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Archive for March 2012

Turning trash to art

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One of Benon's paintings

One of Benon's paintings

Many people consider old newspapers and magazines as trash, but this is gold for a young migrant artist. Benon Lutaaya, 26, from Uganda is making a name for himself in the South African art circles by using recycled papers to paint. “I specialize mostly in collage, where I recycle papers to paint,” the young award winning artist related.
Most of his paintings convey an emotional story, illustrating the fragility of life from his own personal experiences. “My subjects are mostly young people living on the fringes of the mainstream society,” he explained. This is clearly visible in Lutaaya’s paintings, which reflects faces of young children both trapped in war, abused, uncertain of the future, or those orphaned by Aids and currently live in child-headed households.
The migrant artist paints with a depth and intensity that few artists employ, tackling issues that most people would choose to avoid. The abstract imagery in his works represents the act of survival while the text, often obscure, stresses questions of identity. From this mixture comes a release of energy, imbued with life and raw simplicity.
“I enjoy coming up with something new and unique. I love to surprise myself. When people see my work, I would like them to enjoy each piece for its colour harmony, pleasing visual appeal and the ability to connect and communicate,” he said with a huge smile on his face. Lutaaya holds a Bachelors degree in Fine Art and Education, from Uganda’s Makerere University.
His currently a full time artist based at the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg. Last September he won the Ithuba Arts Fund grant, he was selected for a residency in Vermont, USA, and he is also a feature artist of the MultiChoice Africa Calender for 2012. He was part of the Thupelo International artist’s workshop 2012 in Johannesburg.
Lutaaya is involved in a variety of young artists’ initiative in the City of Johannesburg. He has also worked with vulnerable children both in Uganda and Alexandra Township in South Africa. Although he is primarily a paper collage artist, he recently started experimenting with acrylic painting. The artist said his major exhibition at Ithuba Arts fund grantee in November 2011 was a total sell-out on the opening night. “My paintings are present in a variety of private collections both in South Africa, Europe and North America,” he related. (Hassan Isilow)
originally published on: http://vocfm.co.za/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3893:turning-trash-to-art&Itemid=139&tmpl=component&print=1

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Written by africawitness

March 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Travel

South Africa pledges to help Somalia

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Somali businessmen at the meeting with Deputy minister Marius Fransman held at City Lodge in Bellville, Cape Town (Hassan Isilow)

Somali businessmen at the meeting with Deputy minister Marius Fransman held at City Lodge in Bellville, Cape Town (Hassan Isilow)

The South African government has pledged to assist war-torn Somalia with capacity building of its civil servants. Speaking to Somali business leaders at a hotel in Bellville, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), Marius Fransman, revealed government had allocated R100-million to provide capacity and institution-building to Somali government officials.
Fransman’s statement comes barely two weeks after government established diplomatic ties with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The two countries recently agreed to exchange diplomats, a move analysts believe will advance their relationship. On a different note, the deputy minister advised Somalis to attend the upcoming Africa Day celebrations in Cape Town.

He also said government was greatly concerned about the threat posed by pirates along the coast of Africa, extending down to the Mozambican Channel.

Somali business leaders at the meeting thanked the minister and the South African government for establishing relations with their country. ‘‘We are very grateful to the South African government for establishing relations with our country because this will benefit us enormously,” Abdullahi Ali, a Somali businessman said.

He added that the local Somali community welcomed the new diplomatic relations. “People are hoping the new embassy will now enable Somali’s wishing to travel to South Africa to get direct visas which will make them enter the country legally,” he said, adding this will enormously boost business. Another Somali Nasir Ali said he believes the proposed diplomatic missions in Pretoria and Mogadishu will help strengthen relations between local South African citizens and Somalis living in the country as refugees.

International relations minster Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said earlier this month that diplomatic relations with Somalia would afford SA an opportunity to closely assess the situation in Somalia. She proposed interventions in partnership with Somalis and other key players towards the realization of lasting and meaningful peace in Somalia.

South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which mainly operates in the small scale business sector. During the famine which ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-million to help starving victims. Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.(Hassan Isilow)

Written by africawitness

March 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

Posted in Xenophobia

Somalis hail SA deal

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The local Somali community has hailed the South Africa government for establishing diplomatic ties with their country for the first time. On Tuesday South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, reached an agreement with the Somali Foreign Minister, Abdullahi Haji Hassan Mohamed, and said the two countries would soon exchange diplomats. “We hope our relationship will assist Somalia to achieve peace and democracy,” she said in a statement.
The local Somali community was quick to welcome the development. “I’m certain this new diplomatic relationship will help Somalia as a country to achieve peace and democracy,” Ismail Abdullah Chairperson of the Somali Community Board in South Africa (SCOB) said
Ismail said the new embassy will now enable Somali’s wishing to travel to South Africa to get direct visas which will make them enter the country legally. “I also believe business will increase between South Africa and Somalia now that there is a diplomatic relationship between the two countries, he added.
Another Somali Nasir Ali said he believes the proposed diplomatic missions in Pretoria and Mogadishu will help strengthen relations between local South African and Somalis living in the country as refugees. The International relations statement said South Africa was ready to share experiences of its own history in ending apartheid and building a new constitution.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African embassy in Nairobi, Kenya would temporarily act as a liaison office for Somalia until a permanent mission was opened in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which mainly operates in the small scale business sector. During the famine which ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-million to help starving victims.
Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands. (Hassan Isilow)

Written by africawitness

March 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

Senegal sets Precedent for Africa

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2010 World Festival Of Black Arts And Cultures NYC Press Conference( Center is President A. Wade)

Analysts are predicting a peaceful second runoff in Senegal’s Presidential elections, between the incumbent, Abdoulaye Wade and his former prime minister Macky Sall.

‘‘The first round of elections were free and fair ,and I believe the second round will equally be the same in terms of transparency’’ Dr David Zoumenou, a Senior Researcher on Africa at the Institute for Security Studies told Africa witness.

He said, he equally believes the election will be peaceful. ‘‘I think Senegal is setting a good precedent for other African countries to follow, by holding peaceful and transparent elections’’ he observed.

The electoral commission of Senegal announced March 25, as the date for the second round runoff.

In the first round, 85 year old- wade, who has been in power for 12 years, polled 34.8 per cent of the vote, an equivalent of 942,546 votes. While his former prime minister now -turned-challenger Macky Sall obtained 26.5 per cent equivalent to 719,369 votes.
Violence

Unlike in other African countries, where hundreds of people are killed in election related violence, the Senegalese Red Cross said only six people had lost their lives as a result of poll-linked violence.

Critics of President Wade, accuse him of clanging on to power, by biding for a third term.

‘‘wade himself passed the bill in parliament limiting presidential terms to only two, but now he wants to abrogate the country’s constitution to suit his interest’’ Yusuf Mustapha, a Senegalese national living in South Africa told Africa witness in a telephone interview.

He said Senegalese nationals in South Africa were closely following the politics back home. South Africa has a small Senegalese population, mainly dealing in textile trade.

The Campaign for the runoff vote is expected to commence this week Thursday.

Senegal is one of Africa’s pioneer democracies, which boasts an unbroken series of elections since independence in 1960.
( Report by Hassan Isilow)

Written by africawitness

March 7, 2012 at 9:36 am

Posted in Xenophobia

Turkey gives hope to war torn Somalia

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There is excitement in the local Somali community after a Turkish Airline flight made its first landing at Mogadishu airport this week. This is the first time in 20 years that a major commercial airline landed in the war torn country. For Somalis living in South Africa this was a positive sign of hope. "I’m very excited, because this is a sign that reconstruction will soon start in Somalia," said Amir Sheikh, former secretary general of the Somali Community Board of South Africa (SCOB).
The Turkish Airline said this was the start of a regular service to the Somali capital, the first by an international carrier from outside East Africa. Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bosdag was aboard the flight, which was welcomed by the Somali president. "We will connect the Somali people to the rest of the world. We hope that in the near future Somalia will become a stable place, a very normal country," an official from Turkish Airlines, Faruk Sazar, said after landing.
The twice-weekly flights are expected to make travel easier for Somali businessmen and members of the large Somali Diaspora. "Whenever I wanted to travel to Somalia, I had to go either via Dubai or Nairobi which was very costly," Ismail Mohammed, a Somali businessman based in Port Elizabeth told me in a telephone interview. Millions of Somalis live in the Diaspora as a result of the country's long civil war.
Relations
During the 2011 famine, Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went to Somalia to help famine victims. This was the visit major visit by a Western leader in decades to the war wracked country. Analysts predicted that Erdogan’s visit was designed to demonstrate Turkey's willingness to help victims of a devastating famine, and also showcase Ankara's ambition to become a major political and economic player in Africa.
Ever since African Union peacekeepers and government forces pushed the militant group Al Shabbab out of Mogadishu, residents have enjoyed relative stability. Local media in Somalia reported that ululations, dancing and celebrations welcomed the Turkish airliner.

Originally Published on VOC, additional reporting from BBC

Written by africawitness

March 7, 2012 at 8:40 am

Posted in Xenophobia

Somalis Unite against Piracy

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The Somali community in South Africa has requested Somali pirates to free, two South African citizens they kidnapped 16 month ago. Local Somali community leaders made the appeal Friday during a public meeting attended by family members of the kidnapped South Africans. Several Somalis at the meeting expressed anger at the pirates for the pain their actions had caused the families of Bruno Pellizari and Debbie Calitz who were kidnapped in October 2010 while on the yacht, Choizil, sailing from Tanzania to Richard’s Bay.
“We appeal to Somali pirates or whoever is holding the two South Africans, to immediately release them, because they are poor and cannot afford the ransom demanded,” said Alas Jama, a Somali businessman in Bellville, speaking on behalf of the community. He said the Somali community in South Africa shared the pain with the family of the kidnap victims.
“We condemn what the pirates did and wish to show our solidarity with the Bruno and Calitz families,” Abdullahi Ali Hassan, another Somali businessman, said at the meeting. Kidnappers initially demanded a $4-million ransom to free them, but after Bruno’s family failed to raise the money, the captors ‘sold’ them to another group of Somalis who are now demanding a higher ransom.
Vera Hecht, a sister to Bruno, created a website appealing to the world to help with donations, but was unable to collect the amount demanded by the kidnappers. During Friday’s meeting in Bellville, Hecht appealed to the global Somali community to help her in the campaign to free the two South Africans. Somali pirates have been preying on vessels transiting in the busy sea lanes of the Gulf of Aden, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal.
According to industry data, the number of ships seized in the region by Somali pirates dropped last year, but the overall number of attempted attacks continues to rise and the raids have become increasingly violent. Pirates now hold six ships and roughly 176 hostages, the EU said, adding that this was well below last year’s figure. But average ransoms continue to rise. It now stands at about $5 million compared to $4 million last year.
South Africa is home to a large Somali refugee community, with most of them operating in the small scale business industry across the country. Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.( Report by Hassan Isilow)

Written by africawitness

March 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Xenophobia

S. African Mosques to Save Pirate Hostages

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By Hassan Isilow
CAPETOWN – Almost two years in captivity, the family of two South Africans kidnapped by Somali pirates are seeking mosque help to win their release.
Vera Hecht, a sister of Bruno Pelizzari who is held by Somali pirates, said she will be visiting all Somali-run mosques in South Africa to seek the help of Muslim worshippers to rescue her family.
Pellizari was kidnapped by pirates along with Debbie Calitz in October 2010 while on the yacht Choizil which was sailing from Tanzania to Richard’s Bay in South Africa.
The captors initially demanded a 4-million-dollar ransom to free the two kidnapped Christians.
Having failed to get the money, the kidnappers sold the two hostages to another Somali group, which is now demanding a higher ransom.
“I started a trust fund called the SOS Bru and Deb Trust and we have been raising cash for their release,” Hecht told me over the phone.
“But the amount is still very little compared to what the kidnappers are demanding.”
Hecht also created a website documenting her appeal so that the pirates could track her efforts.
Somali pirates have been preying on ships transiting in the busy sea lanes of the Gulf of Aden, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal.
The number of ships seized in the region by Somali pirates fell last year, industry data shows, but the overall number of attempted attacks continues to rise and the raids have become increasingly violent.
Pirates now hold six ships and roughly 176 hostages, the EU says, again well down from last year.
But average ransoms continue to rise – now about $5 million compared to $4 million last year.
Somali Help
The Somali community in South Africa will also join efforts to win the release of the two South African nationals.
“We will be holding a community meeting on Friday to discuss a strategy on how to start a campaign for the release of the two kidnapped South African nationals,” Abdullahi Ali Hassan, a Somali community leader in Cape Town, said.
South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which owns several mosques across the country.
Abdullahi said Somalis are grateful to South Africans for having assisted them during the famine which ravaged their Horn of Africa country.
“In a gesture of goodwill, we will try our best to ensure that the two South Africans are freed,” Abdullahi said.
During the famine that ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-Million to help starving victims.
Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Barre in 1991.
Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Originally Published by OnIslam.net:
http://www.onislam.net/english/news/africa/456022-s-africa-mosques-to-save-pirate-hostages.html

Written by africawitness

March 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

Posted in Xenophobia

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