African Union Summit: What to Expect in January 2015?

assodesire

By Désiré Assogbavi (personal analysis)

The 2015 has been declared by the Assembly of the Union as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. Both bi-annual Summits of the AU will then be organized around this theme. In the practice, the theme will be symbolically launched during the January Summit but a number of related activities will be organized throughout the year 2015. However, some other burning issues will dominated the various policy discussions during the Summit.

The Summit will be, as usual organized in 3 steps:

–      The Permanent Representatives Committee, PRC (Ambassadors): 23 – 24 January

–      The Executive Council, EC (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 26 – 27  January

–      The Assemblee of the AU (Heads of State and Government) 30 – 31 January

A number of other parallel/side meetings will also normally be held by states and non-state actors.

What is likely to dominate…

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The kind of Leaders this Continent needs

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A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?’ “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.

Excerpt from the Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

‘I often meet the real leaders of Africa (Youth) searching for external transformational leadership. Essentially they are looking for themselves.’ – Brian Tamuka Kagoro

Mombasa youth through David’s eyes Part I

“Look at him. You just take a long hard look at him. IMG_20141022_101300 Please tell me if these people are lazy. It is 5.20 a.m. They were here before you even came. What you’re seeing him doing is collecting feed to catch fish. The tide is also about to come so he is preparing for it in advance. I know these boys; it is as if they are my sons. Some of them are my neighbours, some of them I never see again but they still are like my sons. I have watched them from different places in Mombasa for over 28 years. Yes, I have worked in Mombasa for over 28 years. Do you believe me? (chuckles) I have done all manner of jobs but I’m most proud as a security guard. I have worn this uniform for a longer period than you’ve probably existed in this world. You look very young but I will not ask you your age.  I hear it is bad manners to do so. (chuckles) I started here in the early 80’s. Things were great. Tourism was booming. Mombasa was the it place in the whole East African coast, actually in Africa. It was the same in the 90’s but I cannot say it’s the same today. (silence) I am earning the least I have ever earned in my life, but I am grateful. I still have a job. I can’t say it’s the same for some of my friends, actually most of them. They are so bitter with life. Do you blame them? (silence) So these boys, you’d like to know more about them? Well, these boys right now are one the most hardworking individuals I know. Everyone says that Mombasa youth are lazy. Do people in the urban cities even wake at these ungodly hours to go to work? Let alone to do a traditional economic activity such as fishing? Why label what you do not know? You end up belittling those who still have a bit of fire in them. You honestly do. Despite all hardship and short comings, they are still here before dawn to fend for themselves. Make no mistake though, they still do engage in illegal activities. You do know that drugs are rampant here. It’s a shame. They have destroyed our youth. Majority are high at least at some point in the day. Call it escapism and opportunists making a killing. These children probably dropped out of school in class 4-8 or at the most in their second year in high school. People say they are lazy because now there is free primary education but that is not the case. The funds available are Kshs 3000 ( USD 34) and one needs Kshs 7000 (USD 78). Yes one many say that they can work to offset the balance but there are other things that take priority, food and shelter. The basic needs. Those are more of a priority. School comes as an afterthought yet it is the one thing that could remove them from abject poverty. But there is another problem. There are those who have gone to school but have still not gotten a shot at their silver lining. There are no jobs. Am sure you can now see why I say that these boys out here fishing are hardworking. They know that people cannot do without food and even despite them earning very little, they are still here. They then take the fish to the factory in Old Town then to marikiti. They live a day at a time. It’s worse today though, they cannot bank on the tourism industry to make some extra money. There are no tourists. We need each other to face this menace, we need our security back. Can we have a national dialogue about this?”

Somebody please believe me #16days

A woman in Lagos protests against underage marriages in Nigeria.

(Pic courtesy of theguardian.com)

I liked the idea of school, the thought of reading, writing, speaking and learning. Opening my mind and world to a whole new realm.  “I am going to be somebody one day. No longer will my family have to live in poverty wondering about where the next meal will come from.”

Today though, today I hate school, I loathe it.  My teacher Mr. Shabakanga, talks and touches me inappropriately. He said that I shouldn’t tell anyone. That it was the way of life and a heavy part of learning. He continued to do this, hurting me and I finally could not take it anymore. The pain was unbearable; it was time to tell somebody. I decided to tell my mother, then my sister. I tried telling my father but he said that it was my fault that this had happened. That I had tempted my teacher. My own father told me this. Can you believe that? He says it’s okay, society says it’s okay. We go to the courts. I feel ashamed. They keep asking me such dehumanizing questions. Questions such as, ‘how sure are you it is rape?’ What do you mean by how sure am I? How do you expect me to speak up in public again if you will shame me for this and make me relive this? Shouldn’t I feel safe when I decide to speak? Shouldn’t the society protect me? Shouldn’t my teacher who abused me in school pay for this? Why is the law so lenient on him when he has stripped me of my dignity, my innocence, my security, my body, and my rights?  Somebody please believe me.

Dear world,

When I tell you that it is my dress and it is my choice, please believe me. It is not just about this fabric that I wear but about how I feel when I wear it. You have told me that in society I have to listen to what you say. Isn’t listening a two way street? Please listen to me, this discussion is not about the pieces of clothing that I choose to adorn myself with. It’s about you acknowledging that when it comes to my body, it is my dignity. That you should not be violent towards me, harass me because of who I am, a woman.

Dear world,

I was slapped today because I had not worn a scarf to cover my head. My mother tells me that I am lucky because the neighbour’s daughter got her ear cut off. I started to thank my God because today, I was slapped and did not have my ear cut off.

Dear World,

I was studying for my exams when I was kidnapped. I was scared, the community had told us that we were not safe but our fathers and mothers tried to tell the government but they did nothing. There were soldiers, 15 of them, very brave I must admit. Just as brave as us who decided to stay in school despite the increasing insecurity in the area. And then it happened, they came and the government was nowhere to be seen. We waited one day, two days, three days, six months, and now 8 months. Why are you taking my safety and security as a light issue? Isn’t it my right to feel safe? I was trying to build my future, realize my goals. But no they came and took us. And you just stood there watching. Today I am tired, I am scared, I am weary from carrying a child in me. I’m almost due for delivery, I did not plan on this. My crime was being female, seeking an education. You have not in any way shown any interest in trying to save me. What you say that you have done is not enough. I feel like if it were my brothers, you would have responded quicker, with more urgency. Day and night, I still wait for the day that you will come and rescue me. Please believe me; I want to go back to my family, back to school.

Dear world,

I would like to know that it is okay for me to dream big, to envision my role in society. That society sees me as a human with needs and acknowledges my input. That I am not just an asset to make money from. I do not want to be a bride. You sell me for $12 and my family is helpless, they can only agree to this. My aunt tried to oppose this, her friends too, but you decided to put her in harms way. You called them prostitutes. I believe that it is my right to choose who I wish to spend the rest of my life with. Marriage before the age of 18 is a violation. If anything, the international convention on children’s rights says so. You signed this and agreed to it.

Dear world,

Female Genital Mutilation is not a right of passage. Exposing me to death is in no way a right. Exposing me to child bearing inability is not a right. I still remember that day, mother and auntie grabbed my legs trying to pull them apart. I tried to resist but I lost the battle. Then came the first slash, I bled and bled, I was told not to cry that I would shame my family if I did. But the pain was unbearable and so I lost consciousness. I woke up to such excruciating pain; I could not go to the bathroom without wanting to kill myself. My mother told me, “welcome to adulthood.” Is adulthood pain? Because I do not want it. Let me be a child. Please believe me.

Dear world,

I want to tell you so much more, please believe me when I tell you this.

ASEOWA IN GUINEA: DR JULIUS WORKS HARD TO PROVIDE CLEAN DATA

By Paschal Chem-Langhee

Story was originally posted on the ASEOWA website http://pages.au.int/sites/default/files/ASEOWA_update_Nov%2029%20Guinea_e.pdf

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“I hope to contribute to the fight against Ebola by ensuring the generation of good quality, timely and valid information, on which different stakeholders can base to make very important decisions.”- Julius Amumpe (MD)

Julius Amumpe, a medical doctor from Uganda, joined the African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa mission (ASEOWA), in October2014. His reason, “So that I can make a positive contribution towards helping to control this outbreak at the source, and also to assist my brothers and sisters in West Africa in the spirit of Pan Africanism and African solidarity”.

The thirty two year old senior medical officer who, until recently, served as district health officer in the District of Bukomansimbi in Central Uganda, also says he is keen to understand the virus and to fight it. “In Uganda, we have had several Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (Ebola and Marbug) outbreaks, and taking part in the coordination of the district response team (every time there is an outbreak), has prepared me psychologically to take up this voluntary mission. I am therefore careful to take all proven precautionary measures to avoid possible infection.”

Julius is one of over thirty medical and paramedical staff, who constituted the second batch of expert volunteers recruited from within African Union (AU) member-states. They were flown to the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, where they were trained and briefed on medical safety procedures to follow when in the field.

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(Julius (L) of ASEOWA with Thomas from partner organization, cleaning data at WHO office)

The African Union deployed Julius to Guinea as Data Manager, where he is part of an integrated team of data experts working together with the Guinean Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partner institutions.

The database is hosted at the WHO country office in Conakry. The data management team is tasked to ensure the smooth running of a management information system for the outbreak response interventions. Specifically the team compiles, cleans and analyses real time data to inform decisions made daily by the field teams (field epidemiologists for contacts tracing and Ebola Treatment Units for cases management), the National Coordination Unit, and the wider international community.

“On a daily basis, we receive lots of input data from all the field teams, that is; the Ebola Treatment Units (ETU), and the epidemiologists in the communities. When this data comes in, it is entered into the database by data entrants, after which I do data cleaning and recording, before we can sit as a team to analyze it. At the end of the day, we produce a situation report which also informs decisions to be taken by the people in the field. The feedback we send to them daily, indicates which people they should continue to monitor, which contacts to trace, and which people should no longer be in the follow up group (non-cases). For us to be efficient, the data must be updated and ASEOWA Updates is compiled by the ASEOWA Communications Team and published by the AUC Directorate of Information and Communication.

Julius believes that a lot has been done by the team so far. However, he sees opportunities for improvement in data quality assurance and response. With regards to challenges, he says language or communication is one such hurdle, as he comes from an Anglophone country and has to struggle with French in the hope to be understood.

Dr Amumpe, a lover of dancehall music who misses his family back home, Julius sums up his determination in the following words, “I hope to contribute to the fight against Ebola by ensuring the generation of good quality, timelyand valid information, on which different stakeholders can base to make very important decisions.”

http://pages.au.int/ebola Hashtag #AUonEbola

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(ASEOWA Head of Mission, Major General Julius Oketta briefs ASEOWA team in Guinea)

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