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ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN February 10, 2003 (C)
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mon, 10 Feb 2003 17:58:55 -0800
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN February 10, 2003 (C)
AANA BULLETIN No. 05/03
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY
P. O Box, 66878, 00800 Westlands, NAIROBI, Kenya. Tel: 254-2-4442215,
Fax: 254-2-4445847, 4443241; Email: email@example.com ,
Last week (February 3-7), Kenya played host to the 22nd Session of the UNEP
Governing Council, whose task involved discussing ways of implementing
resolutions made last year at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. AANA Correspondents Joseph K'Amolo
and Henry Neondo attended the Session and filed the following report.
Wade Calls For Clearer Approach To Africa's Development
NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has
challenged African states to initiate programmes that can propel them to
The Senegalese President took issue with the fact that Africa had the
resources and manpower, yet it was lagging behind in economic development.
He said there should be clear approach on developing Africa, and appealed
to the First World to help, saying, "we alone cannot develop Africa".
He implied that Africa could be a partner in production of goods and also a
big market. He said if Africa developed, it would not only be a benefit to
the continent, but also to the rest of the world.
The Senegalese head of state observed that even though globalisation was a
fact of life, Africa and other developing regions of the world faced
serious challenges posed by it.
He singled out obstacles that developing countries had to encounter in
selling their products, and unfair trade measures imposed by the developed
He castigated the First World for taking advantage of Africa's
non-performing economy and robbing it of its brainpower.
"We have the resources, we have the people, but even the people we train in
Africa are snapped up by the developed countries by offering them better
remuneration," lamented President Wade.
He said that while "we cannot stop people from moving to other places", the
developed nations should repay developing countries for their investments.
The Senegalese Head of State was addressing the 22nd Session of UNEP's
Governing Council and 4th Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi
held between 3-7, February 2003.
He attended the meeting in his capacity as one of the brains and pioneers
of NEPAD - the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which was
initiated by African leaders to help in giving direction to Africa's
stalled economic growth.
He told the gathering that NEPAD was also concerned about environmental,
health, agriculture, information and communication, and energy issues.
The meeting brought together an estimated 800 delegates from all parts of
Reported by Joseph K'Amolo
UNEP Supports Protection Of Minority Ethnic Groups
NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - The United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) has stressed a commitment to protect the interest of marginalised
minority groups, saying their wealth on indigenous knowledge could serve to
Addressing UNEP delegates before launching a micro study report on Kenya's
Castaways - The Ogiek and National Development Processes, New York's UNEP
representative, Mr Adnan Amin, assured Kenya's indigenous peoples that UNEP
will not forsake them.
Mr Amin launched the report on February 4, at the United Nations Office in
Nairobi during a Civil Society Side Event at the just concluded Governing
Council Meeting of UNEP (February 3-7).
"Conservation of biodiversity is directly related to survival of indigenous
peoples cultures, that are repositories of rich indigenous knowledge about
the environment, hence the need to place more emphasis on their
protection," he said.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has promised a comprehensive land policy
and legal framework that will respect communal land rights.
"There is a serious need to appreciate the importance of the rich cultural
diversities in Kenya, and to move forward to protect and promote them,"
said Mr Amos Kimunya, the Minister for Lands and Settlement, while
addressing the delegates who attended the launch.
"I am aware of the aboriginal cases and seeing very clearly the parallels
with the Ogiek, I can assure you that I am very sympathetic to your
concerns," he added, while addressing representatives of the Ogiek community.
Kenya's Castaways - The Ogiek and National Development Processes is a
four-page report that highlights several issues of concern to the Ogiek
minority group in Kenya.
The report was published by Minority Rights Group International, a UK-based
NGO, in partnership with Centre for Minority Rights Development, a Kenyan
Reported by Henry Neondo
Loss Of Biodiversity Poses Serious Challenge To Continent
NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - Poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, loss of
biological diversity, natural disasters, conflict and terrorism, are among
some of the most daunting challenges facing the world today.
Kenya's Vice President and Minister for National Reconstruction, Michael
Wamalwa Kijana, said there was no doubt these were the most pressing
challenges in developing countries.
He was speaking at the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), during its Governing Council
meeting (February 3-7).
The vice-president said that while commitments made at the WSSD in
Johannesburg last year aimed at improving lives of people and reversing
environmental degradation, it was only through creation of strategic
partnerships, its achievements could be realised.
Wamalwa recognised the role played by the civil society in environmental
matters, but added that there was need to have a clear policy on the mode
of co-operation between them, national governments, and UNEP.
"All sectors of the society need to bear responsibility and be accountable
with clear responsibilities in combating environmental degradation," said
Wamalwa. He regretted the loss of biodiversity, which he said, was of
great concern to the developing countries.
He noted that biodiversity provided natural resource base for
socio-economic development to meet the needs of mankind.
The vice-president further observed that though Africa's special needs have
been acknowledged in major United Nations Conferences and the Millennium
Declaration Goals, it was essential that the international community in
general considered offering appropriate support to the continent.
He said it was within that context that Kenya was committed to the
implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as
well as other indigenous frameworks that embodied poverty reduction
He said NEPAD could give the continent an opportunity to reverse the
negative environmental trends being experienced.
"The framework provides a window of opportunity for the attainment of the
Millennium Development Goals for Africa, such as reduction of poverty by
half by 2015 and reducing HIV/AIDS infection in most affected countries by
25 per cent by the year 2005," said Mr. Wamalwa.
Reported by Joseph K'Amolo
Uganda's Rugunda Elected Head Of Governing Council
NAIROBI (AANA) February 10 - Honourable Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda's
Minister for Water, Lands and Environment has been elected president of the
22nd Governing Council of UNEP.
The election was held at the start of the governing council meeting at UNEP
headquarters in Nairobi. Hon Ruhakana takes over from Mr. David Anderson,
of Canada, who has led UNEP's Governing Council for the past two years.
Reacting to his election, Dr. Ruhakana indicated his intention to
strengthen what has been achieved. He said his election is an honour to his
country and to Africa.
"I will use this office to promote down to earth implementation of
environment and sustainable development programmes," he said.
"The first task is to ensure that this session of the governing council
discusses substantive issues and agrees on concrete proposals to implement
the recommendations of the World Summit on Sustainable Development," he
Fifty-six year-old Ruhakana brings to the post a wide-ranging experience
built on the various positions he has held. He has been in Uganda's
Cabinet since 1986.
Before joining the Cabinet, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda served as commissioner for
animal industry, game and fisheries with the National Resistance Movement
interim administration, where the current national environment policy and
its management were conceived.
Apart from a wealth of exposure he has acquired through participating in a
number of international meetings, Dr. Ruhakana holds medical degrees from
University of Zambia and University of California. He is author of a
number of health publications.
Reported by Henry Neondo
Where Small Arms Can Be Traded For A Chicken
That Africa is awash with small arms, despite being a negligible producer,
and not always at war, is cause for concern. Observers say civil conflicts
currently being experienced in parts of the continent are mostly
responsible for the mess. But the United Nations recalls that the
proliferation of light weapons on the continent started during the Cold War
era, reports Osman Njuguna.
uman rights organisations refer to the prevalence of small arms and light
weapons as a situation where arms are being used in the absence of
They explain that the weapons could prevail in armed robberies, cattle
rustling and civil conflicts.
Such is the situation in Africa. The ready availability of small arms and
light weapons in parts of the continent, has been a subject of concern.
Top on the list are the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions. Here, the
prevalence of civil conflicts has heightened the presence of small arms and
The most affected countries include Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
But while this is the situation on the ground, it is also a fact that
Africa hardly manufactures such arms. From where then, do they originate?
According to the United Nations (UN), millions of light arms - lightweight,
highly portable, and devastatingly effective in the hands of even young or
poorly trained users - were shipped to Africa during the Cold War to equip
anti-colonial fighters, newly independent states and super-power proxy
"The collapse of the Soviet bloc saw a new flood of small arms entering
Africa, as manufacturers put additional millions of surplus Cold War era
weapons on the international arms market at cut-rate prices," states a UN
publication titled Small Arms: Counting the Cost of Gun Violence.
Todate, in some parts of Africa, a Soviet-designed AK-47 assault rifle,
coveted for its simplicity and firepower, can be purchased for as little as
$6, or traded for a chicken, or sack of grain.
A 1999 Red Cross report estimated that in the Somali capital (Mogadishu)
alone, the 1.3 million residents possessed over a million guns, out of an
estimated 550 million small arms in circulation world-wide. The ratio of
gun-to-man in this city could therefore, be close to one-to-one.
A human rights report on Kenya, released last May titled Playing With Fire:
Weapons Proliferation, Political Violence, and Human Rights in Kenya, cites
this East African state as an example of countries that have turned victims
of the situation due to their geographical position.
"Kenya is vulnerable to weapons trafficking because of its geographic
location in a conflict-ridden region," the report says.
It explains: "The weapons circulating in Kenya originate from places as far
away as China and the United States, but most of them passed through war
zones in neighbouring countries before making their way to Kenya's illegal
For years, Kenya's territory has been a conduit for weapons shipments
destined to nearby areas of violent conflict, but more recently, the spread
of weapons has spilled back into Kenya itself, according to Human Rights
A recently released report on a global survey on internally displaced
people by the Geneva-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), confirms that
the continent imports most arms.
The report titled, Internally Displaced People: A Global Survey, also notes
that there is manufacture of weapons in parts of the continent, even though
In North Africa, for example, countries like Egypt, Sudan, Algeria and
Morocco have varying levels of irregular production capacities.
Countries with production capacities of weapons in sub-Saharan Africa are
Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania,
Zimbabwe and South Africa.
South Africa is singled out as being Africa's largest and most
sophisticated producer of arms.
What worries more though, is the effortless access to the small arms and
light weapons. Quite often, they end up in the wrong hands.
According to NRC, the easy presence of light weapons on the continent is
responsible for fuelling civil wars and conflicts.
This, according to Ms Virginia Gamba, a former director of the Arms
Management Programme of the South African Institute for Security Studies
(ISS), poses a major threat to Africa's development.
The UN publication (Small Arms: Counting the Cost of Gun Violence) states:
"Reducing the availability and use of small arms in places where fighting
has ended has become increasingly important to Africa's development
prospects, as the number of conflicts has increased over the past decade."
It notes that the widespread abuse of weapons diverts scarce government
resources from health and education to public security, discourages
investment and economic growth, and deprives developing countries of the
skills and talents of the victims of small arms.
However, attempts are being made to remedy the situation. An example cited
by the NRC report is a Declaration of a Moratorium on Importation,
Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons In West Africa in 1998, which
the entire 16 member states of the Economic Commission of West African
States (ECOWAS) signed.
More recently, the southern Africa regional Action Programme on Light
Weapons and Illicit Arms Trafficking has sought to strengthen regulation
and control of small arms and light weapons.
Former immediate Anglican archbishop, Rt Rev Dr David Gitari of kenya,
while commenting on the subject, said recently: "External people,
institutions or governments, should feel obliged to battle out the issue,
because they have contributed in creating it".
Rev Gitari was delivering a public lecture on the topic, Towards Conflict
Resolution, in Kenya mid last month.
He observed that "churches should feel obliged to participate in battling
out the issue, because it has negative impact on the life of the people
through avenues such as escalation of civil conflicts".
Churches That Provide 'Quick Answers' To Faithful
Once scorned by the mainstream churches, African indigenous churches are
starting to command a sizeable following in Kenya. The leaders of these
churches say they should not be taken for granted, but some mainstream
clergy are viewing them with suspicion.
By AANA Correspondent
ndigenous churches have prospered in Kenya, becoming more assertive each
day. The leaders of these churches, which may have as many as ten people or
several hundreds, have asked Kenyans not to take them for granted since
they are serving a major role.
But some bishops from the mainstream churches in the country have urged the
government to look into the beliefs of some of the traditional religious
orders, to see if their teachings are right.
Careful not to hurt the existing freedom of worship in the country, the
bishops have recalled the Kanungu tragedy in Uganda, where 1000 people
were killed by sect leaders about three years ago. They warn that the
emerging denominations should not be taken for granted.
"If the behaviour of these groups is suspect, then they should be
investigated," Rt. Rev Peter Njoka, the Anglican bishop of Nairobi told
But Archbishop Ndingi Mwana A' Nzeki , the head of the Catholic Church in
Kenya maintains that all these groups are acceptable.
He says everyone is free to worship the way they choose, since there is
freedom of worship. He notes that the emerging religious sects may not be a
threat to the mainstream churches.
The archbishop says that the Catholic Church encourages inculturation of
some of the African traditions, which they consider as good. "In the
African tradition, divorce does not exist. We want to see how we could
approach the issue in order to make this African value part of our church
teachings," says Ndingi.
"It would be wrong to see these churches as serving no purpose at all. We
may be small in number, but some of us now command a large following," says
Reverend Michael Kamau of the Universal Prayer Group, one of the indigenous
Early last year, more than 50 indigenous churches in Kenya formed a
council, the Indigenous Churches Council of Kenya (ICCK).
Convinced that they had a mass following, the leaders said they would be
talking for their faithful. They even promised to forward views to the
on-going constitutional review process in the country.
But, while they continue to be branded the religion of a minority, the soul
soup for the helpless, and abodes of "Satanism" by some Pentecostal
charismatic leaders, experts have explained that these churches are likely
to find a massive following among impoverished groups.
The main reason for this is that they are able to offer "quick answers" to
problems that the mainstream churches may guardedly solve.
The picture presented in one of the churches may be described as
therapeutic. Around 30 faithful dance to beats of traditional drums and the
clang of a metallic gong.
The sun is blazing and worshippers are sweating as they try to dance to the
frenzied instruments. The middle-aged population, majority of who are women
are earnestly singing a tune in their local language. They are so
pre-occupied such that they do not even notice an intruder.
"Prayer is the centre of our work. We believe we can do everything with it.
We actually believe in the trinity, which may not be a feature of major
churches in this country," says Reverend Kamau.
Experts in religious affairs however say it is no surprise that these
churches are growing that fast. Prof Gilbert Ogutu of the religious
studies department in the University of Nairobi, asserts that African
people want to reach God in the shortest way possible.
He observes that because Africa is challenged with catastrophes, the
society is seeking solutions through worship. "Moreover, they are a big
business," Ogutu adds.
In Kenya, ethnicity is a major feature of these churches. Musanda Holy
Ghost, for instance, accommodates mainly the Luhya ethnic community, while
Legio Maria has more of the Luo.
Israel Church combines both the Luo and Luhya. Its counterpart, Israel
Church of East Africa, goes deeper. It accommodates all communities in
central Kenya. But the most recent ones have chosen names that bring them
closer to the mainstream churches.
Some of the the indigenous churches maintain controversial beliefs, which
the originators choose to keep with their faithful only.
The Akhorino, for example, are known for their stand against conventional
medicine. They do not take the sick to hospital. Such a belief has also
been imitated by many others, saying that they can pray to God for
immediate healing without necessarily going to hospital.
Ngonya wa Gakonya, a well known religious sect leader in Kenya, is an
outspoken advocate of traditional African ways of worship. He founded Tent
of The Living God in 1997 and became its priest. He has interesting
"African religion is perhaps the oldest in the history of mankind. But the
[conventional] Church has ignored its existence and its values....We have
come to demand the return to our culture through our churches," says wa
"Most people do not understand religion. The greatest religion is in the
homestead, that is why when there is a crisis, we go back to our
homesteads," he continues.
Ardent followers of Africa indigenous churches believe that their priests
teach them what is right. According Alfred Opudho of the Legio Maria, a
black Christ came to Africa through the Nile. The faithful believe that
Father Simeon Melkio, whom they worship, is indeed Christ.
Observers feel that the wave behind the churches is simply charismatic.
According to a Tent of The Living God faithful, John Kihiu, as long as
there is social, economic and political dissatisfaction, there is going to
be trends of increasing diversion from the mainstream churches.
The fascinating thing about these groups, however, is that despite the
uproar from the mainstream churches, they have survived the test of time.
And more fascinating is that poorly educated priests lead them.
Fresh Concerns Raised Over Grotesque Swelling
A number of East African men along the Indian Ocean coastal stretch nurse a
painful swelling in the groin. Now there are new concerns that their
condition may be frustrating family planning efforts here, writes Oscar
xcept for the swelling that keeps his legs apart, somewhat slowing his
pace, Juma Saidi walks with a swagger, exuding an air of self importance.
Saidi nurses a swelling in his groin, which has reached the size of an
average paw paw fruit. He has to wear a kanzu (long flowing robe) to
conceal the grotesque swelling.
Like other kanzu-clad men of Tanzania's coastal city of Dar es Salaam,
Saidi has adopted a slow gait.
He suffers from a medical condition involving a collection of serum fluid
in the tunica vagilais (scrotum).
The swelling subjects its victims to untold suffering, including rendering
them immobile and even impotent.
The condition, referred to as hydrocele, is mainly rampant among men along
the Indian Ocean coastal stretch of East Africa, and the island of Zanzibar.
According to available statistics, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa cities
of Tanzania and Kenya respectively, have some of the highest infection
rates in Africa. Hydrocele can only be cured through surgical operation.
Dar es Salaam city residents associate the condition with increased libido
among men, which locals refer to as umwinyi. This condition may be
frustrating family planning projects here.
Medical experts agree that excess fluids in the scrotum sustain a warm
temperature that activates the libido, especially in the initial stages of
The ensuing scenario, translating into babies, is becoming a point of
concern to family planning agents in Tanzania.
"Victims of hydrocele have no doubt become obstacles to our advocacy for
small and manageable families," says Dr David Kihwele, Director of
Programmes with the Family Planning Association of Tanzania (UMATI).
However, the exact opposite is true in cases of advanced infection. At this
stage, according to Dr Kihwele, the swelling may cause the scrotum to
disappear into the abdominal cavity.
"If [they] are denied the outer temperature, they get so warm and chances
are that this may interfere with sperm formation," observes Kihwele, a
medical doctor by training.
Besides, the male genital organs may get "swallowed" making it practically
impossible for any active sexual contact to take place, adds Kihwele.
Either way, says the UMATI boss, the hydrocele condition disrupts the very
family planning process.
While family planning agents worry about family size, old men nursing the
disease have learnt to live with the disability.
"Most old men here end up with giant scrotum anyway. Busha (local name for
the condition) has been with us from time immemorial," Saidi says resignedly.
But Saidi has another reason for his happiness - the societal notion that
busha is a special disease only for the wealthy.
Strangely, the slow gait adopted by sufferers is admirable in some
quarters. "The idea was initially propped up by the sufferers as a way of
consoling themselves and by the society as well, to dissuade people from
mocking sufferers," explains Muhamoud Mohammed Bakari, a Dar es Salaam
In 1998, hydrocele accounted for as many as 15 percent of the major
operations in Tanzania. This number was predicted to increase, according to
a 1999 World Health Report. Ghana reported the highest representation of 25
percent during the same year.
According to a 2000 publication, Bancroftian Filariasis: An Assessment of
its Economic Importance in Tanzania, about 20 million men in Africa suffer
The economic burden over the same is US$ 1.7 each year. Eighty-three
percent of this loss is due to disability in men with hydrocele.
Though the disease affects thousands in East Africa, there still hangs a
cloud of uncertainty on the actual cause. What is clear, however, is that
it exists and that the culex mosquito spreads it.
Studies have shown that the culex mosquito, which carries the microfilaria
germ from one person to another, spreads the hydrocele disease.
When the germ multiplies, it blocks fluid circulation in the affected area,
leading to a tuber-like accumulation of lymph and serum fluid.
Some observers attribute the high infection rate in coastal areas to the
warm climate, which facilitates mosquito breeding.
Located in the high and humid tropical belt zone, Dar es Salaam, for
instance, experiences an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.
Coconut juice, a favourite of male coastal people, is also associated with
the disease. This is mainly because men in these regions partake to the
drink in large numbers, and that hydrocele appears to be a man's disease.
An official of Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), however, dismisses
this link. "Given that the drink is taken leisurely in the evening under
mnazi (coconut tree), drinkers (normally men) risk infection because they
are more exposed to mosquito bites.
Women are also prone to a different version of the infection, which
manifests in enlarged breasts and the labia majora. The effects are,
however, limited and not very pronounced because of the woman's anatomy.
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