Obulala an Amani

Death of the last white supremacist in South Africa

By Peter Burdin, April 6 2010
The murder of white supremacist leader Eugene Terreblanche has reopened many old wounds in South Africa. As clips of his speeches are played and replayed on news channels, it is chilling to hear the fantasy world he inhabited and his vision of a racially-segregated South Africa destined to fight to its own death.

Seeing him on those TV screens again reminds me of how far South Africa has travelled since those days 20 years ago when he was threatening, in his own words, to take South Africa down into the bowels of hell if blacks were given equal rights. But let us not forget Mr Terreblanche lost his war.

He even failed to gain the majority support of his own Afrikaner people - he lost in the ballot when FW de Klerk gained majority backing to dismantle apartheid; and he lost in the bullet when his ramshackle army withdrew from Mafikeng in 1994, bewildered and disorientated. More...

Eugene Terreblanche
Eugene Terreblanche, the white supremacist killed over the weekend.

Lost tribe of Israel found in Zimbabwe

Lemba tribe
Lemba tribesmen of Zimbabwe. Although the majority have embraced Christianity and Islam, they still observe Judaism rituals.

By Steve Vickers, Harare, March 8 2010
The Lemba people of Zimbabwe and South Africa may look like their compatriots, but they follow a very different set of customs and traditions.They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones. Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.

It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which have confirmed their Semitic origin. These tests back up the group's belief that a group of perhaps seven men married African women and settled on the continent. The Lemba, who number perhaps 80,000, live in central Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa.

Lemba women
Lemba women do not have Jewish DNA

And they also have a prized religious artefact that they say connects them to their Jewish ancestry - a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu, meaning "the drum that thunders".

The object went on display recently at a Harare museum to much fanfare, and instilled pride in many of the Lemba. "For me it's the starting point," says religious singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave.

"Very few people knew about us and this is the time to come out. I'm very proud to realise that we have a rich culture and I'm proud to be a Lemba. "We have been a very secretive people, because we believe we are a special people."

Religion vs culture

The Lemba have many customs and regulations that tally with Jewish tradition. They wear skull caps, practise circumcision, which is not a tradition for most Zimbabweans, avoid eating pork and food with animal blood, and have 12 tribes.

Tudor Parfitt
Many people say that the story is far-fetched, but the oral traditions of the Lemba have been backed up by science
Tudor Parfitt
University of London

They slaughter animals in the same way as Jewish people, and they put the Jewish Star of David on their tombstones. Members of the priestly clan of the Lemba, known as the Buba, were even discovered to have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly line.

"This was amazing," said Prof Tudor Parfitt, from the University of London. "It looks as if the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen, and in same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.

"They have a common ancestor who geneticists say lived about 3,000 years ago somewhere in north Arabia, which is the time of Moses and Aaron when the Jewish priesthood started."

Prof Parfitt is a world-renowned expert, having spent 20 years researching the Lemba, and living with them for six months. The Lemba have a sacred prayer language which is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic, pointing to their roots in Israel and Yemen. Despite their ties to Judaism, many of the Lemba in Zimbabwe are Christians, while some are Muslims.

"Christianity is my religion, and Judaism is my culture," explains Perez Hamandishe, a pastor and member of parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Despite their centuries-old traditions, some younger Lemba are taking a more liberal view. "In the old days you didn't marry a non-Lemba, but these days we interact with others," says Alex Makotore, son of the late Chief Mposi from the Lemba "headquarters" in Mberengwa. "I feel special in my heart but not in front of others such that I'm separated from them. Culture is dynamic."


The oral traditions of the Lemba say that the ngoma lungundu is the Biblical wooden Ark made by Moses, and that centuries ago a small group of men began a long journey carrying it from Yemen to southern Africa.

Hearing from those professors in Harare and seeing the ngoma makes it clear that we are a great people and I'm very proud
David Maramwidze
Lemba elder

The object went missing during the 1970s and was eventually rediscovered in Harare in 2007 by Prof Parfitt. "Many people say that the story is far-fetched, but the oral traditions of the Lemba have been backed up by science," he says.

Carbon dating shows the ngoma to be nearly 700 years old - pretty ancient, if not as old as Bible stories would suggest. But Prof Parfitt says this is because the ngoma was used in battles, and would explode and be rebuilt. The ngoma now on display was a replica, he says, possibly built from the remains of the original. "So it's the closest descendant of the Ark that we know of," Prof Parfitt says.

Large crowds came to see the unveiling of the ngoma and to attend lectures on the identity of the Lemba. For David Maramwidze, an elder in his village, the discovery of the ngoma has been a defining moment. "Hearing from those professors in Harare and seeing the ngoma makes it clear that we are a great people and I'm very proud," he says. "I heard about it all my life and it was hard for me to believe, because I had no idea of what it really is.

"I'm still seeing the picture of the ngoma in my mind and it will never come out from my brain. Now we want it to be given back to the Lemba people."

Source: BBC News

Burial societies making a comeback in Zimbabwe

Bulawayo Burial society
Burial societies are making a comeback in Zimbabwe.

BULAWAYO, 19 August 2009 (IRIN) - On the last Sunday of every month, Zwodwa Mpika, 52, puts on her blue dress and matching brimless cap, the uniform of the burial society she belongs to, and sets off for the meeting.
She has rarely missed a gathering since her husband died in 2006, and her regular attendance has earned her the position of secretary of the Zibuthe Burial Society, located in Sizinda, a suburb of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.
"I don't want this association to collapse, which could easily happen if I do not attend and pay my dues, because without it my late husband's funeral would have been little more than that of pauper [burial]," she told IRIN.
Burial societies, to which most low-income families in urban centres belong as an alternative to buying conventional funeral insurance, are beginning to show signs of revival after tottering on the brink of collapse in the country's decade-long recession.

"A conventional funeral assurance policy does not bring mourners to your funeral to mitigate grief and provide a resounding send-off," Zibuthe Burial Society chairman Ntandazo Banda told IRIN.

Zimbabwe's economic malaise has witnessed hyperinflation, shortages of basics foodstuffs that saw nearly 7 million people requiring food assistance in the first quarter of 2009, and an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent.
Burial societies charge monthly subscriptions of as little as US$5 per family and pay the funeral costs of their members, whether they were born in the city or are rural migrants; some even pay if the member comes from a neighbouring country like Zambia or Malawi. Local Zimbabwean traditions dictate that whenever possible the dead should be buried in their ancestral burial grounds at their rural home. 
Most burial societies in Bulawayo draw their membership from working-class Zimbabweans, unlike Zibuthe, whose membership consists of a small community of pensioners and a sprinkling of young families of Malawian origin.

"We are trying hard to breathe life into our society but people have little or no disposable income," Banda said. "We aim to preserve our unique burial traditions as Malawians, hence the small membership, but that does not bar other nationalities from joining us."
HIV/AIDS and hyperinflation

Before Zimbabwe's steep economic decline set in, most members could easily afford the monthly subscription of Z$20, but the society's problems really began when the official annual inflation rate began spiralling towards 230 million percent. "We had to battle to keep the society afloat," Banda said.

''Members are slowly coming forward to update their subscriptions, and that is a good sign''
The Kusile Burial Society in the neighbouring Bulawayo suburb of Tshabalala also experienced dwindling contributions and the society of 250 members almost collapsed, but "Members are slowly coming forward to update their subscriptions, and that is a good sign," Admiral Ncube, treasurer of Kusile Burial Society, told IRIN. 
Members defaulted on their dues because of financial hardships. "We barely had 30 fully subscribed members on our register at the end of last year [2008], with the rest unable to pay. Now, less than five are in arrears," he said.
The attempts by the government to reign in rampant inflation also came at a cost. "Our other major setback [apart from HIV/AIDS] was the central bank's decision to set an arbitrary exchange rate that almost wiped out the society's savings," Ncube said. In January 2009 Zimbabwe's central bank set a rate of Z$3 trillion to US$1.

Hyperinflation was cured when the government ditched the local Zimbabwean dollar in favour of foreign currencies, which has seen the US dollar, South African rand and Botswana pula officially come into local use.

"We also lost a lot of our members, who died of HIV/AIDS-related diseases, but that does not put us off from fulfilling our obligation to a member, despite the pressure it exerts on our savings," Ncube said.

About 15 percent of sexually active Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 49 are HIV positive, but burial societies, in contrast to the more conventional forms of insurance, do not require prospective members to undergo a medical examination.

Back to the good times

''At the end of each year, municipal beer-gardens and council parks around the city used to host lively parties, thrown by different burial societies for their members ... I foresee those times returning''

Ncube attributed the revival of burial societies to the rapidly increasing burial fees charged by the city's cemeteries, and the high cost of transporting a body to rural areas.
Pumulani Meko, chairman of the Kusile Burial Society, put it down to the greater financial stability being enjoyed since the adoption of multiple currencies, and was generally more optimistic.

"At the end of each year, municipal beer-gardens and council parks around the city used to host lively parties, thrown by different burial societies for their members to coincide with the annual shutdown by many firms and factories," Meko told IRIN. "I foresee those times returning.

Madilu System is dead

Popular musician dies of exhaustion

madilu system
Congolese musician Madilu System, who died in Kinshasa yesterday.Photo/ FILE
By Solomon Ngaira, August 11 2007
Veteran Congolese musician Madilu Bialu System is dead. Madilu who was among the kingpins of the legendary TP OK Jazz band led by the late Franco Luanzo Makiadi in the 1980s died yesterday morning at a hospital in Kinshasa.

According to Robert Osano, a Kenyan living in Kinshasa who spoke to Sunday Nation yesterday, initial reports indicated that the Congolese musician died shortly after being admitted at a Kinshasa hospital complaining of fatigue and neck pains.

However he reportedly collapsed and died as the medical personnel were making frantic efforts to revive him at a hospital in Kinshasa.

“The Congolese President, Mr Joseph Kabila while in declaring national mourning for Madilu has already arranged to have his body moved from the University Clinic where he died to the Ngaliema,” said Mr Osano.

Suspended activities

The International show of Kinshasa which is going on, has suspended all music activities which would have been performed by most Congolese leading artistes among them Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, JB Mpiana, Werra son, Bill Clinton until further notice.

“He had been alright and was last seen on Wednesday practising with his band but complained of fatigue. He however became worse on Friday night and was rushed to hospital at 01.00 a.m. (DRC time) but by the time he was taken to hospital he was partially paralysed,’’ Osano added.

Since the news of his death, most Congolese radio stations have been playing his music.

Also according to Osano most of the leading musicians have already appeared on TV paying homage to the fallen music star.

Madilu who was arguably one of the best composers in DRC will be remembered for some of his compositions while with TP OK Jazz. Some of these are Pesa Position while he did the lead vocals on some of the popular TP PK Jazz songs like Mamou, Non and Makambo Ezali Minene.

However, most of his fans will remember his duets with the great Franco which featured in many memorable songs. After an almost ten-year singing career initially with Bakuba Mayopi and other groups, Madilu joined TOP OK Jazz in the early 1980s where he set the record as one of the first to have the honour of introducing himself on a song. This notable introduction by Madilu was on the song Non which was off the 1983 album Chez Fabrice.

To most fans of TP OK Jazz, Madilu also came off well on Tu Vois (Mamou) a humorous song depicting a conversation between two women; a divorcee with children and her friend Mamou, a married woman who she accuses of trying to break up her marriage. Many of Madilu’s fans will remember how in the song, Madilu played the criticising and satirical role of Mamou who had accused her friend of “being a prostitute” yet she was infact the one using her friend to cover up her immoral acts.

Some of his contemporaries while with the group include singers Josky Kiambukuta, late Ntesa Dalienst, Papa Noelle, the late Djo Mpoyi, Mpudi Decca, Ndombe Opetum, among others. After the death of Franco he parted ways with his colleagues and went solo. He later released solo albums such as Sans Commentaire L’eau, Bonheur” and Pouvoir.

His former colleagues teamed up to form the Kinshasa based Bana OK band under the leadership of Lutumba Simaro Massiya.

Madilu’s Kenyans fans will recall how in 1985 he was in Mombasa for a private wedding to a Swiss wife. She was much older but Madilu insisted that he loved her and age had nothing to do with it. He had also severally toured Kenya and Tanzania both with TP OK Jazz and his own band for a series of shows.

Back home in Kinshasa, Madilu has left his Congolese wife, Mama Biya with four children. Notably also in recent years Madilu had been shifting in performances between Europe and Kinshasa. In Paris, he has recorded with other leading artistes like Nyboma Mwandido, Lokasa ya Mbongo, Dally Kimoko, Nguma Lokito and ace solo guitarist Rigo Star. In the recent past, Madilu had been keeping a back band in Kinshasa after relocating from Paris to Kinshasa.

Nkrumah’s widow dies a neglected ex-First Lady

By Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

First Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah’s widow, Fatiha, passed away last week in Cairo, her home town, where she has lived for most of the years since her husband was overthrown in February 1966. As to be expected, all kinds of tributes have poured in from all corners, including people and institutions that have never cared what became of her and her three children since Nkrumah died. Many conspicuous mourners did not even realise that Fatiha was alive all these years.

The worst of the hypocrites is Government. Those in power had the power, if the will was there, to have honoured Fatiha, recognised and provided for her and her family. But successive Ghanaian governments pursued a policy of benign neglect, outright hostility or opportunistic association and gestures towards the family. This is not because Fatiha has lived outside Ghana. The same treatment was experienced by the oldest of Nkrumah’s children, Dr Francis, the first son of Nkrumah with his Ghanaian first wife, or Sekou (Fatiha’s second son) who live in Accra. The government announced that it would give Fatiha a State funeral befitting a former First Lady. But of what benefit is this posthumous honour when she was neglected while alive?

African hypocrisy transforms a dead person into a friend of everyone, with nobody saying anything negative about the departed. Some of this is due to guilt. We tend to over compensate by making all kinds of commitments and gestures after death. However, the guilt soon subsides and life continues as before. The loved ones are left behind to pick up the pieces, as they must. Tears of some of the politically correct mourners go dry as soon as the TV cameras are turned off.

The way we treat the families of national and Pan-Africanist heroes does not inspire confidence that devotion to Africa means anything. Their families suffer: Absent fathers and husbands. The children grow up feeling victimised by the ‘struggle’ and after the hero has gone or is no longer in power, the family might as well have been dead. Fatiha was much younger than the Osagyefo when he married her in a union that typified Nkrumah’s refusal to accept the Saharan African divide. The three children they had together were all toddlers when Nkrumah was overthrown, and only teenagers when he died in 1972. Fatiha was barely in her mid 30s.

With no husband, father or State provisions, the family survived on goodwill, sometimes from strangers who never met Nkrumah, but treasured his contribution. The family could not live in Ghana, but thanks to President Gamal Abdul Nasser (after whom Fatiha’s first son, Gamal Gorkeh, was named) of Egypt, the family got a befitting home on the banks of the Nile. That house progressively became damaged for lack of maintenance since the family could not afford to maintain a modest but stately building. The Ghana for which Nkrumah laboured and the Africa he toiled for ignored his family. It is an insult to shed crocodile tears at the passing of his widow. It is an insult to the family for Ghana to offer a State funeral to a person largely ignored in life.

The State showed similar hypocrisy when Nkrumah died in exile in Conakry, Guinea, and later brought his remains to Ghana for State reburial! The embalmed body was for many years left to deteriorate in his home village before shame, political expediency and influence of Nkrumahists forced former President Jerry Rawlings to accept a mausoleum for Nkrumah in central Accra. Even then, most of the money came from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi!

The spirit of Nkrumah continues to haunt opportunists and ideological parasites who use his name in vain. It should shame us into honouring heroes and heroines in life and death, especially the widow and children they leave behind.

The writer is the deputy director of the UN Millennium Campaign in Africa


Source: EA Standard


South Africa backs new Nigerian President

By Estelle Shirbon

ABUJA (Reuters), April 27, 2007- Nigeria's president-elect, Umaru Yar'Adua, has said he won disputed elections fair and square and received a first positive message from a foreign power, South Africa. Foreign governments had been either silent or critical about the April 21 election that gave Yar'Adua a mandate to lead the African state of 140 million people for four years, until President Thabo Mbeki wrote to congratulate him.

In his congratulatory letter, Mbeki expressed South Africa's intention to forge closer working relations between the two countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late on Wednesday. Backing from South Africa, the continent's biggest diplomatic power, will come as a relief to Yar'Adua after widespread condemnation of the elections. Mbeki said he hoped parties and candidates would use only constitutional means to redress grievances.

Washington called the polls "flawed" and has not sent a message to Yar'Adua. EU observers said the election was "not credible" and "fell far short of basic international standards". Observers from the regional West African bloc ECOWAS were among those who criticised the polls, but most African governments were expected not to openly contest the result.

The handover of power from President Olusegun Obasanjo to Yar'Adua on May 29 will be the first from one civilian president to another in the history of Africa's most populous country. But many Nigerians say Obasanjo picked Yar'Adua, a little-known governor of remote Katsina State, as his successor because he wants to continue to dominate affairs of state. MORE>>>