How Much is a Diamond Worth to You?
Emmanuel Jal, child soldier forced to fight in the Sudan, who was rescued by an aid worker and has become an international hip-hop star and an activist for kids in war zones.
A good and extraordinary person.
Emmanuel Jal, as referenced below.
100 things that you did not know about Africa - Nos.26 - 50
26. West Africa had walled towns and cities in the pre-colonial period. Winwood Reade, an English historian visited West Africa in the nineteenth century and commented that: “There are … thousands of large walled cities resembling those of Europe in the Middle Ages, or of ancient Greece.”
27. Lord Lugard, an English official, estimated in 1904 that there were 170 walled towns still in existence in the whole of just the Kano province of northern Nigeria.
28. Cheques are not quite as new an invention as we were led to believe. In the tenth century, an Arab geographer, Ibn Haukal, visited a fringe region of Ancient Ghana. Writing in 951 AD, he told of a cheque for 42,000 golden dinars written to a merchant in the city of Audoghast by his partner in Sidjilmessa.
29. Ibn Haukal, writing in 951 AD, informs us that the King of Ghana was “the richest king on the face of the earth” whose pre-eminence was due to the quantity of gold nuggets that had been amassed by the himself and by his predecessors.
30. The Nigerian city of Ile-Ife was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler with decorations that originated in Ancient America. Naturally, no-one wants to explain how this took place approximately 500 years before the time of Christopher Columbus!
31. West Africa had bling culture in 1067 AD. One source mentions that when the Emperor of Ghana gives audience to his people: “he sits in a pavilion around which stand his horses caparisoned in cloth of gold: behind him stand ten pages holding shields and gold-mounted swords: and on his right hand are the sons of the princes of his empire, splendidly clad and with gold plaited into their hair … The gate of the chamber is guarded by dogs of an excellent breed … they wear collars of gold and silver.”
32. Glass windows existed at that time. The residence of the Ghanaian Emperor in 1116 AD was: “A well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass windows.”
33. The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”, was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each with projecting wooden buttresses.
34. One of the great achievements of the Yoruba was their urban culture. “By the year A.D. 1300,” says a modern scholar, “the Yoruba people built numerous walled cities surrounded by farms”. The cities were Owu, Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesa, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Dassa, Egbado, Igbomina, the sixteen Ekiti principalities, Owo and Ondo.
35. Yoruba metal art of the mediaeval period was of world class. One scholar wrote that Yoruba art “would stand comparison with anything which Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome, or Renaissance Europe had to offer.”
36. In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.
37. Thousands of mediaeval tumuli have been found across West Africa. Nearly 7,000 were discovered in north-west Senegal alone spread over nearly 1,500 sites. They were probably built between 1000 and 1300 AD.
38. Excavations at the Malian city of Gao carried out by Cambridge University revealed glass windows. One of the finds was entitled: “Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window glass, Gao 10th – 14th century.”
39. In 1999 the BBC produced a television series entitled Millennium. The programme devoted to the fourteenth century opens with the following disclosure: “In the fourteenth century, the century of the scythe, natural disasters threatened civilisations with extinction. The Black Death kills more people in Europe, Asia and North Africa than any catastrophe has before. Civilisations which avoid the plague thrive. In West Africa the Empire of Mali becomes the richest in the world.”
40. Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.
41. On a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 AD, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa, brought so much money with him that his visit resulted in the collapse of gold prices in Egypt and Arabia. It took twelve years for the economies of the region to normalise.
42. West African gold mining took place on a vast scale. One modern writer said that: “It is estimated that the total amount of gold mined in West Africa up to 1500 was 3,500 tons, worth more than $30 billion in today’s market.”
43. The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.
44. Mali in the 14th century was highly urbanised. Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: “Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated”.
45. The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 - 5 times larger than mediaeval London. Mansa Musa, built the Djinguerebere Mosque in the fourteenth century. There was the University Mosque in which 25,000 students studied and the Oratory of Sidi Yayia. There were over 150 Koran schools in which 20,000 children were instructed. London, by contrast, had a total 14th century population of 20,000 people.
46. National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.
47. Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger. Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about 700,000 surviving books.
48. A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends - he had only 1600 volumes.
49. Concerning these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years … Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”
50. The Songhai Empire of 16th century West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and Protocol.
By Robin Walker
Foday Sankoh was the leader and founder of the Sierra Leonian rebel group RUF (Revolutionary United Front), an organisation that murdered approximately 50,000 people during the decade-long civil war in which over 500,000 people were displaced. Sankoh and his confederates,…
‘Millions of children are facing starvation right now — this doesn’t have to happen. Save The Children has launched an emergency aid response in Africa. Please watch this video, share with friends and download Bob Marley’s single ‘High Tide or Low Tide’ with all proceeds going to the East Africa food crisis appeal. ’
ETHIOPIA. The African Union today adopted a unilateral resolution to deploy army troops and care packages to England as looting and violence spread from London to other major cities. Spokesperson Charity Khumalo said “We can no longer stand by while these savages tear themselves apart.”
The AU, meeting today in an emergency session to discuss the ongoing rioting in the UK, has declared that they will do “everything in their power to help bring civilisation to England”.
“It’s just so sad, you know?” said Khumalo, speaking from the organisation’s HQ in Addis Ababa. “Sitting here and watching them on TV while their society implodes. We cannot in good conscience remain idle and let it happen.”
The AU has announced a range of initiatives that Africans can get involved with to help alleviate the misery of the English.
“For instance, we have launched an ‘Adopt an English child’ programme,” Khumalo explained, showing journalists brochures featuring the faces of English kids.
#LMAO but seriously though maybe one day…
Documentary Trailer: Soul Power
A documentary on the legendary soul music concert staged in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974, in the occasion of the box contest between Muhammed Alì and George Foreman.
[For ethical obligations, to protect the identity of my relative I’m going to use the alias ‘Mary’]
On the 23rd of July, I interviewed my cousins wife named Mary, who was in Sierra Leone during the civil war that lasted a decade. Mary was merely a child, when she was separated from her relatives and avoided becoming a child soldier herself, when a rebel army began taking children to become part of their forces.
Mary enters my Aunt’s living room with a cup of tea and I ask her whether it’s ok for me to film the footage of our interview, to which she consents to, as long as it is only her voice that is recorded and not her face. As the interviewer and the director, I didn’t want to make her feel obliged to be on film so I begin asking her a series of questions. Mary gives me as much information as I ask, while I am wary not to go into too much detail.
Once I ceased filming, Mary becomes more comfortable and tells me a story of how she and her family thwarted a confrontation with a rebel group. She tells me that she was forced to line up along with other people from her town to be analysed and categorised by the rebel group – a process that involved them partaking in merciless amputations and killings, and recruitment of children for their army based on ‘looks’ and perceived ‘strength’. A British aid helicopter flew over the town around the time her family was being confronted, which forced the rebel soldiers to recuperate elsewhere allowing the rest of people to be spared momentarily.
Mary also describes another confrontation in which her and her sisters disguised themselves as elderly women to avoid being recruited and kidnapped, a concept that saved their lives, as the soldiers where looking to corrupt young children as the front line of force. She laughs as she describes how her and her sisters covered their faces in light powder and wore baggy clothing, figuring out that the soldiers are not interested in recruiting elderly women, which allowed them enough time to escape their district and seek help, although ultimately they were not safe until the civil war finished.
She goes on to describe how her father was captured by a rebel army that included children soldiers, and they were preparing to kill him but for unknown reasons they decided to ‘spare’ him and move on to another village.
When suggesting christianity as a forward movement towards rehabilitation, Mary gives me her honest opinion when she states that ‘These children don’t believe in God, Nathan they are too young to even understand that’ - informing me that children as young as 6, were being recruited and force-fed drugs such as cocaine to loosen their inhibitations and turn them into soldiers.
We came to the conclusion that the only way the rebel armies could have come into possession with expensive stimulants in a still-developing country like Sierra Leone that relies mainly on exports of minerals, is if the government was fuelling them -
therefore the repressive dictator Foday Sankoh was a major influence and catalyst in the civil war, as he was most probably providing these armies with stimulants and various weaponry.
From this intense interview I was able to gather that even if child soldiers are given the opportunity to make better futures for themselves, they will forever be stigmatized and given self-fulfilling prophecies which prevents them from successfully overcoming their difficult circumstances.
Coffee Beans :)
remember to recycle the grounds left in your filter, or ask ur coffee shop if they have any left to use for soil.
I Am Slave
I watched this very moving piece last year, and wanted to re-watch it again this year. This Channel 4 movie which i definitely recommend to anyone with access to 4OD, follows a modern-day slave named Malia who is brought to London through human trafficking. The movie begins with very naturalistic lighting set in Africa with various initiations of tribal music indicative of the protagonists heritage.
In the beginning of the film Malia is merely 12 years old when she is captured along with numerous other girls from her town and sent to a location in which modern-day slave-owners look at her as if she is a possession. What disgusts me the most about this scene is the fact that the woman wishing to ‘buy’ Malia, is treating her as if she is an animal and asking her to stick her tongue out. Not only are these girls completely degraded but they are not even considered to be human beings anymore. As the storyline progresses we see that Malia was severely beaten for playing with the slave-owners children and is sent away to another family in modern-day London, at this point, Malia has reached the age 18.
In London, Malia is trapped inside a home in which she must be a maid, but is not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. The few times Malia has attempted to communicate with the outside world, has lead to various death-threats towards Malia and her family. Malia symbolises a silent oppressive heroine who is stoic and mainly quiet, which embodies her loss of freedom and voice - This is evident through the fact that this character rarely vocalises her thoughts and solely expresses her emotions through facial expressions. She only speaks when spoken to, and is fully aware of the fact that she is considered someone else’s property. This movie goes against the conventional stereotype that all slavetraders are of english heritage, as the slave-owners appear have an ethnic origin - this emphasises the notion that the roles of ‘slaves’ and ‘slave-owners’ transcend race and genetics, and while Africa has suffered the most from this fact, it must also be considered that each nationality has experienced its own form of slavery and oppression in its own rights. This movie resonated with me, because of how naturalistically the director filmed it and it also scared me to think that there was still up an estimated 12 million slaves being trafficked today.
Click the poster for more info guys
Can child soldiers be rehabilitated?’
I am in the process of filming a doc based around the subject of ‘the military’s abuse of children in third world countries’. I mainly want to focus on how audiences perceive the rehabilitation process of children soldiers, and I want to promote brilliant charities that not only stop rebel armies from corrupting children as young as 9 in countries such as Sierra Leone and Uganda, but actually consider the long-term effects of war and how these children can recover from such truamatic experiences. I decided that I wanted utilise my knowledge of drama to create a short documentary that is built up of mainly brief interviews of members of the public. My main interest is the rehabilitation process, as charities and various forms of governmental aid, have aimed to stop the miltary’s use of children, while inadvertly overlooking methods of rehabilitating the child soldiers that have already been brutally traumatised and manipulated by the rebel armies and forces.
I recently watched a documentary named ‘Children of War’ and took some notes. The documentary is set in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and focuses on young 11 year-old Sherieff Koroma, a former child soldier that is receiving no form of rehabilitation treatment, other than getting an education at school. It is slowly revealed to the audience, that Koroma along with thousands of other boys were regularly given doses of cocaine, to make them fight in a war fuelled by blood diamonds. I have concluded from watching this documentary that to effectively rehabilitate this boy, it is necessary for him to show signs of remorse to avoid him continuing down a path one may argue is deterministic. However the likelihood of this occurring is minor, as no active help or therapy is available to this boy to help him cope with the trauma that he has been forced to carry. His faith in God has seemed to keep him on some degree of sanity, though he has shown signs of suicidal thoughts – “I also pray to God to send somebody to help me kill myself”.
As a Christian myself, I have to say that I am disappointed at the fact that in today’s society, the belief in God has been widely frowned upon, while in developing countries that have been hit with extreme poverty, the belief in God is arguably the only thing keeping boys like Koroma sane and alive. Overall this documentary has informed me more as part of the audience and as the director of my own documentary of the cruelty these children face, and the necessity of bringing this subject to the surface of the media.
If U want to help in any way shape or form (dw i’m not asking for $£$££), or if you can direct me to some moving films or docs on this topic, plz comment.
ty 4 reading :}