How much does war cost? Economics of war in South Sudan

South Sudan is only four years old, but the world’s youngest nation tops the rank of failed states worldwide.
After decades of conflict with its neighbour Sudan, long-sought autonomy in 2011 was meant to be a dream come true, but the country has been wracked by violence ever since.

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On the same subject, Cornel West…


Yes, the “N” word is still bad in 2015

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama’s use of the word shocked many, but this was not the first time he used the word. In his book Dreams from my Father, the president used it “about a dozen times”, said the White House deputy press secretary, Eric Schultz. In reality, Obama’s use of the word was shocking because it is something most acting presidents would never say, but also because the weight of it still matters in 2015.

From The Guardian

You can listen to the whole interview on the WTF podcast website.

I don’t really use any form or shape of the word anymore.

I used to when I was younger, as a form of endearment with my friends. If you are listening to rap music, watching hood movies, or even spending time playing certain video games, it is extremely easy to detach yourself from reality and forget about the whole history behind the word.

The entertainment industry commercialised the term, and played on the controversy to sell more. From Chris Rock developing his entire routine around it, to Nas promoting his Untitled album, to Chet Hanks casually using the word with his white friends. Both blacks and whites individuals are responsible from it yes, but that’s quite different from putting the responsibility on “black people” for carrying the word through the years. You can certainly not say that rappers are responsible for the word, but entertainment did play a role in spreading its use, and the mis-understanding.

Globalisation took it to places that do not understand the heavy burden this word carries.

Yet, I cringe every time I am with white people and I hear the word.
It’s like when white people start having these conversations about slavery / war and poverty in Africa/ black crime around me. These are situations that turn you from just being the only black person present in that space and time to the spokesman for blackness. It really does not take that much.

– So what did you think about 12 Years A Slave?
– What did you think about the new Kendrick?
– That kid they found in the suitcase is from Cote d’Ivoire, right? You are from Cote d’Ivoire, right?


Back to the point, out of all the racial issues in the United States today, people getting angry because Obama is speaking frankly about racism and saying nigger is beyond me. Especially when his very point in saying nigger is that racism is still everywhere in America. I really hope that this will start real conversations about race today in the world, and give a real understanding of the significance of the world in 2015.

Watch Nas’ documentary about breakdancers in Uganda

From executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg, Shake the Dust chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.

 It’s now available on VOD on Stream.

Shake the Dust from BOND Strategy & Influence on Vimeo.

Quite a fantastic subject to look into. Good that it is coming from hip hop legend Nasir Jones as well. I saw a couple of documentaries coming through about the African musical scene recently (kuduro, heavy metal, rumba), and it’s fantastic to see some of these artists recognised on a global scene, especially outside of the “world music” category.

South Africa should have sent Bashir to the ICC

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has left South Africa to his country, defying South African’s constitution to prevent his departure on the basis of an International Criminal Court order for his arrest.

Yet another setback for human rights in Africa.

The whole conversation about the ICC being prejudiced against Africans is misplaced. Now, I am not saying that only Africans deserve to face trial at the ICC. Far from it. Many individuals deserve to be tried under the institution.
What I think however, is that ICC is our best way to get justice considering the weak national and continental judicial institutions.
The national legal systems too often serve the ruling party, and has been heavily politically biased. Case in point, I strongly believe ICC is in a much better position to offer Laurent Gbagbo an impartial trial than any national jurisdiction. Same would apply for Sudan, Kenya and many other countries.
Regarding the continental institutions, we would not even be here discussing whether or not the ICC had to investigate Bashir, if the African Union was doing its job to improve the situation for the continent, as opposed to just serving its leaders.

Same thing with the whole issue around a resolution against “third terms”, where the institution could have led the way for democracy in several countries. Of course, nothing much will come from the African Union Heads of State and Government in South Africa. As Justice Malala said in The Guardian last week,

You cannot have moral authority with 91-year-old president-for-life Robert Mugabe at the helm

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Oil exploration in the Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, covering 7,800-square-kilometre in Eastern DRC. It is known worldwide for it wildlife, as it is home to the last mountain gorillas.

I have never been to the Virunga National Park, or even to DRC for that matter. I hope to go there one day and experience the beauty of the Great Lakes region. The peaceful atmosphere that arises from the evergreen mountains is a sour irony, contrasting with the conflictful history  of the region, the unrest that has been taking place for decades there, with no end in sights.

I came across the Virunga Netflix documentary a few days ago.
It does justice to the natural beauty of the National Park, and to the courage of the few individuals defending it against illegal poaching and mining interests from SOCO International plc.

The documentary directed by Orlando von Einsiedel highlights a couple of things in the area:
– The complete inability of the central government to control the whole DRC territory
– The absence of rule of law for so long has turned the army and state representatives act into militias or administrative pillars for the mining interests
– The role NGOs and institutions are playing to maintain order. The documentary focuses on the team of rangers who fight for the park preservation alongside Emmanuel de Merode.

I have spent 20 years thinking about bravery, about why the rangers keep working under such conditions. For some it is because there aren’t that many options, because it is a good job. For others it is because their parents and grandparents were rangers. For others still it is the unfashionable concept of loyalty – it is their duty to protect the park.

You can read more about it here, and donate for the cause.

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Lloyd Price talks about the Rumble in the Jungle, being the first American to sell a million records, and more

The best two hours you will spend this week.
In this episode of the Combat Jack Show – great podcast, by the way- , American R&B legend Lloyd Price, 82 now, talks about in time in the industry, racism and police harassment in America and many other stories.

He also discusses in detail his relationship with boxing promoter Don King, and how the Rumble in the Jumble fight between Ali and Foreman came to life. Great anecdotes about Mobutu, Stevie Wonder, and these few weeks in Zaire.

lloyd price

If you have not seen them already, I would also recommend you to watch the two great documentaries about the fight and the music festival in Zaire: When We Were Kings (produced by Lloyd Price) and Soul Power

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