Monthly Archives: September 2014

Colombia. Gold fever

Gold fever has infected the Chocó region, one of the poorest in Colombia. A great opportunity for criminal gangs and paramilitary groups that make a good profit out of this, while the population is struggling to survive. The bishop of Istmina–Tado tries to help these people threatened by poverty and criminality. Monsignor Julio Hernando Garcia…

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Music – Back to the roots

It is not frequent that a few seconds of music summarize the features of a whole album: nevertheless, after having listened at Vieux Farka Touré’s Mon Pays, that appears to be exactly the case of the brief opening instrumental solo of the first track, Diack So. Indeed, since the first notes, the Mali-born guitarist and…

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Catholic church, a long tradition

The poor tolerance of the initiatives of dissent or groups not entirely under the control of the party and government, also extends to the religions accepted by a constitution that establishes first of all state atheism. In particular, the Vietnamese Church, persecuted for a long time because of its identification first of all with the…

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Ethiopia. Wasa: bread and symbol of life

In southern Ethiopia, among the Sidamo and other ethnic groups, wasa is the staple food-crop. It is a dark flour, obtained from a bulb plant called ‘wese’, or in the national language ‘ensete muse’, popularly known as ‘false banana’. The ‘ensete muse’ requires a portion of a rhizome to reproduce. The most common way to…

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The variety of Ethiopian crosses

Throughout Ethiopia’s history, crosses have played a major role in the ancient legacy of Christianity. No other symbol is as ever present as the cross in Ethiopian culture and no other country in the world has created such a vast quantity of cross designs as Ethiopia. The simple original intersection of two arms has developed…

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Bangladesh. Bridges among mountains

The Chittagong Hill Tracts is a region in the south-east of Bangladesh, on the borders with India and Myanmar. It is an inaccessible mountain area that the local government has kept isolated from the rest of the country. A group of nuns lives there sharing faith and simple life with the local people. It takes…

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West Africa. The Lion King may sleep forever

The lion of West Africa is on the verge of extinction. Only a few hundred individuals are surviving. But their days are numbered unless strict measures are adopted. There is a serious probability that the lion, symbol of bravery and totem of the Gourmantché tribe of Burkina Faso, who inspired legends and was adopted by…

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Germany. Military and strategic interests in Africa

Germany returns to Africa to stay. In summer 2011, the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle introduced the new ‘Strategy for Africa’ of the German Government. It is an integrated policy towards Africa, involving several federal ministries, industry groups and civil society representatives. The aim is to enable a coordinated partnership along key issues, such as:…

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Vietnam – A country that looks afar

With the death, at the age of 102 years, on 4 October 2013, of Vo Nguyen Giap, the last of the leaders who led Vietnam towards independence and unification in three decades of conflict that have marked not only the history of South-East Asia but also the collective memory of the West, was gone. Of…

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Book review – Drone Warfare

Definitely, Medea Benjamin is not afraid to tackle controversial themes: on the contrary, it seems she considers being silent on some issues the deadliest possible sin. She has dealt, in her previous books (some of which date back to the late 80’s) with the embargo imposed on Cuba and the stories of Latin American women,…

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Kenya. Pokot. The rite of initiation: ‘Sapana’

‘Sapana’ is a celebration undertaken by young men, around 20 years of age, to become recognized as adult men. Only after the rite, will they be considered as adults meaning that they will be allowed to sit at the meetings with the elders, ‘kokwö’, and participate in sacrifices, ‘kirket’. We look at the rite of…

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Economy: investments and exports

It took almost forty years, but eventually Vietnam, once the nation-symbol of resistance to American influence, hardened in a war that ended symbolically with the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, capitulated on 8 February 2013, an eventful year for the country. It did so by opening the doors of the former Saigon to…

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Money as a mission.

St. Basil the Great, in the 4th century would call money ‘the devil’s dung,’  an epithet reused by Pope Francis last year. Oscar Wilde said…

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The Hare, the Hippo and the Fire.

The hare and the hippo were great friends. They walked together in the veld and visited each other in their homes. The hippo was very proud…

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Youth & Mission

The Virus of Racism.

The world is seeing once again the upsurge of a vicious “virus” that has spread to every corner of the world. This time, the “virus” is…

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