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Africa's Extreme Coming of Age Traditions Tags: News Nigeria Culture Education

When you think about coming of age, you probably envision teen angst, chin acne, and an especially dramatic episode of “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” But in tribes and communities around the world, coming of age is nothing like a sweet 16. There are no cakes, no candles, and no shiny new cars.

Although it varies from culture to culture, most of these traditions force young people to test their patience, stamina, pain-tolerance and endurance.

THE OKRIKA TRIBE OF NIGERIA


The Okrika tribe believes young women form romantic relationships with water spirits during their childhood. To be considered adults, they must sing by the river for days until a man from their tribe rescues them, to sever ties with the spirits.

Fula women must have their faces tattooed before they’re considered an adult. The process is very painful and involves a sharp piece of wood.

AFRICA, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND ASIA


Women in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia are forced to undergo female circumcision — a gruesome and dangerous tradition.

THE HAMAR TRIBE IN ETHIOPA


First, the boy must be whipped while family and friends look on, then he has to run across the backs of four castrated cows to be considered a man eligible for marriage.

THE XHOSA PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA


Xhosa people believe boys must be circumcised before becoming men. They are shaved and taken into the mountains, where they live in isolation until a surgeon comes for the procedure.

THE OKIEK TRIBE IN KENYA


Boys and girls of the Okiek tribe paint themselves using clay, then they’re haunted by a mythical beast and considered adults when they can replicate the roar.

THE MAASAI PEOPLE OF TANZANIA AND KENYA

The Maasai people replace their warriors every 6-10 years. This means the next generation must be circumcised and moved into a camp. They used to have to kill al ion to complete this rite, but nowadays the government prohibits it.

THE FULA PEOPLE


Fula boys engage in whip fights with a boy from a different village. The boys must show no signs of fear, and the crowd decides who is the bravest (aka the man).

Source: ryot

Nigeria Faces New Ebola Threat, 880 Dead In Africa Tags: News Nigeria Health Ebola West Africa

ABUJA, Nigeria — The doctor who treated a man who flew to Nigeria and died of Ebola now has contracted the disease, authorities said Monday, presenting a dire challenge to Africa’s most populous nation as the regional toll for the outbreak grew to 887 dead.

As Nigerian health authorities rushed to quarantine others who had been exposed, a special plane left Liberia to evacuate the second American missionary who fell ill with Ebola. Nancy Writebol, 59, is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday, where she will be treated at a special isolation ward.

The second confirmed case in Nigeria is a doctor who treated Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American man who died July 25 days after arriving in Nigeria from Liberia, said Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu.

Three others who also treated Sawyer now show symptoms of Ebola and their test results are pending, he said. Authorities are trying to trace and quarantine others in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest city of 21 million people.

“This cluster of cases in Lagos, Nigeria is very concerning,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, which is dispatching 50 experienced disease control specialists to West Africa.

“It shows what happens if meticulous infection control, contact tracing, and proper isolation of patients with suspected Ebola is not done. Stopping the spread in Lagos will be difficult but it can be done,” he said.

The World Health Organization announced Monday that the death toll has increased from 729 to 887 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Cases in Liberia jumped from 156 to 255, WHO said, as the government ordered that all Ebola victims must now be cremated because of rising opposition to burials in neighborhoods around the capital. Over the weekend, police were called in amid a standoff over whether health authorities could bury nearly two dozen victims in a neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia.

Sierra Leone marked a national stay-at-home day Monday in an effort to halt the disease’s spread. A documentary film of the first outbreak of the Ebola disease in Congo was being shown intermittently throughout the day by the national broadcaster.

The emergence of a second case in Nigeria raises serious concerns about the infection control practices there, and also raises the specter that more cases could emerge. It can take up to 21 days after exposure to the virus for symptoms to appear. They include fever, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches. Often nausea, vomiting and diarrhea follow, along with severe internal and external bleeding in advanced stages of the disease.

“This fits exactly with the pattern that we’ve seen in the past. Either someone gets sick and infects their relatives, or goes to a hospital and health workers get sick,” said Gregory Hartl, World Health Organization spokesman in Geneva. “It’s extremely unfortunate but it’s not unexpected. This was a sick man getting off a plane and unfortunately no one knew he had Ebola.”

Doctors and other health workers on the front lines of the Ebola crisis have been among the most vulnerable to infection as they are in direct physical contact with patients. The disease is not airborne, and only transmitted through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, vomit, sweat or feces.

Sawyer, who was traveling to Nigeria on business, became ill while aboard a flight and Nigerian authorities immediately took him into isolation upon arrival in Lagos. They did not quarantine his fellow passengers, and have insisted that the risk of additional cases was minimal.

Nigerian authorities said a total of 70 people are under surveillance and that they hoped to have eight people in quarantine by the end of Monday in an isolation ward in Lagos.

Tracking down all the people who came into contact with Sawyer and his caregivers could prove difficult at this late stage, said Ben Neuman, a virologist and Ebola expert at Britain’s University of Reading.

“Contact tracing is essential but it’s very hard to get enough people to do that,” he said. “For the average case, you want to look back and catch the 20 to 30 people they had closest contact with and that takes a lot of effort and legwork … The most important thing now is to do the contact tracing and quarantine any contacts who may be symptomatic.”

Source: AP

Afro Fighters, Africa's warriors Battle Games Ready For Download On Phones Tags: News Nigeria Afro Fighters Games Phone Apps African Developers

Safari the warrior crouches in the bush - a digitized heroine from the new mobile phone game "Afro Fighters" that its Nigerian creator hopes will soon rival the likes of Clash of Clans or Angry Birds on the world's handsets.

To achieve this, Olakunle Ogungbamila is preparing to take on a lineup of challenges as daunting as any of the muscular opponents on his new app, even the game's arch foe the Dark Lord of Oti.

Industry analysts have long hailed the explosive growth of mobile telecoms in sub-Saharan Africa - 635 million subscribers by the end of 2014 climbing to 930 million by the end of 2019 according to a report by Ericsson.

But size isn't everything. It is the quality of those mobile phone connections, subscriptions and surrounding infrastructure that is holding up Africa's nascent games development industry, not the quantity of handsets.

DOWNLOAD "Afro Fighters" APPS FOR YOUR PHONE

The number of expensive smartphones that can run sophisticated games and applications is low. They will account for only 14 percent of African mobile connections by the end of 2014, about half the global average and less than a quarter of the penetration in north America, says research group Ovum.

"That is the number one obstacle. It is changing rapidly though," says Ogungbamila, sitting in the office of his Kuluya Games - two long rows of desks squeezed into a glassed-off partition on part of a floor of a Lagos office block.

He would like more deals with telecoms companies to let him process payments, more skilled developers, better, cheaper mobile broadband and, one day, more funding to make full-blown console games for the Xbox and PlayStation.

He would also like more of his customers to have bank cards and accounts, to make it easier for them to send in small payments for charge-ups and extra characters in games.

"Collecting money is still an issue," he says.

Around 80 percent of Kuluya's revenue currently comes from making branded mini games and apps for other companies, rather than adverts and purchases in its own titles, says Ogungbamila.

On the other side of the continent, in the cramped office of Nairobi's Planet Rackus, Mwaura Kirore splits his time between designing games and running an advertising company.

Those well-paying advertising clients get the bulk of his time at the moment, he concedes.

"I don't think anyone in Kenya can make a living out of gaming yet ... We're just at our infant stage in terms of what we're doing. But we are in for the long haul."

AFRICAN STORIES

Planet Rackus's game MA3Racer sends rickety minibus taxis zig-zagging across a motorway next to a lion-infested park.

Kenya's careering "matatu" minibus taxis are a national institution and the game's name plays on their nickname stemming from the Swahili word "tatu" meaning "three", which derived from either the number of fare coins or seat rows, or both.

Planet Rackus's first edition of MA3Racer, a 2D mobile game, had more than a million downloads on Nokia's Ovi platform, reflecting strong demand.

The company's designers are also working on a new sci-fi adventure where the evil lords will have character traits of African strongmen past and present, including Uganda's Idi Amin, Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko and Zimbabwe's own Robert Mugabe.

Kuluya's website lists just short of 50 titles. Highest ranked in the Google Play Store include Afro Fighters, Keke – where you guide a rickshaw taxi down a dirt road, a big hit in India says Ogungbamila – and the adventure game Masai.

Ghana's Leti Arts offers mobile comic strips combined with games - Africa's Legends, staring Pharaoh and Shaka, and Ananse: The Origin, based on a character from West African folklore.

The idea is to draw in local players with local content, always looking out for a storyline that could turn into a franchise popular enough to cross borders in Africa and beyond.

If possible, they also want to change the way Africa is portrayed when it does appear in Western games - generally as a bloody backdrop for shoot'em-ups - such as the excursion into the Niger Delta in 'Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier'.

"In the West, they take Greek history or Greek mythology and they spin it into multi-billion dollar entertainment entities," says Kuluya's Ogungbamila.

"There are lots of African stories that haven't been told. With Ananse, you have a very cunning character with spider-like powers from the days of ancient Africa ... before Spiderman existed," says Leti co-founder Wesley Kirinya.

CHEAPER SMARTPHONES

For all the challenges, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful. One is the spread of cheaper smartphones.

An iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S5 might be out of reach for many. But a Chinese-made Tecno M3 handset, with Google's Android operating system, was on offer for 13,000 naira ($80) at Abuja's open air Emab shopping mall.

In February, Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications unveiled the innards of what it said would be a $25 smartphone.

But many of the cheaper smartphones still lack the power for more ambitious games, says Ogungbamila.

Even the cheaper smartphones are still out of reach for the vast majority of customers with small incomes and pre-paid mobile accounts - many of them charging up call by call on scratch cards. Ovum puts average revenue per user (ARPU) in Africa at $6 a month, compared with $48 in north America.

But Africa's economic growth should lead to a bigger middle class with more money and time to sit back with their handsets and push around pixels for fun.

"African games developers have to gamble on the growth of smartphone devices – and that growth is there," said Johannesburg-based Ovum analyst Thecla Mbongue. "But there are challenges. Is the future bright? I would say it is mixed."

Boko Haram Kills 100 As It Sets Fire to And Seizes Another Major Town Tags: News Nigeria Crime Boko Haram West Africa

Extremist group Boko Haram has reportedly seized yet another major Nigerian town, killing at least 100 civilians in the process. Nigeria's Daily Post reports that Gwoza, one of the most populated areas in the northeastern Borno State, was seized by the group at dawn, who came in using armored tanks and Toyota Hilux pickup trucks.

Local news agency Sahara Reporters says that the attack began at dawn, and the town was under Boko Haram control by late morning. Nigerian soldiers were reportedly outmatched by what SR calls, worryingly, Boko Haram's "increasingly sophisticated weaponry."

Men, women and children were targeted indiscriminately in the attack; the group also set shops and other buildings on fire and threw explosives at the local police. It's just the latest in the group's horrendous greatest-hits tour: the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls they kidnapped in April remain missing, and at the end of July they kidnapped the wife of the vice prime minister of Cameroon.

The Nigerian military isn't conducting itself so well either, using the fight against Boko Haram to engage in some extrajudicial killing of its own. Amnesty International said yesterday they have "gruesome" footage implicating the army in war crimes against civilians. The human rights organization says it obtained video and testimony from multiple sources, including "horrific images of detainees having their throats slit one by one and dumped in mass graves by men who appear to be members of the Nigerian military," as well as the Civilian Joint Task Force, which Amnesty International calls a "state-sponsored militia."

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General called the killings "further proof of the appalling crimes being committed with abandon by all sides in the conflict."

And what of the missing schoolgirls? They're still unaccounted for, although a U.S. surveillance aircraft reportedly spotted what looked like "large groups of girls" in a remote northeastern part of the country.

One surveillance flight spotted roughly 70 girls in early July, while another flight saw 40 or so near the end of the month. Boko Haram has deployed several female suicide bombers in recent weeks, but Nigerian government officials have said they don't believe the schoolgirls are being used as human bombs.

Source: gawker

Liberia, Nigeria Sign Five Cooperation Agreements
Category: Business
Tags: News Liberia Nigeria Business Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan Nuruddeen Muhammad

The Inaugural Session of the Nigeria-Liberia Joint Commission has ended in Abuja with the signing of five agreements for cooperation between the two countries.

IN PHOTO: LeftLiberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of Liberia while Nigeria’s Minister of State II Nuruddeen Muhammad singed on behalf of the Federal Government.


Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signed the Joint Communiqué on behalf of Liberia while Nigeria’s Minister of State II Nuruddeen Muhammad singed on behalf of the Federal Government at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

According to a Foreign Ministry dispatch from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the inaugural session laid the basis for enhanced economic and social development of the two countries and peoples and the promotion of regional security and development.

Liberia and Nigeria signed agreements for cooperation in Education, Culture, Bilateral Trade and Training of Liberian Foreign Service Officers. The two countries also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Mining and Geology.

One of the significant features of the agreements signed is that Nigeria has committed to grant a soon to be agreed number of scholarships to Liberian diplomats to pursue an 18-month Masters in International Relations and Strategic Studies (MISS) programme at the University of Lagos.

While pursuing their masters’ degree, Liberian beneficiaries of the Nigerian scholarships would also take courses at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy.

Speaking ahead of the signing ceremony, Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan gave special recognition to experts from both countries that worked behind the scenes to make the signing of the agreements a reality.

Minister Ngafuan sees the signing of the Joint Communiqué as a giant step forward in consolidating Liberia/Nigeria relations. “We at Foreign Affairs are the diplomats and have done our part by enhancing the relationship; we are now expecting implementation which means our sector ministries and experts would coordinate more through direct communication and follow ups on issues of mutual concern as it relates to the successful implementation of the various agreements”, the Liberian Foreign Minister remarked.

He said if the ministries and sectors in both countries forge closer partnerships it will ensure success while the Foreign Ministry in both countries will be continue to nudge their respective ministries and agencies in taking the concrete steps that would ensure the achievement of the objectives laid down in the agreements.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan also wants both governments to work on strengthening the ties between the private sectors of their respective countries. He spoke of the huge investment potential in Liberia and urged the Nigerian private sector to take advantage of what he called “the first mover advantages”.

Minister Ngafuan thinks it will be more win-win if a private sector actor from a West African country like Nigeria would invest more significantly in Liberia in various sectors as Liberian entrepreneurs also look to doing similarly in Nigeria.

For his part, the Minister of State II for Foreign Affairs of the Nigerian Government Nurudeen Muhammad said he was overwhelmed with joy that the Joint Commission Meeting that has been in the pipe line for over two decades could be finally held with the signing of several agreements.

He described Tuesday, July 15, 2014 as a day of history making for both Liberia and Nigeria.”It is my hope that the five documents we are about to sign today that includes agreements and memorandum of understandings will open a new vista in improving our bilateral relationship”, the Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated.

Dr. Muhammad is hoping the signing of the agreements will broaden and deepened Liberia/Nigeria relations and explore possibilities of future cooperation. He commended Minister Ngafuan and the Liberian delegation for what he described as productive two days and looked forward to the next joint commission meeting in Monrovia which he anticipates would take place in less than a year.

The Foreign Ministry dispatch said both countries deliberated on education related matters and accordingly signed an agreement that will further concretize the already good collaboration of the two countries in the sector. Nigeria agreed to continue the Technical Assistance Cooperation (TAC) Scheme wherein Nigeria regular fields Nigerian teachers to render critically needed services in the Liberian school system.

 An agreement that will facilitate the training of Liberian Foreign Officers in the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy was also signed during the Joint Commission meeting in Abuja with both countries also agreeing to reinforce the subsisting agreement on the Technical Aid Corps Scheme.

 

The Session recognized trade as an essential and indispensable component in the deepening and broadening of relations between Nigeria and Liberia and resolved to facilitate trade and commerce by removing all impediments that militate against free trade including putting in place measures and structures that would enhance commerce and people to people contact.

The release said guided by the desire to enhance relations in the Cultural sector and recognizing the importance of promoting cultural values in both countries, Nigeria and Liberia signed an Agreement on Cultural Cooperation that will promote cooperation between the public and private cultural institutions in both countries.

Mindful of the enormous opportunities that abound in the mining sectors of both countries and the comparative advantage of Liberia in the sector, both countries agreed to explore ways of making positive intervention in the sector through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Mining and Geology.

Meanwhile, the two countries agreed on further consultations on the MOUs on Immigration, Drugs, Science and Technology, Agriculture and Sustainable Development, Health and Medical Sciences as well as Transport and Civil Aviation.

The Foreign Ministry release disclosed both sides are expected to give due attention to the two MOUs on the areas stated for signing as soon as possible.

Source: Sengbeh

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