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Posts Tagged ‘sudan’

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Photos: Nichole Sobecki for the New York Times
Samuel Lagu set aside five acres of his land in Mireyi, Uganda, for a rice venture in which South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans work side by side.

Sometimes it’s the poor who do the best job of helping the poor. That is also true of nations. Uganda is no utopia, as those who have been oppressed by the government know firsthand, but it’s doing a better job of helping Sudanese refugees than many richer countries. Officials understand that refugees can build the economy, and individual Ugandans have not forgotten when they were in need and Sudanese people helped them.

Joseph Goldstein writes at the New York Times, “Solomon Osakan has a very different approach in this era of rising xenophobia. From his uncluttered desk in northwest Uganda, he manages one of the largest concentrations of refugees anywhere in the world: more than 400,000 people scattered across his rural district.

“He explained what he does with them: Refugees are allotted some land — enough to build a little house, do a little farming and ‘be self-sufficient,’ said Mr. Osakan, a Ugandan civil servant. Here, he added, the refugees live in settlements, not camps — with no barbed wire, and no guards in sight. …

“In all, Uganda has as many as 1.25 million refugees on its soil, perhaps more, making it one of the most welcoming countries in the world, according to the United Nations.

“And while Uganda’s government has made hosting refugees a core national policy, it works only because of the willingness of rural Ugandans to accept an influx of foreigners on their land and shoulder a big part of the burden.

“Uganda is not doing this without help. About $200 million in humanitarian aid to the country [in 2018] will largely pay to feed and care for the refugees. But they need places to live and small plots to farm, so villages across the nation’s north have agreed to carve up their communally owned land and share it with the refugees, often for many years at a time.

“ ‘Our population was very few and our community agreed to loan the land,’ said Charles Azamuke, 27, of his village’s decision in 2016 to accept refugees from South Sudan, which has been torn apart by civil war. ‘We are happy to have these people. We call them our brothers.’ …

“As the sun began to set one recent afternoon, a group of men on the Ugandan side began to pass around a large plastic bottle of waragi, a home brew. On the South Sudanese side, the men were sober, gathered around a card game.

“On both sides, the men had nothing but tolerant words for one another. … As the men lounged, the women and girls were still at work, preparing dinner, tending children, fetching water and gathering firewood. They explained that disputes did arise, especially as the two groups competed for limited resources like firewood. …

“Recent polls show that Ugandans are more likely than their neighbors in Kenya or Tanzania to support land assistance or the right to work for refugees. Part of the reason is that Ugandans have fled their homes as well, first during the murderous reign of [Idi] Amin, then during the period of retribution after his overthrow, and again during the 1990s and 2000s. …

“Many Ugandans found refuge in what is today South Sudan. Mark Idraku, 57, was a teenager when he fled with his mother to the area. They received two acres of farmland, which helped support them until they returned home six years later.

‘When we were in exile in Sudan, they also helped us,’ Mr. Idraku said. ‘Nobody ever asked for a single coin.’

More at the New York Times, here.

A goat shelter on the land that Ugandans such as Mark Idraku lent to a refugee from Sudan. Queen Chandia, who cares for 22 children, some of whom lost their families in Sudan’s civil war, said the donated land has made all the difference.

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Photo: Vincent Francigny / Sedeinga archaeological mission
A large cache of recently discovered texts offers insight into one of Africa’s oldest written languages.

Archaeologists, whether professionals or amateurs like those in a recent post, keep discovering new wonders. They remind us never to make the mistake of thinking that everything has been discovered.

Jason Daley writes at Smithsonian magazine, “Archaeologists in Sudan have uncovered a large cache of rare stone inscriptions at the Sedeinga necropolis along the Nile River. The collection of funerary texts are inscribed in Meroitic, one of Africa’s earliest written languages.

“As Charles Q. Choi at LiveScience reports, the find is full of potential. … The archaeological site of Sedeinga — once part of the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe (which were jointly referred to as the ‘Kush kingdom’ by their ancient Egyptian neighbors) –- includes the remains of 80 small brick pyramids and more than 100 tombs created during a cultural period from about 700 B.C. to roughly 300 C.E.

” ‘The necropolis’ miniature pyramids were initially inspired by Egypt’s massive monuments, but during a later time, Meroitics refashioned the tombs and pyramids to include chapels and chambers where they could worship the dead. …

“In addition to the funerary texts, archaeologists also found pieces of decorated and inscribed sandstone. … One of the more interesting new finds from the dig is a lintel, or structural beam from a chapel with a depiction of Maat, the Egyptian goddess of order, equity, and peace. This is the first time archaeologists have found a depiction of Maat with black African features.

“Another find of note, a funerary stele, describes a high-ranking woman by the name of Lady Maliwarase and details her connections with royalty. Similarly, a lintel uncovered during the excavation explores the lineage of another woman of high rank, Adatalabe, who counts a royal prince among her blood line.

“These kinds of inscriptions are sure to help historians continue to piece together the story of Meroe. For instance, as Francigny tells Choi, the aforementioned finds reveal that in Meroe kingdom matrilineality — the women’s lineage — was important enough to record.”

More here.

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John reads Business Insider pretty regularly, and I must say it alerts him to some great ideas for this blog. Here is a story about innovative beekeepers by Simon Thomsen at Business Insider Australia.

“Two Australian inventors are changing the way honey is harvested and the world can’t get enough of it. Father and son Stuart and Cedar Anderson spent a decade creating a revolutionary system that allows beekeepers to harvest honey on tap, without disturbing the hive.

“After a decade of research and development, the Andersons launched their idea on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo [Feb. 23]. Within two hours, they’d sold $830,000 (£420,000) worth of beehives. Their initial target was $70,000 (£35,500). Within three hours they’d sold more than $1 million (£507,000) of products.

“The first 500 top-of-the-line beehives, costing $600 (£390), sold out within an hour. They’ve now released a further 1000 hives, along with a range of cheaper options.

“The Andersons has some idea how how intense interest was when they posted a video of their invention on YouTube and it attracted nearly 1 million viewers within two days. This morning they had interest from 80,000 people before the launch, and were forced to switch from Kickstarter to Indiegogo as the crowdfunding platform at the last minute realising that they needed to cater for the US market, find an American manufacturer and charge in USD (which Kickstarter doesn’t allow) to overcome exchange rate fluctuations.” More here.

What a great story: build a better beehive and the world will beat a path to your door. Now if someone would just donate a few to the beekeepers in Sudan we wrote about recently …

Photo: Facebook
Beekepers Cedar and Stuart Anderson

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Some African communities are rediscovering the value of mud for building cool, comfortable homes — and sparing trees.

This story is from the Thomson Reuters Foundation by way of the the Christian Science Monitor feature “Change Agent.”

“Building a house in the poorest villages of southern Mali has for years involved cutting trees for timber frames and struggling to save cash for a corrugated iron roof. Now families are turning to an alternative: Nubian-style domed mud-brick homes that are cheaper, protect fast-vanishing local forests, and make homes cooler in the worsening summer heat, experts say.

“Earthen homes with vaulted brick roofs – a style adopted from Nubia in northern Sudan – are being promoted across the Sahel, including in Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania, as part of efforts to build resilience to climate change.

” ‘Most people, more than half, don’t have the decent housing they dream of because it costs too much to build. This is going to change with the Nubian vault,’ predicted Chiaka Sidibe, a mason in Massako, one of the Malian communities adopting the new building style.

” ‘You just have to make mud bricks that don’t cost money, and fellow villagers help you to build your house,” he said. …

“The local office of the Association la Voûte Nubienne, the international non-governmental organization that is promoting the Nubian vault building style, has helped train local builders in mud-brick construction techniques. The aim is to build a sustainable, self-supporting market for the homes, said Moussa Diarra, the NGO’s local coordinator.

” ‘It can take much time to reach this goal, but I’m confident the initiative will succeed,’ he said.”

More here.

Photo: UN Climate Change Secretariat

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This story was a reminder to me that every country has kind-hearted people. Too much of the news about Sudan focuses on its leader, his treatment of minorities, and his troubles with the international court. But this story is about Sudanese youth reviving a tradition of service.

Isma’il Kushkush reported the story for the NY Times.

“Their temporary headquarters are a beehive of young volunteers buzzing in and out of rooms, up and down stairs, carrying bags of donated food, medicine and large packets of plastic sheets. …

“They are the members of Nafeer, a volunteer, youth-led initiative that responded swiftly to the humanitarian crisis caused by heavy rains and flash floods that struck Sudan [in August]. …

“The area around Khartoum, the capital, suffered the hardest blow. …

“ ‘We saw that the heavy rains and floods were going to impact the lives of many, and we felt we had a social responsibility to help people,’ said Muhammad Hamd, 28, a Nafeer spokesman. ‘The idea came out of a discussion on Facebook among friends.’

“A ‘nafeer’ is a Sudanese social tradition that comes from an Arabic word meaning ‘a call to mobilize.’ The group’s formation was all the more important because the Sudanese government was slow to respond, some critics say.

“ ‘It was a weak response,’ said Khalid Eltigani, the executive editor of Ilaf, a weekly newspaper. ‘The Nafeer youth broke the silence on the flood situation.’ ” More here.

I love that the latest manifestation of this Sudanese tradition got organized on Facebook.

Photo: Reuters
Men built a barrier to protect houses from rising water in Khartoum, Sudan, the last week of August. More than 300,000 people were directly affected by the flooding.

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