Apr 11, 2016 EL Reports is very excited by all the wonderful things happening on the African literary scene in recent years.
From adaptation of African books into blockbuster films to the global recognition of African literary egg heads, the world is indeed getting familiar with African Literature.
In recent weeks, there has been quite a buzz about two really great events on the scene.
One is the UK launch of Cassava Republic Press, one of Africa’s leading publishing houses.
The other, as you might have guessed is the Etisalat prize for literature awards; the biggest and most prestigious literary award on the African continent.
If you missed the event, this is the perfect event for a flashback Monday. The award ceremony was…
CEO of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, gave us a little background into the establishment of the annual award.
“We are here to celebrate a tremendous wealth of literary talent, not just in Nigeria, but in Africa as a whole…it was launched originally in 2013”
Then the prizes! Nigerian writer Modupe Kuti, smiled home with a cash prize of 1000 pounds after winning the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature in the Flash Fiction Category.
And the winning novel for this edition of the awards was originally written in French by DR Congo born poet and novelist, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 revolves around the life of an idealistic writer sucked into the dystopian world of his gangster friend, who reigns supreme in the debauched nightlife of a secessionist City.
Tram 83 was later translated into English by Roland Glasser and published by Deep Vellum.
It is the first novel by a DR Congo writer to be translated into English in over two decades.
Fiston Mwanza Mujila had previously received several awards including the Gold Medal at the 6th Jeux de la Francophone in Beirut as well as the Best Text for Theater in 2010.
The award comes with a very impressive £15,000 cash prize, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück and an iphone 6S.
Apr 11, 2016 Judges at the International Criminal Court recently threw out charges of post-election violence against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.
In a complex ruling, the judges declared that there was no case for Ruto and his co-accused, Joshua Sang, to answer.
Speaking at a news briefing in Nairobi, Kenya's post-election victims' lawyer Wilfred Nderitu said that the court’s ruling came as a disappointment to his clients. However, the absence of an acquittal in the Ruto and Sang cases means the ICC is free to bring fresh charges in future.
"It's a decision that we must respect. Of course there is no doubt that it will come as a disappointment to the victims but it is my hope if not anything else to ensure that the highest authority at the court has dealt with it. It is my hope that there will be an appeal by the prosecutor."
Some residents of the capital expressed their happiness at acquittal. Stephen Gitau said:
"We don't want anything else, we should be given a holiday tomorrow, the whole of tomorrow we should celebrate, we should not go work. The president should announce today that tomorrow is a holiday and can even continue for the whole week, because we are very happy, even my heart is busting with joy. We are very happy."
Apr 11, 2016 U.S. first lady Michelle Obama recently hosted her last annual garden planting event at the White House.
Students from nearby schools came over to help with the planting, which is her last season before her husband leaves office early next year.
The event brought back some of the children who originally helped the first lady create the garden seven years ago.
The students, now in high school, assisted the other children as they planted several garden beds with various vegetables.
"But I want to take this time to thank all the kids here and all the kids around the country who have been a part of this garden. This is my baby. And hopefully, this will not be the last planting. Hopefully, there will be other administrations who come in, and they take up this project and continue to make this a part of the White House tradition."
Among the guests at the White House was NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who planted a bed of Chinese cabbage which will be taken to the International Space Station.
Apr 11, 2016 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently moved to defend Russia's efforts in ending hostilities in the Middle East.
“…in the case of President Putin, he says that he is prepared to be part of the solution with respect to Syria. Now, everybody doubted whether Russia would play any constructive role whatsoever with respect to the cessation of hostilities…"
Ahead of a new round of negotiations in Geneva, Kerry reiterated his belief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would ultimately need to step down in order for peace to be achieved.
"The war will not come to a complete ending, closure, if Assad against the wishes of the opposition, unless there's some agreement that I'm not aware of that gets reached with the opposition somewhere in time, you can't end the war, because the opposition will not fight -- end fighting because of what he is deemed to have done to their people, to the people of his country. And the opposition is a determined opposition that has survived even the Russian bombing and even the toughest onslaught of Assad for five years. They're not going to suddenly disappear."
Apr 11, 2016 Former NBA player Yao Ming, who was recently selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson, said he is considering setting up a Hall of Fame for China's sports.
As an A-list sporting icon, Yao Ming opened up China to the NBA in his nine seasons with the Houston Rockets. He finished his career as an eight-time All Star and averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in 486 games after being picked No. 1 in the 2002 NBA draft.
"Firstly, I'm very grateful for such a high honour awarded by the committee of the U.S. Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame," Yao told reporters in Beijing. "I didn't expect that, I dared not expect too much. I was also very shocked but I still want to express my deep appreciation. As for a deeper (meaning of the award), actually I have always hoped that someday China can establish its own sports Hall of Fame."
He went on to comment on other athletes like Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson, saying:
"Basketball is great because of them. The value of basketball comes from the players and teams who are the real heroes on the basketball court. People may have forgotten that Kobe (Bryant) will just have a couple of games (before his retirement), he will definitely be a member of Hall of Fame in four years,"
Apr 8, 2016 The seaside city of Cape Town recently played host to the 17th edition of the famous International Cape Town Jazz Festival, which attracted over 37,000 revelers from all over the world.
The five-stage festival, which is also the fourth largest in the world, featured celebrated local artists as well as international musicians.
Highlight appearances included American bassist Victor Wooten, Malian duo Amadou and Miriam and Cuban pianist Roberto Solo Foncesca, as well as several popular South African acts like Mafikizolo and the legendary Abigail Kubeka.
With a mix of artists from different regions and decades, accompanied with more ticket sales than ever before, the 2016 edition lived up to its title of “Africa's Grandest Gathering”.
One of the fans, Matt Ramphele, said:
"The jazz festival is amazing, all kinds of amazing acts, Christian Tiger School, who else?, Angie Stone, Felix Laband, your boy, Mick Jenkins, that's the man. The jazz festival is amazing, I love it every year and I love it this year,"
Another fan, Dumisa Msweli, said;
"I think it's one of the biggest jazz festivals that's happening in South Africa you know? You can go all over, you won't find something like this, and it’s the best,"
The Cape Town Jazz Festival has been applauded by many in South Africa for boosting Cape Town's reputation as a city for arts and culture. According to organizers, the festival is expected to contribute more than 522 million Rands to the economy of Cape Town and the Western Cape.
Apr 8, 2016 Thinking about a vacation in Africa? Then we’ve got great news for you.
Ebonylife TV, in partnership with Africa’s leading online travel concierge, Wakanow are getting set to premiere a unique travel show called “Destinations Africa” in May 2016.
Each episode of the show will feature a Nigerian personality teaming up with a local host and together they will explore the country’s top-end attractions, authentic treasures, culinary delights and some unexpected gems.
From visiting the world’s biggest Basilica in Cote d’Ivoire to walking with cheetahs in Zambia and sugar tastings in Mauritius, the show promises to re-define the African tourism experience.
Apr 8, 2016 In light of a massive document leak from a Panamanian law firm showing several financial misdeeds via the offshore company structures, New Zealand's Prime Minister recently moved to defend the country's tax system.
Opposition Labor Party Leader Andrew Little had accused Prime Minister Key of letting people use the country due to its low tax jurisdiction.
Responding to this, Prime Minister Key said:
"New Zealand is not a tax haven. Tax havens don't have the disclosure regimes that New Zealand have," Key answered, later adding that "we're signatories to 40 double tax agreements and 11 tax information sharing agreements. It's not like we're trying to operate in some black hole."
According to John Nash, international revenue strategy manager for New Zealand’s Inland Revenue, the tax agency is working closely with its tax treaty partners to obtain full details of any New Zealand tax residents who may have been involved in any financial crime.
Apr 8, 2016 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde recently called for stronger action in boosting global economic growth. She also warned that without decisive action, downside risks were increasing.
Speaking at Frankfurt's Goethe University, Lagarde prescribed several ways to circumnavigate the situation.
"We are actually growing and that is good news indeed. The not so good news is that that recovery is too weak, too fragile and its durability is at risk. Now of course we have made progress since the great financial crisis. But because that growth has been too slow, too fragile a lot of people are just not feeling it."
She went on to point out China’s effective business model.
"China, as I said, is shifting its business model and as a result, is having good growth. You know, 6.5 (percent growth) is nothing to be ashamed but it's significantly lower than what they had experienced and what their suppliers and the supply chain had experienced. Russia and Brazil are experiencing significant downturns, more so than what we had expected. And that is also true for the Middle East which is the prime region which is suffering from the low oil prices. There are also quite a few African countries that are suffering as much as the Middle East countries and that are less talked about. India by contrast, in that category, remains a bright spot with strong growth and rising real income."
Apr 8, 2016 Olympic authorities in Rio de Janeiro recently reiterated that sporting venues will be delivered on scheduled for the 2016 Olympics, despite an on-going investigation into supposed irregularities at some of the venues.
Speaking to this effect, Roberto Ainbinder, director of the Municipal Olympic Company said:
"The issue is being looked at by the legal sectors of both the city and the company. I don't know how to answer here now. But, the fact is that the service has already been done. There will not be any standstill that can impact the schedule of the project because the Deodoro projects, the vast majority of them anyway, are done,"
State lender, Caixa Economica Federal, also confirmed that it had suspended payments to a consortium building Deodoro, where 11 sports including rugby sevens and BMX Biking will be held.
"We made it essential to have an equestrian test event at Deodoro which was a great success. And there were things that were not completed for the test event because they were not necessary for the test event. For the Olympics, what is needed is the construction of the Handlers' Village, which are three residential buildings. There is no mystery here. It is underway and will be done in May. The Veterinary Clinic, which is also a very small, very simple building also wasn't ready. It wasn't needed for the test event. It is being completed now. So everything is on schedule,"
Apr 8, 2016 Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley recently arrived in Las Vegas ahead of their third fight at the MGM Grand Garden.
Bradley defeated Pacquiao when they first met in 2012. However, Pacquiao gained revenge in their 2014 re-match, scoring a unanimous win to regain the WBO welterweight title.
Speaking about the match, Pacquiao said:
"It will be a good fight because I believe that Bradley he has a new coach and he brings more action in the ring with his new style. I believe on Saturday the fans will be happy,"
Elsewhere, Bradley said:
“This is the happiest I've ever trained. Honestly, I feel like I haven't trained for this fight, honestly, that's how fresh I feel. I did the right amount of work this time, I didn't over train, I'm ready to go no excuses. Saturday night should be a great night for us,"
Apr 7, 2016 Google recently opened a new technology center in west Havana with the aim of providing Cubans with free and high speed Internet connection.
Located at the studio of Alexis 'K'cho' Leyva, the center is stocked with 20 Chrome books along with 100 Google Cardboard virtual reality visors and two cameras capable of transmitting video from a YouTube channel.
The center also has a capacity to contain 40 persons and is open 5 days a week.
Commenting on the initiative, Dayron Manresa said he hopes the service will be spread throughout the country.
"I wish this experience weren't just here but throughout the country so that it's not just two or three people enjoying it but that someday, we can wake up and have it as a common occurrence that it would be normal to connect, search and find out about things as it is in other country."
Although there are public Wi-Fi areas in the country, however none of them comes with the latest technology and speed offered at Google's center.
Another Cuban citizen Yailin Fuentes said internet accessibility was particularly important for children and young people.
"Well, I think this is very good for all the young people. You can see all the enthusiasm here. And it's good for children too because, in this way, they increase their knowledge. It's the best thing that has happened and we need it to continue increasing."
Cuban artist and co-creator of the center, Kcho said:
"It has been complicated because they (Google) have lots of traps. This country has been able to develop despite these traps. They (Google) thought the traps didn't exist and the traps are real. They're traps because, well, in the rest of the world, you pick up a telephone, you get on a computer, and there are dozens of supports, of applications, of things with which Google moves the world but here in Cuba they can't be used; it's impossible because of the blockade (embargo). For them to be here, many of these things had to be unblocked so they would be viable to use in this space. It's the first step."
Apr 7, 2016 Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that the country’s informal sector accounts for 48 percent of the country’s economy.
In a bid to offset a slump in oil revenues, President Muhammadu Buhari wants to squeeze the sector to boost tax revenues by 33 percent this year.
However the government faces a big challenge as most entrepreneurs have poor accounting practices.
Speaking on this, Jaiyeola Laoye, CEO of Nigerian Economic Summit Group, said:
"The common agreement among all economists is that explore the tax base, not the amount you charge but the base so that at least you bring more people to the tax net so that it can generate more revenue for the nation,"
According to Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics, there are over 37 million informal sector businesses in Nigeria, which employs 60 million people.
"The bulk 85 percent of employers of labours are in this MSMEs so they are the ones growing in number. Now and unfortunately, most of them are not captured in our database. In fact, if you want to go and register a corporate name you know how long it takes? The processes are long, the cost is unreasonable, if you want to do permits, there are too many bottlenecks, 13 different processes you go through,"
Yemi Kale, chief executive at the statistics bureau, explained the tax calculation formula saying:
"So the way we calculate it is that we conduct household based surveys, so we go to a house, we select households strategically, we go to their houses we get an idea of the businesses - the small businesses they run and we get an idea of the resources that they use in conducting those businesses it is from that there that we get this information to estimate the size of the informal sector, which we include in our GDP projections,"
Apr 7, 2016 New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key recently threw his support behind his predecessor, Helen Clark, following her decision to run for United Nation secretary-general.
New Zealand had earlier submitted a letter to the president of the 193-member General Assembly formally nominating Clark as a candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general.
United Nations secretary general’s job has always been held by a man, since the body's inception 70 years ago, and there is a strong push for a woman to be elected.
Speaking to reporters in Wellington, Key said:
"There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective. Having served as the prime minister of New Zealand for nine years and holding one of the top jobs in the United Nations for the past seven years, Helen has the right mix of skills and experience for the job. Coming from New Zealand, Helen is well placed to bridge divisions and indeed to get results. She has a vast amount of experience in international affairs, she is a great listener and a tremendous communicator,"
Prime minister Key went on to endorse leadership experience saying:
"If you think about the role of the secretary-general of the United Nations, it is the most important diplomatic role in the world. This is the body that shows leadership on behalf of the globe, and I think if you look at Helen Clark, it isn't just the time that she spent in New Zealand as prime minister where she was very dedicated to foreign policy or her time actually at the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), it's actually her entire life has been dedicated to foreign policy. That's been her area of great passion and interest. She is immensely knowledgeable and incredibly talented and I think there'll be a lot of people on, you know who ultimately will have to make a call, who will look at her and say this is a person that has great intellect and a deep understanding of the issues,"
Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, will step down at the end of 2016 after two five-year terms.
Apr 7, 2016 Chelsea Football club recently officially named Antonio Conte as the team’s manager on a three-year contract.
Conte, who is currently the head coach of Italy, will take over from interim manager Guus Hiddink after the Euro 2016 tournament in France.
The Chelsea website quoted the Italian as saying:
“I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club. I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that. I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League. Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy.”
Chelsea has been led by Hiddink since December, when Jose Mourinho was dismissed.
Under the Dutchman, the Blues have not lost a Premier League match, but remain 10th with 44 points from 31 matches.
Apr 7, 2016 France recently carried out a security drill at a fanzone area in the city of Bordeaux to ensure that security and emergency rescue forces are prepared in the event of an attack during the upcoming Euro2016 championship.
The exercise was attended by the country’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Health Minister Marisol Touraine.
Bordeaux will host five matches at the tournament, four in the group stages and a quarter-final.
Apr 4, 2016 The Media and Arts Faculty at Misrata University recently opened its doors to media professionals, artists and musicians in a week-long event aimed at showcasing its students' talents and accomplishments.
Established in 2014, the faculty caters to students looking to build a career in radio, television, photography, journalism, music and fine arts.
The open day event featured an art exhibition by the students, which attracted a lot of praises from professional artists.
Ruwaida al Sharkasi, a local artist, who supported the organization of a student exhibition, said:
"The faculty of Art and Media has provided the opportunity for students to pursue their passions and also gave an opportunity for those that are talented to showcase their talents, culturally, artistically. In Libya especially we need to change our outlook on arts and culture. We need to work to support these young students and their talents,"
Professors at the faculty said they were pleasantly surprised by the level of talent displayed by the students.
Speaking to this effect, Anwar al Teir, an arts professor said:
"A lot of the art work was praised by artists that visited the exhibition. One businessman who owns a hotel has even said that he would use some of the art work to decorate his hotel. That's a beautiful thing. Others have also approached us to ask if they could buy some of the paintings. Some paintings are going for 1000 Libyan dinars ($725 USD), and 1500 dinars ($1090 USD),"
For the students, the department has provided them an opportunity to pursue their chosen careers, despite the five years of conflict that has engulfed the country since the Arab Spring.
Aya Muftah Azouza, a first year student said:
"It was always a dream of mine since I was a child to become a journalist. When I graduated I heard about the opening of the arts and media college in Misrata, I worked hard and applied and registered,"
Apr 4, 2016 South African bodybuilding champion Tumi Masite is using exercise and bodybuilding to keep township youth busy and away from drugs and crime.
Reminiscing on his encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger's former trainer Reg Park, Masite said:
"I was found by the late Reg Park, the former personal trainer of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was the guy that actually took me to Mornigside Virgin Active to actually teach me about excercising and he also taught me about nutrition and he also taught me about personal training,"
Masite, who owns Ikasi Gym, said he wants to pass on his knowledge and introduce poor South Africans to a healthier lifestyle.
"Lots of black people... they lack education about a healthy lifestyle, they lack education about nutrition. People believe that supplements are steroids,"
Ikasi Gym is currently helping around 50 people recovering from strokes as well as young South Africans, who have previously had run-ins with the law or drug problems.
"It's hard for me to sponsor them, you know and I am trying my best. Sometimes I use money from my child's pocket and have to help the guys because you can see they love the sport and if I'm not their last-man-standing in the township to help these guys, nobody will help them,"
Commenting on the initiative, the gym’s boxing trainer, Richard Khunou said they were seeking government support.
"I'm asking government to come put hands on this gym, see like we're doing good things for the community, maybe helping with another space, maybe lend - to build another gym, maybe equipment and you know and also give us more maybe workshops, knowledge about how to educate people about health in general,"
Apr 4, 2016 Solar energy company SunPower recently made public its plan to invest in Mexico’s energy sector.
With Mexico transiting to cheaper natural gas, the reform promises to add new sources of private generation with the development of a new wholesale electricity market.
Speaking during an interview, the chief executive of SunPower Corp, Tom Werner, said that the industrial power rates in Mexico will need to rise by as much as 20 percent to achieve significant future growth in solar electricity generation.
"You're going to see the commercial and industrial sector move pretty quickly already, but if you saw up to the numbers you gave, up to 20%, that would make a huge difference,"
As of 2014, Mexico's solar power capacity stood at just 64 MW according to the International Energy Agency.
However, with Mexico completing its first long-term clean energy power auction, seven companies including SunPower have won rights to build 1,720 megawatts of new capacity.
"We also expect our research and development investment to increase and bringing in suppliers because the scale has increased to the point where it makes sense for suppliers to co-locate and as a co-locate costs come down and then perhaps we become an export hub. First things first, grow, bring in some suppliers and then perhaps an export hub."
Apr 4, 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said that he is ready to work with whoever becomes the next U.S. president.
Trudeau made the comments at a breakfast forum with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
"You know I think there's a lot of people wondering how the U.S. got to the particular point they're at, you know, this particular week…I have tremendous confidence in what Abraham Lincoln referred to as the 'better angels of our nature'. And we're going to continue to understand that part this relations Canada and the United States goes far beyond any two personalities or individuals and the ties that bind our countries together and allow us to engage so for me to believe with the world together are our strong and continue to get stronger,"
Answering the question as to whether he would renegotiate the NAFTA agreement, Trudeau said:
"We always have to be apprised and ready for discussions around around after and around any trade deal. But NAFTA to has worked extremely well for our economies and as we all know as soon as you crack open a deal for one little thing you know the whole thing start to unravel. And we all know how important it is to be looking forward, and not try to turn back the clock to golden olden days that were never as golden as we thought,"