By Dana Malcolm
#Rwanda, June 25, 2022 – As the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting heads to Rwanda on June 20th two young women have an appeal for Prince Charles and the other heads of state. “Don’t shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father.”
In an article of the same name published by CNN, Carina and Anaïse Kanimba urge the heads of state to hold Rwandan President Paul Kagame accountable for what they say is his record of human rights abuses and the kidnapping of their father, Paul Rusesabagina. Rusesabagina is the real man behind the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and is recognized as a hero of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 he saved more than 1200 lives by keeping them safe in his hotel.
He has been a longtime critic of Paul Kagame who has been accused of altering election results. Then in August 2020, he disappeared. The girls explained how their father was, “Lured from our home in San Antonio, Texas, through Dubai, where he was tricked into boarding a flight to Kigali. An agent of the Rwandan Government, posing as a Bishop, asked our father to come to Burundi and speak to church groups about reconciliation. Having boarded a plane in Dubai expecting to fly to Burundi, he was drugged, waking only to realize he had landed in Kigali, Rwanda — a place to which he would never voluntarily return.”
The girls say he was tortured forced to make a false confession and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His daughters reject the accusations and they are backed by the United Nations, The United States, and several other high-profile human rights agencies and countries. They describe the recent deal between the UK and Rwanda as heartbreaking.
Rusesabagina, a cancer survivor, has allegedly suffered untreated strokes while in detention and his daughters say they are desperate.
“The Prince of Wales and other CHOGM leaders can choose to focus on their shared values and principles and push those members who do not uphold those values in practice to do so. This includes Kagame & #39;s Rwanda. Although Prince Charles is not a political figure, he can seek dialogue behind closed doors, or even ask to visit our father…we urge the Prince of Wales and all of the other leaders assembled not to stay silent and to ask Kagame to provide our father with a compassionate release now, before it is too late.”
That Rusesabagina was kidnapped by Rwandans is not far-fetched. Human Rights Watch, a UN agency, says between 2010 and 2017, they found evidence that Rwanda’s military “frequently arbitrarily detained and tortured people, beating them, asphyxiating them, using electric shocks, and staging mock executions in military camps”. They also maintained that most of the detainees were “forcibly disappeared” and held without communication with their families for months on end in “deplorable conditions.”
Rwanda has hundreds of documented cases of human rights abuses and just last year 99 UN Member Countries during a review of its human rights records found so many irregularities that they made 284 recommendations to improve the state of human rights in the country.
The United Kingdom was one of the 99 countries that admitted Rwanda had serious gaps in its upholding of human rights, which makes the decision to ship refugees there nothing short of baffling.
In fact not only did the UK recommend fixes to shortcomings in how Rwanda handles human trafficking victims they also recommended the country.
“Conduct transparent, credible, and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture, and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Rwanda did not accept these recommendations, merely marking them as ‘noted.’ So far Prince Charles has not responded to the girl’s letter and the world will have to wait until
June 20th to see the outcome of the visit.
Nigeria Cash Catastrophe
By Dana Malcolm
#Nigeria, February 24, 2023 – A recent decision to move to new banknotes has been delayed for 60 days after causing turmoil in Nigeria with people running out of money and crowding ATMs.
The 200 Naira, 500 Naira and 1000 Naira notes were all scheduled to be discontinued and replaced by January 31st. The deadline had to be pushed to Feb 10 because residents just could not get their hands on the new notes leaving them stuck with old notes that were no longer legal tender.
The country’s courts tried to step in barring the Feb 10 deadline but that ruling fell on deaf ears as the government moved forward anyway, causing extremely long lines at banks and ATMs in the country.
Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari announced in early February that the old N200 notes will remain in circulation for 60 more days along with the new notes. But the economy is already feeling the effects of the cash shortage. While a significant cross-section of Nigerians use digital banking and the country’s online banking section is growing rapidly, a large section of the population still relies on cash for daily transactions, especially in rural areas.
The new notes and limits on withdrawing large amounts of money instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria were initially in an effort to take some of the cash out of circulation but the effort has backfired leaving residents angry, frustrated and cashless.
The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars
By Dana Malcolm
#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.
Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.
As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.
He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”
David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent. By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera. Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.
“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”
Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.
“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.
Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’
There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.
On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.
In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.
“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”
David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.
South Africa plans Military Exercises on the Anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; not sitting well with some
By Dana Malcolm
#Africa, February 2, 2023 – South Africa has announced it is planning a joint naval exercise with Russia and China during the anniversary of the Ukrainian invasion but says there is no sinister intent.
According to the South African National Defense Force, more than 350 South African soldiers will join Chinese and Russian soldiers in Exercise MOSI II.
In a statement posted to its Twitter, the South African National Defense Force has rejected any insinuation that the move is a political one, emphasizing that it was a continuation of exercises planned years prior.
“Ex MOSI II is a scheduled nine-day military marrying up exercise, one of several that the SANDF conducts with militaries around the world on a regular basis, to ensure that it can learn from and benchmark its own operating capability. The first edition of this particular exercise was held in 2019 and involved Brazil and India, as well as Russia and China. The follow-up exercise, MOSI II, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It further maintained that it was on neutral terms with both the US and Russia.
“South Africa is continually home to military cooperation events, not all of which are formal exercises. The USAF is currently using Cape Town as a landing base — Last year, South Africa participated in Exercise SHARED ACCORD, the US military’s annual African military exercise.”
They maintained that over the last year, they had participated in events with the French, Indians and Brazilians.
“None of this is sinister, nor suggests any agenda over and above the ongoing improvement of the SANDF’s capabilities in executing its constitutional mandate of safeguarding the territorial integrity of this country.”
Exercise MOSI II will last for nine days from February 17th to 27 and will be held in the Indian Ocean.
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