Sunday, September 28, 2008

Should Africa expect much from Obama?(1)

Africa is cursed! Period.
It's been quite some time now that I've intended to express some opinions of my own about what an Obama Presidency would do for Africa. However, in all fairness, I decided to attend a town hall meeting branded "Africans for Change" sponsored by the Obama Campaign and hosted by Andrew Mwavua, a 31 yr old Kenyan native. The scheduled start time for the meeting was 2:30pm, I got there ten min late as I got lost on my way. Nevertheless it didn't start til exactly 3:20pm which is quite "early" given it was an event organized by Africans. I really can't explain where this laxity with time comes from in regards to Africans whether they are Kenyans, Cameroonians, Liberians, Togoleses or Nigerians. Invite them to a 4:00pm party and they won't start showing up til about 7pm.
Back to the point, instead of writing a very long diatribe about my people in one post, I'll try and do it in two parts or more. In this first post, I'll expose some of the reasons I believe that dear continent (no, Africa is not a country) of mine operates under a malediction.
  • Darfur: Remember Darfur? A region located in Southwest Sudan where since February 2003, the genocide has resulted in 2.5 million deaths as reported by Eren Göknar from the Town Crier. This is not a conflict with another nation, nor a fight against terrorism. It's one nation, one people killing each other based on their tribe difference. 2.5 million deaths!! just a million shorter of LA population, and nearly the whole town of Chicago. Imagine for a second the city of Chicago completely annihilated, wiped out of the map. That's what Africans are currently doing to each other.
  • Rwanda: 14 yrs later Rwanda has still not recovered from the genocide that ripped apart its land -- 800,000 and 1,000,000 is the estimated death toll. Skeletons, debris from the war, are now displayed as a genocide museum at Murambi Technical School. Videos of compelling stories about that "endless screaming silence" as described by Fergal keane, a very gruesome era, can be found here.
  • Democratic Congo (ex Zaire) : it's been only 5 years since the conflict has "ceased". The massacre was so deadly that it was baptised African World War III. Today another form of war has taken place: poverty, famine, malnutrition and diseases.
These are just few major examples that have captivated and were reported by the International media. Just a few years ago, it was Nigeria --the Northerners against the Southerners, Muslims vs. Christians. Some have reported to lie to muslim authorities by passing themselves as christans to avoid lapidation. More recently it was Kenya and then Cameroon. There is always something disastrous going on in Africa. I've come to believe that Africans don't like themselves very much, if not at all, let alone their own brothers or sisters.
At the town hall meeting the host/moderator Andrew urged us, Africans, to unite, to form one body, one community in other to effectively make our voice heard by those leaders who take decisions on behalf of Africans without Africans involved. He emphasized the power of unity by citing the Cuban and Jew communities as examples, who have become such powerful entities that no politician can get elected in some areas without "paying them homage". There is no doubt about the power of oneness: when a couple becomes one, babies are born, families are founded and clans are formed. And when people become one, Nations are born and Things happen. Can Africans surmount their hatred for one another to reach that goal?

A special thanks to my friends Yves for the links to the videos, and Paule for inviting me to the townhall.

--Patricia JB--

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Summer is over!!

It's been about three weeks that the weather here in our town has been reminding us that summer time is all behind!!
A summer of Trips and Rejuvenation,
A summer of life changing decisions
A summer of Hope
A summer in Gottingen
A summer in Jersey
A summer in Paris
A summer in Philly
A summer in New York
A summer of Peccadilloes
A summer of Faith
A summer of Opportunities
A summer of Dreams
A summer of Realities
A summer of Enjoyment
A summer of Delight
A summer of Friends
A summer of Hobbies
Fall is right here!!
A Fall of all my favorite shows: Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, Jungle Lipstick, Life, gosh, where am I gonna take time to watch'em all?
And last but not least
A Fall of exciting politics

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Things Observed

I like observing people sometimes to a fault, and then examine my thoughts about my own observations. Therefore in that same spirit, I was in church one day and I noticed a couple sitting at the end of an aisle, I knew it was a couple because the guy's arm was resting upon his partner 's chair and I thought: "wow, we have a become a very progressive, revolutionized church!! A gay couple in our church!?" I was marveling about the idea until the other "guy" got up and stepped out (maybe to go to the bathroom?) and I noticed a pair of boobs and somehow, a little disappointment ran me through: "Too good to be true. May have to wait for some more time, to see a gay couple in my church".
Today, as I was sitting I watched a contingent of five walked by: a very young girl 16-19ish holding in her arms a baby girl (the baby was swaddled in a pinkish blanket), a middle age woman that I assumed to be the young girl's mom and following behind was an equally young man (early 20s) holding a probably 2-2(1/) years old very blond boy. The middle age woman and young girl sat next to each other, the young man sat next to the young girl and that's when I dreadfully noticed a wedding band on the young girl's finger. And the whole ordeal made me think of Bristol (Palin's pregnant teenage daughter and the fact that Bristol and her baby's father were to marry in a near future). For a minute, I admired the courage of this young girl and man, mother and father of two to forgo her/his "future" to take care of their kids. Yes I think it requires courage to bring up a child especially if it wasn't planned, as Lord knows how many would rather take la clé des champs (as the French say) or go to greener pastures.
There was also a baby dedication and as the pastor was reading the babies's name that needed to be dedicated, I noticed parents like giving all those biblical names to their child in the hope their kids will grow up to be just like the personage they carry the name: Malachie, Melkisedec, Jedediah, Schekinah...etc. This often makes me wonder if a name truly has any influence on one's self. I so believe in our free will that gives each one of us the ability to make good or bad choices that I really have a hard time grasping the methodology behind baby's name choice. Moreover, as that dear pastor of mine often says: "A child will grow doing what we tell them until they reach the age when they'll do exactly what we do".
Earlier today, I scanned the NYTimes front page and drilldoown on a link about this English teacher, brilliant writer who hanged himself two days ago (the body was found in his home), his name: David Foster Wallace. The news ignited a flow of questions: why did he commit suicide? Was he not fulfilled? He wrote the "The Infinite Jest" (I swear to God, I remember seeing that book lying around in the house somewhere, got to read that), a book who apparently revolutionize Post-modern litterature. What was such a burden on him that he thought taking his life away would appease him? Was he not happy? What was so monstrous that he couldn't bear the thought of seeing his reflection in a mirror? Why Mr. Wallace, why? 46 only? Why?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

McCain to Palin

Who ever put this thing together is a genius...hilarious!!! Click here to listen

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Immigration: My take on it

As a liberal conservative and an immigrant of this country, my points of view on immigration could be conflicting at times. I believe one of the strong appeals of the U.S. is their welcoming of foreigners. And of course as any country, not only do they have to regulate their immigration laws but also need to enforce them as well. Most illegal immigrants have not come here illegally, many come with a visitor status then decide to stay or get a student visa then forgo school. Thus finding themselves in very compromising situations.
There are many aspects on immigration that remain somehow "obscured" and lots of prowesses that Illegal immigrants deploy to "fix" their status. I know of one particular poignant, see disastrous story of such kind, it will feature in one my upcoming posts. Nevertheless, I'd like to bring to light a new kind of immigration path that, if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would implement it, could truly enhance the quality of immigrants in this country. I've often times thought about it when I was completing my undergrad degree, thought of me as a genius til I read a similar suggestion from Thomas Friedman last year (great minds think alike, uh). In his post, Friedman reports that he was at a commencement ceremony at one of America greatest Science and Technology school and as the students' names (Ph.D students) were read, he noticed all of them had foreign consonance “Hong Lu, Xu Xie, Tao Yuan, Fu Tang”, had he been at Park university, it would be "Peter Mwangi, Patricia Kengne, Michael Aboagye, Feneal Kromah", all of them from African ascents and titular of computer science degree. On the 55,000 immigrant visas that DHS distributes through its Diversity Visa Lottery, if only half of it could be granted to current international students who have completed their studies, this would guarantee an imperishable amount of human resources in Science & Technology and many others areas where there's shortage. Friedman even goes as far as suggesting that an Immigration Officer should sit during one of those ceremonies and affix those students' diplomas with a U.S Citizen status.
Now, what about cherries' pickers, cleaning engineers or grass cutters? Yes, what about all those blue collar workers who contribute so greatly to our economy? And no, they're not taking away jobs from Americans, they're filling up jobs that Americans do not want. They take of our elderly in nursing homes, they clean up our offices after business hours, they cut off our grasses, they serve us fast food at check out windows, they pay taxes by sending money to their family using American companies such as: Western Union or MoneyGram. I believe the American government should find a way to let them stay here, they should augment the number of H2B visas, and give taxes subsidies to company that recruit and sponsor them.
And yes, if an illegal immigrant commits a crime, they should be deported no question asked. If a legal immigrant commits a crime, they should be tried squared and fairly.

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