Showing posts with label Nelson Mandela. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nelson Mandela. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2011

Video of When Michelle Obama meets Nelson Mandela

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off her trip to Africa with a visit to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

© 2011 Reuters

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Letter from Rwanda: Seed of Discord – are they truly human?

Rwanda Genocide Memorial (Photo Credit:

Seed of Discord – are they truly human?

A report of Sam’s visit to Rwanda and on the trauma of the Rwandan Genocide by Samuel Olu, a Nigerian reporter and Christian minister.

It is 1.45pm. The high school students are on their way home listening to the world news in our native language Yoruba . So interesting and captivating that the trouble of ethnic unrest and violence around the world formed a major part of the news. The Iraq war and that in Bosnia Herzegovina was alarming. However few years later, I was too busy as an undergraduate (in 1994) to listen to any world news just at the time that the horrible incident called genocide occurred in the central part of Africa-

Rwanda. I thought Africans would be celebrating the release of Nelson Mandela and dethronement of apartheid as well as looking forward to constructive African nations but, once again came a dirty blow on the land that was hardly known by many people including Africans. More also, I searched for almost 3 -4 minutes before locating Rwanda on the African map.

I arrived in Kigali on 9th September 2002 on a bright day with light showers. I had a fulfilled journey as I stepped down from a Kenya airline and being driven through the capital city of Rwanda where business activities and life goes on peacefully. Though, I took a clue form some Rwandans about their country but it was short of the information relayed to me before leaving Nigeria.

"Amahoro," they greeted me! The people of Rwanda are welcoming and for few days of my arrival I got to know about their unique dance pattern and music. I had a taste of their local food- shapati and matoke (cooked unripe banana). I was able to see President Kagame’s non-elegant lifestyle with simple dressing. He will obey traffic lights and goes everywhere without this enormous entourage of escort that we have in Nigeria.

Transportation is cheap in Kigali and I didn’t find it difficult to spend Amafaranga (Rwanda currency). However it wasn’t long before I realized that the community I came into was void of real comfort and shrinking inside.

Known for Genocide

Our house help is a young and hardworking man. Many like Athanas have to do any kind of work to survive and take care of their families. Sharing his experience, he said, ‘we journeyed for days through forest to Burundi eating Avocado; we dare not stop for long in order to save our lives.’ Athanas hardly communicates in English , however, the utterance of his speech reflected the struggle he had gone through during the genocide period.

During my stay, the situation in the country was not as serious though. Taking my time to settle down at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Kigali with my Nigerian host; Jean-Marie, a Rwandan gave testimony that his sister that he lost contact with since 1994 came back and that is an answer to his prayer. I was overwhelmed with news about people who died of AIDS, women with HIV, orphanage, street children, incomplete families-father, no mother, and children without parent; and deep cry of the young people for their lost ones.

Then I began to esquire about this act that is called genocide. Just as Adolph Hitler’s evil war to wipe out the Jews in Germany, thus the Hutu–led Government purposed to eradicate the Tutsi from the surface of the earth. Cruel, ungodly, crazy, why and for what reasons are words that were sprinkling down my cheeks. Therefore, I decided to visit Gisozi Genocide centre to find out from a reliable source:

What happened on a day that the sun refused to shine?
When humans put judgment in their hands, their unmerciful ally-friends looked at them slaughtering themselves; while enemies outside helped those inside and the delivers came forcefully to unite their people

My experience

• Visit to Gisozi

Amakuru you are welcome to Gisozi our visitors, she greeted- ‘this is where part of the remains of over 800,000 Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutus who were slaughtered in the terrible genocide of 1994 were buried and their bones are being kept’. She went on explaining the catastrophic incident involving the killings of Tutsi and the moderate Hutus that did not support them by Hutus and the Interhamwe (those who fight together).

Come and see burial ground and caskets! What are inside? Only bones-mass burial of discovered bones. Inside the hall are guns, machetes, skulls, bones and clothes stripped from the dead people displayed on different shelves. I thought, I have had enough until I heard, ‘some of these killers cut off the wombs of pregnant Tutsi women; they said they wanted to see how Tutsi children would look like.’ At this point I started to suffer emotional pain that left me with improper eating and loss of appetite for nearly a week. I couldn’t get my head off this incident anytime I remember the Gisozi memorial Genocide centre.

My visit to Gisozi humbled me and gave me a different meaning to life

• Walking on the bones

My attitude charged and I became more compassionate and getting closer to my dear friends because I wanted to share the feelings of their pain and the new life they found themselves after the 100 days of genocide. I promised to give myself to help rebuild the country.

Whenever I am walking up and down the hills of Kigali or traveling along the boarders through Uganda, I never stopped thinking about living among the dead and walking on the dry bones of the departed souls. In every province in Rwanda families of the dead people are still picking up bones in order to give their loved ones a resting place.

• April experience

Every April, during the memorial of the genocide, the documentary of the killings is relayed on television and I saw many people who were traumatically affected and would end up in hospitals, because they could not imagine the cruel ways their children, husbands, wives and relations were “macheted”.
The scars of the Rwanda genocide cannot be easily wiped out of a loving heart.

Aftermath of Genocide
Majority of young men and ladies are breadwinners of their families, they have their old and young ones to care for. Some are head of families because there is no older person again. Few have opportunities at their late age or twenties to start primary and secondary education. The day I saw an old woman walking on our street at Kacyiru, I wept because I thought all of them are dead and no wisdom hairs to counsel and give moral support to the young ones.

Who will give them hope?

Several NGOs, churches and UN workers were available afterward to give support. Moreover it is unfortunate, while the UN council were only concentrating on the Arusha peaceful meeting between the government of Habyarimana and the RPF in April 1994, they failed to address the underground master plan of the Hutu killers and unable to found a way to disengage the crooked acts of the Interhamwe who had been preparing for the days of trouble.

During genocide, the international community including the sleeping giant of African did not intervene. Per-adventure, the umbrella of the UN Security Council was not extended to Rwanda-the tiny country isn’t worth attention, it is not a gulf region. After all, what good can come out of the Afrique- Rwandese?

Seed of discord
An African adage says, if one asks a lame why his load bends, he replies that you should not look at the top but look below. Underneath the genocide is a seed of discord that had been planted for over 78 years and it has grown to produce the root of hatred, stem of wrath, branches of unforgiveness, leaves of bitterness, flowers of disunity, and, fruits and fragrance of death.

The Belgian colonists on their arrival in 1916 saw the two major ethnic groups that speak the same language and follow same tradition as distinct entities, and they brought an idea of segregation by producing identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity. They also considered Tutsis as superior to the Hutus and this idea of Hutus being inferior to their Tutsi neighbours developed into the first series of riots in 1959 where thousands of Tutsi were killed. This eventually led to the present president’s parents to leave Rwanda for Uganda.

After the independence in 1962 the Belgians gave power to the Hutus and it was time for them to take revenge on the Tutsi who they thought had moderated them. All through 1959 to 1994, the peak of violence the people that use to live in harmony and having intermarriage now live in fear and danger.

Where were the African kings and rulers when the evil doers struck?
They will have to live with the sorrow as well: those who discovered Rwanda and gave it up; those who colonized and planted the seed of discord; those who allowed themselves to be made cats and dogs and brainwashed; those who killed neighbors and friends and wives; those supposed to protect lives but turned to killers, rapist; the clergy that meant to be people’s shepherd but gave them up to be killed; and those that eradicated the children of tomorrow


1. O the land of plains and hills
With beautiful terrains;
Why did you swallow the blood of your sons and daughters?
Those born to beautify and make you glorious
2. O the river of Lake Kivu
The water destined to source of life to the people
Where fishes and crabs used to live,
now filled with flesh and bones of humans
3. Who will console you?
The promising nation of peace
Like the Biblical Rachael that wept and refused to be comforted,
Abayarwanda crieth for the souls of her departed children.
4. Rise-up to a glorious day
after all the ruins
Let your sun be no more darkened
And the sun of righteousness shines over you (with healings in his wings)

Under the government of National unity there are no more separate ID cards. The traveling passport bears the identity of a unified Rwanda country. The jobless youths are finding their way back to school as unemployment gradually decreases and economy improves.

I sighted some precious stones at ‘Musee National, Du Rwanda’ (National Museum of Rwanda). I was wondering this nation is blessed and has potential for greatness though landlocked. Why the diversion from the source of their God-given productive land filled with riches in cattle and agricultural produce. I believe the music, the smiles and the enthusiasm of the vibrant dwellers will keep them going for years though rebuilding their fallen places. Developments are in progress in the educational sector, and a bi-lateral relationship with other countries is a good move on the part of the government. It is good to see in attendance the UN Secretary General Ben ki –Moon at the 15th Anniversary of genocide.

However as much as we can’t forget the April through July of every year, so we keep asking the question- those who planted the seed of discord, the people that perpetrated the genocide, those who heard and did not respond; are they truly human? To be truly human is to love your neighbour as yourself and do good to others as much as you will want them to do to you (and sacrifice if need be).
Comeza cyani , Comeza Rwanda through the people of peace. Amahoro

1. Yoruba people are from Nigeria West African speaking Yoruba language
2. Amahoro means peaceful greeting
3. spoken languages in Rwanda are Kinya-rwanda, Swahili and French
4. "How are you?"
5. Another source suggests there is another minority people-group called Twa
And the sun of righteousness shines over you (with healings in his wings)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hajiya Maryam Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Was A Great Woman

Mrs. Maryam Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and three of her four children.

Hajiya Maryam Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida would be remembered for many reasons, but the most remarkable was how she used her role as the First Lady for the empowerment of millions of Nigerian women in the rural areas as the founder of the Better Life Programme for the Rural Woman (BLP). The BLP programme launched 7,635 co-operatives, 997 cottage industries, 1,751 new farms and gardens, 487 new shops and markets, 419 women's centers and 163 social welfare programs in all the states and Abuja (FCT) in Nigeria and transformed the lives of the women for life.

Mrs. Babangida used the BLP for the social and political mobilization of rural women and increased the voter turnout in the December 1989 local government council elections in Nigeria and she also built an international center for women in development in Abuja.

For her great feat in sustainable human development, Mrs. Maryam Ibrahim Babangida was honoured with the highly coveted Africa Prize for Leadership in 1991.
Among the laureates of the Africa Prize are the great Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, who won the prize in 1994 and Jerry John Rawlings, the former President of the Republic of Ghana who won it in 1993 and the others include the following great men and women:
2006 - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female President of Liberia.
2003 - Meaza Ashenafi, Founder, Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association.
2003 - Sara Longwe, Gender consultant, Zambia.
2001 - Amelia Jacob, Co-founder, SHDEPHA+, Tanzania.
2001 - Bishop Dennis H. de Jong, (1931-2003)Integrated AIDS Programme, Zambia.
1998 - President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda.
1998 - Celina Cossa, Founder and Leader of the General Union of Agricultural Cooperatives.
1997 - Joaquim Chissano, President of Mozambique.
1997 - Joyce Banda, Founder, National Assn. of Business Women of Malawi.
1996 - Amadou Toumani Touré, Former President of Mali.
1996 - Chief Bisi Ogunleye, Founder, Country Women's Association of Nigeria.
1995 - H. E. Sam Nujoma, President of the Republic of Namibia.
1995 - Mrs. Joyce F. Mungherera, National Executive Director, YWCA - Uganda.
1993 - Father Nzamujo Godfrey, Director, Songhai Project, Benin.
1992 - Mrs. Graça Simbine Machel, President, Foundation for Community Development, Mozambique.
1992 - Dr. Ebrahim M. Samba, Africa Regional Director, World Health Organization.
1991 - Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, Founder, Green Belt Movement, Kenya.

1990 - Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria; founder, Africa Leadership Forum.
1990 - Dr. Esther Afua Ocloo, (1919-2002) Founder and first chair, Women's World Banking.

1989 - H. E. Dr. Ketsumile Masire, Former President of the Republic of Botswana.
1989 - Dr. Bernard L. Ouédraogo, President and founder, the Naam movement, Burkina Faso. Co-founder, International Six-S Association.
1987 - H. E. Abdou Diouf, Former President of the Republic of Senegal.
1987 - Professor Thomas R. Odhiambo (1931-2003).

Maryam's Death: General Babangida’s Statement

Sun Dec, 27 2009

Maryam Babangida passes on at 61 in US

With total submission to the Will of Allah, we humbly announce the passing away of our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and amiable friend Hajiya Maryam Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

A statement from General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s family announced today that Maryam passed on early this morning at the age of 61, after a protracted illness.

The former chairperson of the Better Life for Rural Women during her husband's years in office had been hospitalised at University of California Los Angele's (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Los Angeles, United States.

She died beside her husband, General Babangida who has been at her bedside in the US hospital till her death. Mrs. Babangida's condition worsened months ago.

Born on November 1, 1948, she had fairly humble beginnings in her hometown of Asaba where she received part of her early education before moving up North to Queen Amina College, Kaduna for her Secondary education. She went on to graduate as a Secretary at the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna and later obtained a diploma in secretaryship from Laselle University, Chicago, USA as well as a Certificate in Computer Science from the NCR Institute, Lagos.

On September 6, 1969, two months before her 21st Birthday, she got married to Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (then a Major). Their marriage has been blessed with four children: 2 boys, Mohammed and Aminu and two girls, Aisha and Halima.

Apart from a brief stop at a career in her line of training, before and shortly after marriage, Mrs. Babangida remained a full time housewife, establishing and nurturing the home front until her youngest child had fairly come of age.

Considered to be one of the greatest women in Africa today, Maryam made that significant sacrifice in her staunch belief that the family unit is the most crucial factor in the quality of society and of mankind and that the woman is the central anchor of the unit.

By 1983, she however was again ready for an active career, beyond the confines of the home front when her husband became the Chief of Army Staff on December 31st that year. She became the President of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA). It was during her twenty-month presidency that her leadership qualities were first unfolded to the public as she mobilised her colleagues to embark aggressively on public spirited ventures which included building schools, clinics, women's multipurpose training centres and child day care centres.

An incisive thinker and passionate lover of nature, gardening, birds and home decorations, she is "a poet's dream" and with disarming charm and an admirable deft blend of winning wit, quiet confidence and child-like grace, she has brought the institution of first-ladyship out of the closet to active participation in nation building.


(For and on Behalf of the General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida Family)

Malam Ibrahim Ismaila

Special Assistant to General I.B. Babangida

December 27, 2009

Download press statement here: Maryam Babangida passes on at 61 in US