NIGERIANS PUT THE BRAKES ON SUPERHIGHWAY CUTTING DOWN RAINFOREST
20, 2017 (GIN) – Bulldozers approaching the
communities of the southern state of Cross River,
with orders to raze up to a million homes and cut
down an ancient tropical rainforest, were stopped
in their tracks as an environmental impact
statement for a proposed superhighway was rejected
conceived, the roadway would link northern Nigeria
to a proposed deep seaport in the south, covering
162 miles and displacing along the way some 180
indigenous communities, a national park and
adjoining forest reserves that are home to some of
the country’s most endangered species.
this week, at a public hearing with government
ministers and stakeholders, the Minister of the
Environment admitted the project could not go
forward. “The EIA (Environmental Impact
Assessment) is not of standard, it is too primary
and does not qualify as a working document for
such an international project,” Minister Ibrahim
Jibrin was reported to say.
so-called Cross River Superhighway, the brainchild
of the state’s governor, Ben Ayade, has been on
the drawing board for years. Two years ago it was
announced that the “much anticipated
construction” was “on course” and that
President Muhammadu Buhari would be performing
groundbreaking ceremonies Sept. 21, 2015.
roadway would have cut through several protected
areas such as the Cross River National Park, Ukpon
River Forest Reserve, Cross River South Forest
Reserve, Afi River Forest Reserve and Afi Mountain
Wildlife Sanctuary - home to various threatened
species, including Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees,
drills, Preuss’s red colobus monkeys, slender-snouted
crocodiles and African gray parrots, among others.
the impacted communities is the Ekuri, whose
conservation skills were recognized by the U.N.
Development Program with a Equator Initiative
Award for protecting biodiversity and reducing
leaders say they supported the highway project at
first, believing it would bring better
transportation and greater economic opportunities
to their people. But in a letter to the governor
of Cross River State sent Feb. 7, the leaders
withdrew their support, calling the project “a
land grab in the guise of a Super Highway.”
communities manage some 83,000 acres of
community-owned forest – one of the largest in
West Africa. “We require schools, water,
electricity but not the kind of road that will
take our forest away,” village leaders Stephen
Oji and Abel Egbe told Premium Times news. w/pix
of Ekuri woman protesting superhighway
ANGOLAN WOMEN PROTEST HARSH BILL CRIMINALIZING ABORTION
20, 2017 (GIN) – Under heavy police
surveillance, Angolan women rallied in the capital
city Luanda to protest a draft bill that would
criminalize all abortions and punish anyone who
has an abortion or performs one, without
exception, with up to 10 years in jail.
those objecting to the bill was the president’s
daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who used her
Instagram social media account to denounce the
“criminalization of women.”
At the rally, hundreds of women carrying placards
chanted “Freedom for women,” “Prison will
not solve anything” and “Let us decide.”
leaders had reportedly lobbied hard for the bill.
Speaking for the Episcopal Conference of Angola,
Dom Manuel Imbaba told the French AFP news service
that they supported the anti-abortion legislation.
“To decriminalize abortion is to approve
murder,” he said.
in Angola, abortion is only permitted to save the
life of the woman. An abortion performed with the
consent of the pregnant woman is punishable by
imprisonment of up to three years. A woman who
induces her own abortion is subject to the same
the abortion was performed to conceal the pregnant
woman’s “dishonor”, the maximum penalty is
reduced to two years.
north, in Ghana, women’s health organizations
have been denouncing the country’s high rate of
unsafe abortions that are a major cause of
than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana
are the result of unsafe abortions, notes the New
York-based Guttmacher Institute in their report
“Abortion in Ghana.”
“Some 13% of Ghanaian women who have had an
abortion experience complications resulting from
unsafe procedures, and fewer than half of them
received the needed follow-up care,” cited
statistics are all the more remarkable because
Ghana is one of the few African countries where
abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds, and
abortion performed by a qualified profession under
proper conditions is an extremely safe
procedure,” they added.
the few African countries which allow a woman to
terminate a pregnancy without punishment may soon
be facing disciplinary action from the U.S. under
President Donald Trump’s Global Gag Rule.
According to his executive order, recipients of
U.S. funds may not mention abortion, refer women
to a provider or tell them about their legal
rights. w/pix of Angolan women at pro-choice
SOUTH AFRICA SEEKS LEGAL CHANGE TO ALLOW TAKING OF WHITE-OWNED LAND
20, 2017 (GIN) – President Jacob Zuma finally
addressed the long-unresolved matter of land
reform, a demand of thousands of black landless
people whose properties were confiscated in the
In his State of the Nation address, President Zuma
pledged to break up white ownership of business
and land to reduce inequality. He called on
parliament to change South Africa’s constitution
to allow the expropriation of white owned land
without compensation, along the lines of his
counterpart, President Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe.
“People of South Africa, where you see a
beautiful land, take it, it belongs to you,” he
said. Although progress has been made in
transferring property to black South Africans,
land ownership is believed to be skewed in favor
of whites more than 20 years after the end of
But to Zuma’s request for a preliminary racial
breakdown of the country’s rural landowners, the
Institute of Race Relations, an independent
research body, called it “almost
unexpectedly, Zuma’s comments caused outrage
among groups representing Afrikaans-speaking
Boer Afrikaner Volksraad, which claims to have
40,000 members, said its members would take land
expropriation without compensation as “a
declaration of war”.
“October surprise” on land reform comes as the
party faces some of its harshest criticism yet for
failing to renew a contract with a company that
pays out pensions to the old, the sick and the
17 million vulnerable South African depend on
government social grants which in many cases are
as little as $27 a month.
prospect of missing their welfare support has
triggered a wave of anger among core ANC
ANC “don’t care, as long as they’re fine,”
said an unemployed father to a reporter. “I
think they just forgot about the people.”
Paymaster Services (CPS), a subsidiary of Net 1, a
US group, which mails out the checks, was found
unfit for the job in 2014. Their contract, which
expires March 31, was not renewed but neither did
government replace them.
constitutional court intervened —ruling that CPS
had to continue payments for the next year under
its close supervision.
Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has decried the
government’s handling of the matter, asking
rhetorically: “How do we get to this level of
incompetence?” w/pix of Presidents R. Mugabe
and J. Zuma
NEW LOOK FOR AFRICA ON ‘CORRECTED’ BOSTON SCHOOL MAPS
20, 2017 (GIN) - In an age of “fake news” and
“alternative facts”, authorities in the city
of Boston believe their new school map offers
something closer to the geographical truth than
that of traditional maps, and hope it can serve an
example to schools across the nation and even the
school district will drop the Mercator projection,
which physically diminished Africa and South
America, for the Peters, which cuts the developed
world down to size.
Gall-Peters projection shows land masses in their
correct proportions by area, putting the relative
sizes of Africa and North America in perspective.
Boston public schools introduced a new standard
map of the world this week, some young students
felt their world had changed.
USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk.
Africa and South America appeared narrower but
also much larger than usual. And what had happened
almost 500 years, the Mercator projection –
designed to aid navigation along colonial trade
routes - has been the norm for maps of the world.
the Mercator system, North America and Europe
appear bigger than South America and Africa.
Western Europe is in the middle of his map.
America is made to look about the same size as
Europe, when in fact it is almost twice as large,
and Greenland looks roughly the size of Africa
when it is actually about 14 times smaller. Alaska
looks bigger than Mexico and Germany is in the
middle of the picture, not to the north.
switch to the Gall-Peters Projection sees Boston's
public schools follow the lead of the United
Nations, which has advocated the map as a more
'fair', less Eurocentric representation of the
world, as have several aid agencies.
in the 2nd, 7th and 11th grades have already
received their new maps, and say the reaction from
their students has been fascinating. “It’s
“interesting to watch the students saying
‘Wow’ and ‘No, really? Look at Africa,
it’s bigger’”, Natacha Scott, director of
history and social studies at Boston public
schools, told The Guardian.
“Some of their reactions were quite funny,”
she added, “but it was also amazingly
interesting to see them questioning what they
thought they knew.”