Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mexico. Wisdom of the mask-makers.

Every Mexican town usually has one or more artisans who make masks. All of them have two things in common: pride in their craft and enormous talent. Mask-makers must have a profound knowledge of their community’s traditional dances and each of the characters in them. They must be able to give a distinctive face to…

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Zambia. Follow the Money

The government accuses some multinational mining companies of evading taxes, they reply by threatening a suspension of the activities. The consequences of such a scenario are still unclear. Six hundred million dollars account for 2,3% of Zambia’s GDP in 2013, less than half the growth that the economy of the country experienced in the same…

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Burundi. «Avoid the worst!»

Less than four months before the start of a new electoral cycle, rebel activity has resumed in the North of the country and in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. A UN spokesperson urges to “avoid the worst”. In early January, clashes between the Burundian Defence Force and rebels infiltrated from the DRC took place in…

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Swahili, Hausa, Arabic languages

Among the African languages, Swahili is certainly the best known outside the continent. Until recently it was believed Swahili was a constructed language created by Arab and Persian merchants who have visited the east coast of Africa since ancient times (Swahili derives from sawahil, the coast). It is known that much of the Swahili vocabulary…

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Canonization of the Armenian Genocide victims

Armenian Patriarch Karekin II has recently issued an encyclical letter announcing the canonization of the Armenian genocide victims. The event will be held on 23 April, on the occasion of the centennial of the Armenian genocide. The next day will become a memorial day for the nation’s “Holy Martyrs.” “The centennial of the Armenian genocide…

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African language policies

After independence, a good number of African countries opted for the colonizer’s idiom as the official language of the nation. This became also the official language of learning. Tanzania took another direction. At independence, it chose Swahili as the official language and language of learning. In Kenya, where English is the official language and Swahili…

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Reportage – Nicaragua. The art of pneumatic tyres

His hands run fast over the grooves of a scrap tyre. He uses a heated knife to cut the rubber to be modeled. The motif is not a designed pattern but it is inspired by shapes and colors drawn from his imagination. Slowly, images, the faces of animals and geometric motifs take shape. Francisco Josué…

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Book review – The world’s most dangerous place

At a first glance, it may seem just another eye-catching headline, but it is not. The world’s most dangerous place – as the Edinburgh-based James Fergusson chose to title his book on Somalia – is a phrase that enshrines a well-articulated thesis, one that may be counter-argued, but has to be mulled over beforehand. After…

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Uganda. Karimojong. Akiriket – Joint Togetherness

According to the setting of the Karimojong social organization, an ethnic group of agro-pastoral herders living mainly in the north-east of Uganda, every neighbourhood has its own sacred ground, called akiriket. The assembly of initiated men takes its name from these places. Each generation-set has its special tree under which to sit in the assemblies,…

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Despite foreign support, the Congolese army remains a major problem

Fifteen years after the start of the UN peacekeeping operation in 1999, the DRC remains a fragile state and the army is a sizeable part of the problem. By next June, the 30 military advisers of the European Union’s EUSEC mission of assistance to the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) will…

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Peru.The voice of the Kukama people

Ucamara is a radio broadcaster based in Nauta, a town in the Peruvian Amazon. This radio is above all the Kukama people’s voice, an indigenous group fighting against the abuses of oil companies. After two hours of travel, coming from Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, we reach the town of Nauta, located at…

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The meaning of life and love

Every year, Valentine’s Day comes around and few people know its meaning and how they should celebrate it. They are told by media and commercial interests what it means and usually that is to buy gifts and it plays up the romantic notion. But for those people feeling excluded, lonely, abandoned and unloved, it’s not…

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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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