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The BBC’s latest attempt to play down the UK’s role in slavery | Colonialism

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In July 2018, Nigerian journalist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani wrote an honest, captivating and illuminating article about how her late great-grandfather’s life as a 19th-century slave trader shaped her life. 

In the expansive essay published by the New Yorker, Nwaubani told intriguing tales about family, Igbo traditions, slavery and colonialism. She explained how her great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, gained wealth and influence during the transatlantic slave trade era by selling other Africans and helping missionaries establish Christianity in Nigeria. 

She also provided an honest and nuanced account of the conflicting feelings many of her relatives have about her great-grandfather’s legacy. 

She told us how her father once declared he could never be ashamed of the infamous slave trader. “Why should I be,” she quoted him as asking, “His business was legitimate at the time. He was respected by everyone around.”

But she also wrote about her relatives who see things differently. She told us about her cousin Chidi, who grew up in England and chose to keep his family’s inglorious past hidden from his British friends. She also wrote about another cousin, Chiomia, who says she asks “God to forgive our ancestors” whenever she watches a film about slavery. 

In the essay, Nwaubani underlined her family’s efforts to break away from its painful and tainted history. She mentioned how in 1992, believing that they are being punished for the crimes of their ancestors, the community her family hails from chose to adopt a new name to reflect their “severance from the atrocities of the past”. She also proudly described in detail a deliverance ceremony her family held in January 2018 to publicly denounce its role in the slave trade. “During the ceremony, I was overwhelmed with relief” Nwaubani reflected, “My family was finally taking a step beyond whispering and worrying.”

According to Nwaubani’s account in the New Yorker, her family resisted the temptation to accept their grandfather as a product of his times, took a strong moral stand on slavery, and made a clean break from his despicable legacy.  

If this essay remained as Nwaubani’s only telling of her family’s story, it could have been her heartfelt contribution to the efforts to honestly document one of the most painful periods in human history. It might have persevered as a strong, insightful and emancipating analysis of the slave trade from an African point of view. More so, in today’s progressive political climate, it could have provided an example as to how families, communities and societies could reflect honestly on the crimes of their ancestors and redeem themselves from the overbearing weight of historical injustices.    

Yet, unfortunately, it has not.

On July 19, just seven weeks after George Floyd’s police killing in Minnesota sparked a global movement for racial justice, Nwaubani chose to tell her great-grandfather’s story once again, this time to the BBC. The new article, titled “My great-grandfather sold slaves”,  has a brand new editorial slant and does not once mention her family’s efforts to reckon with the slaveholder’s legacy.  

This time, the Nigerian journalist describes his grandfather not as someone who “gained power and wealth by selling other Africans across the Atlantic”, but merely as “a businessman” who lived in a time when “the fittest survived and the bravest excelled”.

There is also no mention of the heart-wrenching emotions towards slavery experienced by her family. As a result, there is no sign of the overarching and progressive morality that characterised the New Yorker article.  

Clearly, unlike the original essay published two years ago, the aim of the BBC article is not to chronicle a family’s struggle to come in terms with the abominable deeds of an ancestor, but to offer a defence for that ancestor by stating yesterday’s slave masters should not be judged by today’s moral standards. 

In the BBC article, in a desperate and shocking attempt to glorify a man who traded human beings for a living, Nwaubani even shares an anecdote that paints her great-grandfather as a hero for successfully confronting officials of the British colonial government after they “seized some of his slaves”. 

The BBC article not only tries to whitewash Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku’s legacy, but also attempts to put the blame for the transatlantic slave trade on Africans. It states that “buying and selling of human beings among the Igbo had been going on long before the Europeans arrived” and implies that the arrival of Europeans merely accelerated an existing and established practice. By doing so, the article clearly intends to play down the United Kingdom’s role in trafficking approximately 11-14 million Africans, many of whom died at sea, or at the hands of angry, hate-filled lynch mobs or cruel slave masters in America. 

In her piece for the BBC, Nwaubani not only gives the impression that slavery was really just an African construct, but she also credits the UK for bringing it to an end. Without the help of the enlightened and compassionate British Empire, Nwaubani opines, the slave trade would have never ended. To top it all, she suggests, were the Igbos enamoured by statues, her grandfather certainly would deserve to have one built in his honour.

So why did Nwaubani decide to retell her great-grandfather’s story and offer a defence for him at a time when the Black Live Matters movement’s call for racial justice finally started to be heard across the globe? And why did the BBC decide it has a national responsibility to redeem the wounded pride and fading morality of the British Empire with an article glorifying a 19th-Century Nigerian slave trader at such a momentous time in history?  

Nwaubani’s revised, highly defensive account of her great-grandfather’s life reeks of a desire to protect undue privilege. It is reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s desperate attempts to rewrite history and present slaveholders and mass murderers who shaped the past of the United States as “the most daring and courageous people ever to walk on the face of the Earth“. 

In her collaboration with the BBC, she also attempts to somewhat absolve the UK of its overriding responsibility in advancing the transatlantic slave trade, setting up colonial structures throughout Africa, and perpetrating racist hierarchies globally. 

Because of British slavery and colonialism, the BBC enjoys extensive reach across Africa via TV, radio and online platforms. It is a trusted and popular voice in Africa. However, as Nwaubani’s article clearly demonstrates, even at a time when winds of just and progressive change are blowing across the globe, it is unable to resist an urge to defend the UK’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge its leading role in the centuries-long slave trade. 

It was only in 2015 when then British Prime Minister David Cameron told Jamaicans to “move on” from the “painful legacy of slavery”, while simultaneously lauding the UK’s role in abolishing the slave trade. The current prime minister, Boris Johnson, is also known for his admiration of the British Empire, and repeated attempts to dismiss Britain’s role in slavery.

In this context, it is easy to understand why the BBC decided to publish Nwaubani’s article casting slavery as an African construct when the world’s focus shifted on the UK’s colonial legacy. 

The efforts of the living beneficiaries of the transatlantic slave trade to stem the winds of change, however, are futile. 

The statues of slave traders, men such as Edward Colston, a British merchant who made a fortune from the slave trade in the late 1600s, are being forcibly removed in the US, the UK, and various other European countries. The US is reassessing its brutal past and current policies towards policing, racism and Black lives. So are Hollywood studios. So are major corporations, such as Facebook and Netflix.

So are Africans of all hues.

Nothing the BBC publishes can ever silence the voices that are demanding the UK to have a long overdue reckoning with its brutal history. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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