Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton faces new 'pay for play' allegations

Hillary Clinton faces new 'pay for play' allegations

Published on May 30, 2015
Hillary Clinton faces new 'pay for play' allegations
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The latest Clinton cash intrigue involves a Czech model and a 'distasteful' $500,000 donation

The latest Clinton cash intrigue involves a Czech model and a 'distasteful' $500,000 donation

Business Insider
GettyImages 450905416
(Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Happy Hearts Fund) Former President Bill Clinton and Petra Nemcova attend the Happy Hearts Fund Gala on June 19, 2014, in New York City.
A Friday report in The New York Times highlights another intriguing Clinton Foundation activity. According to the report, former President Bill Clinton turned down repeated offers to speak at Czech model Petra Nemcova's annual charity event until she directly offered the Clinton family's foundation $500,000 of the proceeds for appearing.
When she did, Clinton attended Nemcova's 2014 gala in Manhattan.
Doug White, director of Columbia University's fundraising management program, told The Times that the arrangement was strange because Clinton's foundation is so much bigger. The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has reportedly raised $2 billion.
"This is primarily a small but telling example of the way the Clintons operate," White said. "The model has responsibility; she paid a high price for a feel-good moment with Bill Clinton. But he was riding the back of this small charity for what? A half-million bucks? I find it — what would be the word? — distasteful."
Sue Veres Royal, the former executive director of Nemcova's charity, Happy Hearts Fund, further told the paper that the payment offer to the Clinton Foundation was a "quid pro quo." Happy Hearts is a charity that helps rebuild schools after natural disasters. It was created after Nemcova survived the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia and parts of Thailand.
"The Clinton Foundation had rejected the Happy Hearts Fund invitation more than once, until there was a thinly veiled solicitation and then the offer of an honorarium," she said. Veres Royal was also quoted saying, "Petra called me and said we have to include an honorarium for him — that they don’t look at these things unless money is offered, and it has to be $500,000."
The Times story, written by investigative reporter Deborah Sontag, described the charity-to-charity payment model as "extremely rare" for a fundraising event.
"When charities select an honoree for their fund-raising events, they generally expect that the award recipient will help them raise money by attracting new donors. But the Happy Hearts Fund raised less money at the gala featuring Mr. Clinton than it did at its previous one," Sontag wrote. "Further, it is extremely rare for honorees, or their foundations, to be paid from a gala’s proceeds, charity experts said — as it is for the proceeds to be diverted to a different cause. "
For its part, a Happy Hearts foundation spokeswoman told The Times that they paid the Clinton Foundation because the two organizations "have a shared goal of providing meaningful help to Haiti."
The Clinton Foundation is facing increased scrutiny as Clinton's wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is mounting her own campaign for president in 2016. Conservative critics in particular have sought to link the foundation's contributions to alleged favors doled out by Clinton's State Department. The Clintons have fiercely denied any such exchange took place.
Other controversies have hit the foundation's record-keeping operation and massive contributions from oppressive foreign governments.

Hillary Clinton faces new 'pay for play' allegations

Patrick Lumumba Speech which has Shocked Africa

Patrick Lumumba Speech which has Shocked Africa
Published on Feb 28, 2015
Patrick Lumumba Speech which has Shocked Africa of its Bitter Reality


Kindly share this message, it is motivating and justifying meaningful mind-set into facing and engaging realities of life positively.......!!!.........If you plant, you must harvest..........Africa, when do you plan to harvest in shared "Give and Take" values...........???

PLO's Speech at St Paul's university

Published on Apr 9, 2015
lumumba share's his journey to success at the launch of the Nijenge Kenya live campus edition at St Paul's University Limuru, at the auditorium. He delivered an inspirational speech and emphasized on the need for the youth to embrace their place in society.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Agriculture Sovereignty Ghanas Concerns With The...

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    ... and Nutrition in general, ... the face of agriculture in Ghana and in Africa is one of the subtle ways ... land to the benefit of foreign ...


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Environmental conservation anchored in African cultural heritage

Environmental conservation anchored in African cultural heritage
Summary & Comment: In the contemporary African world, there is a dichotomy between what is secular and what is religious. People’s view of the universe has changed. Nature now is viewed in terms of exploitation of natural resources. Contemporary Africans should borrow a leaf from traditional Africa where great value was attached to nature. They can use their African cultural heritage in to preserve and to rehabilitate the environment that has been destroyed and degraded by the selfish economic motives and actions of few people. B.T. 

Author: Bakanja Mkenda, OSB Date Written: 1 April 2010
Primary Category: Interfaith Relations Document Origin: New People magazine No. 125
Secondary Category: Ecology Source URL:
Key Words: creator, worldview, land, traditional, religious, sacred

African Charter Article #17: Every individual shall have the right to education, cultural life, and the promotion and protection of values. (Click for full text...)

Printable Version
1. Environmental conservation anchored in African cultural heritage
2. Worldview and conservation
1. Environmental conservation anchored in African cultural heritage

In the contemporary African world, there is a dichotomy between what is secular and what is religious.  People’s view of the universe has changed.  The world is no longer viewed in the religious sense but rather it is looked at as something to be totally exploited for the benefit of the human being.  Nature now is viewed in terms of exploitation of natural resources. Africans in the contemporary time should borrow a leaf from traditional Africa.  They should use African cultural heritage in preservation and rehabilitation of the environment that has been destroyed and degraded by selfish economic motives of few people.
The efforts of different organizations like Green Belt Movement, churches, United Nations Environmental program and world commission on Environment, to preserve and rehabilitate the environment should take into consideration the attitude of the Africans.  These efforts should learn from traditional ways of nature conservation and try to come up with modified attitudes suitable to the contemporary African world. The African worldview and beliefs that encouraged the sacredness of the universe and all created beings should be taken into consideration if contemporary Africa wants to preserve the environment.  African religious heritage, which links Africa with nature and God, should be the point of departure in preserving the environment.
The late pontiff Pope John Paul II called the world to undergo ecological conversion to protect the environment and make the earth a habitable place for human life. To an audience of several thousand people in the Vatican on 17th January 2004, he said, “Man has devastated without hesitation plains and forested valleys, polluted the waters, deformed the earth’s habitats, made the air unbreathable, disturbed the hydro-ecological and atmospheric systems and turned green space into deserts.”  Therefore, Africans, as well as other people of the world need ecological conversion so as to safe human life.
Traditional religion and life
The prominent scholar of African Traditional Religion, John S. Mbiti, started his book, African Religions and Philosophy (1969), with the statement “Africans are notoriously religious” to imply that religion permeates and penetrates the whole life of an African. African traditional religion is a religion typically integrated in daily life. For the Africans there is no clear-cut separation between what is secular and what is sacred. Everything and every act are looked upon in a religious perspective.
It is true that traditional African religion is found in peoples’ daily activities. It is a religion centered on the human person. It is oriented towards preservation of life and promotion of whatever enhances life. In promoting life, African Traditional Religion is connected with the environment because it is through healthy environment that life is enhanced. Environment is part of life. As a communal religion, African traditional religion is concerned with whatever affects human life. In this view then Africans view the universe as a profoundly religious universe, hence they treat it as such. The Africans view the human person as part of the environment. Environment to an African means a whole life. Everybody then in traditional African culture had a religious and moral responsibility towards the environment. They knew that to destroy the environment meant to destroy the human person.
In the contemporary African world, there is a dichotomy between what is secular and what is religious. The people’s view of the universe has changed. The world is no longer viewed in the religious sense but rather it is looked at as something to be totally exploited for the benefit of the human being.  This view has caused environmental problems in Africa, such as soil erosion, de-forestation, water pollution and desertification.
Relationship between God, man and nature
Africans view themselves as part of the environment. Man is conceivable only in this cosmic interweavement. This web of relation is what makes Africans view the earth as their mother and themselves as her children.
This means that, though God, humanity and nature are distinct concepts they are ontological categories that are interrelated and interdependent. Therefore plants, animals and other non-living beings are part of nature, which is the product of God’s creation deserving to be respected as much as human beings who are also part of nature. The relationships between persons and nature are rooted in God as the creator of all. So plants, animals, minerals and other inanimate beings form a unity and depend on each other. This is what makes Africans regard themselves as being in close relationship with the entire cosmos. Professor Mary Getui affirms this by saying that “Africans, especially in the traditional setting, were nature-oriented.” A person in the African sense is the one who is in good relationship with nature.
Human person
In the traditional African culture, the human being was not isolated from nature. Human being as a creature of God was the part of the whole creation. Though the human being was regarded as part of nature, the Africans traditionally viewed him as the center of the universe. Everything in the universe exists in relation to human beings. In this African worldview, beings were made to strengthen human beings. All beings lived in peaceful and harmonious connection leading to the strengthening of humanity. In other words, the world in traditional African societies was regarded as a gift for the benefit of humanity.
This is shown by the way most African ethnic groups define a person. For instance, the Akamba will define Mundu (a person) according to his relation to nature and to others. One co-exists peacefully with other people, other living beings and inanimate beings within his or her environment. Good acts are those that keep harmony and peace in the web of relationship within the community.
In traditional Chagga society, when the weather was good people felt to be in peace and harmony with nature, their ancestors and God. If there was drought, famine and floods then the Chagga believed not to have a right and good relationship with nature ancestors, God and others. They believed people’s evil deeds towards nature upset the natural order which God had set in the creation where human person should be the center. To abide to the order set by God every individual in traditional African society had to strive to live in upright life. Each individual tried to keep the harmony in the community by struggling to be an environmental keeper.
In my experience, I remember when I was young my grandparents used to tell me not to burn the bushes around our home because God would be annoyed and He would punish me. This made me fear the punishment from God and therefore taught me to be in good relationship with the vegetation around our home.
Nature as a sacred element
In traditional African societies, many people believed that trees and forests were the manifestation of the power of the Supreme Being. They saw these things as ideal places to meet God. Traditional African societies had many shrines, which were associated with big trees such as fig trees and baobabs. These trees together with the vegetation around were preserved as sacred places for worship.
Traditional Agĩkũyũ regarded trees, shrubs, grass and forests as valuable gifts from God. They respected big trees especially mũgumo (fig tree) as a place to meet God. Thus, sacrifices and offerings were done under the mũgumo tree. Until today, it is a taboo to cut a mũgumo tree because it is a sacred tree.
The Chagga are not much different from the Agĩkũyũ as far as respect to sacred trees is concerned. They associated extraordinary trees with God. They had much respect for these trees and no one was allowed to cut them nor to collect firewood from the dry branches of these trees. Under these trees, people worshipped and offered sacrifices. They called these places Kiungu or Kitasioni (places for offering sacrifices). For them, trees and the shrubs around the trees were regarded sacred. This attitude preserved the trees, vegetation and ecology.
The Africans did not attach much importance to trees and herbs just for spiritual purposes, but also because trees, herbs and plants in general were useful in enhancing human life. Apart from being symbols of God’s presence among people, trees were seen as medicine to man and animals. Trees, leaves, roots and grasses provided herbal medicines to human beings and to wild as well as domestic animals.
When I went to Matuu for field research, my Akamba Informant, Mzee Martin Ivui, 82, showed me some medicinal trees (muteta), which are preserved in the kiumo (shrine) where nobody is allowed to cut them, neither to collect firewood from them. It is only himself as an elder who is allowed to collect firewood from the shrine. He told me that he found the trees the way they were when he was born. He said as an elder he has the responsibility of making sure that the shrine and medicinal trees are preserved for enhancement of human life.
This attitude is not different from the attitudes of the Maasai. Among the Maasai who live in Kenya and Tanzania, trees and shrubs were respected and are still respected because they provide shade for various social gatherings. The main social gatherings in Maasai communities are held under trees. The Maasai have also strong respect and love for grass as a blessing from God for their animals, which they consider a valuable wealth.
Apart from providing shade for various social gatherings, trees are also used by Maasai for some purification ceremonies and rituals. The community protects trees used for this purpose. The wood, bark and leaves of trees may be used in naipok, certain purification ceremonies, to avert supernatural misfortune. Trees and shrubs are thus good and their special ritual value is closely associated with certain notions of Maasai cosmology.  generations.
The Chagga of Tanzania used trees in rituals and reconciliation ceremonies. A green leaf from Isale (dracaena tree) accompanies every sacrifice. Isale is a tree with green leaves, which are used even today in all rituals, ceremony blessings and on other occasions, which may involve forgiveness, requests and reconciliation. If one has a grudge with somebody, he/she can simply take Isale leaf to the offender and then he/she is immediately forgiven. Even today in Chagga land, Masaale trees are preserved and respected. They are used in ordination, marriage, birth, initiation and graduation ceremonies.
In order to preserve trees, shrubs, grass and vegetation in general, several strong taboos against cutting certain useful and sacred trees or destroying the vegetation were formulated. Among the Akamba the medicinal plants were not harvested by uprooting the whole plant, but by removing a small fraction of the roots, bark or leaves so as to let a plant survive for further use in the community. Saveguarding of the plants was a matter of concern. It was held that if one cut some of these trees, he or she might bleed to death.
Therefore, because of the importance of trees, shrubs and vegetation, as having religious, physical, and cultural values, it was a moral obligation to preserve them in traditional African societies.
Land and water
For traditional Africans, land and water were precious gifts from God the Creator. Africans have a strong connection with the land not only as an economic resource, but as a home, a place of sacrifice and offerings. When traditional African people struggled or fought for land, were not simply struggling or fighting for it economically but for social, moral and religious motives.
One Agĩkũyũ elder said “land is a sign of identity in Agĩkũyũ community. God gave it to the Gĩkũyũ ancestor so that he may use it for his well-being and for the community’s well-being. That is why the placenta is buried into the soil to connect the new born with God and ancestors. Nobody is allowed to play with land.”
The Chagga of Kilimanjaro regarded land as the central focus of people. Every mature man was supposed to have kihamba (a piece of land) allocated to him by his father after initiation into adulthood for building a home, raising a family and growing  crops to sustain life. One without kihamba would not get a wife and eventually he had no place to build a home and raise a family. As a result, he would die, as he would not have a place to cultivate crops for sustaining his life and children to be named after him.
As land was strongly connected to life, then traditional African people had moral responsibility to take care of it. Land bound people together in one community. Its absence threatened to tear them apart. This was because for many Africans, land was communal property. Land belonged to the community and God alloted it to the community through ancestors. Land was respected because it produced plants, which sustains human life.
As a God given gift, Traditional Africans attached great value to land. It had religious significance and therefore sacred. That is why the Agĩkũyũ used soil in swearing rituals. Some traditional Agĩkũyũ oaths were administered by the practice of people biting some soil and swearing to bind the terms of the oaths. Similarly, the Mau Mau fighters are said to have died while holding a fistful of soil.
Besides land, many African ethnic groups regarded water as a symbol of life.  Watering places were approached with respect. Most of water sources belonged to the whole community. Nobody was allowed to cultivate around these places. Trees were not cut and vegetation was kept to ensure that water was not disturbed. To protect the places and the water from being polluted, many myths, taboos, proverbs, idioms and riddles were formulated to educate or to make people aware that those places had to be preserved.
For instance the Chagga of Kilimanjaro formulated a taboo to ensure that people do not pollute the water. One taboo is, “utawaame mringeni, mama afo nyeshinda na mringa.” literarily meaning that people should not urinate into water because they might fall in danger of their mother being carried away by water. This taboo was formulated to make sure that people do no pollute the water.
In traditional African societies, animals were viewed as creatures of God. That is why many myths and stories use animals as main characters. They were respected as part of the whole creation. Some ethnic groups believed that fierce wild animals such as lions, leopards, buffalos, and elephants were just manifestation of the great power of God. Therefore, they would not kill them.
Some totemic beliefs and taboos helped in the preservation of some animal species. For example, for the Ngoni people, who are named after names of animals, were not allowed to kill or eat meat from animals and birds, which they were named after. They considered themselves to be bounded together by not eating the animals. They respected these animals. This attitude helped in preserving the animals. The Bukusu of Kenya believed that Wele (God) forbid them to eat all animals that crawl, for instance, snakes, lizards and snails. They were also not to eat scavenger birds, like crows, vultures and hawks. They were supposed to eat four legged animals, slaughtered after asking permission from ancestors and God as the owner of all animals. All these helped consequently in protecting and preserving many animals’ species and therefore the environment in general.
The Sources of environmental conservation
As a practical religion, African Traditional Religion involves many beliefs and practices, traditions and customs, which are the ways people express their religion. Religious values beneath these beliefs, customs and traditions helped people to have a good relationship with their environment.
During my university study at Mwanza, Tanzania, I discovered that the traditional Sukuma believed that some wild areas have a spirit force and so nobody was allowed to hunt, cultivate or cut trees in those places. In addition, agriculture was taboo in those places. They had a cult for the spirits of the land who were the protectors of the soil and keepers of the nature where traditional plants and animals lived undisturbed. This cult involved offering sacrifice to appease the spirits of the land. Goats and cows were slaughtered for the cult. All these were done to ensure that human activities do not disturb this environment.
During a public lecture at Tangaza college on the Future of African Spirituality, Bishop Patrick Kalilombe said that some ethnic groups, like Chewa in Malawi, consider the forest as the sacred place where there is a hut where the chief offers sacrifice, praying for rain, fertility and new life for all on behalf of the whole community.  So, forests were seen as places of abundant life, places for reverence and honor. Nobody was allowed to disturb the forests because by disturbing them, one was disturbing life. Sacrifices were offered to divinities, the ancestors were venerated and traditional Africans worshiped God in order to maintain ecological balance. Through the traditional rituals of the community, ceremonies, sacrifices and prayers, a person would establish a good relationship with his or her environment.
The African beliefs and taboos helped in the environmental preservation because people refrained from using resources carelessly. Respect for sacred places helped those places.
Contemporary Africa is facing many environmental problems. Human activities cause environmental hazards, which have negative impact on human beings and other beings of the universe. The negative interaction of the human being with his environment affects negatively. This causes soil erosion, deforestation, pollution and desertification. Individualistic and utilitarian attitudes towards nature have led people to plunder the environment recklessly. People are after economic profit through natural resources rather than being responsible taking care of the resources. Land grabbing for economic use causes problems. The land grabbed is used recklessly in the way the owner desires.
The African worldview and beliefs that encouraged the sacredness of the universe and all created beings should be taken into consideration if contemporary Africa wants to preserve the environment. African religious heritage, which links Africa with nature and god, should be a point of departure in preserving environment.
Africans revisiting their traditional religious heritage should recover the African spiritual wisdom, which has been affected by contemporary scientism, and draw from it what is proper and blend it with contemporary ways of environmental preservation. Traditional religious education is important in environmental preservation. Traditional African education focused on preserving the sacredness of life and whatever enhanced it. The system of education emphasized respect and reverence to the nature as one aspect, which enhances life. Contemporary Africa should borrow a leaf from traditional education systems as far as environmental conservation is concerned. African traditional education can be integrated in contemporary environmental studies.
2. Worldview and conservation
Africans regard God as the Creator of the universe. Many myths of creation portray God as the maker, molder, carver and the architect of the universe. God is regarded as the source of all things. Having brought the world into being, Africans believe that God is the sustainer, provider, nourisher and protector of all creation. In this research, my informant, a Gĩkũyũ woman from Kiambu, affirmed this by saying that “Ngaĩ ni Mũmbĩ”, emphasizing that God is the molder or creator of all things.
Another Gĩkũyũ woman emphasized that God is the creator by narrating the following creation myth: In the beginning, Ngaĩ, who is God the creator and divider of the world, called Gĩkũyũ the father of the Kikuyu nation. Ngaĩ was kind and he gave Gĩkũyũ his land, which was good with rivers, valleys, and big forests with good fruits and animals of all kinds. Ngaĩ moved to reside on Mount Kĩrĩnyãgã. However, he was going around every day to inspect and protect the beautiful earth. When walking around, one day he took Gĩkũyũ on the top of Mount Kĩrĩnyãgã (Mount Kenya) and showed him a place in the center where there were many big mikuyu (fig trees) and so it is believed that the name Gĩkũyũ was derived from those trees. A Gĩkũyũ person is a Mũgĩkũyũ, which means literarily the person of fig tree. The man was happy to see a beautiful land like that.  Ngaĩ told Gĩkũyũ to go and build his homestead on that place with many trees. He called the selected place Mukurwe wa Gathanga meaning Mukurwe tree of Gathanga.
This short creation myth shows that God gave the environment or nature to human beings as a gift.  God gave to the human person a beautiful earth to sustain him. God did not provide the land to human beings and then left. He is still around on Mount Kĩrĩnyãgã, moving around while inspecting and protecting the beautiful earth. This shows exactly what Kwesi Wiredu meant when he wrote, “creator God is not seen outside the world but rather with it though not identified with it.”
For the Africans, God is not an outsider to creation but he expresses himself through creation. Creation that is nature is like the autobiography of God. He is encountered through it. God created the universe full of rocks, trees, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and oceans to show his very majestic presence in the world. During my field research in Machakos, Kenya, one informant said in Kiswahili “ninapoangalia umbaji, najua kweli Mungu ni wa ajabu,” which means, “when I look at the creation I know that god is marvellous.”
To show that God in an African sense cannot be imagined without his creation, when I visited Matuu in Machakos for field research, one elder and African Traditional Religion practitioner said that the Akamba people refer to God as Mumbi (creator or maker) and Mwathani (the greatest ruler). They saw God as sustainer of the whole creation, which he made.
In the same line the Chagga from Kilimanjaro have a phrase, “Ruwa ni mwumba uruka woose” meaning that God is the creator of the whole world. For them God is seen in the whole creation, hence they usually say “vindo vyoose ni fyafuma kwa Ruwa” meaning that all things are from God. They regard God as the owner of the universe, hence they usually say “mwoni uruka ni Ruwa” meaning that the owner of the world is God. Like the Agĩkũyũ who associate God with Mount Kenya, the Chagga associate God with Mount Kilimanjaro. They regard it as the dwelling place of God and so they respect the mountain and the environment around it. In the past nobody was allowed to go near the place where God was living. Therefore, the vegetation and the environment around the mountain remained untouched for centuries. This attitude preserved the environment and ecology around the mount which is a water catchment area.
Generally many ethnic groups in Africa believed that God is the sole owner of the universe. He created it and so He automatically owns it and does what He wants with it. Because God owns the universe, He is immanent in it. He dwells in the universe in special places, like mountains, rocks, valleys, or trees. That is why traditional Africans considered the universe sacred. Therefore, nobody had the right to destroy it. They believed that the power to create and destroy the universe belonged to God alone. Therefore, man had no right to abuse, spoil, destroy or squander what God has made to manifest His glory.

Land Grabbing: 21st Century Colonialism?

  1. Land Grabbing: 21st Century Colonialism? |...
    The pace of land grabbing in the ... crops being grown on the grabbed land exposes the ... of land use and agriculture that destroy natural ...

January 17, 2013• World Economy• by David Smith

Land Grabbing: 21st Century Colonialism?

Land Grabbing: 21st Century Colonialism?
The pace of land grabbing in the developing world is accelerating fast. Foreign governments, financial institutions and corporate giants have combined to create a neo-colonial expansion, which has disastrous consequences for the local populations, as well as the environment.
The pace of land-grabbing in the developing world accelerated dramatically after the 2008 financial crisis. Countries panicked about rising food prices and expanded beyond their own borders, and financial companies spread their assets to reduce exposure to brittle housing markets. Cheap land in developing countries looked like a secure investment.
But the consequences have been catastrophic for the peasants, fisherfolk and small-scale farmers dispossessed of ancestral lands. Repeated promises of benefits for local people have been exposed as myths – the type of self-serving lies that have long emanated from the financial sector.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty coordinator, is one of the most vociferous opponents of land grabs.

“This is correctly termed neo-colonialism. The only real difference from old colonialism is we get emerging economies, such as Brazil and India, also grabbing huge amounts of land,” she said. “But, essentially, we have elites exploiting the poor. You even get divisions within countries. Rich Indian companies grab land, but a lot of poor Indians have land grabbed off them.”
Chandrasekaran said no report had ever found any benefit for local farmers. This was even true for the September 2010 World Bank Rising Global Interest in Farmland report; although the Bank heavily promotes the potential advantages of foreign direct investment.
“There’s a lot of talk of a win-win situation and of benefit for local communities, but it has become blatantly obvious that the large-scale land grabs are causing massive displacements, conflicts and huge food security,” said Chandrasekaran. “The situation is drastic. Everyone agrees that it is completely horrific.”
The World Bank report showed that over 46 million hectares in large-scale farmland acquisitions, or negotiation, were announced between October 2008 and August 2009 alone, with two-thirds concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa. That compared with an average expansion rate of 4 million hectares a year in the decade leading up to 2008.  A more recent estimate, based on evidence presented in April 2011 at an international conference convened by the Land Deal Politics Initiative, produced a figure of over 80 million hectares.

The increasing involvement of the Western financial sector in the land grabs was exposed in a recent report from Friends of the Earth Europe - Farming Money: How European Banks and Private Finance Profit from Food Speculation and Land Grabs.
The report analysed the activities of 29 European financial institutions, including such giants as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, RBS, Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, HSBC, Generali, Unicredit and Credit Agricole. It showed they were all involved in the direct, or indirect, financing of land grabbing, which was especially acute in countries such as Tanzania, Ethiopia, Liberia and Uganda. The FoE report estimated that by 2017 institutional investors will increase their agricultural investment portfolios by 500 percent.
A closer look at the types of crops being grown on the grabbed land exposes the blatant lie that there will be benefits for local people. The Land Matrix – which is co-run by International Land Coalition - has tracked closely all the land grabs made since 2000. Their analysis shows the vast majority of crops are exported.
The top three crops on the purchased land are palm oil (11.9 million hectares), jatropha (9m) and maize (4.9m), all used to make biofuels. The other major crops are rice, eucalyptus, sugarcane, trees, wheat, papaya and rubber. Only rice and maize are staple foods in Africa.
A 2012 report by Oxfam said that two thirds of investors in agricultural lands in developing countries exported everything they produce. Nearly 60 percent of crops are used for biofuels, yet the vast majority of deals are in countries with serious hunger problems.
“Rather than use the land to grow crops to feed the poor, it is either being left idle, as speculators wait for its value to increase … or it is predominantly used to grow crops for export,” the report says.
The mounting evidence of misuse of land has caused Ruth Meinzen-Dick, a researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, to change her perspective on the financial companies. In 2009, when she co-authored a report into land grabbing, she was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But not any more.
“In 2009, we wrote a balanced brief saying there was evidence of negative effects but there were potential benefits. Since then, a number of reports and two international conferences have shown a lot of negative effects.”
“I’ve been at meetings where the investors are still saying good things can happen, but when I ask them to let someone study those effects as there will be lessons for others, in every case I have been turned down, and so have my colleagues,” she said.
“The litmus test is the effect on local people and there is a lot of evidence of harm. The burden of proof is now on any investor to prove it’s a good thing by allowing researchers in. If there is so much surplus to be made then why do local people have to be squeezed out without compensation?”

The “Win-Win” Myth

The “win-win” myth has many influential supporters. The most powerful is the World Bank, which has tripled its support for land projects to US$6-8 billion a year in the last decade. Since 2008 however, 21 formal complaints have been brought by communities affected by World Bank investments, in which they claim violation of land rights, according to Oxfam research.
In 2010, the World Bank co-created a set of seven Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources (RAI). For investments to do no harm, they had to: 1) Respect land and resource rights; 2) Ensure food security; 3) Ensure transparency, good governance and a proper enabling environment; 4) Consultation and participation; 5) Responsible agro-enterprise investing; 6) Social sustainability and 7) environmental sustainability.
But the principles have been dismissed as a smokescreen for aggressive neo-liberal impulses. Within months of their formulation, 130 organisations, including alliances of farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, denounced the RAI initiative. They dismissed it as a move to legitimise land-grabbing.
One of the most damning statements came from the international non-governmental organisation Grain, which was the first campaign group to speak out about land grabbing. Grain said:
“The push for RAI is about creating an illusion that by following a set of standards, large-scale land acquisitions can proceed without disastrous consequences to peoples, communities, ecosystems and the climate. This is false and misleading. RAI is an attempt to cover up power imbalances so that land grabbers and state authorities can get what they want. Farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, after all, are not asking for their lands to be sold off, or leased away.
“Land grabbing forecloses vast stretches of lands and ecosystems for current and future use by peasants, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and nomads, thus seriously jeopardising their rights to food and livelihood security. It captures whatever water resources exist on, below and around these lands, resulting in the de facto privatisation of water.
“The violation of international human rights law is an intrinsic part of land grabbing through forced evictions, the silencing (and worse) of critics, the introduction of non-sustainable models of land use and agriculture that destroy natural environments and deplete natural resources.”
Months after it announced the seven principles, the World Bank’s own report, Rising Global Interest in Farmland, admitted they were hardly ever followed.
“These large land acquisitions can come at a high cost. The veil of secrecy that often surrounds these land deals must be lifted so poor people don’t ultimately pay the heavy price of losing their land,” said World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Yet, the World Bank’s ongoing support for land grabbing is not in doubt. For example, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) accused the Bank of being involved in the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Uganda.
IFAD said the Bank helped to design the project, gave technical advice and played a key role in facilitating negotiations between the Government and private investor BIDCO.  IFAD said “the Bank was able to use its influence to push forward negotiations on the selection of the private investor and it performed an important mediating role”.   

Land Grabs:The Realm Of Big Businesses?

American multi-billionaire Bill Gates is trapped inside the same exploitative neo-liberal world view as the World Bank, according to Chandrasekaran. The Gates Foundation’s brainchild, AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), is controlled by donors representing the interests of biotechnology corporations. They favour technological farming solutions, including patented seeds, fertilizers and lobbying for genetically modified crops. The result is profit-based, corporate-led farming rather than policies that benefit the local community.
“His budget runs to millions of dollars which is larger than virtually every African country,” said Chandrasekaran. “Gates has so much power that his methods are very effective and very damaging.”
“If AGRA carries on with its greenwash revolution, Africans will lose traditional and ecological farming that can feed people in the face of climate change. Instead they will have a toxic system that pushes farmers onto a chemical treadmill. This will be a disaster for their livelihoods and the environment.”
Friends of the Earth has detailed some of the worst recent examples of land grabbing. In Liberia, for example, a quarter of the country, including vast tracts of fertile land, has been handed to palm oil, rubber and logging companies. Between 2009 and 2010, the Liberian Government allocated more than a million acres to transnational palm oil producers Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum Liberia without the consent of those living on and using the land.
Similarly, in Ethiopia, more than 3.6 million hectares of land has been allocated to foreign investors since 2008. In the Gambela region, the Indian company Karuturi Global has been sold 300,000 hectares of land, depriving indigenous people of access to water, fishing and grazing grounds.
Also in Ethiopia, the controversial Gibe III dam is being constructed on the Omo River. The dam is central to the Government’s project to lease out huge swathes of tribal land to state and private enterprises, including international investors from Europe and Asia, to grow cotton, sugar, and palm oil and jatropha for biofuels. The dam will regulate the flow of the Omo and end the natural flood, ensuring irrigation canals provide constant water to these plantations. But it will also destroy the natural supplies of water that allow so many tribes to cultivate their crops.
In each of these examples, the same picture emerges of autocratic governments getting in to bed with big business. There are no consultations with indigenous communities, nor is there any attempt to obtain tribal peoples’ free, informed and prior consent. Protests are met with brutality. Dozens of individuals from the Ethiopian tribes of Bodi, Mursi and Suri have been jailed for protesting against the dam.
Similar examples can be found throughout the developing world. According to Land Matrix, some of the worst afflicted countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Argentina. The biggest investor countries include Indonesia, Malaysia and India themselves, as well as the US, the UK, UAE, China, Australia South Africa and Canada.
“We will get more and more land grabbing unless we put in place measures to strengthen land rights. To some extent, it comes down to which models of agriculture will be able to feed the world,” said Chandrasekaran.
“We support the UN food reports which say we must keep subsistence farmers as they are impossible to replace. Small-scale farmers can recycle resources, produce food cheaply and focus on feeding themselves and the local population rather than exporting to the West.”
Chandrasekaran admitted, however, that is was difficult to battle against the globalised financial system.
“It’s very difficult as there’s no political will and so much vested interest against it. But there are a lot of social movements fighting the land grabs. La Via Campesina, or The International Peasant Movement, is one of the biggest social movements in the world. They have been calling for a different policy framework based on food sovereignty rather than the voluntary principles of the World Bank,” she said.
Related: Capitalistic Farming
Related: Will Africa’s Wet Dreams Turn Into A Nightmare?
Related: Can Africa Break Its Resource Curse?: Joseph Stiglitz
The principles of The Right to Agrarian reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign sets out to prioritize the rights of small-scale farmers and farm workers to agrarian reform and food sovereignty.
 “It’s not about saying no to trade, but changing where the focus lies,” Chandrasekaran said. “The new principles have been hugely successful. They have been taken up in the constitutions of a number of countries – and been debated at the Committee on World Food Security. Increasingly, there is a big movement against land grabbing. “
“There’s also a parallel with social movements in the West, such as urban gardening, which attempt to bypass the influence of governments. We need to empower communities to fight back as in the majority of cases governments are in partnership with the investors.
     By David Smith,
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See Also: Will Africa’s Wet Dreams Turn Into A Nightmare?


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Africa: Calling for a GMO-Free Continent

Monsanto and other Big Ag

Monsanto and other Big Ag corporations won't tolerate a genetically-engineered crop -free Africa. Bribes to follow in knowing violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Africa: Calling for a GMO-Free Continent

Busani Bafana
Inter Press Service / News Analysis
Published: Saturday 24 November 2012
“The organization is behind an African Civil Society statement calling for a ban on GM maize in South Africa and on the continent, which it hopes to submit to African governments.”

South African smallholder farmer Motlasi Musi is not happy with the African Centre for Biosafety’s call for his country and Africa to ban the cultivation, import and export of all genetically modified maize. “I eat genetically modified maize, which I have been growing on my farm for more than seven years, and I am still alive,” he declared.
Musi, 57, a maize farmer in the Fun Valley area of Olifantsvlei, outside Johannesburg, and a beneficiary of South Africa’s Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development program, has embraced the science of biotechnology with gusto.
“What have changed are my yields and my income.” He said that he earned about 225 dollars more per hectare for his GM maize crop than he did when farming ordinary maize.
He said that he was helping reduce food insecurity in South Africa by growing and selling GM maize.
“Biotechnology has a very big role in food security,” Musi told IPS. “The climate has changed and I know that with drought-tolerant seed I have a tool to fight climate change. I cannot guarantee that the rain will come and I if plant crops which are not drought tolerant, I could get into debt and lose my farm.”
A report in April 2012 by the Climate Emergency Institute titled “The Impact of Climate Change on South Africa” said the country is experiencing a gradual, yet steady, change in climate with temperatures showing a significant increase over the last 60 years. Temperatures in South Africa are predicted to rise in costal regions by one to two degrees Celsius by 2050.
But the ACB does not believe that GMOs can deliver food security on the continent, specifically in South Africa, a leading African producer of GMOs.
The organization is behind an African Civil Society statement calling for a ban on GM maize in South Africa and on the continent, which it hopes to submit to African governments. To date 656 signatures have been collected on the online statement, including those of 160 African organizations.
“We have sent an open letter to our minister of agriculture in October to ban GM maize in South Africa,” Haidee Swanby, an officer with ACB, told IPS.
“We (South Africa) have been cultivating, importing and exporting GM crops for 14 years with absolutely no impact on food security whatsoever. In fact, a bag of mealie meal is 84 percent more expensive than it was four or five years ago due to international prices and the extensive use of maize for biofuel production.”
Swanby said there was a need to improve access to food, by addressing poverty, unemployment and issues around land tenure, service delivery, infrastructure, access to markets, and unfair global trade practices.
“Genetically modified food has never been labelled in South Africa so there is no way to know if it is causing health problems,” Swanby said, calling for a rigorous scientific study into the health implications of GM food.
“If someone is getting sick, how are they going to trace it back to GMOs when they don’t know they’re eating them? We want more science, not less!”
The ACB has a supporter in Friends of the Earth International, which is also lobbying for a GMO-free Africa.
The organization’s coordinator Nnimmo Bassey told IPS that GMOs do not deliver on the promises made by the biotechnology industry. He argued that hunger in Africa is used as an excuse to contaminate and erode genetic diversity on the continent.
Bassey said that GM crops are neither more nutritious nor better yielding nor use fewer pesticides and herbicides. And he said they are unsafe for humans and for the environment.
“It is all about market colonization,” Bassey told IPS. “GM crops would neither produce food security nor meet nutrition deficits. The way forward is food sovereignty – Africans must determine what crops are suitable culturally and environmentally. Up to 80 percent of our food needs are met by smallholder farmers. These people need support and inputs for integrated agro-ecological crop management. Africa should ideally be a GMO-free continent.
Friends of the Earth International cites failed GMO experiments in Africa with Bt cotton (a strain of cotton that had the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium inserted into its genetic code) in Burkina Faso and South Africa where they had been touted as the crops to pull smallholder farmers out of poverty.
Global developer and supplier of plant genetics, including hybrid seed, DuPont Pioneer, said that the effect of switching from saved seed to hybrid seed is dramatic.
The company’s vice president responsible for Asia, Africa and China, Daniel Jacobi, told IPS that of the 24 million hectares of maize planted annually in sub-Saharan Africa, about a third was hybrid seed.
Furthermore, farmers get a fuller yield from hybrid seeds by using fertilizer and agronomic practices, reducing post-harvest losses and getting the crop to market, he maintained.
“We can spend a long time and gain a lot of productivity in sub-Saharan Africa by doing all those things without ever getting to the introduction of GMOs,” Jacobi said following a tour of the DuPont Pioneer facility in the Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa.
“I think we tend to get wrapped up in the debate about GMOs and how multinational companies are forcing GMOs down the throats of local farmers. I think we ought to be focused on helping farmers do the best job they can do today by using hybrid seed and let us not let those priorities get lost in the big philosophical debate about GMOs.”
AfricaBio, a biotechnology stakeholder association formed in 1999, says a vast majority of the South African population are struggling to meet their daily needs and GM products offer a proven solution.
“For 14 consecutive seasons, South Africans have planted and consumed foods and food products derived from approved GM crops as part of their diet and no confirmed cases of harm to consumers of GM foods have been reported,” AfricaBio chief executive officer Nompumelelo Obokoh told IPS.
Meanwhile, Musi remained unhappy about the call to ban GM maize. “Africans should come to a realization that all this is happening in the name of contraceptive imperialism. Africa missed out during the Green Revolution – we must not miss the Gene Revolution. Let Africans decide for Africa,” he said.

Africa: Calling for a GMO-Free Continent
Benin is getting ready to join forces with the 4 African countries on the list for Saturday
Le mal, dans ce monde triomphe plus par le silence des gens de bien que par l'action des personnes mauvaises. La Jeunesse Panafricaine résidant au Bénin dit NON A MONSANTO, non aux OGM. Et vous? Mobilisons-nous tous pour le 23 Mai 2015. ‪#‎TempsDeParler‬
Beautiful people, we need your help to raise funds for the transportation of traditional healers association from the various locations to the to the NO GMO protest. We have raised 10 000k so far but still need to raise 15 000k so we can get the numbers up . We would really appreciate your help as they are going to protest your behalf. If you cant get to the march on Saturday think about donating to the busses needed. Inbox message us for details. NO GMO LET'S GO!!!!

Pilgrim's Rest stands up for the right to GMO-Free Foods & safe environments. Saturday 23 May 2015 - March Against Monsanto