“Updates on the Goings On in Ethiopia and Nigeria”

I am taking this column space to update y’all on what has been going on in
Ethiopia and Nigeria since my departure last December. Some of you may
think that I am still there due to the fact that the columns have been
reading like I was still on the ground. I apologize for the confusion.
When we returned, there was plenty to write about, especially considering
that our final month in Ethiopia took us all over the country.

Do note however, that next week will be the final installment of “Dispatches
from Africa.” Beginning in April, my column will reinvent itself. What it
will be is loosely floating around in my head.

*************

The column about the little girls gathering water inspired Evening Sun
readers to send in $800 to The Denan Project. Dick emailed the news, and
offered his heartfelt “Thank you” to all of you that sent donations. He is
in Ethiopia now and will visit Denan in a week or so. I, too, thank you.
It is inspiring to think that a photo and words can move people in such a
way.

Denan is in a very serious state right now. Water is being trucked in, but
meeting only 50% of the water needs of the village. Much of the livestock
has died, and people are beginning to starve, relying completely on food
being trucked in by the World Food Program. Much of northern Kenya and most
of Somalia is suffering from this drought as well. It is very sad, indeed.

**************
In Addis Ababa, things have been settled of late with regards to the
oppositional protests to last May’s elections and the current
administration. Still, Ethiopia is a tinderbox that could explode at any
moment.

On the up side, Ethiopia and Eritrea appear on the right track after a
recent agreement to settle the border dispute. Remember that back in
1998-99, the two countries fought a brutal war that was Africa’s bloodiest
war at the time.

It was feared that the border could become a war zone again. Now, things
are looking more optimistic.

************

Nigeria experienced numerous riots that resulted in hundreds of deaths as a
result of the Danish cartoons disgracing Mohammed. Nigeria is divided
almost evenly between Muslim and Christian. Sadly, the two communities
clashed, the peak of the fighting occurring in the trading town of Onitsha
just across the Niger River from Asaba where my wife and I were working.

It is looking like the national consitution will be amended to allow the
current President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to run for a third term. Will this
prove to be a move away from democracy in Nigeria? Many in Nigeria support
Obasanjo. Many see him in the same light as other corrupt Nigerian
officials. Time will tell.

In the Delta, the war for oil wealth continues. I am afraid it will end
only when the last drop of oil is extracted. Until then, the people will
always seek their share of the riches.

**************

And finally, (I am going to end on a postive note) I would like to introduce
you to Emmanuel Jal. He is a Sudanese Christian, and was a refugee in
Kenya. While in Kenya he explored his musical creativity, finding a voice
in African hip-hop while maintaining the sounds of his homeland. Together
with Abdel Salim, fellow Sudanese, Muslim and master player of traditional
northern Sudanese folk rhythms and instruments, Jal has put together a
masterpiece call to peace with his CD titled “Ceasefire.” His call to peace
is not only for Sudan or Africa, but for all of us living on Earth.

Lyrics are sung in English, Neur, Dinka, Kiswahili and Arabic against a
backdrop of music that will be the freshest sounds that have emanated from
your stereo system in recent memory. It is that good!! Pick it up and play
it loud.

(written 19 March 2006)

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