South African shack settlements activist wins with the 2021 Per Anger Prize

Image caption: South African rights activist, S’bu Innocent Zikode. Image credit: Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter

South African human rights activist Sibusiso (S’bu) Innocent Zikode is being awarded the 2021 Per Anger Prize. Zikode’s work centres on the right to home, land and survival for the most impoverished inhabitants of the country’s shack settlements, and he will receive the humanitarian award from The Living History Forum on April 21.

Established by the Swedish government in 2004 and managed by The Living History Forum, the award promotes initiatives supporting human rights and democracy across the world. The prize was named after Per Anger, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest who saved many Jews from persecution and death during the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

Zidoke was the co-founder, 16 years ago of Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu phrase that roughly translates as “the people of the shacks”), a South African movement that has been working to resist “illegal evictions and campaign for the right to housing for all,” especially for shack dwellers. The movement grew from a protest organised from the Kennedy Road informal settlement in the eastern city of Durban in early 2005 and expanded to Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town.

South Africa has an insidious housing problem, aggravated by the lack of basic amenities like electricity and water supply in shantytowns that house the “poor and needy” in that country.

Zikode has said that “a shack without water, electricity, and sanitation is not worth calling a home,” according to a press statement from the Living History Forum. “On the contrary, it means life-threatening circumstances that are particularly harsh towards women, children, and minority groups,” says Zikode.

The housing problem and the attendant lack of sanitation have exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic among the disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in South Africa.

Zikode’s tireless work has gained him public acclaim but the movement is also considered a threat to South Africa’s ruling class.

Zikode now shares the same space with previous winners, including in recent years: Elena Urlaeva (2010), Narges Mohammadi (2011), Sapiyat Magamedova (2012), Justine Ijeomah (2013), Rita Mahato (2014), Islena Rey Rodríguez (2015), Abdullah al-Khateeb (2016), Gégé Katana Bukuru (2017), Teodora del Carmen Vásquez (2018), Najwa Alimi (2019) and Intisar Al-Amyal (2020).

Fighting for the dignity of shack dwellers

Race-driven urban segregation was one of the defining features of apartheid South Africa. However, this regulation of spaces in urban centres continued after the fall of apartheid, albeit in a different form, in that country.

South Africans are still divided along the lines of those with homes and the homeless, the shack dwellers.

However, the 2004 “sequence of popular protest against local governments” across South Africa led to the emergence of Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), “an autonomous shack dweller’s movement,” according to Richard Pithouse, scholar in political and international studies at the Rhodes University, South Africa. AbM “emerged from this grassroots ferment and has since issued a compelling demand for organisational autonomy, grassroots urban planning and the right to the city,” says Pithouse.

In May 2005, residents of six shack settlements and local municipal flats in Durban had organized a protest of over 5,000 people demanding access to land, adequate housing, toilet facilities, and the end of forced evictions.

Nigel C. Gibson, British activist and scholar states that the protesters “presented a memorandum of 10 demands that they had drawn up through a series of meetings and community discussions.” This led AbM, in early 2006, to “organize a boycott of the local government elections scheduled for March of that year,” says Gibson.

But AbM’s fight for the vulnerable did not go down well with many.

In September 2009, the AbM movement’s original home in the Kennedy Road settlement in Durban was attacked by armed men, in full view of the police. The attackers were searching for Zikode, whom they threatened to kill.

The attacks which were reportedly carried out by “people associated with the local branch of the ANC” (African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party), left two people dead, many injured and 30 shacks destroyed.

In the aftermath, S’bu Zikode went into hiding, and the police arrested 13 AbM members.

Human rights group, Amnesty International described the attack as “apparently politically motivated violence.”

Nonetheless, violence directed at AbM has neither deterred its leaders nor the movement. Rather, they have strengthened their resolve to continue fighting for the rights of vulnerable South African shack dwellers to live a dignified life.

Originally published in Global Voices on March 29, 2021

Buy #Hashtags from Amazon (Paperback and Kindle), Konga and Bookshops across Nigeria

My book, Hashtags: Social Media, Politics and Ethnicity in Nigeria can now be purchased from the following outlets:

Hashtag1

1.  AMAZON

Paper back: https://www.amazon.com/dp/9785572366

Kindle edition: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L2KS5TK

2. KONGA

https://www.konga.com/product/hashtags-social-media-politics-and-ethnicity-in-nigeria-4114142

BOOKSTORES

 Abuja

Salamander Cafe

Booksellers

Readers are Leaders

Adams Pages

Lagos

Patabah Books, Surulere

Terrakulture, Victoria Island

JED Megastores, Lekki

Page Books, Ikeja

Quintessence, Ikoyi

Roving Heights (delivers nationwide)

Ibadan

Booksellers

Port-Harcourt

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The Book Dealers

 

Afonja’s his-story of the Oyo Empire

A Review of Tunde Leye’s “Afonja, the Rise”

Lagos: TLspace Media, 2018, 358 pages

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

Afonja Front and Back Updated

Afonja, the Rise is a story of a revered warrior of Oyo but above all his-story of one of the greatest Empires of the Yoruba Civilization. Tunde Leye did not conceal his reason for writing this book:

Because our history must be told…

Around lanterns and around laptops…

So that we may know.

So that we may learn.

So that we may remember (p iii).

Leye’s work is an ambitious task to rendering memory from the perspective of a young man in love with his past. And he does this through a voracious employment of the past – the shared patrimony of his lineage, the recorded history of his people and the many oral traditions – but with the tools of the present. The opening verses which best captures both his intentions and actions – that runs from the first page of the book to the last – are these “around lanterns and around laptops”.

Leye book seems to re-echo the theoretical synthesis of tradition and modernity of Louis J. Munoz who maintained that tradition is simply “the past in the present.[1]” And also of Jaroslav Pelikan who asserts that “tradition is the living faith of the dead.”[2] Leye’s synthesis in Afonja, the rise tells a story that although focused on this great Kakanfo of Oyo Empire, yet is at the same time not really a story about the warrior. The book unwittingly paints a graphic picture of the intrigues of the absolute monarchy of the once invincible Oyo Empire. It takes one on a journey through the personal life of each character: sorrow, joys, victories and the blunders of war, the betrayals and the intrigues of a royal court.

It is through these firm brushes that the author inserts salient points about traditional rites of marriage, the profundity of proverbs or the supremacy of the Alaafin. Yet within this absolute monarchy, lie traditional checks and balances. One sees in the last chapter the wisdom of the past: if the king is too stubborn to take correction, his subjects must cover their heads in a basket and tell his some home truths. Yet if he remains obdurate then the same tradition that deified him will also be employed in granting him an express visa to meet his ancestors.

And so it was in Afonja the rise, the Oyo Mesi rejected their king. It fell on the chiefs to pronounce the solemn declaration that went thus: the “Alaafin Aole Arogangan, I have brought a message from Oyo and it is a message you must receive. The gods reject you, the people reject you, the earth rejects you” (p 345). The response of the Alaafin is instructive: “My curse be on you, for you disloyalty and disobedience, so let your children disobey you, if you send them on an errand, let the never return to bring you word again, to all the points I have shot my arrows, you will be carried as slaves, my curse will carry you to the sea and beyond the seas” (p 346).

Although the book maintains a loud silence as regards the fulfillment or otherwise of this royal curse, it worth emphasizing that Alaafin Aole Arogangan ‘obeyed’ his subjects and committed suicide. This is why Munoz insists on using the term “Yoruba Civilisation[3]” rather than ethnic group, nation or even nationality in the describing the socio-political governance of the people of south-western Nigeria. It is only a civilisation that has an inherent memory and institutional measures of state that can enforce the rule of law. Thus, no one is above the law and not even an absolute monarch. These similar traits have characterised great civilizations of the West. Yet it begs the question, if the Yoruba civilization was this organised, is it not painful that Nigeria of the 21st century tethers under the weight of despotic leadership. A country where impunity is the norm and some people are not only above the law, but are now the law?

However, Afonja, the rise also is traumatic – albeit painful. This is because one has this feeling of despondency while reading the book. It seems that the only thing we learn from history is to repeat history. And thus it is that the unending intrigues by all the powerful characters within Leye’s story had one thing in common – selfish personal interest.

Afonja wanted to be Kakanfo at all cost. The lust for power blinded him to become a pawn in the hands of Alami whose only ambition was to “dip the Koran into the sea” and create a kingdom in Ilorin over which he will preside. Same goes for Bashorun Asamu – “the prime chief in the Oyo Empire, second only to Alaafin” (p 5) – who thwarted the young Aremo who defied tradition by not accompanying his late father Alaafin Adesina to the grave but rather wanted to succeed him. Asamu succeeded in preventing Aremo from ascending to the throne. However, he miscalculated by making Aole the Alaafin who he thought he could easily manipulate. This of course misfired. The obstinacy of Alaafin Aole became the price the Oyo Empire had to pay because the king wanted to assert that his nobody’s pawn and in the process went overboard.

Like Oyo – kingdoms either rise through the dint of hard work of people or fall due to the unmitigated vicious ambition and treachery of men. Unfortunately Toye Ogunyemi’s prayerful hope “that the mistakes of the past[4]” are never again repeated seems unanswered. A messiah was sold to us, but sadly a hegemonic irredentist sits on the throne. Not heeding the lesson of history continues to haunt us.

Tunde Leye’s Afonja the Rise is a labour of memory, one that nudges us to never fail to remember. Although the opening chapter leaves the reader with a scathing feeling, trying to navigate the maze of a character too many – the book is well written. Leye employs lucid prose with a well constructed suspense and a splendid use of flash backs. Afonja the Rise is like a ferocious hurricane that sweeps you from the first page and only dumps you at a distant shore of the last page. I recommend you buy the book; it’s worth every second of your time.

 

[1] Louis J. Munoz (2007). The past in the present: towards a rehabilitation of tradition. Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd

[2]  Jaroslav Pelikan (1984). The vindication of tradition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press

[3]  Louis J. Munoz (2003). A living tradition: studies in Yoruba Civilisation. Ibadan: Bookcraft Ltd

[4]  Toye Ogunyemi (2015). Ibadan Empire: Republicanism in a pre-colonial African Nation. Ibadan: Rasmed Publications Ltd

being a Nigerian and living in Nigeria has been equally fantastic and depressing – Nwachukwu Egbunike (Writer, Publisher, Author in Global Voices and Social Media Researcher)

Yes, there are substantial differences between creative writing and writing for research purposes but they are not so diametrically opposed to the point of being rivals. I am a writer – creative or research – all na writing!

BN MAGAZINE

Nwachukwu Egbunike  is a Nigerian writer, Publisher, Author in Global Voices and  Social Media Researcher. His book, Blazing Moon, was shortlisted for 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for poetry. In this interview, he talks about writing, life, politics and education.

nwachukwu-egbunike-1

Welcome to StraightTalkWithBenneth. Thank you for agreeing to this interview, it is a great honour to have you join me.

I got to know from the research I conducted that you are a social media researcher, blogger, essayist and writer. Tell me briefly when did you even know writing; especially was what you wanted to do?

 

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Nwachukwu Egbunike’s Blazing Moon: A Review

‘Bayo Adegbite reviews my collection of poems “Blazing Moon”

Thoughtivity. com

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Book Title: Blazing Moon
Author: Nwachukwu Egbunike
Year of Publication: 2015
Publisher: Feathers and Ink
Pages: 110
Genre: Poetry

The world of Blazing Moon is perhaps can be best captured by the words of Kola Tubosun “The perceptive musings of a thinking man living in challenging times . Thoughtful, aware and introspective, Egbunike publicly invites the reader to share in his skeptical penetration of conventional patterns.”

Indeed the very first thing that draws the reader into the collection is its organic nature. The reader can see the poet persona like a child, maturing with every step taken further into the work. The poet draws the reader into his world, the world of the blazing moon as through the eyes of a child. First the world opens, with the poet persona’s awareness of himself (my Story is Mine), then he moves gradually to encompass a second person (Your…

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A Review of Nwachukwu Egbunike’s BLAZING MOON.

Uchenna did a review of my poetry book “Blazing Moon”. I hope you’ll like it.

ITCHY QUILL: a Nigerian's blog

In a world where very few are increasingly being looked upon to set the pace for the rest to follow, Blazing Moon jumps onto the stage with the intention of doing the very opposite. From the moment the curtains part and light comes up on stage, we are ushered into a strange world altogether. In this surreal world, imagination is unfettered. Nothing is impossible.
One could rightly guess that the poet deliberately placed MY WORLD as the first poem in this collection in order to clear any misconception that the reader might be tempted to entertain. And as such, one only has oneself to blame if one comes out of Blazing Moon feeling disappointed in any way. The first two lines make that point as clear as day: “Let me take you to my world/ My own creation.” It is important to get one thing clear from the very beginning…

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APC Should Stop Vilifying the Jonathan Administration – Former Ministers

STATEMENT BY FORMER MINISTERS WHO SERVED UNDER PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Immediate Past Members of the Federal Executive Council

Former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Immediate Past Members of the Federal Executive Council

While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith. The effort that has been made to portray each and every member of the Jonathan administration as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by media, has created a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.

 

We, the Ministers who served under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, have watched with increasing alarm and concern the concerted effort by the Buhari administration and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to condemn, ridicule and undermine the efforts of that administration, in addition to impugning the integrity of its individual members.

While we concede that every administration has the right to chart its own path as it deems fit, we nevertheless consider the vilification of the Jonathan administration, to be ill intentioned, unduly partisan, and in bad faith. The effort that has been made to portray each and every member of the Jonathan administration as corrupt and irresponsible, in an orchestrated and vicious trial by media, has created a lynch mentality that discredits our honest contributions to the growth and development of our beloved nation.

We are proud to have served Nigeria and we boldly affirm that we did so diligently and to the best of our abilities. The improvements that have been noticed today in the power sector, in national security, and in social services and other sectors did not occur overnight. They are products of solid foundations laid by the same Jonathan administration.

Contrary to what the APC and its agents would rather have the public believe, the Jonathan administration did not encourage corruption, rather it fought corruption vigorously, within the context of the rule of law and due process. For the benefit of those who may have forgotten so soon, it was the Jonathan administration that got rid of the fraud in fertilizer subsidies, which had plagued the country for decades. This helped to unleash a revolution in agricultural production and productivity.

It was also the Jonathan administration that supported the institutional development of strong systems and mechanisms to curb corruption in the public service and plug revenue leakages. These included the development of the Government Integrated Financial Management Platform, The Single Treasury Account (TSA), and the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management Systems (IPPIS), in addition to the biometric registration of civil servants and pensioners which saved the country over N100 billion paid to ghost workers and ghost pensioners.

To ensure greater transparency and integrity in the oil and gas sector, the Jonathan administration ordered investigations and put mechanisms in place to check the theft of Nigeria’s crude oil. It was also under the Jonathan administration that a Nigerian Content policy was introduced, which opened up that sector to Nigerians in a manner that was not previously the case. It was also the Jonathan administration that mobilized and secured the support of our neighbouring countries to ensure a robust multinational response to the menace of terrorism and insurgency, resulting in notable advancements in the fight against terror. President Jonathan personally initiated the collaboration that led to these advancements and ensured that Nigeria provided the needed financial support for the Multinational Joint Task Force.

It was the Jonathan administration that repaired and rehabilitated over 25, 000 kilometres of our nation’s roads. Nigeria also became a profitable and preferred investment-friendly destination. It was under President Jonathan, for example, that Nigeria’s electric power sector became more competitive and attractive to local and foreign investments.

The same administration promoted the rule of law, free speech, fundamental human rights, and a robust freedom of information regime. Women’s rights to participate in public life and the Federal Character principle as well as other Constitutional principles were also respected. In every respect, our administration promoted inclusive governance and encouraged all stakeholders including the private sector to play key roles in the transformation of Nigeria.

It should also not be forgotten that the Jonathan administration strengthened electoral institutions and created a peaceful environment for democracy to thrive. On this score, it is sad and ironic that the chief beneficiaries of that same legacy are the most vociferous today in condemning President Jonathan and his team.

Perhaps the new administration and the APC would be sincere enough to publish the details of the hand over notes they received.

In addition, the Buhari administration should be fair enough to acknowledge the good works of the Jonathan administration. No administration can be either completely bad or completely good.

President Jonathan’s achievements in moving this country to greater heights deserve to be duly acknowledged. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to build on these achievements.

We also urge him to press on with the anti-corruption fight, but in a fair and non-partisan manner, in line with due process, and not as a political witch-hunt.

The various lies and fabrications being peddled by some self-appointed spokespersons of the administration may entertain the unwary, but such sensationalism may achieve the unintended effect of de-marketing our
country within the international community. All such persons playing to the gallery for whatever gains should be called to order. The name-calling of members of the Jonathan administration and the trial by news media should also stop.

We encourage President Buhari to continue with the probes, but this must be in strict accordance with his oath of office to treat all Nigerians equally and with the fear of God.

We have reserved our comment until now, in the fervent hope that once the euphoria that may have inspired the various attacks on the past administration wears off, reason will prevail. But we are constrained to speak up in defence of the legacy of the Jonathan administration, and shall do so again, for as long as those who are determined to rubbish that legacy, are unrelenting in their usual deployment of blackmail, persecution, and similar tactics.

Dr Abubakar O. Suleiman
Former Minister of National Planning

Pan-Atlantic University Hosts Nwachukwu Egbunike and Servio Gbadamosi at Her Maiden Poetry Reading

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Pan-Atlantic University invites the general public to her maiden poetry reading session. The event will feature Nwachukwu Egbunike, blogger, essayist and author of the new poetry collection, Blazing Moon and Servio Gbadamosi, an Arts Administrator and author of the poetry collection, A Tributary in Servitude. Both poets will read from their collections and engage the audience on their works as well as social issues.

The event will hold on Wednesday, June 03, 2015 by 3PM at the main campus of the prestigious Pan-Atlantic University, Lekki, Lagos.

Blazing Moon front

Blazing Moon is a book that draws you out, strips you naked, and asks you to confront yourself, define yourself and know who you are. There is no room for quibbles, for middle-of-the road stances: you must yourself pick up the gauntlet and fight your own battle of honour, of faith, of self. In this you will confront striking contrasts that paint human follies in the garb of lifting sanctity: thirsty, loves the drought; hungry, loves the famine; the contents though spilled, yet never exhausted. You would be telling yourself, I know a story like that. Thoughtful, aware and introspective, Egbunike publicly invites the reader to share in his skeptical penetration of conventional patterns.

Here’s a poetic journey from the celestial to the very roots of the poet’s nativity. Most profound are the metaphors that give each verse a sense of identity. Even so, far from the less rhythmic verses and formlessness that has become a banner of sorts in post-modern poetry, this poet draws our attention to the economy of words as one of the primes of poetry. In Nwachukwu Egbunike’s Blazing Moon, poetry is royalty.

A Tributary in Servitude Cover

A Tributary in Servitude captures the complex struggles of a generation whose words have been silenced, whose rage and search for meaning have been quietened. Divided into six sections that trace the course of Africa’s servitude through a maze of histories, politics, social upheavals, prophesies and personal struggles; the poet deftly weaves metaphorical threads into a tapestry of songs that flow from different tributaries into the sea of universal existence.

The voices of Christopher Okigbo, Okot p’Bitek and Tchicaya U’Tamsi resonate in the collection as verse after verse is forcefully delivered in a language that bristles with elegance and ebullience. In A Tributary in Servitude, every line is heavy with promise. This is the sort of poetry that fills the reader with magic, music and awe.

For additional information about the event, please contact the Director of Student Affairs, Pan Atlantic University, Lekki, Lagos.

 

Why I put out the TB Joshua bribery audio

Nicholas Ibekwe: On Why He Released Audio Of TB Joshua Offerring Bribe Money To Reporters

INVESTIGATE!

TB Joshua Pix

The last 72 hours were probably the most intense in my life. The love, kind words and support I’ve received in that period from, mostly, total strangers have been overwhelming. I want to thank everybody who saw the good in what I did. Though, to be honest, I think it was a little stupid. What was I thinking putting my life and probably my career on the line in an attempt to change something so entrenched it seems unchangeable?  But really I’m not fazed by the trash talk from those allergic to the truth.

It’s a long time coming and someone has to put the Big Ben on the fat cat, I guess.

During the same period I’ve also been insulted like never before. I’ve been called the most uncomplimentary names and all the curses in Deuteronomy hurled towards me. They should be ashamed that the brushed ego of their…

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