Author: Mail & Guardian

African presidents, AU pay tribute to Mandela

The African Union mourned the passing of South Africa’s liberation leader Nelson Mandela on Friday, ordering its flags to fly at half mast as it praised a “pan-African icon”.

“Mandela has fought a good fight, and bowed out with great reverence,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission of the 54-member bloc.

“His passing on is a great loss to his family, to our continent and indeed to humanity itself,” Dlamini-Zuma added, herself a South African and the former wife of President Jacob Zuma.

Mandela died late Thursday aged 95.

“Madiba, as he was fondly known, symbolises the spirit of pan-Africanism and solidarity in the struggles of humanity against apartheid, oppression and colonialism and for self-determination, peace and reconciliation,” she added.

Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)
Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)

In Ghana, President John Dramani Mahama hailed Mandela as “a man of peace and tolerance” and “the man who sowed unifying peace in South Africa.

“Mandela was an icon, not only of hope, but also of the possibility for healing, Mahama said in a statement. “His utilisation of peace as a vehicle of liberation showed Africa that if we were to move beyond the divisiveness caused by colonisation, and the pain of our self-inflicted wounds, compassion and forgiveness must play a role in governance,” he added.

“The world has lost one of its greatest citizens,” Tanzanian President Kikwete said, calling Mandela “a voice of courage, a source of inspiration and a beloved leader to us all.” The East African nation has declared three days of mourning for the former South African leader.

Kenyan deputy president William Ruto said that with the death of Mandela, “the world has lost a moral example of selfless leadership”.

“The African continent is poorer without Madiba,” he told The Standard newspaper. “We are mourning a father to multiple generations of Africans. Madiba was a shining example that we should all emulate.”

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan said: “Mandela will always be remembered and honoured by all mankind as one of its greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, and an icon of true democracy. Mandela’s death will create a huge vacuum that will be difficult to fill in our continent.” Jonathan also declared three days of national mourning for Mandela.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall said: “We have lost a giant, one of the greatest figures in contemporary Africa. No man of our time has given so much for the cause of his people, for Africa, and for the good of mankind. Nelson Mandela taught us courage, strength, forgiveness. He showed us that a human being could be better.”

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said in a tweet: “Madiba, South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, passes on. But what is certain is he will continue to live in the hearts of many of us. Rest in peace.”

UPDATE:  Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe called Mandela the great icon of African liberation, freedom fighter, a beacon of excellence and a humble and compassionate leader. His delayed message of condolence was delivered on Saturday, raising speculation that Harare was reluctant to recognise Madiba’s legacy. Read more here.

– Mail & Guardian, Sapa

Nelson Mandela dies at 95

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of the nation, died on December 5 2013 at the age of 95.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday night. He said Mandela passed away at 20:50 in his Houghton home surrounded by his wife, Graça Machel and members of his family.

Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)
Nelson Mandela. (Pic: AFP)

Zuma said Mandela would have a state funeral and that the flags would fly half-mast from December 6 until after the funeral.

Zuma called on South Africans to “recall the values for which Madiba fought”.

Long illness
Mandela was hospitalised on June 8 with a recurring lung infection. Initial reports from the Presidency suggestedMandela was stable, although his condition was serious. But on June 23, the Presidency announced that Mandela’scondition had deteriorated and he was critical.

Court affidavits soon confirmed that the former statesman was on an assisted-breathing, life support machine. More reports emerged about Nelson Mandela in the days that followed, that he was in a “permanent vegetative state“, although the presidency denied these, maintaining that he was “critical yet stable”.

On his 95th birthday, July 18, President Jacob Zuma announced an improvement in Mandela’s health. Mandela wasdischarged from hospital in September and transported to his home in Houghton.  In November, his family said he remained “quite ill”, but his pneumonia had cleared up.  President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela on November 18 and said Mandela was still in a critical condition, but that he continued to respond to treatment.

On December 3 his daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, said the former president was “strong” and “courageous”, although he was “on his death bed”. Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, said his grandfather was “not doing well”, although, “he is still with us”.

His declining health has been the subject of much speculation over the past few years. He was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001 but made a full recovery. In 2011, he was admitted to hospital following a severe respiratory infection and a year later underwent a scheduled surgery for a longstanding abdominal complaint.

Mandela was plagued by recurring lung ailments in recent years. He spent 18 days in hospital at the end of 2012 and, despite receiving home-based high care thereafter, was back in hospital in March and April 2013.

There were renewed fears for his health when he returned to hospital in June. Despite assurances from the presidency that he was in a “serious but stable” condition, South Africans began preparing themselves for the worst as Mandela’s family members flocked to Johannesburg, struggle stalwarts paid visits to the icon, and the world’s media gathered in Qunu, Houghton and at the Pretoria hospital where he was treated.

The much-loved Mandela, known affectionately as Tata Madiba, became increasingly frail and retired from public life in 2004 at the age of 85.

Mandela’s last public appearance was a brief one, at the end of the 2010 soccer World Cup. Since then, he has split his time between his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, and his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Mandela became the symbol of the struggle against apartheid after he was convicted in the Rivonia Trial of charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic speech in which he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela, a key figure in the African National Congress, who helped found the party’s youth league and armed wing,Umkhonto We Sizwe, was imprisoned for 27 years before he was finally released in 1990 at the age of 71.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, together with former president FW De Klerk, for the “peaceful termination of the apartheid regime and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. A year later, he was elected president in the country’s first democratic election.

He stepped down from the presidency in 1999 after one term in office but continued with a busy public schedule. He brokered negotiations for peace in Rwanda, established the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation for educational scholarship, and launched the 46664 Aids fundraising foundation.

Coming soon: Desperate Housewives Africa

The African version of  the popular US television series Desperate Housewives is set to hit screens next year.

Nigeria’s EbonyLife TV and Disney Media Distribution EMEA recently announced that they will co-produce Desperate Housewives Africa, which will be filmed at Adiva Estates, an upmarket gated community outside Lagos that is similar to the US show’s iconic Wisteria Lane.

Viewers can expect similar dramatic plot twists, scandal and romance – but with an ‘African soul’. Mo Abudu, CEO and executive chair of EbonyLife TV said: “We will work to ensure parity with the original storyline and production values that have characterised the global series, without compromising on that very important African essence.”

The Nigerian series will feature an African cast of new and established actors, who will be dressed by local fashion designers. The sets will be furnished with items from Nigerian interior decorators.

The original Desperate Housewives is broadcast in more than 200 territories around the world. Versions of it have been produced for audiences in Turkey, Argentina, Columbia, Brazil – and now Africa.

The cast of 'Desperate Housewives' take the stage at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on September 21 2008. (Pic: Reuters)
The cast of ‘Desperate Housewives’ take the stage at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on September 21 2008. (Pic: Reuters)

Nigerian rap artist Ice Prince heads for SA

Local fans of Nigerian rap artist Ice Prince (born Panshak Zamani) will see him joining the likes of JR, Morafe, Reason, AKA, Khuli Chana and Casper Nyovest on stage at Maftown Heights – the Channel O African Music Video Awards pre-concert – on November 29 2013. The rapper hopes to scoop up the Most Gifted African West award at the awards ceremony the following day for his song Aboki.

Ice Prince will be competing in that category with the likes of D’Prince, R2Bees, D-Black, Chidinma and P-Square. The rapper released Aboki (Remix), a song he describes as the “biggest African collision ever”, in January. The song features Ghana’s Sarkodie, Nigeria’s Mercy Johnson, Wizkid and MI, and South African Motswako rapper Khuli Chana.

Ice Prince launches his sophomore album Fire of Zamani on November 23 at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. He says American rapper Wale and UK rapper Chipmunk, who feature on the album, will perform at the launch.

Ice Prince. (Pic: Supplied)
Ice Prince. (Pic: Supplied)

Rhodé Marshall speaks to Ice Prince ahead of the Channel O Music Video Awards.

What do you think is the relevance of indigenous language in giving hip-hop in Africa a unique, exportable identity?
It is the thing that draws the ear of the international audience first, most times even before they get into the music. Whether it be the accent or the language. That’s what separates our sound from the rest of the world and defines who we are and what our music represents.

What are you looking forward to most about performing at Maftown Heights this year?
I’m looking forward to rocking with artists from the area because it’s really about time we start getting together with avenues like this as African artists. And of course to just rock it and share my music with my fans on that side. It’s a blessing.

Do you view Nigeria differently now that you have travelled around the world?
I see myself as a Nigerian and my music is purely a representation of my country. But I draw a lot of inspiration from elsewhere and my experiences divine my music more so than ever.

What are your thoughts on how Nigerian music is received around the world?
It is amazing. You don’t understand how big it is until you travel. I was recently in Canada and I heard our music playing. In Vancouver? That is how far our music has travelled and how huge it is now.

You won the 2013 BET Best African Act Award – what was it like receiving that nod?
Along with it came a lot of pressure. It puts a large task on your shoulders. Everything I do has to be done with 200% now. The honour of the award has made me more focused.

What does Aboki mean?
Aboki is a Hausa word meaning “friend”. The song celebrates everyone. Whether you are rich or poor, we are all friends.

You’re days away from officially releasing your second album, Fire of Zamani. What’s different this time around?
I dug a little deeper this time when I wrote songs for this album. I’m speaking more from the heart this time. I worked 10 times harder to bring the best melody and best rhymes.

Why Fire of Zamani?
I heard the phrase “fire of zamani” on 2Face’s Unstoppable album. I got that from a 2Face song and decided that it has to be my album name. I think it suits me quite well.

Which South African artists’ music have you been enjoying?
L-Tido, Da Les, AKA, Khuli Chana, Mafikizolo and a lot more.

Rhodé Marshall is the Mail & Guardian’s Project Manager.

Ugandan man loses house after betting on Arsenal – Man United clash

Arsenal lost 1-0 to Manchester United in the English Premier League on Sunday but an Arsenal fan in Uganda lost a lot more. Henry Dhabasani is now homeless after betting his two-bedroom house that the Gunners would defeat the Red Devils, The Observer in Uganda reported.

Before the match, he put the bet with Rashid Yiga in writing. Yiga had a lot to lose too – he reportedly staked his wife and new car on a Man United victory so he’s probably thanking Robin van Persie and his lucky stars.

Dhabasani, though, has big problems. According to The Observer, Man United fans stormed his house in Iganga on Monday and forced him and his family out.

Read more here.

Manchester United's Robin van Persie celebrates after scoring against Arsenal during their league match at Old Trafford Stadium on November 10. (Pic: AP Exchange)
Manchester United’s Robin van Persie celebrates after scoring against Arsenal during their league match at Old Trafford Stadium on November 10. (Pic: AP Exchange)