Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Senegal Offers Visa Free Status to Members of the African Diaspora

THURSDAY, 03 JUNE 2010 10:02

At the conclusion of an official visit to the Republic of Ghana by invitation of Ghana’s Head of State John Atta Mills, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade announced his intention to introduce legislation allowing members of the global African Diaspora community to visit Senegal without need of a visa. The Senegalese leader was in Accra to participate in an International Colloquium honoring the legacy of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, this historic legislation would include a provision allowing members of the Diaspora to acquire a special passport.

This is the first time any African head of state has offered “Visa Free Status” to members of the African Diaspora.

This historic initiative by President Wade results from discussions with Her Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett, Founder and Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum, based at the W.E.B. DuBois Center in Accra. Recognized by the African Union, the Diaspora African Forum holds diplomatic status granted by Ghana and is the first diplomatic mission in the world dedicated to the African Diaspora.

While in Accra, President Wade visited the Diaspora African Forum, where he met with the Head of Mission, H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, and invited her to open the forum’s second mission in Senegal’s capital Dakar.

“The president asked me to lead a Diaspora delegation to Senegal to work out the modalities for the new mission,” Ambassador Bennett stated. "This is an important, transformational moment in the history of Africa and especially for the political and economic evolution of African and African Diaspora affairs,” she concluded.

The distinguished and renowned, ninety-three year old Jamaican diplomat, Ambassador Dudley Thompson, represented the African Diaspora community at the International Colloquium, which also celebrated Kwame Nkrumah’s 100th birthday.

Ambassador Thompson applauded Senegalese President Wade’s leadership on Diaspora affairs, adding that he was delighted to see such a breathtaking development in his life time. “This decision represents a giant step in helping to unite Africa and the Diaspora, and demonstrates in a most meaningful way the visionary leadership of President Wade and importance of the African Diaspora to 21st century Africa."

In a related development, President Wade also announced that in honor of the works and legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, the Republic of Senegal would create a Chair on Pan Africanism at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, and further proposed in addition to the establishment of the Diaspora African Forum mission in Dakar, that a permanent Pan African Secretariat also be established in the capital city.

For additional information - and to obtain interviews with H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Founder and Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum, news media are invited to contact: by email, or by telephone at Division 12 Media in Washington, DC at: (202) 587-5648.

President Obama proclaims June as the National Caribbean-American Heritage month

Monday, May 31st, 2010 at 9:32 pm | JAVIER MINES

WASHINGTON D.C. (BNO NEWS) – President Barack Obama proclaimed June 2010 as the National Caribbean-American Heritage month to celebrate the history and culture of Caribbean Americans and their link with the United States, the White House announced on Friday.

“Our nation is linked to the Caribbean by our geography as well as our shared past and common aspirations,” Obama said.

The United States has received many immigrants from Caribbean countries seeking better lives and opportunities. Throughout the history of the U.S., Caribbean immigrants have made immeasurable contributions through their diverse cultures and the preservation of the promise of America for future generations.

Obama remarked that the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti showed the bonds of friendship and support among the U.S. and Caribbean countries. He also noted that the Haitian-American community was devastated and full with grief over the loss of loved ones as they help rebuild their homeland.

“The United States has proudly played a leading role in the international response to this crisis,” the U.S. President said. “As Haiti recovers, we will remain a steady and reliable partner.”

Finally, Obama recognized the important role that Caribbean-Americans play in the current American society. In politics, science, law enforcement, entertainment or sports, the Caribbean-Americans have become an essential part of the American culture.

“They have become leader in every sector of American life while maintaining the varied traditions of their countries of origin. Caribbean-Americans enrich our national character and we are very proud they are part of the American family.”

(Copyright 2010 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without explicit prior permission from BNO News B.V. Contact for more information about subscriptions.)

Deported from own country for being black (Mauritanian Refugee)

By Sheriff Bojang Jnr.

"They invited me for interrogation about my nationality. The next day, I was arrested, they put me on a military plane and deported me to Senegal just because I am black", says a victim of Mauritania's repression against black citizens.

Racial tension and animosity continues in Mauritania after violence erupted recently on a university campus in the capital Nouakchott. Students of African descent and those of Arabic origin recently clashed on the use of Arabic and French as common languages.

The racial tension is a result of Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohammed Lagdaff governments intension to introduce compulsory Arabic as the only official language in the country. Black students interpret this as an insult to their identity. Students of Arabic descent, on the other hand, hailed the Prime Minister's declaration as a wake-up call to their supremacy over blacks.

Racial repression effectively started in Mauritania in 1989 following a border dispute with Senegal. The government of President Maaouiya Ould Sid' Ahmed Taya used the opportunity to expel its black citizens to Senegal, accusing them of being Senegalese. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds were killed or tortured, while those who remained in Mauritania were subjected to gross rights violations.

Sissoko's ordeal
Aldiouma Sissoko is one of the victims of racial repression. He was born in Senegal in 1951 to Mauritanian parents, who migrated to Senegal in 1946 for work. Sissoko moved to Senegal as maritime expert in 1973 after his father encouraged him to contribute to the development of Mauritania.

From Mauritania Sissoko was sent to Canada, USA, Portugal, France and Morocco as a maritime officer. He was later appointed to be in charge of all the fishing operations in Mauritania.

On May 7 1989, Sissoko was interrogated for over seven hours before being arrested. "They asked for my national documents and when I handed them over they confiscated them because I was black and therefore not Mauritanian".

Within few minutes, the authorities put Sissoko on a military plane and deported him to Senegal. "It was the worst day of my life and I will never forget it. They sent me to Senegal with nothing but the clothes I was wearing. I was wise enough not to resist because they would have killed me as they did with others".

The memory will haunt him forever.
"I get very angry and bitter every time I think about it. They took away everything I worked so hard, my livelihood, everything. But the most important thing I lost is my nationality."

No to Senegalese citizenship
Despite being born in Senegal, Sissoko never took Senegalese citizenship. Since his deportation, he was approached several times by the Senegalese authorities to take citizenship and move on with life. But for him it is not as simple as that. “My father told me before he died that I must remain a Mauritanian and nothing else. It is a struggle for justice and dignity. It's a mental obligation to me and my father. I will die struggling to reclaim my Mauritanian citizenship and to go home to Mauritania.”

Sissoko is jobless and often struggles to provide food for his family.
“I shed tears sometimes when my children ask me why we are facing such hardships. But I always tell them the truth. When they grow up they can choose what nationality they want but for now, they must remain Mauritanians and nothing else.'

Mauritanians in Senegal look up to Sissoko as their hero. For Madame Ba, Sissoko gives hope and strength to all of us battling for justice. “He is well educated and he has a choice of taking Senegalese citizenship and acquiring a lucrative job in Senegal but he chose to stay in the struggle no matter what”.

As a jobless man in the streets of Dakar, Sissoko's day-to-day activities include helping other Mauritanian refugees with various paper works, solving disputes between them and taking up their cases at especially the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on their behalf.

"Sissoko represents all the Mauritanian refugees here. I don't know what life would have been for us without him. He is our hero", another Mauritanian refugee says.

Dominican Immigration: Number of illegal Haitians jumps 15% to 1.0M after quake

29 June 2010, 2:12 PM

Santo Domingo.- Immigration director Sigfrido Pared affirmed Tuesday that the number of Haitians currently in the country illegally increased 15 percent to around one million, attributing it the jump to the quake which devastated that nation.

He said before the catastrophe there were no more than around 800,000 illegal Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. “To say the Haitian presence in Dominican Republic hasn’t increased after the quake is to cover the sun with a finger. It has increased, however Immigration, the Border Guards and the Army work to keep people from taking advantage to smuggle more into the country.”

Interviewed on Telemicro Channel 5, the official said many Haitian nationals who try to enter Dominican territory illegally have been caught returned to their country.

“What isn’t being done are the repatriations of people who’ve already settled down in Dominican Republic although illegally, until conditions in the Republic of Haiti become just a bit more encouraging.”

Guilty Plea in Plot to Bomb J.F.K. Airport (Guyanese Immigrant)

June 29, 2010, 9:47 AM

Updated, 3:18 p.m. | A Guyanese man charged with participating in an international plot to ignite a huge explosion at Kennedy International Airport pleaded guilty to providing material support for the terrorist plan on Tuesday, a day before his case was to go to trial.

The defendant, Abdel Nur, is one of the four men arrested three years ago and charged with conspiring to use explosives to detonate fuel tanks at the airport, which they believed could set off cascading explosions along a fuel pipeline that runs through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, according to law enforcement authorities.

Mr. Nur, who said his real name was Compton Eversley, was emotional throughout the hearing, his voice catching on his words and his hands reaching up to wipe tears with a handkerchief as he assured Judge Dora L. Irizarry of Federal District Court in Brooklyn that he understood the significant of his plea.“Guilty, your honor,” he said clearly when the time came.

The material support charge, which was not included in the original indictment, carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Had he gone to trial, he faced five counts of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism and a possible sentence of life in prison.

The remaining defendants would be Russell Defreitas, a naturalized Guyanese immigrant and former cargo handler at Kennedy who prosecutors say was the driving force behind the plot, and Abdul Kadir, a former member of Parliament in Guyana, who prosecutors say helped with financing and logistics. A fourth defendant, Kareem Ibrahim, was removed from the case this month because of health problems and will be tried separately.

Court filings by prosecutors portray Mr. Nur as playing a support role in the plot. Mr. Kadir, prosecutors allege, suggested Mr. Nur as an intermediary to introduce Mr. Defreitas to the leaders in the hard-line Islamic group Jamaat al Muslimeen, based in Trinidad, which the two men hoped would lend support to the proposed attack. Though Mr. Defreitas raised questions about Mr. Nur’s character and reputation, the two men traveled to Trinidad and spent several days there. According to a recorded phone call described in the court filings, Mr. Nur told Mr. Kadir that he had presented the airport bombing plan to a leader from the organization.

When he was arrested after turning himself in at a police station in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in June 2007, Mr. Nur angrily told reporters he had been set up. “Its a conspiracy,” he said. He showed up to a court hearing wearing a T-shirt that said “No extradition by entrapment.”

A lawyer for Mr. Nur refused to confirm the plea deal, saying, “I’m just not going to comment.”

However, the plea appeared to be alluded to in a court hearing on Monday during which a lawyer for Mr. Defreitas pushed unsuccessfully for opening arguments in the trial, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, to be postponed until next week to allow the defense more time to process documents that were only recently released by prosecutors. The lawyer noted, “It’s my understanding that the case is about to be smaller.”

Lawyers for Mr. Defreitas and Mr. Kadir said they expected their clients to go to trial.

Twenty Other States Considering Copying Arizona Immigration Law

JOHN MILLER | 06/25/10 06:13 PM

BOISE, Idaho — Arizona's sweeping new immigration law doesn't even take effect until next month, but lawmakers in nearly 20 other states are already clamoring to follow in its footsteps.

Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Minnesota are singing the law's praises, as are some lawmakers in other states far from the Mexico border such as Idaho and Nebraska. But states also are watching legal challenges to the new law, and whether boycotts over it will harm Arizona's economy.

The law, set to take effect July 29, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they think is in the country illegally. Violators face up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines, in addition to federal deportation.

Lawmakers or candidates in as many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011. Arizona-style legislation may have the best chance of passing in Oklahoma, which in 2007 gave police more power to check the immigration status of people they arrest.

Bills similar to the law Arizona's legislature approved in April have already been introduced in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Minnesota, South Carolina and Michigan, but none will advance this year.

Business, agriculture and civil rights groups oppose such legislation, saying legal residents who are Hispanic would be unjustly harassed and that immigration is a federal rather than a state responsibility. Supporters say police will not stop people solely on the basis of skin color and argue that illegal immigrants are draining state coffers by taking jobs, using public services, fueling gang violence and filling prisons.

"If the feds won't do it, states are saying, 'We're going to have to do it,'" said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce. Pearce's second cousin is the author of the Arizona law, Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, who like Monty Pearce is a Republican.

The debate is putting pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to act. In 2007, when states like Idaho and Kansas were making English their official languages as part of an immigration-related push, then-President George W. Bush failed to persuade even many Republican allies in the U.S. Senate to agree to combine increased border enforcement with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

President Barack Obama has called Arizona's law irresponsible, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says it helped prompt him to send 1,200 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexican border, mostly to her state. She and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., say that's not enough.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fugitive Operations Teams Search For City Immigrants With Criminal Pasts (Jamaican Immigrant)

06/11/2010 08:57 PM
By: Lily Jamali

As Arizona's new immigration gains widespread attention, teams of immigration officers hit New York City's streets every day to look for illegal immigrants with criminal records, and some question whether the teams' time is being well-spent. NY1's Lily Jamali filed the following report.


Every day, immigration officers in six Fugitive Operations Teams work in and around the city, looking for illegal immigrants who've been ordered to leave the United States but who continue to live here.

When NY1 recently followed one team, it started in East New York, Brooklyn, at the home of Lloyd Hopkins, a Jamaican immigrant who was ordered deported two years ago. Officers have tracked him off and on for a few weeks. Intelligence from parking tickets helped them zero in on where he lives.

In the 1980s, Hopkins pleaded guilty once to marijuana possession and another time to weapons possession and received a $100 fine for the drugs and five years' probation for the loaded firearm.

"I had a business in the '80s. I was scared," says Hopkins. "I carried the firearm to protect myself, only to protect and my family."

Hopkins has not been in trouble since the mid-1990s, when was he caught driving without a license. An immigration judge ordered him to leave two years ago after he missed a hearing.

Fugitive Operations teams are supposed to track down dangerous immigrants, but critics charge there is too much focus on people like Hopkins, with old or minor convictions.

Governor David Paterson recently created a panel that considers pardons for legal immigrants with old and minor convictions to prevent their deportation.

The panel followed Arizona's controversial new law giving police broad power to check people's immigration status. However, Paterson's initiative does not apply in Hopkins's case, since the immigrant already had a deportation order.

ICE officials say it is their job to track down anyone in that category.

"If you allow people to overstay their visa and you know it, and you don't do anything about it, there's no integrity to your immigration system," says Darren Williams, the supervisor for the Fugitive Operations Team.

Hopkins says he wishes there were more leniency.

"It is not fair. They should look to see how our life is -- have you made change or it is the same behavior," says Hopkins.

Hopkins says he will try his best to stay here, but for now it appears he will be on his way back to Jamaica before long.

Caribbean Americans to descend on Congress

Published: Friday, June 18, 2010 3:18 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, June 14 - As battle lines are drawn over immigration reform, the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) education and advocacy organization, is urging Caribbean Americans to descend on the halls of Congress on June 24 for its Caribbean American Legislative Forum.

Concerned by legislative measures taken in Arizona and pending in other localities, and feeling shut out of the immigration debate, the group is heading to Congress with their own legislative agenda.

The Forum is being held during the national Caribbean American Heritage Month. ICS has joined forces with Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH) and the Association of Small Churches, whose members will be in attendance.

“With draconian measures being taken in Arizona and similar laws underway in other states, Caribbean Americans must ensure that our voices are heard by those in legislative power,” said Dr. Claire A. Nelson, the founder and president of ICS, which spearheaded the national celebration.

The Forum will bring together Caribbean Americans, public and private sector leaders and experts to formulate an action plan and legislative agenda surrounding trade and economic development, the green economy, health reform, immigration and the census. (A U.S. Census national profile partner, ICS is also working to encourage Caribbean Americans to be counted.)

Following the session, attendees will fan out throughout the halls of Congress, meeting with their representatives. The group will remind legislators of the significant contributions that Caribbean Americans, like founding father Alexander Hamilton, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Wyclef Jean, W.E.B. DuBois and Shirley Chisholm, have made to the nation.

They will call for an increase in the number of temporary visas issued so that more Caribbean workers can have equal access to temporary jobs in the U.S.; a reduction in the current immigration services backlog; the establishment of a pathway to citizenship or lawful residency status for the undocumented; and a humane approach to deportation that ensures the security of the Caribbean region.

About Caribbean American Heritage Month:

In June 2006, following a campaign by the Institute of Caribbean Studies and passage of a bill by the U.S. Congress,Caribbean American Heritage Month was designated as June by then-President George W. Bush.

During the month, the significant contributions of Caribbean Americans and the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and Caribbean countries are highlighted.

Around the country the month is being marked with celebrations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charleston, SC, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and Washington D.C.

African Union Launches a New Campaign to Fight Human Trafficking

17 June 2010
James Butty

The African Union (AU) has launched a new initiative to combat human trafficking on the continent. The launch came on the same day the United States added six more African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in humans. Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Mauritania, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe were added to the list in the U.S. annual report which analyzes the efforts in 173 countries to combat human trafficking.

The new plan, called the AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking, was launched as part of the commemorations marking the “Day of the African Child”. AU’s Commissioner for Social Affairs Bience Gawanas says the new campaign aims to eliminate human trafficking, especially in women and children.

“The idea behind the AU Commission Initiative against Trafficking is really aimed at galvanizing support against trafficking but also for the implementation of those instruments that have been adopted whether it is at national, regional, continental or international level,” she said.

Gawanas said the new initiative was also necessary because the AU anticipates there might be an increase in trafficking during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The United States Tuesday added six more African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in human beings.

Gawanas said the issue of human trafficking has become prevalent throughout Africa.

“About two weeks ago, I attended the SADC (Southern African Development Community) ministerial meeting on trafficking…and during the discussion it was quite clear that there is a serious concern about trafficking, not only in West Africa…but both in eastern Africa and southern Africa,” Gawanas said.

She said apart from the adoption of a plan action, the fight against human trafficking was not on the agenda of the African Union.

“Now that we have launched it, it would be expected that member states will have measures for prevention, will have measures for protection, and will have measures for prosecution of traffickers,” she said.

Gawanas also said the AU campaign against human trafficking will include raising public awareness and making sure governments have the right instruments in place to execute the plan.

She said the global economic downturn might also be contributing to the rise in human trafficking in Africa.

“Obviously as it is the case with HIV/AIDS, as it is the case with many other challenges that are faced by the different continents, whatever happens in the global economy will have an impact,” Gawanas said.

Gawanas called on Africans to give human trafficking the importance it deserves if the continent is to move away from what she called today’s modern slavery.

South African papers wanted for Zimbabwe migrants

PUBLISHED: 2010/06/17 06:50:10 AM

ZIMBABWE is lobbying SA to issue birth certificates to children born of Zimbabwean parents living in SA, a request that could add to the Department of Home Affairs’ workload.

That request was expected to be discussed today when Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma meets her two Zimbabwean counterparts, the co- ministers of home affairs , Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa.

Mr Mutsekwa confirmed that this was on the agenda but declined to give details. “As a ministry there is something that we are doing in that regard, but I don’t want to issue a press statement until I have met my counterpart in SA ,” he said.

Immigration lawyer Chris Watters said while children born of foreign parents were entitled to a birth certificate, it did not make them South African, but merely recorded their birth. However, undocumented migrants often did not present themselves for this process for fear of deportation.

The head of the University of the Witwatersrand’s forced migration studies programme, Loren Landau, said even South Africans often struggled to get birth certificates. “The truth is many foreigners are not getting them and there is no reason why they shouldn’t,” she said.

Dual citizenship for Zimbabweans in SA could be in the interests of the Movement for Democratic Change and would be an acknowledgment that the recent wave of Zimbabwean emigration to SA was irreversible. But SA was unlikely to be moved by the proposal since Zimbabwe did not recognise dual citizenship and had failed to protect South African farmers in renewed violence against commercial farmers in Zimbabwe.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has said today’s meeting will look into “everything” pertaining to immigration between the two countries but declined to give details.

Two years ago, at the height of the crisis in Zimbabwe , SA introduced a “special dispensation” allowing undocumented Zimbabweans to live and work in SA. But this dispensation appears to have collapsed due to lack of political support. It has also been overshadowed by the granting of 90-day visa-free status to Zimbabweans.

The Zimbabwean delegation was likely to push for recognition of that country’s “temporary travel document”, a one-page document in place of a passport. SA has refused entry to bearers of such documents on security grounds.

From refugee to jail to graduate

By Rebecca S. Rivas of the St. Louis American
Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:10 AM CDT

Liberian refugee Junior Harry, age 19, has dreadlocks down to his shoulders. His love for music has gotten him through many tough times. And his smile sparks when he talks about playing with his six-member group, West Africa Entertainment.

“I hope to become a professional musician one day,” he said.

In April 2007, Harry performed a first rap at a show through the International Playground Performing Arts Group for refugee teens.

Four days after the show, Harry was arrested and put in the St. Louis City Justice Center, an adult jail. He was 16. For one year, he waited to be charged with a crime.

“It was my first time in life for me sitting in jail, being among people who murdered,” Harry said. “Sitting among people who were older than me, who could hurt me or take control of me. I thank God that God was there with me.”

There were times he had to fight so other inmates wouldn’t mess with him. His face scrunched in disgust thinking of being in “lock down” for 24 hours at times.

“It was hard being in jail, but at the same time, I learned how to take care of myself,” Harry said. “And I learned that I'm never going to go back there again.”

On May 24, Harry graduated from Roosevelt High School. It was his first step towards a promise he made to himself – to “continue advancing and becoming a better person,” he said.

The case

In April 2007, police arrested Harry at Roosevelt with charges of statutory rape. He was 16 then, and his girlfriend, also Liberian, was pregnant for the second time at age 14.

At the time, Harry was waking up every morning at 5 a.m. to bathe his infant son, Melvin, get him to day care and then catch the school bus.

Yet his girlfriend’s family was not pleased with the pregnancy. Someone encouraged the family to call the authorities about the situation.

In Missouri, a person commits statutory rape in the first degree if he/she has sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than 14. If his lawyer could have proven that he was 16, his case would have been heard in the juvenile courts within 72 hours. He would have been sent to a juvenile detention center, rather than the adult facility.

When Harry came to this country in 2004, he did not have his birth certificate, and his grandmother couldn’t speak English to tell the Immigration and Naturalization Services his age. So, INS guessed his age, and their guess put him at 18 instead of 16 (his actual age) when he was arrested.

The case was confusing, especially for a family that does not speak proper English well. Their language skills could not get them far in the courtroom.

However, a concerned member of the community, Myron Buchanan, contacted Liberian officials in an effort to help. He found out that Harry’s birth records were destroyed in the country’s civil wars. Buchanan was able to get an affidavit from a hospital official that confirmed Harry’s real age, and Harry’s defense attorney presented it to the court on Jan. 17, 2008. Unconvinced, Circuit Court Judge David Mason set a counsel status hearing, which is a hearing that allows attorneys to give a judge updates, for March 17.

In March 2008, his court date was rescheduled for April.

In April of that year, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce postponed the court case to May 2008, saying she was still not ready to prove Junior’s age.

At that point, Junior had already been in jail for a year. Finally in May 2008, then- columnist Sylvester Brown Jr., wrote an article about the case in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, eliciting public sympathy for the youth.

On May 14, 2008, Junior Harry entered a courtroom in an orange prisoner jumpsuit with his hands chained behind his back.

The 17-year-old’s worn face only showed its youth when he smiled at the 100 people, many strangers, who had came to witness his case, driven by press coverage.

In front of all the witnesses, the judge and Joyce did not postpone the case another month, as they had been doing when the courtroom was empty. That day, when the people came to witness, Harry was released from jail.

Moving forward

One of the first offers he received after his release was an offer from a friend to work at a restaurant. He turned it down to go back to school.

“I had a choice to work for $6 an hour or go back to school and have a better job later on,” he said. “It was on me to choose what I wanted to do, and I chose to go to school and finish it.”

In August, Junior will go to Vatterott College to pursue his license in heating and cooling installation.

“I really like working with my hands. I’m a strong person,” he said. “It will take me a year to get my license, so I can get a job and take care of my family and my kids.”

Not long after Junior was released, his two children and their mother moved to Michigan. He talks on the phone with his son, Melvin, now 4. Harry plans on working throughout the summer to earn the money to go visit them.

“This is part of my life story,” he said.

“I’ve been through war and came to America. I thank God that nothing happened to me. I know I’m a peaceful man. I love my kids, and I love my family. I'm hoping one day I can take my kids back home, so they can see where I come from.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brazilian Congress approves Statute of Racial Equality

The Brazilian Senate approved the Statute of Racial Equality Wednesday in an effort to make policies for combating discrimination against black people.

The statute, which was worked out by the Congress after seven years of debates, is yet to be endorsed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The statute promotes equal opportunities for black people, guaranteeing their equal access to health, education and employment, but sets no quotas for their admission into universities or political parties.

Zimbabwe: Nationals Top World List of Asylum Seekers

ZIMBABWEANS top the list of people seeking asylum abroad with 158 200 people fleeing political and economic turmoil last year.

The figures released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) are the clearest indication yet that the formation of a unity government in February last year has done little to change Zimbawe's situation.

President Robert Mugabe and his former arch rivals Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as well as Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara formed an inclusive government with promises to encourage millions of economic refugees scattered all over the world to return home.

Tsvangirai even embarked on a foreign trip where he sought to convince those in the diaspora to come back home.

But according to the findings of the 2009 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons report there is little to suggest that Zimbabweans are prepared to return home.

During the period under review, Zimbabwean asylum seekers were three times more than the next country on the list, Burma or Myanmar, which has 48 600 people seeking asylum.

Burma is followed by war-torn Eritrea with 43 300 asylum seekers, Ethiopia (42 500) and Colombia (39 200).

The number of asylum seekers from strife-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Somalia were completely dwarfed by that from Zimbabwe.

The UNCHR's report released on Tuesday says nine out of 10 Zimbabwean asylum claims were lodged in South Africa alone.

"South Africa remains the main destination for new asylum claims worldwide with more than 222 000 asylum claims registered in 2009 -- almost as many as were lodged in the 27 member states of the European Union," the report said.

"Zimbabweans accounted for two thirds of all claims submitted in 2009 (149 500 applications)."

However, the Zimbabweans are not guaranteed that their applications would be successful as South Africa also has the highest number of people still waiting for a decision on their requests for asylum.

The number of undecided cases at the first instance and on appeal stood at 309 800.

Unofficial estimates put the number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa at more than three million.

The majority of them do not have proper papers making it difficult for authorities to properly document the level of migration.

Hundreds of thousands of others escaped the economic crisis to neighbouring countries as well as the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia among other Western countries.

The unity government, despite succeeding in reversing the hyperinflation of 2008 and stabilising the economy after a decade of decline, has done little to inspire confidence among Zimbabweans with continuous power struggles.

In contrast, the UNCHR report says 635 people applied for asylum in Zimbabwe in 2009.

The country had 3 995 refugees from other countries and it is the third country after the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan hosting the largest number of refugees in relation to its economic capacity with 245 refugees per US$ GDP (PPP).

Pakistan has 745 and DRC 592.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To Save Africa, Reject Its Nations

Published: June 11, 2010

Claremont, Calif.

THE World Cup, which began on Friday, is bringing deserved appreciation of South Africa as a nation that transitioned from white minority domination to a vibrant pluralist democracy. Yet its achievements stand largely alone on the continent. Of the 17 African nations that are commemorating their 50th anniversaries of independence this year — the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia will both do so in the coming weeks — few have anything to truly celebrate.

Five decades ago, African independence was worth rejoicing over: these newly created states signaled an end to the violent, humiliating Western domination of the continent, and they were quickly recognized by the international community. Sovereignty gave fledgling elites the shield to protect their weak states against continued colonial subjugation and the policy instruments to promote economic development.

Yet because these countries were recognized by the international community before they even really existed, because the gift of sovereignty was granted from outside rather than earned from within, it came without the benefit of popular accountability, or even a social contract between rulers and citizens.

Buttressed by the legality and impunity that international sovereignty conferred upon their actions, too many of Africa’s politicians and officials twisted the normal activities of a state beyond recognition, transforming mundane tasks like policing, lawmaking and taxation into weapons of extortion.

So, for the past five decades, most Africans have suffered predation of colonial proportions by the very states that were supposed to bring them freedom. And most of these nations, broke from their own thievery, are now unable to provide their citizens with basic services like security, roads, hospitals and schools. What can be done?

The first and most urgent task is that the donor countries that keep these nations afloat should cease sheltering African elites from accountability. To do so, the international community must move swiftly to derecognize the worst-performing African states, forcing their rulers — for the very first time in their checkered histories — to search for support and legitimacy at home.

Radical as this idea may sound, it is not without precedent. Undemocratic Taiwan was derecognized by most of the world in the 1970s (as the corollary of recognizing Beijing). This loss of recognition led the ruling Kuomintang party to adopt new policies in search of domestic support. The regime liberalized the economy, legalized opposition groups, abolished martial law, organized elections and even issued an apology to the Taiwanese people for past misrule, eventually turning the country into a fast-growing, vibrant democracy.

In Africa, similarly, the unrecognized, breakaway state of Somaliland provides its citizens with relative peace and democracy, offering a striking counterpoint to the violence and misery of neighboring sovereign Somalia. It was in part the absence of recognition that forced the leaders of the Somali National Movement in the early ’90s to strike a bargain with local clan elders and create legitimate participatory institutions in Somaliland.

What does this mean in practice? Donor governments would tell the rulers of places like Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea or Sudan — all nightmares to much of their populations — that they no longer recognize them as sovereign states. Instead, they would agree to recognize only African states that provide their citizens with a minimum of safety and basic rights.

The logistics of derecognition would no doubt be complicated. Embassies would be withdrawn on both sides. These states would be expelled from the United Nations and other international organizations. All macroeconomic, budget-supporting and post-conflict reconstruction aid programs would be canceled. (Nongovernmental groups and local charities would continue to receive money.)

If this were to happen, relatively benevolent states like South Africa and a handful of others would go on as before. But in the continent’s most troubled countries, politicians would suddenly lose the legal foundations of their authority. Some of these repressive leaders, deprived of their sovereign tools of domination and the international aid that underwrites their regimes, might soon find themselves overthrown.

African states that begin to provide their citizens with basic rights and services, that curb violence and that once again commit resources to development projects, would be rewarded with re-recognition by the international community. Aid would return. More important, these states would finally have acquired some degree of popular accountability and domestic legitimacy.

Like any experiment, de- and re-recognition is risky. Some fear it could promote conflict, that warlords would simply seize certain mineral-rich areas and run violent, lawless quasi states. But Africa is already rife with violence, and warlordism is already a widespread phenomenon. While unrecognized countries might still mistreat their people, history shows that weak, isolated regimes have rarely been able to survive without making significant concessions to segments of their populations.

For many Africans, 50 years of sovereignty has been an abject failure, reproducing the horrors of colonial-era domination under the guise of freedom. International derecognition of abusive states would be a first step toward real liberation.

Pierre Englebert, a professor of African politics at Pomona College, is the author, most recently, of “Africa: Unity, Sovereignty and Sorrow.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Africans in Yiwu, China’s largest commodities city

Adams Bodomo and Grace Ma
2010-06-03, Issue 484

In this paper, Adams Bodomo looks at how Africans are received in Yiwu and in Guangzhou, which contains the largest community of Africans in China. Bodomo argues that because of the relatively negative reception of Africans in Guangzhou compared to the more efficient and civil treatment of Africans in Yiwu, Yiwu is fast overtaking Guangzhou as the best place for Africans to thrive in China.

China is not only fast establishing itself as a superpower on the African continent, it is also fast establishing itself as the locus for the establishment of Africa’s newest diaspora: the African diaspora in China. For Africans in China, the moral then may said to be: we are here because you are there! Indeed, there are more Chinese in Africa than there are Africans in China - in the proportion of roughly two million Chinese in Africa to five hundred thousand Africans in China, including traders, students, teachers, diplomats, sportsmen, and many other professionals.

Africans can be found in major Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Beijing. There are already numerous academic studies and journalistic reports about Africans in Guangzhou (e.g. Bertoncello and Bredeloup 2007, Li Zhigang etal 2008, Le Bail 2009, Bodomo 2009, 2010, and numerous reports in Le Monde, SCMP, New York Times, etc) but very little about Africans in other cities (but see Bodomo 2007 for Hong Kong, Bodomo and Silva 2010 for Macau, Bodomo 2009 for Chongqing, among others).

In this paper we demonstrate that, besides the well-known presence of Africans in Guangzhou, the next most prominent presence of African traders in China is in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. In section two, we first describe the Yiwu location, its environment, and particularly its rise from a rural area to become the world’s largest commodities city. In section three we then describe the African presence in this large trade city where its market of commodities extends over one kilometer. This African presence is not limited to trade activities in that market, it also involves an unusual freedom of worship at the largest mosque in China and in many churches dotted throughout Yiwu. In section four, we do an in-depth qualitative study of one African life in Yiwu to complement the broad brush painting we did in section two. In section five, we compare the way Africans are received in Guangzhou and in Yiwu and argue that while Guangzhou was the first to entertain Africans and indeed boasts the largest community, it is losing a golden opportunity to Yiwu to become a model international multicultural trade city because of the way its law enforcement officers maltreat Africans.

Yiwu: from a small Zhejiang village to the world largest commodities market

The idea of Yiwu is an idea that should be borrowed by major countries with vast expanses of land in which different products are manufactured in far flung areas of the country. In the 1980s, the Chinese government came up with the brilliant idea that since many products are manufactured all over this vast country, perhaps it would be best to assemble reasonably large quantities of these commodities in one city located relatively in the middle of the country. This gave birth to the world’s largest commodities market. No one knows exactly the political decision that favoured the choice of Yiwu, but Yiwu it was. Yiwu is in the middle of nowhere, yet relatively well accessible from nearby major cities. It is two hours by air from Guangzhou, one hour by bus from Hangzhou, arguably China’s most beautiful city, and it is just a 40 minute taxi ride from Jinhua city, where China’s largest African Studies Institute is located.

The African presence in Yiwu

As mentioned earlier, most Africans in Yiwu are traders, so their lives revolve around the commodities market. The market itself is located on ChouZhou Bei Lu (ChouZhou North Road) and the following field note excerpt indicates how large it is and which parts are mostly frequented by different groups of Africans:

“Yiwu’s international trade city is located at ChouZhou Bei Lu and includes six sections or divisions. The items of trade include almost every conceivable manufactured item, but particularly jewelry and ornaments, toys, artificial flowers, building materials like keys and locks, electrical appliances, and so on. So far, only Sections One, Two, and Three of the mammoth market are open for business while the rest are still under construction. African Arabs and people from the Horn of Africa are mostly found in Section One. On the other hand, Section Two attracts many Africans from Sub-Saharan African countries such as The Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Kenya. This is because Section two mainly contains building materials and other kinds of hardware that these Africans come to buy. The booming housing market and general building construction in many Sub-Saharan countries is the main reason why many household electrical items and appliances, even including items as minute as electric sockets and nails, are bought and sent back home to Africa. On the whole, as in Guangzhou markets, it is very hard to pin down these businessmen; it always requires a lot of research techniques and people skills to succeed in getting them for an interview during their peak buying seasons.” (Bodomo’s Field Survey Diaries: Dec 11, 2008)

Life in Yiwu for Africans is mostly about trade, but not exclusively. Community bonding activities such as eating and praying is an important part of life beyond the mammoth kilometer long market. The following excerpt from our field diaries illustrates life beyond trade for Africans in Yiwu.

“We (Prof Bodomo, Jiang Jun and I) departed from Jinhua at 9:00 am, and arrived in Yiwu 40 minutes later. It was Friday that day, a day of Muslim worship. Therefore, after checking into our hotel, we immediately took a taxi to the mosque. We learnt from the taxi driver that there were many traders from the Middle East and Africa, and they would go to the mosque at 1:00 pm on Friday when many people would literally mob them like superstars in order to distribute advertisement fliers and business cards with all kinds of information to these African traders. Many of these traders are frequently found at the Mahéde Restaurant located in Downtown Yiwu. As there was still some time, we first visited the Mahéde Restaurant located specifically at No. 235, Chouzhou North Road. This restaurant was not large, but very exquisite. It is situated opposite to other restaurants such as the Tajima Herder Restaurants and Al-Arabia Restaurant, all of them being obviously Arab restaurants. There were several guests dining in the Mahéde Restaurant. Meanwhile a few Arabs were sitting outside in front of the restaurant, among who was a man from Mali, who had been living in Yiwu for one and a half years. This man told us he knew of a Malian restaurant and also a Ghanaian restaurant, though he didn’t know the exact location. He too was on his way to the mosque after the meal. We looked around and found that there were quite a few more Arab restaurants in the neighbourhood, which were said to be livelier at night. After lunch, we drove to the mosque at the Bay Village. The mosque was located on the Riverside Road. We were still far away from the entrance to the mosque, but our car could not move an inch, the reason being that this large mosque, the largest in China, was already so crowded. We got out of the taxi and walked along the crowded pedestrian market. In the pavement there were many stands selling roasted lamb, all types of medicinal capsules, and many Muslim accessories. Business appeared to be really brisk. Despite the burning sun with temperature as high as 36 degrees Celsius, people still came in droves. Inside the compound of the mosque, were many flashy cars in the parking lots. Muslims of all colours and from different countries came into this mosque. It seemed that we had just landed in a foreign country. There were South, West, and East Asians as well as Africans and Chinese, a vivid illustration of globalization in progress in Yiwu, which was only twenty years ago a forgotten village in Zhejiang province. The worship finished at 1:30 pm, and there were anywhere between six or seven thousand people pouring out of the mosque. On both sides of the gate, there were many people distributing their business cards. I talked with a Muslim from Nigeria whose first name is Jibril (surname omitted). Jibril’s son now does business in Yiwu and he, Jibril, just came on a brief visit. He told me Africans did not live together in an Africa Town-like place in Yiwu, as Chinese often do in Africa and elsewhere, but they do indeed live very close to the International Trade Center. I also went up to three women in veil talking on the street, one from Somalia, and the other two from Guizhou, China. The Somalian woman had just been in China for only three months, but she succeeded in sustaining simple communication in Chinese with the Chinese ladies from Guizhou, who like her are also Moslems. Her elder brother does business in Yiwu and she came to him, and now she was learning Chinese. She told me in Yiwu there is a school specializing in teaching foreigners Chinese. The two Guizhou girls came to Yiwu with their families to take part in the booming trade. Here was a situation in which people from all over the world met in Yiwu and made friends, a fact which touched me a lot.” (Ma Enyu’s Field Survey Diaries: May 15, 2009)

From the above then, the African presence in Yiwu revolves around the international trade market, restaurants, and places of worship, particularly at the largest mosque in all of China.

An In-depth Interview with Wufei

The foregoing section comprised a broad brush painting of the life situation of Africans in Yiwu. But what is also needed is an in-depth focus on how a particular African or groups of Africans are living their lives in Yiwu, focusing on their experiences, opportunities, constraints, and aspirations. Luckily for us we found one in Wufei (surname omitted) from Ghana.

Wufei’s office is located in Chengxin first district. Wufei came to China from Ghana in 2007 in order to learn Chinese, and ended up living and working in Yiwu, where he started a small shipping company (name omitted). He used to be a journalist, and is a relatively fluent speaker of English, Spanish, and Portuguese. He first learnt Chinese at Zhejiang University, and was at the time of the interview pursuing a course in Chinese at Zhejiang Normal University on part-time basis. During his stay in Zhejiang, he realized that business was flourishing in Yiwu, and interestingly for him he noticed that many traders from his country came to Yiwu to procure goods. According to him some 70-80% of Ghana’s manufactured goods are imported. A major constraint for African businessmen in Yiwu, as in many parts of China, probably with the exception of Hong Kong and Macau, is the inability to sustain communication in English with their Chinese trading partners. Realizing that newly arrived businessmen from Africa (who don’t speak Chinese) needed his services, he took advantage of his knowledge in Chinese and created a business out of it, providing services such as translating and interpreting business transactions, finding accommodation for his fellow Africans, and so on. This is how he ended up starting a small company; he even rented a warehouse to store these traders’ goods and shipped goods to Ghana on their behalf. The business opportunity is so good that he usually ships about 10 containers a month to Ghana. Now his company employs as many as 15 people, six Ghanaians including himself, with the rest being Chinese. Wufei said he is so successful in his Chinese sojourn that he has become somewhat of a celebrity among his fellow Ghanaians in China, and some in places as far away as Shanghai and Hong Kong would call him up for all kinds of assistance. He believes he is warm-hearted and aspires to help whoever needed his help.

How Africans are received in Guangzhou and Yiwu

The euphoria of the African presence in Guangzhou and in China as a whole seems to have died down. As early as 1997 when I (the first author) arrived in China, Africans were attracting photo-taking crowds more than creatures from other parts of our planet. I was always embarrassed when I was called out from among my Chinese and Western friends for photos at the Windows of the World in Shenzhen and at Tianxiu market in Guangzhou way back in the early 2000s. But no more! The African presence is now well-established in Guangzhou and other major cities, and Guangzhou people have learnt to trade with them, though I am not sure if they have fully accepted them in their city. For one thing, unlike the Nanjing incidents of 1988 when Chinese students rose up against their fellow African students, there is no general public outcry against Africans in Guangzhou. On the contrary, Guangzhou businessmen find Africans as avid business partners and happily trade with them. Africans are very well-received by their Chinese business partners.

On the contrary, the state law enforcement officers in Guangzhou paint a different picture and it is where we draw a contrast with Yiwu. In recent years, beginning with the Olympics in 2008 there have been incessant complaints from Africans in Guangzhou about how hard it is for Africans to get visa renewals in that city. Often they are told to go to Hong Kong or Macau or even to go back to their home countries for simply doing visa renewals, while other foreigners from Europe and America do not have this problem. Indeed, Africans resident in Yiwu and other parts of China do not experience this problem to the same degree as Guangzhou Africans do. Worst, it is only in Guangzhou that Africans are asked to carry their passports with them at all times. The message at the entrance of Canaan market in Guangzhou says all foreign “friends” must carry passports but in reality it is Africans who are overwhelmingly stopped, interrogated and usually harassed. Even restaurants are not safe havens for Africans; the police follow them into these ethnic enclaves to ask them rather rudely about their immigration status, and arrest them at the least opportunity. I doubted these reports until I experienced it at first hand as shown from this field notes excerpt:

“Today, I arrived from Hong Kong with Dr Grace Ma to research an article on the role of food and food-making venues as elements and spaces that shape the identity of Africans in China as they form new communities.

We met up Raymond - a young Ghanaian who usually serves as our field guide, and we went to the ‘Africa Bar’ located at No 56 Bao Han Street, Xia Tang YueXiu District, Guangzhou. Hardly did we settle in to eat at around 7pm than about six policemen (about four men and two women) barged in and literally invaded the restaurant. What they did in the next 20 minutes shocked me and my fellow Africans beyond words.

They just went from table to table, ignoring Chinese-looking people, like my colleague, Dr Ma, and just picked out every African-looking person on each table and rudely demanded to see their passports. They shouted at the top of their voices for my fellow Africans and I to show the latest versions of our visas to them.

In all of my 50 years of life, apart from at border check points and immigration counters, this was the first time I was asked to show my passport in this rude and barbaric way.

This police rudeness and verbal brutality were beyond my imagination. You would think that it was a flashback to apartheid South Africa before 1994!

I had to interpret from English to French for two Congolese women who could only communicate in French to these uneducated barbarians unleashed onto the streets of Chocolate city to harass Africans going about their normal business. The story of these women was this...they were eating (and as anyone would know we Africans use our fingers to each our fufu and other starchy foods in soup) and how could they just demand in a minute to show their passports - they would first have to wash their hands before dipping into their pockets for their passports. According to them, in any case, why harass people taking their dinner and start shouting at them as if they were presumed to be overstaying their visas and thus criminals?
The police won’t listen. Their thug of a leader unleashed by the Guangzhou authorities to harass Africans came up and shouted: “Give me your passports”. After terrorizing these two ladies until they inspected their passports they went to the next table, repeated the same rudeness and arrested a Ugandan lady who explained in vain that her passport was left back in her hotel.

In my case, they came up and flipped through my Ghana passport for a very long time (I have many visas from around the world, and I am a permanent Hong Kong resident) and ended up with a loud stupid question: “Do you live here?” I also replied “no” in a very angry and defiant mood against this naked racial profiling and discrimination, and asked them “Why would I live illegally in Guangzhou when I am a permanent resident in Hong Kong?” They hesitated a bit, looked again at my passport, spoke some Chinese to each other, threw it back to me, and left our table, heading off to their next victims!

Africa-China friendship? What friendship?” (Bodomo’s Field Survey Notes: Dec 10, 2009)

It is hard time more exposure of such naked brutality is carried out by researchers, human right activists, and even progressive government and law enforcement officials, because as a result of such incidents, Africans in Guangzhou seem to be having a hard time living in Guangzhou and were it not for the lucrative business in the city they would start to find other places to live.

This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Yiwu, where both ordinary Chinese and the Chinese law enforcement agencies treat Africans with more respect, dignity, and civility. Of course, Yiwu Africans also experience constraints in their Chinese sojourn but these are not different from what any foreigner living in China would experience: linguistic misunderstandings, cultural differences, and even having to put up with socially unacceptable practices like spitting profusely. But Yiwu Africans, in most cases, are treated respectfully by Zhejiang law enforcement officers. Civil liberties are well respected. For instance, freedom of worship among these Africans seems to be one of the highest in China. There may be a number of reasons why this difference is there. One, it may be that Africans who number less than 30,000 in Yiwu can be contained easily. Two, most of the Africans in Yiwu are from the Magbreb region of Africa, while most Africans in Guangzhou are from Sub-Saharan Africa. My fellow West Africans in Guangzhou report that even the brutal Guangzhou police treat Arab Africans more respectfully than Black Africans. But, third, and more importantly, the difference, we propose here, is due to the differences in efficiency and fairness on the part of Yiwu law enforcement officers such as the police and immigration officials. We propose here that, partly as a result of these differences in treatment, and also if Yiwu gets more developed into an international trade centre, it may overtake Guangzhou as a model residential city for Africans and many foreign businessmen from developing parts of the world, such as West Asia and Latin America. In that sense then, Guangzhou is missing an early opportunity as a model multi-racial business city in China.


China is now the locus of Africa’s newest diaspora. Africans can now be found living in most major Chinese cities, with Guangzhou having the largest African community. But while Guangzhou boasts the largest African community, Yiwu, once a village in Zhejiang province that has now risen within the last 20 years to become the world’s largest commodities city, is quietly shaping the best African trading community in China. The Yiwu state law enforcement officers appear to be more efficient, professional, less corrupt, and more racially-tolerant than the Guangzhou law enforcement officers as far as African experiences are concerned. As a result, the African community in Yiwu is living more harmoniously with its Chinese hosts than the African community in Guangzhou is experiencing.

This is clear evidence for the role state law enforcement officers can play in shaping harmonious migrant-indigene relations or otherwise. More importantly, the way Africans are treated in China would most likely have important consequences for the way Chinese would be treated in Africa, and ultimately for general Africa-China relations. So it is important for African and Chinese governments to put in place business-friendly and racially tolerant immigration laws to facilitate, not just freedom of movement, but indeed freedom of living and working in peace and dignity in each others’ countries.


Le Bail, Helene. 2009. Foreign Migrations to China’s City-Markets: the case of African merchants. Asie Visions 19.

Bertoncello, Brigitte and Sylvie Bredeloup. 2007. The emergence of new African “Trading posts” in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. China Perspectives, No.1, pp 94 -105.
Bodomo, A. B. 2010. The African trading community in Guangzhou: an emerging bridge for Africa-China relations. China Quarterly 203.

Bodomo. 2009. Fresh faces for future Africa-China relations: A note on the experiences of newly-arrived African students in China on FOCAC funds. Paper read at the Symposium on Reviews and Perspectives of Afro-Chinese Relations organized by the Institute of African and West Asian Studies/Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, October 13, 2009, Beijing, China

Bodomo A. B. 2009. Africa-China Relations in an Era of Globalization: the Role of African trading communities in China [全球化时代的中非关系:非洲在华贸易团体的角色]. WEST ASIA AND AFRICA 《西亚非洲》. 2009 Vol 8, Pages 62-67.
Li Zhigang, Xue Desheng, Michael Lyons, and Alison Brown. 2008. Ethnic enclave of transnational migrants in urban China : A case study of Xiaobei, Guangzhou. (paper draft).


* Prof Adams Bodomo is chair of the Department of Linguistics and Director of the African Studies Programme at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Dr Bodomo has done pioneering work on 21st Century Africa-China studies, with a particular focus on the African Diaspora in China. His research in the area of Africa-China Studies, diasporan, and migration studies have been featured in major academic journals and magazines such as China Quarterly, China Review, West Asia and Africa, and Pambazuka. He is currently finishing up a 300-page book manuscript titled, We Are Here Because They
Are There: The African Presence in China and its Consequences on Africa-China relations. He can be reached at

* Dr. Grace Ma is Head of the Center for African History and Culture at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University. She has spent nearly one year studying Africans in Yiwu and Guangzhou. She can be reached at

* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Haiti donors urged to keep promises

Haiti's president has called on leaders from Europe and the Americas to keep their promises of aid for the Caribbean country as it struggles to rebuild from the January's devastating earthquake.

Speaking at a donor conference in the neighbouring Dominican Republic on Wednesday, Rene Preval said that the nation faced an "immense challenge" to rebuild.

According to aid experts, Haiti needs about $11.5bn for its anticipated decade-long rebuilding effort.

But so far, Haitian government officials say, only Brazil has delivered its entire aid pledge of $55m.

Speaking to representatives of more than 50 donor nations on Wednesday, Preval said planned recovery projects to be financed by funds pledged at a donors meeting in March would produce "a more decentralised, fairer Haiti".

The meeting in New York had pledged $5.3bn toward Haiti's reconstruction over the next two years and $9.9bn over the next decade, but little of that money has so far arrived.

Former US president Bill Clinton, who co-chairs a commission overseeing much of the reconstruction funds, also called on donors to make come through on their pledges to realise Haiti's recovery plans.

Wednesday's conference, titled the "World Summit for the Future of Haiti," was aimed at extracting more of the pledged money, defining reconstruction projects and deadlines, as well as reassuring donor countries that the World Bank would oversee the process to minimise embezzlement and corruption.

"Today, we have a very clear framework in terms of what we must do," said Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary-general of the Organisation of American States.

"This is not just a meeting to look over what has been done, but really to set out a program, adopt it and put it into action."

Democracy in jeopardy

The top UN representative to Haiti also warned that the country's struggling democracy was in jeopardy if there was no improvement in the lives of millions of earthquake survivors.

"The longer that the victims continue living in precarious conditions, the more they will have reason to be discontent," Edmond Mulet said at the conference.

"That discontent can be manipulated for political ends."

Officials also discussed ways to finance a planned November 28 election to replace Preval, whose term expires next year.

Preval ignited off street protests in the capital Port-au-Prince when he published a law extending his term by up to three months if the election is not held on time.

On Wednesday however, he reiterated a pledge to step down as scheduled on February 7.

The January 12 earthquake effectively levelled Port-au-Prince, killing more than 250,000 people and leaving 1.3 million living in precarious tent camps exposed to tropical storms.

The economy of Haiti - already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere - was badly hit.

While international aid has flowed in, the magnitude of the disaster means reconstruction efforts have been slow to have an impact.

Much of the country's infrastructure - roads, water distribution and electricity - has to be rebuilt, along with schools and universities.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

France backs Africa for UN seat

The French president has said Africa should be represented on the UN Security Council, promising to back changes when France leads the G8 and G20 groups of big economies next year.

Speaking on Monday at the launch of the 25th Africa-France summit in the French city of Nice, Nicolas Sarkozy said it was time for the world to make a place for Africa on the global stage to discuss international crises and overhaul.

"I am convinced that we can't talk about big global questions without Africa any longer," Sarkozy told about 800 delegates from 40 African states.

He said it was "not normal" that no African country had a permanent seat on the Security Council.

African nations have been asking for two rotating permanent seats with veto power as well as more non-permanent seats since 2005, given the continent has about 27 per cent of members at the UN, its size and the involvement of global powers on its territory.

France is pushing for a change proposed previously with the UK whereby non-permanent membership on the Security Council would be raised to 10 years instead of two now, without the right of veto, a French diplomatic source said.

China, the US, Russia, Britain and France are the permanent members of the Security Council.

Nigeria, Gabon and Uganda are among 10 members that hold rotating seats.

'Summit of renewal'

The Nice gathering has been touted as a "summit of renewal" and Sarkozy stressed that France needed to look to the future instead of "perpetuating the illusion of an outdated role".

This Africa-France summit is Sarkozy's first since taking office in 2007 and reflects France's shift away from its traditional West African allies towards engagement with the continent as a whole.

France is seeking to use the two-day gathering as a springboard for business deals.

"Africa is our future and will be a principle reservoir for world economic growth in the decades to come," Sarkozy said.

Alain Joyandet, France's development minister, said it would be "the summit of renewal, a sort of launch of a new era".

Breaking away from tradition, France has invited nearly 200 business leaders from France and Africa to this year's summit including heads of big French companies such as energy giant Total and nuclear firm Areva.

The push on the economic front comes as France has taken a back seat to China, Africa's biggest trade partner, which has injected billions over the past decade to tap into raw materials needed to fuel its hungry economy.

Liberia sends seven to US on cocaine-smuggling charges

Liberia has deported seven people to the US after they were arrested for allegedly trying to ship 4,000kg of cocaine there, the goverment says.

The suspects are accused of trying to bribe top Liberian officials to protect large cocaine shipments "since 2007".

The men have now been charged by prosecutors in New York with conspiracy to import cocaine.

In recent years West Africa has become a transit point for drugs en route from South America to Europe and the US.

Liberia's Solicitor-General Watkins Wrights read out a government statement, saying that the seven men were from Russia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

He said they had tried to smuggle the cocaine, with a street value of $100m (£68m), from Colombia.

"Liberia is closed for business to the narcotics trade," Mr Wrights said.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, says the arrests were part of the US Drug Enforcement Administration's "Operation Relentless", in which Liberian and US authorities are working together in an effort to catch drug traffickers.

The suspects were communicating with Liberian officials in order to establish transit points for the exportation of cocaine to the US, our correspondent says.

The officials pretended to co-operate before turning the suspects over to the US authorities.

The men were sent from Liberia to the US between 28 May and 1 June, the government statement said.

West Africa has increasingly become a point favoured by Latin American drug cartels because of weak local law enforcement and a largely unsupervised coastline.

The drugs are flown or shipped across the Atlantic and then onto markets in Europe and the US.

There have been large cocaine seizures in other countries in the region, including Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

US court rules ex-Somali PM can be sued over torture

The US Supreme Court has ruled that it will not halt a lawsuit by alleged torture victims against former Somali Prime Minister Mahamed Ali Samantar.

The original lawsuit was filed by Somalis living in the US under 1991's Torture Victim Protection Act.

A federal judge had originally ruled that Mr Samantar was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Mr Samantar currently lives in the US state of Virginia.

The lawsuit accuses Mr Samantar of commanding his troops to detain, torture, and kill members of Somalia's Isaaq clan.

The justices said that although the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 shields foreign states from being sued in American courts, it does not shield former officials of those states.

Omar Jamal, the first secretary of the Somali mission at the United Nations, said the court's decision "probably will jam the courts" and was the result of "baseless lawsuits".

Mr Samantar was Somalia's defence minister in the 1980s and prime minister from 1987 to 1990.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since warlords overthrew President Siad Barre in 1991.

U.S. Military Ends Earthquake Relief Effort in Haiti

Published: June 1, 2010

MIAMI (Reuters) - The U.S. military announced the end of major relief operations in Haiti on Tuesday, nearly five months after the country's devastating January 12 earthquake.

Spearheaded by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, thousands of American troops were deployed in Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response.

The troops helped to distribute food and keep the peace after the quake, which killed more than 300,000 people, according to Haitian government estimates.

The Pentagon has been drawing down the number of soldiers in the impoverished Caribbean country steadily in recent months. The end of Operation Unified Response was announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Southern Command.

Despite the announcement, the Miami-based command said a 500-strong contingent of U.S. National Guard Troops would be engaged in humanitarian assistance projects in rural Haiti through September.

Many Haitians are still in desperate need of shelter in the aftermath of the quake, a situation that threatens to get worse with Tuesday's start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Relief workers say more than 1.5 million quake survivors are still living in storm-prone, crowded tent camps in and around the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)