Reactionaries and revolutionaries

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Dec 8th, 2011
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Nigerians are applauding the resuscitation of an anti-homosexual bill which began back in 2006, yet they remains quiet about this week’s  COP17 negotiations. Why isn’t there more outrage on the blogosphere about ‘the real, and not imaginary danger’ of climate change and its impacts on the country, asks Sokari Ekine.

Every few weeks a discussion pops up around African awakenings/uprisings, but I am not wholly convinced this is a reality beyond Tunisia and Egypt at least. The articles from Pambazuka’s excellent Fanon special issue are a reminder of the lack of real distance we have travelled as people and nations since the independence movements in the 1950s and 60s.

Last week the Nigerian Senate passed the third reincarnation of an anti-homosexuality bill which began back in 2006. The 2011 Same-Sex Marriage Bill (SSMB) expands the existing legislation on homosexuality to include organisations and individuals who ‘register operate or participate in gay… organizations’.

The same old reactionary Biblical language and cultural references were used to justify the bill and from the hundreds of comments battering the blogosphere, there was much cheering and very little jeering from the Nigerian public. The few who spoke out against the bill made sure they let it be known that they were most definitely heterosexual (For example, Chxta who thinks homosexuality is abhorrent but 14 years is a bit steep, or Linda Ikeji who doesn’t understand homosexuals but isn’t too happy with death and imprisonment).

On Twitter, people tended to be a little more forthright – but even here the Bill was turned into a joke. The Bill has still to be passed by members of the lower house, who received it on Wednesday 7 December; from accounts they remain determined to pass it despite outrage from the West. From there it must be signed by the president and even if he refuses the Senate can still pass it. It’s still within the realms of possibility that it will be quashed but there is every chance it will resurface.

Again (maybe I missed something), I haven’t seen the same level of outrage from the Nigerian blogoshere or twittersphere on the real, and not imaginary danger of Climate Change as it is affecting the country, such as the farming and fishing communities as explained by Justice in Nigeria:

‘A woman clears weeds on her farm in Kano Northern Nigeria. Like their counterparts who make a livelihood from fishing, African women who farm are also facing problems caused by climate change. In Northern Nigeria AND BORDERING REGIONS, declining rainfall and desert encroachment which are both attributed to climate change have seriously affected women farmers.

‘The West African State of Niger has also been affected. Aminatou Daouda Hainikoye a lawyer from the country says available water for farming has been declining over the years. Hainikoye, who is a legal advocate for small farmers, says women are at a disadvantage in securing access to the shrinking supply of water for agricultural use…..The lands closest to the rivers are the most expensive. The prices of such lands have been on the increase, because they contain the water that can be used for farming. Now where will poor women get the money to purchase expensive lands? We did a study and we found out that men are the owners of all the lands close to the rivers.’

COP17– climate change talks in Durban 2011has an excellent series of blog posts spelling out the urgency in responding to the UN climate change conference taking place in Durban, South Africa:
‘The biggest problem is obvious: COP17 saboteurs from the US State Department joined by Canada, Russia and Japan, want to bury the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol treaty. Instead of relaxing intellectual property rules on climate technology and providing a fair flow of finance, Washington offers only a non-binding “pledge and review” system.
‘This is unenforceable and at current pledge rates – with Washington lagging everyone – is certain to raise world temperatures to four degrees centigrade, and in Africa much higher. Estimates of the resulting deaths of Africans this century are now in excess of 150 million. As former Bolivian Ambassadar to the UN, Pablo Solon said at last week’s Wolpe Memorial Lecture, “The COP17 will be remembered as a place of premeditated genocide and ecocide.”’
Meanwhile, the false solution of market based mechanisms in the form of carbon trading is highlighted by the Occupy COP17 movement:

‘The same institutions, corporations and governments who have led the world into economic chaos are leading us towards climate chaos.

‘However, the cracks in the façade are starting to show. Carbon trading and offsetting, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have failed to cut carbon emissions, which reached record high levels in 2010, whilst further impoverishing the worlds poorest people, facilitating the largest land grab in history, destroying biodiversity and trampling the rights of indigenous communities.’

Over at Kubatana, performance poet Comrade Fatso makes a suggestion which should make the oblivious party-goers happy especially since there is also money to be had (gleefully rubbing hands together!):

‘Comrades I’m sure you’ve heard of the crisis in the world today
Floods in France, disappearing islands and droughts in Zimbabwe
How do we deal with all our carbon emissions rising
With global warming, increased instability and insane petrol pricing
Comrades I would like to announce my brand new policy
I call this policy C…E…E…
Its simply entitled Climate Economic Empowerment
How to make money from mother nature and from the environment
Because climate is the new bling
The new diamonds, the new shiny, spangly thing
We’ve run out of ways to make money for a living
But, comrades, now we have carbon markets and carbon trading
So will we save the planet? Hell muthafukking no!
But we’ll have the biggest, most fantastic party til we hit ground zero.
So lets co-opt the NGO’s and some scholarly scholars
Coz we wanna go green like freshly minted US dollars So in that sense yes we are the real green party
Because nature is time and time is money
So give us your money and give it to us by the tonne
Put it in my bank account – it’s called the Green Climate Fund!’

To return to the theme of African awakenings – which includes getting rid of dictators, repressive and corrupt leaderships – African Dictators puts out a call to ‘Hacktivists’ to help fight the ‘butcher’ of Rwanda.

‘Dear AD and readers, especially members of Diaspora, do we have some techies to help fight our butcher? What if AfricanDictator closed – and others such as Umuvugizi, then what?

‘Why do we just sit there while our butcher kills us one by one and intimidates us? Why is he shutting down our sites and gets away with it? Are we cowards – so cowardly that we can’t fight him even on the net? We can’t learn from the experience of how other people have used the social media to defeat tyrants?

‘Look, some 1,000 brave Rwandans stood up against our butcher in Gitarama last week. How did we use that spark to extend our pen fight? Nothing!

‘I am writing this message to younger members of our Diaspora – aren’t some of you techies like other young people world-over?’

On Black Looks, Rumbidzai Dube calls out Zimbabwe for unilaterally changing the theme of this year’s ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence’, from militarism to… well, no theme.
‘Is anyone wondering why the Zimbabwean government changed the theme?

‘Maybe this should bring us to the question of what militarism is, in the context of gender based violence. It is an ideology. That ideology creates a culture of fear. It condones violence and induces fear by cultivating a culture of terror among populations through the use of military warfare, aggression or other forms of violence.

‘Why must we reject it?

‘Militarism has grave consequences. It is coercive, intrusive on the dignity of people and poses a huge challenge to human security. Since it is a way of looking at the world; it influences how we perceive those who surround us; family, neighbours, the general public and the rest of humanity. If we embrace militarism then we are condoning a culture that perceives every individual as the enemy and embracing violence as the only effective way to resolve disputes. That is unacceptable!’

Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.

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