is naar een intellectuele negerin (hersens, maar cup 95F, ‘dikke bil’) die zich maar niet laat vinden. Sommige vrouwen zijn boos omdat zij zich niet herkennen in de stigmatiserende beelden van ‘de zwarte vrouw’ die Vuijsje schetst (Anousha Nzume in de Volkskrant); anderen vinden juist dat ze een interessant kijkje krijgen in een bevolkingsgroep (negers) en een wijk van Amsterdam (de Bijlmer) die ze nog niet kenden (Hanneke Groenteman in het tv-programma Vrouw en Paard). Het feministische platform Women Inc. organiseerde zelfs een debat met Vuijsje over de stereotypering van de zwarte vrouw in zijn boek.
De beeldvormingskwestie vindt men zó belangrijk dat dagbladen en tijdschriften zelfs overgaan tot het afdrukken van opinieartikelen van mensen die schrijven dat ze het boek nog niet gelezen hebben, maar alvast kwijt willen hoe leuk ze het vinden dat een witte man valt op ‘negerinnenbillen’ (Manouska Zeegelaar in de Volkskrant) of hoe dom het is dat zwarte en witte vrouwen zich iets aantrekken van een boek dat toch duidelijk ‘roman’ op het omslag heeft staan. (Stephan Sanders in Vrij Nederland).
Vuijsje zelf raakt er een beetje van in de war. Dan weer verdedigt hij zich door te stellen dat het om ‘fictie’ gaat, en dat hij heus zelf niet zo dom is als zijn personage David, dan weer vindt hij dat hij laat zien hoe mensen ‘echt’ praten als er niemand bij is, en dat hij gewoonweg niet zo ‘politiek correct’ is. Hij zou zich - denk ik- beter kunnen verdedigen door te stellen dat zijn boek niet zozeer over zwarte vrouwen gaat als wel over een Joodse bruine man met een pathologische obsessie voor negerinnen. De volgende vraag zou dan natuurlijk zijn of het boek daarover werkelijk iets interessants te melden heeft. En dat staat of valt dan weer met de vraag of de hoofdpersoon dan wel de schrijver, zich reflexief verhoudt tot zijn obsessie.
Tot nu toe overschaduwt de beeldvormingskwestie de vraag naar de literaire kwaliteit van
Alleen maar nette mensen. Literaire critici zijn opvallend stil in het debat. Ik zou graag zien dat een jurylid van de Gouden Uil een toelichting gaf bij de beslissing Vuijsjes boek uit te roepen tot het belangrijkste literaire werk van het jaar. Vuijsje ontving de Gouden Uil met een stilistisch argument betreffende zijn ritmische dialogen: „Vuijsjes dialogen swingen als een Afrikaanse tiet, het ritme zit strakker dan een negerinnenbil in een te kleine legging met luipaardmotief.” Ook werd hij genomineerd voor de prestigieuze Libris Literatuurprijs; het rapport sprak van een „onorthodoxe en gewaagde vertelling” en een „prachtige vorm en inhoud”. Critici als Pieter Steinz en Elsbeth Etty waren al eerder onder de indruk van de originaliteit omdat eigentijdse communicatie werd opgenomen, zoals msn- en sms-dialogen. Alsof Kluun nooit is gedebuteerd.
Laten we even zo’n briljante dialoog in heel eigentijdse msn-taal bekijken.
David zegt: Aloha
Naomi86 zegt: Hi
David zegt: Alles goed?
Naomi86 zegt: Ja hoor, en met
jou?
Deze chat- en sms-sessies en andere ‘inhoudsloze dialogen’ en ‘half afgemaakte  gedachten’ zouden juist zo raak zijn omdat ze laten zien dat de ‘moderne tijd’ is doorgedrongen (juryrapport Libris Literatuurprijs). Zo lust ik er ook nog wel een. Natuurlijk, het boek is vlot geschreven. Maar zou je dit boek ooit een tweede keer willen lezen vanwege de stijl? Staat er ook maar één fraaie beeldspraak of ontroerende, voortreffelijke zin in?
Laten we  eerlijk zijn. Alleen maar nette mensen laat zich in stilistisch opzicht het beste vergelijken met de vlotheid van Kluuns Komt een vrouw bij de dokter: man neukt lekker veel in de rondte, gaat flink vreemd, en zegt het allemaal ‘eerlijk’ hardop. Heerlijk controversieel en lekker interessant. Eigenlijk doet het me sterk denken aan Heleen van Royens Godin van de Jacht, de vrouwelijke pendant die, heel provocatief, als witte vrouw op zoek gaat naar een lekkere grote zwarte negerlul. Als Vuijsje een ‘treffende zedenschets van bepaalde milieus’ heeft geschreven, dan hebben Kluun en Van Royen dat natuurlijk ook en moeten zij ogenblikkelijk met terugwerkende kracht genomineerd worden voor de AKO, de Libris en de Gouden Uil.
De vraag die ertoe zou moeten doen, is wat mij betreft dus niet of Alleen maar nette mensen ‘fictie’ is of niet, maar of het ‘goede’ fictie is. Dat heeft te maken met stijl en met inhoud. Alleen maar nette mensen had een beregoed boek kunnen zijn. Wat het boek inhoudelijk interessant had kunnen maken, is het aspect van een Jood die eruitziet als een Marokkaan en daarom een buitenstaander is. Je zou zelfs ook kunnen stellen dat Vuijsje een stereotype ontkracht: Joodse mannen – zie David – kunnen heel dom zijn, en dik, en hoeven niet over te lopen van verbaal talent of zelfreflectie. Dat zou je verfrissend kunnen noemen. Misschien dat hij – David – daarom zelf ook denkt dat hij meer kans maakt met een negerin: in zijn eigen sociale klasse komt hij niet aan de bak. Vergelijk het met een dikke Amerikaanse postbode die in Thailand op zoek gaat naar een gedepriveerd meisje. Maar omdat David uit een intellectueel milieu komt, is hij op zoek naar een intellectuele negerin. Wat een intellectuele negerin nou precies zou moeten met een domme jodenjongen als David wordt niet echt duidelijk. Over die Joods-Marokkaanse identiteitscrisis gaat het helaas maar een paar bladzijden, en helaas pas echt overtuigend op het einde. De ‘ironie’ die het boek tot een satirische zedenschets zou moeten verheffen, is dan eigenlijk allang doodgeslagen door bladzijdenlang vermoeiende neukpartijen. Met negerinnen.
Vrijwel de enige, terechte kritische opmerking over de literaire waarde van Alleen maar nette mensen kwam van de critica en schrijfster Marja Pruis. Zij schreef in haar column in De Groene Amsterdammer: „Vuijsjes stijl doet nogal klompendanserig aan. Zijn boek is goed geschreven zoals boodschappenlijstjes goed zijn geschreven.” Alleen maar nette mensen is ongetwijfeld ‘geëngageerd’, onmiskenbaar een boek over ‘de multiculturele samenleving’ volgens het motto ‘integratie door penetratie’, maar is het een goede roman? Kom nou, daarvoor stelt het boek in literair opzicht echt te weinig voor. Het is misschien een  ‘geinige’ belediging voor zwarte vrouwen en het intellectuele milieu in Oud-Zuid, maar bovenal is de bekroning met de Gouden Uil en de nominatie voor de Libris een belediging voor alle literatuurliefhebbers.

 

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edsondepary

Quotes of the Day

Was Bakassi Sold or Just a Gift to Cameroun?

Was Bakassi Sold or Just a Gift to Cameroun?

I am neither from Cross-River nor Akwa-Ibom states but as a Nigerian which I am shall always remain eternally grateful to Olusegun Obasanjo and Bola Ajibola, a duo of two Yoruba who as an act magnanimity either sold or presented our own Bakassi peninsular as a gift to Cameroun. As I write this piece, I express my bitterness on this very matter because in history no elder statesman for any reason will display such an unpatriotic willingness to part with the territory of his or her country. This team, which also comprised of Chief Richard Akinjide has since seen the man (Richard Akinjide) regretting the action of Obasanjo pointing it out as one of the wrongs done by this man (Obasanjo) to his nation.



Suffice it then that the people of Bakassi were either not considered important to Nigeria as a nation or there were just certain things known to Obasanjo and Ajibola outside the knowledge of Nigerians, all of these things are still shrouded in mystery. Surely our leaders are incapable of protecting us.



The focus of this article is that very aspect of the foreign policy of Obasanjo pertaining to Bakassi peninsular. Bakassi can be likened to Obasanjo as June 12 is to Babangida. June 12 however became more prominent because the Bakassi are minorities with almost nobody to advocate or fight their cause in the political entity called Nigeria. It remains the biggest injustice Obasanjo perpetuated on Nigeria. Obasanjo swore to the oath of allegiance to protect the territory of Federal Republic of Nigeria thereby upholding the constitution of the country but he would readily and weakly fail in this. Obasanjo and Bola Ajibola provided the platform under which the territory of our nation was given out to France and Cameroun, an act only as good as condemnably obnoxious because it led to the denial of Nigerian citizens. The whole drama was set out to please Britain, France and Cameroun by Obasanjo and Ajibola for the reasons not yet disclosed to Nigerians.




HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The nature of the claims by both Nigeria and Cameroun is what is known international relations as irredentism being “an act of advocating or agitating for the reunion to one’s country territory (ies) which is (are) naturally or culturally relocated to it, and which has (ve) been lost to a foreign country. The Bakassi peninsular is an area of some 1000km mangrove swamp and half submerged islands known as the Bight of Bonny (previously known as Bight of Biafra). The Bakassi is located in Cross-River state of Nigeria and its indigenes are Efiks who are by occupation fishermen.



It is important to understand here that the colonial powers are to blame for this crisis because of the injustices they visited on Africans of which Bakassi is not an exception. It is also unnecessary to point out here that colonial powers sat down in Berlin and arbitrarily demarcated drew maps of Africa in 1884 and 1885 leaving African countries with no rhymes in ethnic character and complete meaningless boundaries. This situation has therefore led to wars on some occasions and international legal disputes, which almost remain impossible to solve.



The Nigeria-Cameroun dispute can be traced to the so called July 23 and September 10 1884 treaty which Queen Victoria of Great Britain entered with the king and chiefs of old Calabar province with King Honesty vii and Edward Hyde Hewett representing Bakassi and Britain respectively. Other kings and chiefs in the region also signed acknowledging the protection of their territories from external aggression by Britain. Expectedly, the British were granted the rights of trade over the administration of justice and taxation.



1885 ANGLO-GERMAN TREATY

In 1885, Britain entered in another treaty in which she ceded all the regions she had earlier recognized as the jurisdiction of Obong (King of Calabar) to Germany, an act that greatly contravened the earlier 1884 treaty. This resulted in controversy as the chiefs of the territories totally rejected and committed themselves to the new treaty still binding on them.




JULY-AUGUST 1886 TREATY

This particular treaty between Britain and Germany sought to rectify the anomalies created by the imprecise demarcations of the boundary. This failed to make the achievement of much that was expected and much of problem having to do with these were carried over.




1906 TREATY

Again in 1906, both Britain and Germany agreed to make certain boundary adjustments when it was discovered that certain anomalies still existed, mutual agreement or understanding were to be utilized if the need arose.




THE MARCH AND APRIL 12, 1913 ANGLO-GERMAN TREATY

This agreement turned out to be the last of the agreements between Britain and Germany yet the most contentious because the Bakassi indigenes protested against this. Britain and Germany had redefined maritime boundary in such a way that Akpayafe River and the entire Bakassi peninsular had been placed under the German authority. Bakassi indigenes again sent representatives to London office in which the traditional rulers of Calabar argued that Britain could not have given out Bakassi because Britain did not own it. Britain did not own Bakassi by conquest but by free and peaceful protection treaty. The British in their imperial and arrogant reasoning rejected and ignored this. This treaty was never ratified neither did Germany take control of the province until the outbreak of the World War II in 1914. As a matter of fact, the treaty was never completed.



International Relations observes have pointed out that the lack of ratification of the Anglo-German treaty fuelled the Bakassi peninsular crisis which enabled both Nigeria and Cameroun to continually lay claims to the ownership of the peninsular, this also made possible the various declarations made by both countries.




DECLARATIONS BY BOTH COUNTRIES

THE NGOH/COKER DECLARATION OF 1971

In 1971, experts from Nigeria and Cameroun reportedly marked the maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroun, these two countries met in Lagos Nigeria but in its infamy denied Nigeria the legitimate right of ownership and control of Calabar River channel and transferred it to Cameroun. This was later rejected by Nigeria because Calabar channel had remained under the territorial and sovereignty of Nigeria from time to time immemorial. The Nigerian government on quickly realizing that this was suicidal to the territorial integrity of the country took series of steps to reverse the declaration. Cameroun backed by France would stick to its gun leaving no stone unturned.




THE MAROUR DECLARATION OF 1975

Exactly four years after the Ngoh/Coker Declaration of 1971, Nigeria and Cameroun entered into another round of negotiation aimed at resolving the palaver, by this time Nigeria had hoped to correct the adverse effects of the 1971 declaration, which she was suffering. Gen. Gowon the then Head of state failed to internationally score a point against Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroun who had the full backing of France. Before Gowon who personally represented Nigeria would meet with Ahidjo, Ahidjo had obliterated the identity of Nigerian settlements while replacing them with Camerounian indigenous names, a situation that killed Nigeria’s claims to the peninsular and diplomatically put Cameroun ahead of Nigeria.



Gen Murtala Mohammed who emerged as the president in 1975 rejected the agreement entered by Gowon, thus the Nigerian government blatantly refused to ratify Marour Declaration, declaring that the agreement was flawed and prone to shortcomings. In 1977 Obasanjo repeated the action of Murtala stating that all the accords regarding the Bakassi peninsular were biased and lacked the way forward for the determination of the true ownership of the territory.




SPORADIC CONFLICTS

Cameroun resorted to the employment of violence in seeking to affirm its claim of ownership of the region as advised by France; this was however aimed at attracting the sympathy of the international community. This caused Nigeria to lose a lot of lives and properties in this territory.



(i) The first of these cases was in 1981 when the world woke up to hear of the killings of six Nigerian soldiers by Camerounian gendarmes in the Bakassi peninsular

(ii) February 6, 1996, the most violent of such hostilities took place. An account has it that fighting broke out when some Camerounian gendarmes stationed at Atabong east portion of the peninsular seized the catch of a Nigerian fisherman off the coast and ordered hi to return to Ibaka in Akwa-Ibom state of Nigeria. A Nigerian Army officer who witnessed the act regarded it as an affront and beckoned on the fisherman to return to Atabong west for debriefing. The gendarmes then opened fire on both the Nigerian soldier and the fisherman wounding the Army officer seriously. The gendarmes who were in patrol boat returned to base within minutes opened fire again on Nigerian positions.

(iii) In May 1996, 13 Nigeria soldiers who ran into the ambush of Camerounian gendarmes along the creeks of Bekoro and Gidigo escaped death while some of them were seriously wounded. Still the Nigerian military did not take an action either for fear of possible intervention of France or “Big Brother” role.

(iv) Again in May 1997, the Nigerians who lived on the northern side of the Bakassi peninsular reported how Camerounian gendarmes who also took over their villages afflicted and tortured them.

(v) July 1997, Camerounian gendarmes captured some 300 Nigerians living in the territory and detained them in their underground prisons in Manaje under inhuman conditions. Still the Nigerian Military led by Obasanjo was not spurred to action to defend its citizens or what at best was their own.

(vi) In 2007, reports had it that some armed men in the peninsular driven in gunboat opened fire killing six Camerounian soldiers. While the Camerounian government insistently claimed that Nigerian soldiers were responsible for the killing, the Nigerian government would deny this shifting the blame to the Niger-Delta militants who also denied the allegation. Cameroun in their typical manner, the following day opened fire on Nigerian soldiers killing an undisclosed number of them. He Nigerian Military took it with strange silence



It is pertinent to add here that while Cameroun troubled Nigeria in the Bakassi region, Nigeria did not consider it appropriate to take any action or at least a drastic measure aimed at addressing the sad situation whether militarily or otherwise outside the failing treaties she continued to enter into. Any nation which values the lives of her citizens would have asked and gotten solution quite earlier. We trust that nations like USA, Britain, Russia, France, Iraq, China, Argentina, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Pakistan, India, Libya, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Morocco etc would have chosen the battlefield rather than losing part of their territory as did Nigeria.



Between July 2 and March 11, 1998 hearing of the dispute at the International Court of Justice commenced and in October 202, the ICJ gave its infamous ruling in favour of Cameroun. He ICJ in its ruling erroneously maintained that colonial imperialism took precedence over the inalienable rights of ownership of land by Nigerian inhabitants, the court further ruled that all lands and territories comprising of Nigeria are specified in the constitution of Federal Republic Nigeria. ICJ did not bother to conduct plebiscite in Bakassi to determine the opinion of the people.



According to Chief Richard Akinjide Nigeria lost to Cameroun because:



“France was against Nigeria, and at that time, the president of ICJ was a French. Also, Britain was against Nigeria because Britain knew that if Nigeria won, the illegal transfer of Bakassi in 1913 through the Anglo-German treaty would expose Britain for breach of trust. Therefore, you have two powerful members of the ICJ opposing Nigeria. All the laws and the facts (both in international and municipal laws) were in favour of Nigeria, and we canvassed that. We have some of the best brains in international and municipal laws, and they were assembled at the ICJ for the case. But they still ruled against us” (Haste to Hand Over Bakassi was not only a Blunder but also Indecent Nigerian Tribune, Sunday 25, November 2007)



Consider my candid personal opinion that Nigeria (Obasanjo and Ajibola) erred by accepting to appear before the ICJ as the same Nigerian government erroneously, misguidedly and naively believed that the ICJ will be impartial just because we do not learn from history in this country. The ICJ is owned by UNO, UNO by USA, Britain, France, Germany and the ICJ is the instrument of power as well as political and economic conquest of poor countries of Africa and Asia.



The United States was dragged before the ICJ by Nicaragua twenty-six years ago. Nicaragua won the case against USA but the judgment has not been implemented till today by the USA. In the maritime problem between Norway and the United Kingdom, which was referred to the ICJ, the judgment remains unimplemented till this day. In another case between France and the United Kingdom, the judgment, till now have never been implemented. So, why did Obasanjo resort to indecent haste in implementing the Bakassi judgment? Only time will tell us.



USA declared war and used Atomic bomb on Japan because Pearl Harbor, its supposed possession was invaded by Japan. Britain went to war in 1982 with Argentina over the ownership of Falkland Island in an undeclared war. Israel continues to enjoy the possession of Palestinian territories backed by the USA shunning every of the resolutions the UN has issued against her. Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Morocco, Spain are some of the countries with similar problems. Yet these countries exist today. France advised Cameroun to report to the ICJ because the president of that court was a French citizen and Nigeria (led by Obasanjo) in her typical manner failed to make a quick and firm diplomatic calculation. Any leader seeking for genuine judgment would having learnt of the citizenship of the president of the court would have protested against this and appeal for the leadership of the court by another national. Ordinarily, the people of the Nigeria Delta in Nigeria understood and used it against Ibrahim Gambari and it worked out.



Cameroun was also able to achieve this result with the deployment of warships by France to the region in February 1994. Cameroun and France were obviously ready to employ force if the need had arisen while Nigeria was all out to give out Abuja if only peace could be maintained. We all know that in this country our leaders lack the faintest idea of what the ordinary citizens are facing in this country, it was therefore very convenient for Obasanjo and Ajibola to majestically sit in their palaces and make policies detrimental to the ordinary citizens of this nation. Ajibola would just not choose to remain quiet and let the National Assembly clear the mess himself and Obasanjo his mentor caused us instead he would occasionally visit the press and warn the National Assembly on the dangers of not ratifying the cessation of the territory to Cameroun just to quickly cover up the mess. History will surely remember them both.



The ICJ has ridiculously ruled that the territory of Bakassi belongs to Cameroun but the indigenes Nigerians because the court realized that while the citizens were of paramount importance to Nigeria, Cameroun and France were only interested in the oil believed to abound in the region.



We thank our National Assembly for standing firmly on the side of the Nigerian masses to refusing to ratify the cessation of the territory to France and Cameroun. Our African leaders have always been ready, hasty and desperate to please the western world because of their personal gains and this must surely meet ultimate resistance. Bravo to our National Assembly





Emeka Esogbue hails from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria. He is is a History and International Relations graduate with lots of tremendous published and unpublished works. In this work, he has faults the judgment of the ICJ on Bakassi peninsular describing it as biased and tilted against the favour of Nigeria, aided by USA, France, Britain.


emekaesogbue@yahoo.com

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How to deal with sexual abuse by clergy

They should be convicted

Sexual abuse of young children is a crime. But few Catholic priests who committed it will be standing trial anytime soon.

Most of the recently revealed abuse scandals took place decades ago. In many Western countries, including the Netherlands, they have exceeded the statute of limitations for such crimes.

To prevent this from happening in the future, the Dutch minister of justice has argued the statute should be suspended for sexual abuse, meaning perpetrators could be prosecuted indefinitely. As is already the case for crimes that carry a possible life sentence, such as murder. However, since the constitution does not allow for retroactive changing of the law, this proposed legislative shift would only apply to future cases.

The question remains how to deal with the clerics now accused of abuse. A prominent Labour politician, and Catholic, has suggested the institution of a “truth commission” charged with looking into scandals in the Netherlands. The Catholic Church has already set up a committee to hold a “completely independent” investigation.

What do you think is the best way forward? Should the public prosecution still find a way to go after the priests or should other measures be taken inside or outside the Church? Will suspending the statute of limitation for future crimes of the same nature make a difference?

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Who should pay for unhealthy lifestyles?

Who should pay for unhealthy lifestyles?

Thursday 17 December 2009 by NRC Handelsblad
Who should pay for unhealthy lifestyles?

Americans know it as the Pottery Barn Rule: you break it, you own it. But when it comes to health insurance, everybody foots the bill for those who are the least careful with their bodies, in the Netherlands anyway.

A question recently raised by the chairman of the Dutch association of medical insurers, whether people who smoke, drink and overeat until they are ill are entitled to the benefits of collective heath insurance has led to strong debate.

One of the arguments for a ‘Pottery Barn’ system is people may be more motivated to improve their lifestyle if it costs them, financially.
But medical specialist, physicial Frank Visseren amongst them, have now come out against penalising people for unhealthy lifestyles. His argument? It just doesn’t work. According to Visseren, people are far more motivated to quit smoking, moderate their drinking or diet and exercise when they feel they can draw on support from medical staff and friends – rather than be punished for failing to meet standards they might feel are out of reach.

What do you think? Are you sick of paying for the medical treatment of people who have only themselves to blame for their condition? Or do you think we should all share in the burden of people suffering, even if they have brought it upon themselves?

Re: Who should pay for unhealthy lifestyles?

I certainly believe that every individual should be directly responsible for their lifestyles. If you live healthy, you shouldn't be responsible for the hospital-bills of people who think that everything is possible, someone has to pay the bills.
I believe in a country which has a strong social structure and culture, but it has to be sustainable, otherwise, we would only be passing the bills to our kids and theirs. So individuals with unhealthy lifestyle should bear the costs themselves period.

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Father’s day | Mother’s Flaws

Father’s day | Mother’s Flaws

The first thing we all have always been proud about in western institutions is the taboo about taboos. We can openly discuss every societal theme, under the cover of freedom of speech and democracy.

There are some themes though which are still struggling with taboos: talking about women flaws, having any discussion about Jewish people (or Israel), and the Islam.

Today I want to bring my personal contribution to braking one those taboos by opening a societal discussion. Let’s take the first cited taboo, for size purposes:

I have always been so astonished about the silence of the society when it comes to criticizing women. It’s almost impossible to tell a woman that she misses some knowledge about bringing up a child, or to tell her that she is a bad mother. It’s difficult to tell a lady that she has put up some weight. It’s almost impossible to start a discussion about who is best fit to keep a child after divorce.

Yesterday, this guy was nominated “Father Of The Year 2009” in the Netherlands. He divorced his wife, normal phenomena in our society. He wanted just one thing, which is to be able to see his son from time to time. This guy was prevented by all means to see his own child. In the meantime, his wife brainwashed the child during his childhood about all types of false obscenities about his father, with as result that the child began hating and being afraid of his father.
Every time something like this happens in the society, it generates all types of discussions and debates on radio’s and TV’s except one: does a woman have the right to take away a child from his or her father? Can one parent decide to translate her grunge after divorce to the eternal pain of her children (ripping their father from their lives)? Nobody has ever asked this question in the media, and I wonder why.

I would like first to say I am not a sexist or any one of those other names.
I just think there are some things one ought to pay attention on. There are in the Netherlands alone more than 500.000 children who never knew their fathers simply because their mothers for some reason didn’t want them to. That’s crazy. Keep aside criminal fathers, crazy fathers, rapist, pedophiles etc. which we all agree ought to be held far far away from any children, normal responsible fathers are being prevented from seeing their children for some reason the mothers should have had.
We have witnessed recently some parents that shot-dead their whole families, we also saw parents that kidnapped their own children. These are all things that wouldn’t contribute for any welfare of a child. In each of these cases, the mothers were invited in TV studios, they let some tears flow, everybody sympathized, and the men (fathers) were the devils again. Nobody dares to ask the responsibility of the mothers in the dispute.
Do you really think a mother should have the right to prevent healthy fathers to see their children, whatever be the reason of their divorce, which has nothing to do with the kids?

Re: Father’s day | Mother’s Flaws

Hey Edson,
Ik ben het voor een groot deel eens met jouw opinie dat moeders kinderen niet bij de vaders vandaan moeten houden! Wat de reden ook is van de vrouw, als de man niet schuldig is bevonden aan een strafbaar feit, zoals in joiuw collum beschreven, zal de moeder de vader de kans moeten geven een relatie op te bouwen met zijn kinderen. Vanuit mijn vakgebied, de pedagogiek, is hier menig woord over geschreven. Bijna alle pedagogen zijn het er wel over eens dat een goed contact tussen de vader en zijn kind(eren) een positieve invloed heeft op de ontwikkeling van de kinderen. Moeders zijn hierbij een sleutel. Zij kunnen de relatie dusdanig manipuleren dat de kidneren een haat ontwikkelen ten opzichte van de vader. Hierover wordt in een scheidingsprocedure wel degelijk aandacht aan besteed.Natuurlijk zijn er ook ouders, moeders die hier geen oor voor hebben en daarmee het leven van hun kind onnodig belasten met rare gedachten over de vader in kwestie. Het kan ook een onvermogen van de moeder zijn, daar ze zeer waarschijnlijk erg gekwetst is en de frustraties niet op een adequate manier weet te uiten. Allemaal niet goed te praten natuurlijk! Ik wilde je alleen even zeggen dat in deze westerse maatschappij, als de Nederlandse wel degelijk aandacht besteed wordt aan de houding van de moeder ten opzichte van de vader in therapiën en dergelijke.
Greez,
Annelies

Re: Father’s day | Mother’s Flaws

In je afsluitende stelling spreek je in termen van 'recht hebben op'.

Ik vind het betreurenswaardig dat een scheiding tussen twee volwassen mensen in zoveel gevallen uitloopt op een juridisch gevecht waarin de kinderen gevangen zitten.

Ik kan mij heel goed voorstellen dat een scheiding zulke heftige emoties teweeg kan brengen dat verstandig nadenken geen optie lijkt. Wanneer een koppel besluit uit elkaar te gaan na het krijgen van kinderen, dan vervalt hiermee echter ABSOLUUT NIET de verantwoordelijkheid ten aanzien van de kinderen. In alle gevallen dient men het welzijn van het kind als uitgangspunt te nemen.

De ouders zouden, zonder daarbij de eigen emoties de boventoon te laten voeren, in situaties die betrekking hebben op het kind, díe keuze moeten maken die in het belang is van het kind. Dit betekent vaak dat je de kinderen contact moet laten houden met de andere ouder, en je frustraties over je ex buiten de kinderen moet zien te houden.

In mijn ogen is niet in de eerste plaats het afhouden van het contact met de vader, maar eerder het handelen uit angst/boosheid/eigen'belang' slecht voor het welzijn van het kind.

Mijn stelling (wanneer we in termen van 'recht' spreken) zou zijn: "kinderen hebben het recht op ouders die in het belang van hen (het kind) handelen". (In dit geval) moeders bij wet verplichten de kinderen contact te laten hebben met de vader indien hij dat wil, is niet perse in het welzijn van het kind als deze ondertussen door een of beide ouders bestookt wordt met negativiteit over de ander.





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Do non-European citizens have a real chance of integration in the Dutch society?

Do non-European citizens have a real chance of integration in the Dutch society?

Stop fulling yourself dude, there is no chance. These arguments very often are just used for political reason, in real sense they want us all out.

Re: Do non-European citizens have a real chance of integration in the Dutch society?

So what are your arguments for these assertions then?

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Alleen maar nette mensen

Seulement des Gens chics

C’est l’histoire de ce Juif qui ressemble étrangement un néerlandais d’origine marocaine. Robert Vuijsje relie ici l’histoire d’un garçon de Amsterdam que l’on aurait confondu un marocain alors qu’il était Juif. Il relate le fait que la présence des ressortissant étranger non européen soit rejeté dans certains quartier amsterdamien, et le fait que qu’il ait été oblige d’avoir une ‘Négresse’ lettrée pour être accepte dans cette société.
Cet écrivain utilise tous les moyens possibles pour dépeindre une situation qui selon lui ne serait pas juste aux yeux du monde. Pour atteindre son but, il se tape dans la réalité même une copine de peau noire.
Un nombre de faits m’agasse dans ce livre «Alleen maar nette mensen » en français ‘Seulement des gens chics’, traduction libre;
Première du fait que presque tous les néerlandais le félicite pour cet œuvre, et qu’il ait reçu un prix littéraire en Belgique. Les Belges et Néerlandais disent de ce fait qu’ils peuvent apprécier une comédie qui relai des faits, ou qui peuvent engendrer le débat sur des thèmes qui minent notre société. Je vis en Hollande depuis neuf ans déjà et je peux vous dire que ce n’est pas le cas. Ces gens-ci sont très amusés lorsqu’on se moque des autres, pourvu que ce soit les « autres ».
Le deuxième fait est qu’il nomme le noir ‘Nègre’, qui est une expression que je n’aime pas, car me ramenant a la période de la traite négrière. Mais aussi le fait qu’il caractérise la personne noire de tout ce qui peut être négatif, instiguant ainsi tous les préjugés connus ici dans cette partie du monde.
Troisièmement parce que lors d’une émission télévisée pendant laquelle l’auteur parle de son livre, il y ait des femmes noires (Surinamiennes surtout) dans le publique qui se font passer pour de noirs soi-disant moderne qui disent vraiment apprécier ce livre pour le fait que cela leur fait rire, une bonne comédie disent-elles ; quelle idiotie ! Écrit ce genre de livre à propos d’un Juif, néerlandais ou marocain, il n’y aurait pas assez d’espace pour abriter tout le monde.

Ce qui me gêne le plus n’est pas du tout le fait que ce livre concernant les populations noires d’un quartier d’Amsterdam soit écrit et publiée. C’est surtout le contexte dans lequel on le place et la façon avec laquelle la critique du livre est faite. Je suis convaincu du fait qu’un tel livre en Hollande, parlant des Néerlandais de la même façon créera un tôlé . Je suis convaincu qu’un tel livre dans quelque point du monde que ce soit parlant des Juifs de cette façon créera une colère générale des Juifs et non Juifs.
Je suis écœuré du fait que dans ce pays le double standard soit continuellement appliqué pendant les débats publics sur les sujets de société. Si les européens ne sont pas en mesure de débattre les problèmes de société leurs concernant, je ne peux pas accepter qu’ils en discutent les nôtres. Je suis ouvert a débattre qui que ce soit sur quelque problème de société que ce soit, pourvu que ce soit des problèmes de « société », et pas des problèmes de ma « ma société ». Car, je suis convaincu que tout les problèmes de société se trouvent dans toutes les sociétés du monde, ce n’est qu’une question de variante qui les diffères.

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Forum 3

The Integration problems in the West

What’s the problem with integration in Europe? Why can the US which has more immigrants than Europe solve immigration problems where Europe fails? Why is Western Europe often confronted with its aliens compared to the US where the legal aliens and the autochthonous population live next to each other in peace?

Re: The Integration problems in the West

Hi, you do not know me. I came across your blog on Linked In. You are right in all the arguments you cited here about Integration of aliens in our country. The only thing you need to know is that the political reality in the Netherlands is such that the political situation does not allow us or create the possibility to take real hard decisions. We please the immigrants in other to win their votes on the one hand, on the other hand our politicians don't have enough balls to make the right decisions.These factors have created a situation in which rogue politicians like mister Geert Wilders has become very popular, meanwhile he has no real solutions for the problems you are citing. The US give people chances to succeed, but also make it clear to them that their success is related only to their hard work. Some other political parties like the SP and the CDA are afraid to adopt a point of view with strategical reason towards the election.
So, you are right, we are just cowards who don't dare confront our aliens, and also we do our best to keep them under our standard level by practising positive discrimination. Believe me, I am really ashamed of the mess, but that's the way it is now. We are sorry...

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A Real and Usefull God

A Real and Useful God

God has managed the amazing feat of being worshipped and invisible at the same time. Millions of people might describe him as a white-bearded father figure sitting on a throne in the sky, but none could claim to be an eyewitness. Although it doesn't
seem possible to offer a single fact about the Almighty that would hold up in a
court of law, somehow the vast majority of people believe in God--as many as 96
percent, according to some polls. This reveals a huge gap between belief and what we call everyday reality. We need to heal this gap.

What would the facts be like if we had them? They would be as follows. Everything that we experience as material reality is born in an invisible realm beyond space and time, a realm revealed by science to consist of energy and information. This invisible source of all that exists is not an empty void but the womb of creation itself. Something creates and organizes this energy. It turns the chaos of quantum soup into stars, galaxies, rain forests, human beings, and our own thoughts, emotions, memories, and desires. In the pages that lie ahead we will see that it is not only possible to know this source of existence on an abstract level but to become intimate and at one with it. When this happens, our horizons open to new realities. We will have the experience of God.

After centuries of knowing God through faith, we are now ready to understand divine intelligence directly. In many ways this new knowledge reinforces what spiritual traditions have already promised. God is invisible and yet performs all miracles. He is the source of every impulse of love. Beauty and truth are both children of this God. In the absence of knowing the infinite source of energy and creativity, life's miseries come into being. Getting close to God through a true knowing heals the fear of death, confirms the existence of the soul, and gives ultimate meaning.

Our whole notion of reality has actually been topsy-turvy. Instead of God being a vast, imaginary projection, he turns out to be the only thing that is real, and the whole universe, despite its immensity and solidity, is a projection of God's nature. Those astonishing events we call miracles give us clues to the workings of this ineffable intelligence. Consider the following story.
In 1924 an old French villager is walking home. With one eye lost in the Great War and the other severely damaged by mustard gas in the trenches, he can barely see. The setting sun is bright, so the old man is completely unaware of the two youths on bicycles who have wheeled around the corner and are barreling down on him.
At the moment of impact an angel appears. He takes the lead bicycle by its two wheels, lifts it a few feet in the air, and sets it down safely on the grass beside the road. The second bicycle stops short, and the youths become tremendously excited. "There are two! There are two!" one of them shouts, meaning that instead of just the old man alone, two figures are standing in the road. The entire village becomes very worked up, claiming afterward that the youths were drunk or else they made up this fantastic tale. As for the old man, when he is asked about it, he says he doesn't understand the question.
Could we ever come to an answer ourselves? As it happens, the old man was a priest, Père Jean Lamy, and the appearance of the angel has come down to us through his own testimony before his death. Lamy, who was saintly and beloved, seems to be credited with many instances where God sent angels or other forms of divine aid. Although reluctant to talk about them, his attitude was matter-of-fact and modest. Because of Lamy's religious vocation, it is easy to dismiss this incident as a story for the devout. Sceptics would not be moved.
Yet I am fascinated simply by whether it could have happened, whether we can open the door and allow helpful angels into our reality, along with miracles, visions, prophecy, and ultimately that great outsider, God himself.
We all know that a person can learn about life without religion. If I took a hundred newborn babies and filmed every moment of their lives from beginning to end, it wouldn't be possible to predict that the believers in God will turn out to be happier, wiser, or more successful than the nonbelievers. Yet the video camera cannot record what is happening below the surface. Someone who has experienced God may be looking on the entire world with wonder and joy. Is this experience real? Is it useful to our lives or just a subjective event, full of meaning to the person having it but otherwise no more practical than a dream?
One bald fact stands at the beginning of any search for God. He leaves no footprints in the material world. From the very beginning of religion in the West, it was obvious that God had some kind of presence, known in Hebrew as Shekhinah. Sometimes this word is simply translated as "light" or radiance. Shekhinah formed the halos around angels and the luminous joy in the face of a saint. It was feminine, even though God, as interpreted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is masculine. The significant fact about Shekhinah was not its gender, however. Since God is infinite, calling the deity He or She is just a human convention.
(*) Much more important was the notion that if God has a presence, that means he can be experienced.
He can be known. This is a huge point, because in every other way God is understood to be invisible and untouchable. And unless some small part of God touches the material world, he will remain inaccessible forever.
We personify God as a convenient way of making him more like ourselves. He would be a very perverse and cruel human, however, to remain so hidden from us while demanding our love. What could possibly give us confidence in any kind of benevolent spiritual Being when thousands of years of religion have been so stained by bloodshed?
We need a model that is both part of religion yet not bounded by it. The following simple, three-part scheme fits our common-sense view of God. Shaped like a reality sandwich, this scheme can be pictured as follows:
God ---------- TRANSITION ZONE ---------¬Material world

The picture is not new in its top and bottom layers, placing God above the material world and removed from it. God must be separate from us, or else we would be able to see him here, strolling about as he did in the Book of Genesis. There, after the seven days of creation, God walked in the Garden of Eden, enjoying his handiwork in the cool of the evening.
Only the middle element of our diagram, called the transition zone, is new or unusual. A transition zone implies that God and humans meet on common ground. Somewhere miracles take place, along with holy visions, angels, enlightenment, and hearing the voice of God. All of these extraordinary phenomena bridge two worlds: They are real and yet they are not part of a predictable cause-and-effect. To put it another way, if we stubbornly cling to material reality as the only way to know anything, scepticism about God is totally justified. Miracles and angels defy reason, and even though holy visions may be catalogued time after time, the rational mind remains defiant, defending its sure grip on the material plane.

Re: A Real and Useful God

When I saw this passage in his book, I was simply astonished by the depth of his thoughts. Deepak Chopra has a very simple philosophical way of viewing the world. Every time I raid his books, I am almost obliged to be happy with his thoughts on things I practically disagree with. Some time ago, I reed his book
"The seven spiritual laws", I couldn't imagine things could be so simple, I kept asking myself, why no one had thought of these ideas before!! This guy just has a talent to make others agree to disagree.

Nb: You are free to react in Dutch as well!

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Forum 2

Could development assistance be smarter?

For years now, Western countries have contributed billions of currencies to solve the problems in third world countries. Unfortunately enough, the result is not that flattering. So we should ask ourselves these questions: why is it not working despite all this money and diverse ways of doing?
Do we really want to solve the third world problem? How is it possible that people so smart as they are in the West, are not able to come up with an intelligent strategy?
What’s wrong with “Investing in the people of the third world”?

Example: Oxfam Novib is supplying Chad every year with Rice collected from the Western countries; Chad produces more rice than most of the contributing countries. Why doesn’t Novib create a modern rice production company in that country and employ the Chadians partly to do the job while training them to run the company themselves in the future?
Doing this, in the long run, you make these people independent, and your grandchildren won’t need to do what you are doing now with the grand children of the Chadians you are helping now.
This is just one type of many possible solutions that could be implemented with future orientations. How is it possible that I can think this far with my little mind, and the rest of the western society can’t?
Or am I missing something?

Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Edson,
I have worked couple of years in micro-credit development programs in North Africa where I got contacts with many African organizations working in development and fighting of poverty.
In my opinion, the main problem lies in the corruption in these countries, I believe, and experienced, that only small percentage of what the European contributes goes to the real people who need it. You mentioned about the rice example but check how the distribution system is till it reaches the people who need it.
Instead of blaming the person who help (even if they are not honest about their plan), I think people there and their leaders particularly should look at what they should do to improve their economy based on their own capabilities (personally although I don’t believe in socialism, I think it is good starting ideology for these countries to stop corruption and believe in their power, they can then later switch to more western model, the same as most eastern European and middle eastern countries did).

Re: Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Rudy,
Interesting what you are proposing, but that’s no way to a consistent solution to 'Aiding' itself, it’s just a means to good governance.
That’s why I say invest instead of sharing food or aid in general, if Novib start a company locally and run it for a couple of years with help of the locals, I doubt that corruption would be a problem.
Take a country like Rwanda which has refused all forms of aid from the West or elsewhere; that country is doing much better now than before, without that free aid, people became conscious of their needs and the ways to get them.
I am not blaming the West of anything, but I doubt the methods used are the way to go. Corruption is a disease in the third world (98 % of Middle East, Africa, Asia and some East European nations included), but the aim of the aid till now has(mostly) been to help the poor, and not the governments. If the poor also get corrupt with that help, then there is something wrong with the aid-system; I prove my point.

Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Hi Ed'son,

Development assistance can certainly be smarter. However, the main interest of development aid is not to develop the countries purportedly being assisted, but to extend neoliberalism. The West creates jobs for its citizens, as the South develops a dependance syndrome.

How else would you explain why the US offers poor countries food aid made up of seeds that cannot germinate? The maize offered to the hungry is genetically modified and cannot be planted! So the poor have to permanently depend on the donors.

Are you aware that most aid given is conditional. Sometimes poor countries are forced to buy expensive utilities from the rich countries, yet they can be be acquired elsewhere at a cheaper rate.

Sometimes the so called assistance is spent on useless workshops, seminars and the latest versions of SUVs. Are you aware of the obscene amounts money coordinators get per month, yet their local counterparts who actually do the work get a pittance!

Last week's Time magazine had a very good article on Africa. It questioned why Bono of U2 and Geldof should be the spokesmen for Africa. It wondered whether America can now accept Amy Winehouse to advise them on the credit crisis!

What the poor need now is not development aid but trade and jobs. That will make a difference.

Re: Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Ali,
Thanks for your reaction. I hope your Dutch is good enough by now, because this article wrote by Marcia Lyuten in NRC makes your point.

http://edsondepary.webnode.com/news/marcia-luyten-op-discussie-ontwikkelingssamenwerking/.

Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Ed'son,

One of the reasons why organizations (years ago) have chosen their way in supporting, is the good-feeling of their donors. That donors wanted concrete projects, pictures of poor people and 'thanks-letters' from welldressed (from donors money) children.
A little twenty years ago we supported Terres des Hommes in such a way. In those years developmentworkers made realize that kind of organizations to find out another way of supporting.
They then were on the horns of a dilemma. The result: after changing the concrete projects (not anymore identified families or children, but villages or projects - building schools etc) many donors contributed less or got out.
Things 're going better last years, isn't it?
But improvement never finished
In the dutch blog you wrote: don't give them a fish but teach them to fish. May be the development can be found te change the subject.
Financial support is of minor importance I think. Supporting people to extort democracy, having a say in the matter is the major (but nog the only) one ! Nevertheless: if they haven't any food today: give them a lot of fish!

Re: Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Jan,
Thank you for your reaction.
You see, behind the lines of your reaction, I read you saying that in the aid process, the interest of the donors is more important than that of the receiving parties. That’s why it’s not working.

In fact I am happy there are people out there thinking about others and trying to help the poor. It would have been very sad if it were otherwise.
But as they say it here in Holland;“Je hebt je best gedaan schat, is niet goed genoeg”. If you want to do something, do it right, or don’t do it at all.
You are also right when you say if people are hungry now, give them a lot of fish now, so the question to you is; since people will always be hungry, how long will you be giving them that fish? In this country, I see a lot of people hungry now, but I don’t see anyone giving them any fish. Maybe learning people over there to be hungry a little bit longer is an option to consider.

To this purpose, I saw this discussion in the NRC handelsblad about this issue. In that article, an African guy (I think a Cameroonian [from his name]) called Paul Mbikayi react to an article wrote by a Dutch anthropologist called Marcia Luyten who did some sort of research in Uganda. (See article)/ http://weblogs2.nrc.nl/discussie/2009/03/21/moeten-we-stoppen-met-het-geven-van-ontwikkelingshulp/#comment-121598

Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Maybe if we really shared something, like a common interest, a common investment... but we just "give" and we just feel better. Obviously that's not the answer.

Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Interesting topic you want to discuss here…
Do we really want to solve the third world problem? Good question. How tempting and easy it would be to say: yes, of course we want to! We don’t want people to live in terrible circumstances or have people dying of hunger!
While the truth is we don’t really want to solve the problem, in fact, we need the poor people living in sometimes terrible circumstances in order to live as we do in Western countries. Right now, the whole world is trapped in the economic system of capitalism. You can’t escape it. Capitalism is an economic system that creates and widens the gap between the rich and the poor. The poor are part of the system as the rich are. In fact, the rich need the poor to be rich. The system, after all, is all about the stronger group taking benefits of the weaker group in order to grow even stronger.
So, shortly, if we really would want to solve the problem of the poverty in developing countries, there are two solutions:
1. create an alternative economic system which doesn’t need poor people in order to function properly.
2. create opportunities for the “poor” to become “rich” themselves, running the risk they will use these opportunities well, with the result that we as the rich may lose our monopoly, by that our power and may become poor ourselves. After all, like you say, the developing countries have a lot more worthy products in store than have the Western countries. By giving the chance to developing countries to actually develop themselves, we thus run the risk of skyrocketing prices of rice since there will be strong competition in this business and to become marginalized ourselves. (I hope you can follow my way of thinking here)
As for solution 1: well, who knows what will be possible in the future. As for solution 2: we don’t want that, since we don’t want to lose the power and the luxury that comes with the money.
What’s left to do then, is to buy off our guilty conscience caused by buying all Chad’s rice for a shit price, by sending back that what we were not going to eat after all.

In fact, development aid is part of the economic system of capitalism, since it has people working for money in it, and it needs demand and supply. Development aid has all the capitalistic characteristics: it has advertisements (which cause, by the way, children and under-educated person to think that Africa exists out of nothing more than refugee camps and children with belly’s three times as big as their heads), it has supply of the people of Western countries, paying to relieve their conscience and it has the always ongoing demand, fed by its own system. It wouldn’t have any benefit in actually solving all of the problems, just as Samsung doesn’t benefit from making cell phones that actually last your whole life. That kills the industry.

Of course, your plan to train local people to do the business themselves is an excellent idea and you are not the only one who has come up with this master plan. These kinds of projects are executed in a lot of developing countries, not all development projects are just about dropping off food bags from the air. But the question is if these trainings will be enough to in fact build a strong competition, since the power of the economic system is still in Western or Chinese hands. And they gain nothing by giving the developing countries the opportunity to participate in the economic system with the dignity they actually deserve.

Re: Re: Could development assistance be smarter?

Dear Yvon,
Thanks for your reaction.
You took all the words out of my mouth. In fact my immediate impression after reading your reaction is that you fully understand the scope of this problem.
I fully agree with all what you said except for the last paragraph concerning the solution I proposed.

Training locals to partly run newly created businesses at first, and later fully run them themselves, I meant not for them to be competitive in the world markets.
In most countries aid is a regional issue (it’s not true for all of them, some aid programs are national, but not in most of them). So, in some countries 20% of the country needs aid, the rest don’t.
Take countries like China, India, Cameroon, Brazil, and others; these countries are not poor countries, but some villages in those countries need some real help that can’t be provided by the central government for various reasons. Creating a well-run business is such villages could be used to sustain the needs of the locals. These locals could then compete regionally or maybe even nationally. This is enough to make these people and their families’ independent for the rest of their lives of aid. They might even transform these aid programmes to partnerships with some of these organizations to get a win-win situation. Why a partnership? Because being a partner will force some of these western organizations to implement the corporate discipline these businesses might need to sustain themselves.

I am very happy to read your thoughts though because they really translate the question mark in my head, that feeling of powerlessness I have when thinking of these facts. Plainly, the conclusion is that to end poverty and aid in world, western countries have to become poor, that does not really seem realistic.

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Forum 1

Suits & Ties !!!

Why must we always go the job applications in Suit & Tie? Don’t this way of doing say something about HR-policy focussing more on the looks, instead of focussing on capacity and content?

Re: Suits & Ties !!!

I think that if all applicants are wearing the same (they are like clones with their suit and tie), there's nothing HR people can focus on but their skills and knowledge :-)

It is just a formality, a polite way to present yourself. I wonder why everybody questions the suits and there is no controversy about other polite manners like saying "good morning". Why should I say "good morning" instead of "Hi dude" at work??? Do you imagine a "Hi dude" to your boss at PricewaterhouseCoopers??? (and don't forget the "house" part of the name :-)

Anyway, it all depends on the company. If your interview had been held in Google you would have been safe :-) But... there is a BIG BIG difference.

Regards.


Re: Re: Suits & Ties !!!

You are very right Pilar; maybe by saying ‘hey dude’ to my boss, it might take out some of that creativity hiding inside me. It might be difficult to keep the hierarchy intact in such companies though. The funniest thing in such cases is, you might even be better and more responsibly dressed than the people complaining you are not in Suit and Tie at that moment, but just the fact that it’s no suit makes it often a problem. We should however keep the tradition going, it’s nice to be in suit hahaha

Re: Re: Suits & Ties !!!

It's even more surprising when you consider the fact that almost all IT gurus (Steve Jobs [Apple], Zuckerberg [Facebook], Bill Gates [Microsoft], and others) never dressed in complete suit and tie combination, some of them even never put on a suits and ties. We worship these guys for their geniuses and in return claim that the knowledge is only complete when we put on suits and ties.
Very strange and spiritual:)

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