It’s the aftermath of “Blackout Monday” (8th Sept 2014) – an initiative to get black people around the world to abstain from spending money in non-black owned businesses. I am joined by criminal defence solicitor, political commentator and community activist Kevin Bismark Cobham who seriously and thoroughly critiques the whole idea of “Black Buying Power”, the “Black Dollar”/”Black Pound.” I shared this video with Dr Jared Ball and I’m honoured to say that he has added it to his article The Ever Enduring Myth of Black “Buying Power”. This is ironic, as it was reading Dr Ball’s article which helped to make this video happen in the first place!
Also, check out this new playlist I’ve created of YouTube videos centred on Cooperative Economics:
The government of Uganda has been accused of perpetuating tribalism by handing top government jobs mostly to people from one region of the country. A fascinating report in the Independent newspaper outlines the numbers and goes into the various potential reasons for this imbalance.
Uganda: Genuine unity & cooperation required
‘Tribalism’ is one of those words that Africans have learned to fear, and with good reason. The term refers to the practice of people from specific nations or ethnic groups using state power to benefit their fellow tribes folk at the expense of others. The European colonialists found many ways of whipping up divisions and resentment between different groups in Africa in order to further their own objectives.
The Berlin Conference of the 1880s (which could be looked at as a meeting of gangland bosses) created new geo-political entities across the continent of Africa. These countries, protectorates and so forth reflected the interests of the Europeans, and not the Africans. Hence, the new borders separated entire nations and ethnic groups in different countries. Conversely, a multitude of different nations were lumped together in new countries despite often having widely different cultures, social and economic systems, languages, and so on. And the British colonialists in particular had a penchant for ethnic divisions of labour. In Uganda they assigned jobs in the police and army disproportionately to nations in the northern part of the country, while they developed the political and economic power base in the south-central regions of the country. These and other colonial machinations resulted in simmering inter-ethnic tensions and resentment which were ready to boil over when Africans achieved flag independence in the mid twentieth century.
Uganda has made massive strides from the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s when ethnic conflict helped to sink the country into years of violent conflict. We should all be grateful for the relative calm and security in most of Uganda. However, negative tribalism must be eradicated from political life.in order for Ugandan people to move forward in true unity and cooperation,
I’m once again highly honoured to present an interview with Dalian Adofo and Verona Spence-Adofo, the makers of “Ancestral Voices“, the ground-breaking documentary that explored about African spirituality. They are currently in the middle of producing a follow up film and they join me to give some insights on the progress of the production.
Ancestral Voices 2 – coming soon – with your assistance!
Last time we spoke in November 2013, the pair were nearing the end of a crowd-funding campaign on Indigogo to raise the necessary funds for Ancestral Voices 2. This time round, I wanted to find out how the crowd-funding campaign went and what implications this has had for the second film..
In another wide-ranging conversation, we discuss how Ancestral Voices 2 will expand on the achievements of the first film. We also talk about some more general issues relating to African spirituality and how it is relevant to people’s day to day lives. This is another rich and multi-layered discussion which in its own way, contributes to raising the profile of African spirituality in a world dominated by the big Eurasian (‘Abrahamic’) religions.
I have to say that I love almost every tune that Bobi Wine has been putting out over the past few months. His tunes tend to have a strong social commentary component, and his latest video, Byekwaaso (uploaded on 30th August) is no different. Check it out.
2. Pallaso (Uganda) – “Kilabe Embaliga”
Ugandan rapper/singer Pallaso is uploading songs like crazy right now, and his newest video entitled Kilabe Embaliga is catchy and fun with some great dance moves (of course). Pallaso is a very versatile artist who can sing, rap and deejay (in the dancehall sense of the word) equally well. He has a big future ahead of him I reckon. The video was released on 28th August.
3. Jaguar (Kenya) – “One Centimeter”
Mr “Kigeugeu” himself, Kenya’s Jaguar revealed the video to his newest single One Centimeter on 25th August. The song is another highly danceable jam and the video is very high quality. However, as some of the comments point out, it’s a shame that this flag bearer of East African music follows a growing trend of shooting the video in South Africa. From the accent of the actress who plays his bride in the video, it seems that the cast was also South African! Next time, hopefully Jaguar will use his video as chance to boost the profile of Kenya.
4. Eddy Kenzo & Barbi Jay (Uganda) – Talina Shida
Eddy Kenzo is on fire right now. Sitya Loss continues to blow up around the world, and he is taking full advantage by touring incessantly. The video for his collabo with Barbi Jay called Talina Shida was posted on 18th August (but not as yet on his own YouTube channel). This boy can sing and like all the big Ugandan artists, he has an ear for a sweet chorus.
5. Webi (Kenya) – Pamoja Milele
I must admit that I’d not heard of Webi before this video was posted by Maramoja filmz on 19th August. Pamoja Milele means Together Forever in Kiswahili and the video is based around a groom confessing his undying love for his bride. So like Jaguar’s vid, this has the bride in (Eurocentric) white, but there are none of the dramatics of One Centimeter! Check it here.
Recently released figures from the Kenyan government show that Uganda is no longer the country’s main export partner in East Africa. Uganda has traditionally been the biggest market in the region for Kenya, but Tanzania now claims that accolade.
But probably the more important statistic regards who Kenya’s biggest export markets are globally. The top three countries are: 1. USA, 2. Netherlands and 3. The UK. Tanzania and Uganda come in at 4th and 5th respectively. This is disappointing news in light of the East African Community’s aim of strengthening intra-regional economic integration.
So a couple of haters (they’re actually friends of mine, but it’s more exciting to call them haters) have written a blog on http://jewelsndrugs.wordpress.com/ which responded to my recent vlog:
ARE WE TO BLAME FOR OUR OWN POVERTY?
(This is a joint blog post by [@fifi_ldn] and Bennett. Bennett is currently teaching A-Level economics in Switzerland, you can find him on Linkedin)
In the UK, an increasing number of people are finding themselves living under financial stress, exhausted from juggling multiple jobs, and relying on food banks. Is the coalition’s austerity measures to blame? Or is it rather the product of a lazy mentality, unhealthy attitude and overall poor decision making?
Ely, our good friend and vlogger, raised the point that sometimes, too much blame is placed on “the system” and not enough emphasis is placed on individual responsibility. It’s true; ultimately we each are responsible for what we make of life. No matter how unequal and “evil” the system is, our individual efforts and talents help us to achieve the most out of life as possible. But realistically, to what extent is it true that “the hard work and effort that people put into life, is what they get out”?
We are not born equals. Some find themselves, through no fault of their own, placed at a great disadvantage in the battle of life right from the onset. Even in more economically developed countries, such as the UK, many continue to find themselves in poverty. Why? Because whether we like it or not, a lot of what people earn is down to ‘luck’ and entirely beyond individual control.
For example, growing up in a poverty-striken neighbourhood to parents who also had disadvantaged childhoods, is simply a matter of fate. Less privileged individuals in society are statistically more likely to be a teenage parent, develop a mental illness, and perform worse educationally, to name a few unfavorable examples. Also, although many work extremely hard to move out of this poverty cycle, they’re still hindered and continuously discriminated against in terms of career progression, getting on the property ladder and even within the criminal justice system where there is clearly an unequal enforcement of the law.
A more privileged person, on the other hand, will face fewer obstacles when climbing up the social ladder. For instance, some people are born into a family able to afford an expensive education, consequently guaranteeing them a well paid job, and equipping them with the personal connections required to “get you places” *wink wink*. Not to mention the accents and attitudes acquired only in these exclusive ‘subcultures’, which most underprivileged individuals are prevented access to and sometimes unfairly discriminated against for having the “wrong” characteristics.
Although, there are the odd exceptional cases where a few manage to escape the poverty cycle, its probably less to do with individual differences in effort and mentality, and perhaps more to do with a combination of working hard and just happening to be in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people etc.
The system itself recognises inequality and acknowledges that social measures play a huge role in partially counterbalancing these disadvantages. For example, unpaid internships and placements indirectly discriminate against underprivileged young people, who cannot afford to work for free. Therefore, despite having excellent grades and applying for numerous job vacancies, in most cases it is government interventions and schemes – specifically designed to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds – which open doors that ordinarily would’ve remained closed.
All in all, although personal responsibility and mentality is accountable to a certain extent, it’s simply naive to ignore the huge effects of social barriers and inequality. Just because “the system” isn’t exclusively to blame when it comes to poverty, doesn’t mean that it should be exempt from criticism, nor should it be slapped down when brought up in these types of discussions.