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Africa Wide

Strength Beyond All Odds’ is the Theme for This Year’s International Albinism Awareness Day.

Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited difference present at birth. In almost all types of albinism, both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on, even if they do not have albinism themselves. The condition is found in both sexes regardless of ethnicity and in all countries of the world. Albinism results in a lack of pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. People with albinism face multiple forms of discrimination worldwide. Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalization and social exclusion. This leads to various forms of stigma and discrimination which need to stop immediately.

Zambia

Former President Kaunda Admitted to Hospital.

Zambia’s former president Kenneth Kaunda is receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness at a military hospital in the capital Lusaka.His administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo said Kaunda, 97, had been feeling unwell and had been admitted to the Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka.Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964, when the southern African nation won its independence from Britain, until 1991.After retiring, he has been involved in various charitable organisations. His most notable contribution has been his zeal in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS. He is among Africa’s few surviving liberation heroes.

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Holy City Reels From Tigray Crisis.

For Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, who comprise more than 40% of their country’s population and most of the people in the Tigray region, the city of Axum is the holiest of places.They believe it to be home to the Ark of the Covenant, or the original Ten Commandments, and the birthplace of Ethiopian Christianity.In past years, pilgrims and tourists would flock to Axum to pray, visit historical sites and snap pictures. Last year, when the coronavirus pandemic swept the world,  stayed away. Then in November 2020, war broke out and visitors stopped coming almost completely. In recent months, Axum has quieted, with violence mostly taking place in the countryside. The city has also begun hosting different kinds of visitors. Families displaced by war in their villages and small towns have come in droves, crowding into empty schoolhouses and on the grounds of the church.

 

Somalia Puntland

Somalia’s Puntland to Criminalise FGM.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) will soon be criminalised in semi-autonomous north-eastern region of Somalia, Puntland.Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni and his cabinet last week approved an anti-FGM bill. Parliament is to debate and approve it, setting the legal ground for ending the vice that affects 97.9 per cent of Somali women and girls aged between 15 and 49 years. Anyone who performs circumcision in the region will face the full force of the law. The bill would include stiff penalties for those who perform FGM, including hospitals, midwives and traditional circumcisers.

Diaspora 

Enslaved Africans cemetery discovered on Caribbean island.

On the grounds of the Caribbean island airport in St.Eustatius archaeologists have discovered a former slave gravesite.53 skeletons have already been uncovered. First analyses show that they are people of African origin, probably the first generation of enslaved people who were brought to the island. The discovery is considered unique, never before has a burial site of this scale been discovered on any of the Caribbean islands.In addition to the excavations, DNA analyses are to be carried out to find out where in Africa the former slaves came from..Most of what is known so far comes from the writings of colonial administrators and plantation owners.

 

South Africa: 

‘Unsuitable’ J&J Vaccines Won’t Be Released for Use in SA.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority has decided not to release the long-awaited Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines for use in the country.However, SAHPRA said about 300 000 doses from batches that have been cleared by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) meet the requirements and will subsequently be released and shipped to South Africa.

This comes after the FDA authorised two batches of the drug substance produced by Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore, United States, and determined that several others are not suitable for use.SAHPRA reviewed the data provided by the FDA and has made a decision not to release the vaccine produced using the drug substance batches that were not suitable,” the drug watchdog said. The FDA has been investigating potential contamination problems at a COVID-19 vaccine plant in Baltimore, which has had a knock-on effect locally.

Kenya

Kenya to reopen its embassy in Somalia.

The Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs had sent a letter last weekend to his Kenyan counterpart inviting him to reopen the Kenyan diplomatic representation in Mogadishu, which was closed since December after Somalia broke off diplomatic relations between the two states. The unilateral decision according to Mogadishu came “in response to Kenya’s recurrent and blatant political violations against Somalia’s sovereignty”. The situation led to the expulsion of the Kenyan ambassador in Mogadishu while the Somali ambassador in Nairobi was recalled.In a letter published Monday on its Twitter account, the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced “that the Government of the Republic of Kenya acknowledges and welcomes the invitation of the Federal Government of Somalia to restore diplomatic relations between Somalia and Kenya.

South Africa

Intrigue as ‘diamond rush’ hits South African village.

More than 1,000 fortune seekers on Yesterday flocked to the village of KwaHlathi in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province in search of what they believed to be diamonds after a discovery of unidentified stones in the area.The people travelled from across South Africa to join villagers who have been digging since Saturday, after a herd man who dug up the first stone on an open field, which some believe to be quartz crystals, put out the word.The mines department said on Monday it was sending a team comprising of geological and mining experts to the site to collect samples and conduct an analysis and a formal technical report to be issued in due course.The lack of an analysis of the stones has not deterred the fortune seekers as long lines of parked cars on both sides of the gravel road could be seen just a few metres from the open field, where the young, old, female and male dug through the soil with picks, shovels and forks to find riches.