Archive for March, 2014

TIME

Pope Francis has replaced a German bishop whose $43 million new residence complex sparked outrage among Catholics.

The so-called ‘Bishop of Bling,’ Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst from Limburg was temporarily expelled during a church inquiry in October, the Associated Press reports. Tebartz-van Elst spent lavishly renovating his residence, including a reported $20,000 on a bathtub and $620,000 on artwork.

That inquiry has now found him incapable of holding his diocese and demanded his resignation, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Tebartz-van Elst will be replaced by Monsignor Manfred Grothe. Tebartz-van Elst will get a new job, said the Vatican, adding that the pope hoped that residents of Limburg would accept the decision with “docility and willingness to rediscover a climate of charity and reconciliation.”

Pope Francis has emphasized charity and addressing social inequality since taking his seat in the Vatican last March. He is due to meet with President Obama Wednesday.

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They had nothing. Now they have everything and yet they have nothing.

Before the internet was what it is today, it was difficult to get access to information, current information for that matter, and the source of information was limited to official custodians, be they the mainstream media or state-owned media. Luckily it is no longer the case and as soon as something happens, within a span of a very short time, the world gets flooded with raw news and minute by minute updates of the same. New media enthusiasts will argue that this marked the change in the world order in many ways besides connecting people. But what exactly did it mean to the African youth?

Many words come to mind: access, information, connectivity, everything, the world in a screen. These and others, superficially attempt to describe the change that came along with the internet: that young people could easily get information regarding anything, that they could easily follow up on things and causes they care about and not forgetting the less talked about copy-pasting of class assignments from online search engines which characterizes most institutions of higher learning in Africa today. Although most young people in most African Countries, especially those in the urban areas, can access the internet easily it must be noted that some locations are yet to be connected. This is an important pillar in the foundation for sustainable development and as such should be treated with utmost importance and urgency by the African governments.

Considering that many young Africans can access the internet easily today and that the internet did open up the world for them, the rate at which Africa is moving towards sustainable development is alarming. A front that stands to be commended is the way young people in the recent years, have turned to the internet to ‘organize’ and challenge the political order of the day. Although such social media initiated initiatives failed to look into the ‘post-rising’ effects, the power of new media must be recognized and appreciated. Besides the political front, there are young Africans working and taking advantage of information and partnerships that they have established via social media. These are the minority whose effort steer Africa, regardless of the speed, towards that elusive position of self reliance. They stand to be cheered on and encouraged. However, these are just a few. Where are the rest of the African young people? And most importantly, what are they doing online?

They are busy. They are ‘liking’ posts and articles on social media. Without actually reading and analyzing articles and other information gathered online, young Africans just click on the ‘like’ and move on to the next piece of information. Were the many likes that some of the informative articles and thought-provoking pieces attract on social media be turned into action, then the situation would be different and there would be no need for this particular article.

This might not go well with most but it has to be said. The young people in Africa carry with them the vibrancy and energy that comes with youth, therefore the rate at which Africa develops is directly proportional to the effort that these majority youth put towards development. Should these people be too lazy to channel that energy into harnessing the power of the internet for development, then Africa will still be ‘that’ continent.

This aspect brings to mind an analogy of a starved child, who finds enough money to go to a hotel and buy food. The child walks to a hotel, enters and sits. The child can smell the food, can see the food, can almost taste it but just sits there looking, liking it but without ordering anything. Now, remember, this child is starved and so he dies in that very hotel amidst plenty of food. Can you see the headlines? Can you see the hash tags? It is simply #absurd.

In a recent discussion with a young African friend on why Africa is ‘still’ developing amidst so many opportunities that could propel it into a developed continent, it emerged that the youth are apparently not to blame. He argued that the ‘system’ is to blame, that the youth can’t simply work with the existing system, that it should be changed. The question begs, if the youth can’t work in the existing system, then why don’t they change the system? Why don’t they get informative advice from experts and thought leaders? Why don’t they seek out other young people and chart a way forward? Why don’t they use the platforms on social media to start development projects in their communities?

They can, but they won’t, because they are busy. They are busy liking this article on social media, without actually reading it.

This article first appeared here: http://inspire.nayd.org/2014/03/no-you-wont-like-this-one.html

The Real Story

Posted: March 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Discrimination is in my experience often a difficult concept for many people to truly appreciate.

A lot of people go through their lives with the incessant protection guaranteed by the familiarity and supportiveness of “home.” For some others however, they go through life constantly exposed to the operose experience that is discrimination. I unsurprisingly fall into this latter category.

I have travelled the world, as an African black male and the level of discrimination that exists in contemporary society continues to amaze me, even though discrimination of a racial nature is supposedly now subtle in most parts of the world. However, if the current situation qualifies as subtle, one must wonder what it was like for people before the civil rights movement.

Staff at hotels look at you like you do not deserve to grace the plush surroundings of their haven. They are amazed that you leave generous tips. They appear hurt at your ability to speak multiple languages. Fellow customers at Gucci can’t comprehend why you want those shoes. The Hublot sales girl does not see why you can afford that thousand euro timepiece. The airline staff do not see how you accumulated so much miles to even consider a flight upgrade. Even worse, some other members of academic circles wear that glint of disbelief that you are of equal or higher intelligence, despite the colour of your skin. And these are only a few instances of this now subtle form of racial discrimination.

As a young black African male, who has spent a lot of his life on the road, I have experienced discrimination. And it has been without regard for my intelligence, my profession or my coin.

My personal experiences have left me with an even stronger conviction that no one deserves to be discriminated against. This is the story. The real story.

I bet you agree.

Why then do so many black Africans discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation?

The debate is not whether they chose to be that way or were born that way. The debate is not religiosity or atheism. The debate is not even culture. The debate is not what we think is natural or normal or not. And please do not say this is “different.”

The debate remains discrimination. Discrimination and a denial of freedom, equality and justice.

You must stop discriminating against people. Yes. You. You can.

It is a privilege for me to have friends who have transcended borders and who inspire me to be more, to know more, to do more. They are proof that we can have a world where those who discriminate are the ones who become uncomfortable.

We must work to end all forms of discrimination today. It starts with you.