Apr 30, 2009

Elderly Women Protest in Ekiti


Culled from NaijaBlog, this photograph of over 300 elderly and younger women protesting the delay in announcing the results of the governorship election in Ekiti. Tagged “Peace rally in support of democracy in Nigeria", the protest deploys as a form of censure an indigenous ideal of feminine power inherent in various taboo proscribing full or partial nudity of women in indigenous Yoruba society. Click here for a newspaper narrative of the rally. Click here for analysis of the politics underlying the event.

Eyo Festival Lagos 2009

video

The Eyo Festival took place in Lagos on April 25, 2009. Eyo, otherwise known as Adamu-Orisha masquerade, is an indigenous festival associated with the monarchy of Lagos (or Eko as most Nigerians know it) and its origins are thought to date to 1750. It is not an annual festival per se, having been performed only 80 times previously. Over 1000 performers don the canonical white flowing robes of the Eyo masquerade, augmented by their decorated staffs and accompanying dancers. The Government of Lagos State, under the able leadership of Governor Fashola, is aiming to transform the masked pageant into a major item on the Nigerian festival circuit, with an eye to repackaging it for as a tourist attraction on the order of the famed Rio carnival of Brazil. Eyo definitely has that potential, and the reconfiguration of Lagos State currently being effected by Fashola may in time enable Lagos to achieve its potential as world class city.

The 2009 Eyo Festival of Lagos was held at the The Tafawa Balewa Square and from all appearances, it was a roaring success. Click here for an informative review of the Eyo phenomenom. The attached pictures of the festival, shot by Adolpus Opara (images 1-3) and Ndidi Dike (images 4-11), shows various vignettes of the event and attendees. The slide provides a composite image. From top:
1-3: Redcap Eyo Performers (photo by Adolphus Opara). The Fedora is obviously of colonial-era origin and is worn by both males and females during the festival. Different decorative touches identify family and lineage affiliations.
4. Chief Afolabi Kofo Abayomi in traditional Eyo festival dress
5. Chief Madam Kofo wearing traditional "Gele" (headdress)
6. High Ranking Ladies at the event
7. Madam Kofo Akerele Bucknor, Former Deptuty Governor of Lagos State
8. Cross section of the audience at Tafawa Balewa Square
9-11: Whitecap Eyo performers

Redcap Eyo Performers

Redcap Eyo Performers

Redcap Eyo Performers

Chief Afolabi Kofo Abayomi in traditional Eyo festival dress

Chief Madam Kofo wearing traditional "Gele" (headdress)

High Ranking Ladies at the event

Madam Kofo Akerele Bucknor, Former Deptuty Governor of Lagos State

Cross section of the audience at Tafawa Balewa Square

Whitecap Eyo performers

Whitecap Eyo performers

Whitecap Eyo performers

Apr 29, 2009

Marlon Jackson (of "Jackson Five" fame) in Slave Memorial Dispute

Jacksons star in Nigeria resort row
Andrew Walker
BBC News, Nigeria
One of pop superstar Michael Jackson's brothers, Marlon, is involved in a controversial plan to develop a $3.4bn (£2.4bn) slavery memorial and luxury resort in Badagry, Nigeria. The historic slave port is to be transformed through the bizarre combination of a slave history theme park and a museum dedicated to double Grammy-winning pop-soul group the Jackson Five. The idea is that the band will help attract African-American tourists keen to trace their roots back to Nigeria. The men behind the plan say it will honour the history of the transatlantic slave trade and provide employment opportunities for Nigerians. But the plan has been condemned by Nigerian commentators....(read the full story here)

The recent BBC publication cited above narrates an ongoing row about plans to build a Jackson Five museum and Slave-History resort in the Nigerian port town of Badagry, a noted slave port of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Former Jackson Five member, Marlon Jackson, who represents a group of developers known as the Motherland Group, seeks to cash in on the potential multi-billion dollar African-American History Trail, which links Africans in the Diaspora to the homeland of their ancestors. Opposition to this plan contends it is a bad idea to exploit the memory of myriad dead merely for the sake of tourist dollars. The Motherland Group of developers claim their proposal injects much needed boost to Nigerian tourism which currently lags behind its true potential given the country's status as the most populous African country (supposedly, one in every six black persons on earth is a Nigerian). There appears to be vociferous opposition to this idea from most Nigerian and international commentators but I found a decent argument against the naysayers from AfricanLoft, whose author was at least willing to give the project a hearing. Obviously, the estimate of 1.4 million potential tourists is untenable, but any increase from the current estimate of 300,000 tourists to Nigeria is useful. The idea that one must not commercialize the history of slavery is quite misguided. The BBC report notes that Ghana and Senegal have successfully turned slave ports into viable tourist industries. Badagry has no European forts like the El Mina Castle in Ghana but was a noted slave port nevertheless. Resort Institutions and Memorials in general cannibalize cultural memory or the memory of the dead, and it seems that a formal memorial to honor the dead of slavery is not a bad idea in itself. The combination "weep and chill-out" structure of the proposal (visit the slave museum and then chill out for beer and gambling in the resort hotel) may be crass but even the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington DC (a very grim viewing experience for anyone with a heart) offers visitors some respite from grief through its Museum Shop and Museum Cafe, though it doesn't offer gambling. And may I mention that Badagry already has a slave museum? According to the Freeman Institute, "the town of Badagry wants to enlighten the world to its historic sites, landscapes, cultural artifacts and relics of human slavery. Badagry wants to share this world heritage site with others. They are preserving buildings, sites and memories of this iniquitous period so those tourists can unearth the dark impact of this era." Surely, the planned resort and slave museum will be a much grander project than the ramshackle (no pun intended) structures currently being used to house this very important cultural memory.

Some commentators take a swipe at the supposed weirdness of the Jacksons family but this seems to me quite uncharitable. Yes, Michael Jackson just lost all his possessions and his ranch--Neverland, but as I noted in an earlier post (The Neverland Eviction), he was hounded out of what eventually became unimaginably valuable real estate through a carefully orchestrated witch-hunt by the Santa Barbara County lynching (oops, I meant "legal") system. In any case, Marlon isn't Michael, and I see no reason to equate the two just because they share a common last name. Also, everyone seems to miss the important point that Marlon Jackson plans to house a lot of Jackson Five memorabilia in a museum dedicated to the pop group, housed in the resort, which could also serve to attract tourists.

I am following a lot of development projects in Nigeria and over the past two years, I have listened to many proposals for very ambitious resort and cultural development project, a lot of which will never see the light of day. I think the BBC report of Marlon Jackson's project was very biased since it essentially established an immediate criticism of the project. If Marlon and his "Motherland Group" want to invest $3.4 Billion in developing their slave resort, let them. What the Nigerian government and Nigerian Intellectuals should be worried about is influencing the project to ensure that its crass aspects are toned down and its educational value played up. I know the Lagos State government is building a ten-lane highway to Badagry from the Eric Moore district of Surulere in the heart of the Lagos metropolitan area, so there are other ideas about harnessing the value of this historically rich waterfront of the Atlantic coast in Nigeria. The greater scandal here is how multinational corporations have bought up all the land on the Atlantic Coast of Africa for future resort constructions (check out the Lekki region of Lagos for a glimpse of the future of these coastal lands). Marlon Jackson's resort plan fits into this contemporary land-grab and if I have any quarrels with the project, it's that it will probably ruin the otherwise pristine sand beaches of Badagry with an architecturally dubious structure. But then, such is the aesthetics of resort hotels. I am yet to see a single one that is not outrageously gaudy.

By the way, I have seen no reports on what the people of Badagry and their King, Oba Akran of Badagry, think about this project. Do they have a say in whether the Motherland Group gets permission to build it? If not, they have probably fallen victim to the land-grab I mentioned above. And that, in my opinion, would be a real scandal worthy of BBC's headlines. But I'm sure you will not see such a report anytime soon.

Afrigator Redux

Justin Hartmann, MD of Afrigator, responded to my inquiry about the site flagging my blog as South African, to point out that it is indeed flagged as Nigeria. I may have been too hasty with my criticism of the site in that regard. I must say I am impressed by the speed of their response, and apologize for any wrong characterization of the service.

Apr 28, 2009

Afrigator...and other nuisances of the networked age

Been offline a lot lately. Not quite feeling well and needing time to recuperate. Time to think about how illness makes mockery of efforts to keep ahead of time by forcing one to literally slow down. I am thus marking time, hoping to get well soon enough to jump back into the hyperkinetic life of man in the networked society.

I've generally bypassed most protocols for optimizing my blog since I started it in 2007. My original intention was simply to work out some issues of great concern to me. The blog's gotten close to 30,000 hits since I started it, chump change in the blogosphere where some blogs clock those numbers per hour. The Internet is a great resource no doubt, but it is also quite a nuisance in terms of the amount of information it spits back at you, and this flood of information is growing exponentially. Everyday, I receive an "invitation" to join yet another social network or e-communication site, mailing list or myriad other "friend" networks, all of which I duly decline. For one, the constant time investment in updating one's "pages" on all these sites is onerous and for me, a massive waste of time that can be better applied to other things. I guess this makes me a classic luddite of the post-baby boom generation (I'm not quite a Gen-Exer but I guess that classification can be applied if I must choose a label). Thing is though, I am quite interested in technology but it is now obvious that the Internet generation takes for granted some things that I will ever learn. Despite this obvious handicap, new systems and resources come to my attention everyday, yet other new software to learn how to use, and the learning curves for these systems and software are very steep. I mean, go into any Fry's electronic store (beware though, they suck massively) and check out their computer and software training manuals section: book upon fat book upon gigantic volumes of books, all purporting to teach you how to use photoshop, joomla and other acronym-based software. As we say among my people, lots of feet on the ground but no movement.

And while I am it, it is apparent Twitter will be the death of us all, the final gratuitous straw that brings Western civilization crashing to its knees (for those who thought it would be Bart Simpson, you were wrong).

Why this screed? I recently decided that since I have blogged for two years now, and despite the fact I posted only four items this April so far, I'll start the process of bringing my blog to a wider audience by actively promoting it. Aside from my book, this is the longest time I have spent writing anything and I think the overall content of the blog has value in itself. Therefore, I decided to start by posting my blog to Afrigator which currently archives over 8700 blogs focused on African subjects or by Africans. When you post a blog here, you are required to identify which African country it is posted from. Well, I clearly clicked Nigeria on the stock list of countries provided. Strange thing though, my blog--Aachronym--listed but with a South African flag next to it!!! I reviewed other blogs and saw that each's country of origin was identified by a flag. Why then is Afrigator flagging a Nigerian blog as South Africa? I've written the company for a correction and I am awaiting their response.

When I was very young, I read a science fiction story (can't remember the author: It might be Arthur C. Clark or Isaac Asimov) about a society in which information gathering had overwhelmed the ability of people to process information. Librarians in this society were particularly affected since they had to devise storage and retrieval systems for accessing information. Earlier libraries had actual books on the shelves, along with data-cards for retrieving information about the books. Soon the datacards themselves had datacards (what in art history we call metadata), and soon and so forth to higher and higher levels of data. After a long while, no one bothered with the books anymore; everyone was studying the metadata as a thing in itself, as it grew more and more unmanageable. Library shelves were filled with texts on annotations and reference books, and knowledge slowly disappeared.

The computer has simplified the organization of metadata but I think all current systems are still in early phases. The risk is that the incessant torrent of information coming down the pipes will one day drown out society. In the meantime, we are all scrambling to keep up, especially the older generations. For me, the larger issues are very much beyond the control of all but Google whose founders seem to be aiming for Overlord status in the larger scheme of things (all your base are belong to us), but it gets my goat when smaller problems of the sort I mentioned above arise, because it seems reasonable to expect that those who build websites such as Afrigator's should at least be able to make it function properly, so that when you click on "x" you don't get "y". And the site is abominably slow to boot. Who knows, maybe they need more servers.

So. Illness slows you down. I'm literally marking time and watching lots of TV, hoping an asteroid falls on the production sites of Fox "News" Network and hopefully rids the earth of the torrent of hate flooding out of their slanderous mouths. These folks, their "reporters" especially, are truly scum.

Apr 20, 2009

Intellectual Property and the Knowlege Economy

Culled from the Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria, a very sound op-ed from an intellectual property attorney, discussing ways that current regimes of global intellectual property management favor Western countries at the expense of Africa and other non-Western countries.
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Intellectual property and the knowledge economy
By Chidi Oguamanam
Dalhousie Law School, Halifax, N.S., Canada
OUR post-industrial global society is serviced by an information and knowledge-propelled economic order. Knowledge and information are, perhaps, this order's most crucial factors of production, and the most important assets in overall economic development. Intellectual property, the law's primary mechanism for allocating rights over knowledge, is the currency of the global knowledge economy. Caught at the intersection of globalization and this economy, its impact, especially in regard to pharmaceutical patents, has been negative for combating global public health crises, particularly in the developing world...(click here for the full article)

Apr 9, 2009

In Memorian: CECIL SKOTNES 1926-2009


From an April 9 e-newsletter announcement by Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg/Cape Town:
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NOTICE: IN MEMORIAM
Cecil Skotnes 1926 - 2009

Cecil Skotnes, supreme South African artist whose pioneering African modernism inspired many of this country’s leading artists, died after a short illness at the age of 82. He gained honorary degrees from Rhodes University, the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town. He exhibited prolifically both locally and internationally, including representing South Africa many times at the prestigious Venice and São Paulo Biennales. His countless awards for art include the Order of Ikhamanga (Gold).

As a young man he saw service in the South African Army’s Italian Campaign. He ended up in Florence where he remained after the Allies’ victory to study painting under Heinrich Steiner. On returning to South Africa he completed a BA Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand. His experience of war and subsequent exposure to the magnificence of Italian Renaissance art must have forever shaped his passions for beauty, justice, good wine, generosity of spirit and hospitality. These values guided a full life that touched many. His prolific multi-media output includes prints, paintings, incised painted woodblocks, sgraffito murals and commissioned works in seminaries and churches.

It is safe to say that no single artist influenced late twentieth century South African art as profoundly as he. Besides being active as an artist, it was as an educator that he freed the creative spirit of many oppressed during the height of apartheid.

He is survived by his wife Thelma, son John and daughter Pippa.
A memorial service will be held at Iziko South African National Gallery in the Gardens, Cape Town at 2.30 for 3.00 on Tuesday 14 April.

Apr 7, 2009

Once more into the breach...

I've been offline for a while getting the new academic quarter on campus under way and decompressing after my three-week trip to Nigeria. International travel wears you down over time, and I am reaching that stage where every trip seems to take more and more out of me. Clear signs include a longer recovery time from jet lag (the nine hours difference between Pacific Coast US time and Nigerian time now takes me more than two weeks to readjust to, whereas in the past I was up and running in no more than four days), more backlog to take care of upon my return (and this a supreme irony, that the more professionally accomplished one becomes, the more work there is to do: so much for deadwooding after tenure), and more importantly, a greater sense of dissonance occasioned by the rapid mental shift from one system of operational protocols to another, between two social and economic systems as disparate as Nigeria and the USA. This last one is becoming much harder, since I am actually two different persons in both countries. Here in the USA, I am a scholar with a growing global reputation: in Nigeria, I am a very well-known person and national authority on cultural matters which means I am often in meetings with different individual and organizations whenever I am in the country. Because of these factors, I received very good national coverage of my book launch in print, TV and Internet media(see a recent publication from the Punch newspapers).

As I wrote on this blog earlier, a Nigerian book launch (and any other Nigerian affair for that matter) is a peculiar occasion. Mine unfolded quite nicely and was very well organized by the Ben Enwonwu Foundation. Although we both grossly underestimated the turnout for the event, the much larger turnout was well managed within the small confines of the Goethe Institute’s Lagos headquarters in Victoria Island. Wall to wall coverage of the event began to appear in the national newspapers three weeks before the date and are still appearing. The audience was very much interested in the book for its analysis of Ben Enwonwu’s art and career: the artist is very well regarded in Nigeria and many reporters suggested that the book provides a template for future detailed analysis of modern and contemporary Nigerian artists. A lot of these articles, written in the peculiar Victorian English common to Nigerian journalism, contained worrisome misquotes and slightly off-kilter facts, which in themselves reflect an ongoing need for better craftsmanship among the journalists. In saying this, I do not mean to look a gift horse in the mouth or criticize the journalists who were kind enough to show up and interview me for the stories (in this they were very diligent: translating their interviews and composing selected quotes and citations into error-free reports seem to be the problem).

I have been reflecting on the aftermath of this event, mainly on the subject of distribution of my books in Nigeria, which has taken up all my time since I returned from Nigeria. Due to Delta Airlines’ luggage restriction on travel to Nigeria, I was unable to travel with enough books for the book launch. My publishers also requested I purchase every copy of my book intended for this launch (an expensive upfront cost that I ultimately had to assume) but carrying them to Nigeria became a problem, especially since I was carting back other books purchased for various important uses on this trip. In Summer, 2008, Delta Airlines imposed what I thought was an arbitrary restriction on luggage allowance to Nigeria during last year’s hike in oil prices. I was highly critical of this move at that time mainly because it seemed to unduly single out Lagos among a few other Caribbean countries (five or six in all) for these restrictions. Oil was trading at $147 a barrel at its height in summer 2008 but is now trading for $49 a barrel on this morning’s CNN quote, a price difference of $98 lower in favor of the airlines. Delta has so far not rescinded its restriction. Given that the Lagos route is a highly lucrative route, it seemed to me quite problematic that Delta’s restriction on luggage has not been reviewed or rescinded since then, especially since the price of air tickets on international travel doesn’t seem to have gone down along with the price of oil. Summer travel on Delta is pricing at $2300 for economy class seats and even at this high cost, they won’t let you carry additional luggage even if you offer to pay for it. In addition, the airline often forces Lagos-bound passengers to check their carry-on luggage in Atlanta, thus imposing what is in effect an additional fee of $80-150 on already expensive ticket costs.

I bring up this issue again to reaffirm an earlier focus on the inequities of access to international borders that afflicts African travelers (see my “Borders and Access” series of postings in October and November 2007). International travel to Africa continues to be horrendous and difficult. In this case, I was struck with a double dose of difficulty getting my books to Nigeria by the restrictive luggage rules of Delta Airlines. I’ve flown this airline to Lagos on four previous trips from December 2007, this last trip in March being my fifth flight on the same route. I’m now investigating other options but none seems immediately viable. Travel to Lagos from the West Coast is quite onerous and the Delta route is, ironically, the most direct: the outbound flight gets you into Lagos-Nigeria from Los Angeles in 17 hours and inbound in 19 hours if you manage your Atlanta layover judiciously. Europe connections range from the tedious (British Airways runs 21 hours outbound and 26 inbound) to the ridiculous (Virgin Atlantic logs 27 hours outbound and 40 hours inbound for the longest layover times I’ve yet seen) while paradoxically billing one of the most expensive ticket prices. I had decided to stop flying through Europe because of their racist attitudes to African travelers and I am now reviewing the option of flying Ethiopian Airlines and other routes to Nigeria to offset Delta’s restrictions on luggage. Given how expensive it is to travel to Lagos in the first place, I think travelers should be able to take what they need for such trips within reason, especially if they are willing to pay for it. I have seen people fly horses and cars from the USA to Europe on the kinds of big jets that fly to Lagos (Boieng 747s and 767s; Airbus A340s, etc) and don’t see any reason why a Nigerian flying with two extra suitcases should be forced to dump their luggage at the airport just to make their flight. And I have observed this happen on both ends of the trip, at Los Angeles and Atlanta airports, and at Lagos. In a supposedly free market, you are really marginal if you aren’t allowed access to specific services even when you are able to pay for them. I have spoken to lots of Nigerians on the Lagos route, asking how they feel about these restrictions. They are often livid but almost immediately start blaming the Nigerian government for allowing its citizens to be treated in such a shabby manner. I agree that the Nigerian government has not done enough to protect its citizens on their international travel (let’s leave aside the oft repeated indictment of Nigeria for poor leadership and the demonization of Nigerians in the Western media) but I think this criticism misses the point. The transaction between Lagos passengers and Delta Airlines is an economic transaction and it is governed by well-established legal rules in the USA that forbid discrimination on racial or national grounds. Now, I’m not a lawyer but I think a case can me made that Delta and other airlines that fly to Africa from Europe engage in routine behavior that systematically discriminates against passengers on this route. Start with the fact that Delta flies exactly the same very old Boeing 767-300 –designated Delta 57 outbound—on the Atlanta to Lagos route and struggles to provide decent service on these flights (the old jet, bless its heart, flies quite well: the pilots are very good and the crew is decent). Add the arbitrary luggage restriction and traveler complaints of really bad treatment of Nigerians by foreign airlines over the past year alone and you could conceivably put together a good class action lawsuit. It falls to Lagos passengers to defend their rights under the existing legal rules that govern this process of economic transaction but I don’t expect to see this kind of proactive passenger reaction anytime soon. Legal costs in the USA are very expensive and favors corporations over individuals. Also, Nigerians (and black peoples in general) are very good at working against their own interests. More than anything, I think this is what ensures the persistence of a black underclass status in the global economy for a long time to come, and dear reader, you can quote me on this.

To return to the topic at hand: while Delta frustrated my effort to get enough books to Lagos for the book launch, things proved similarly difficult with my publishers. Let me state upfront that I think my publishers did a fantastic job with publishing the book and distributing it out here in the Western world. All commentators point out that the book is very well produced—it is in fact a beautiful book; it is also well represented on Amazon.com and on the University of Rochester Press’s online catalog. One can order the book from both places. The problem is that Amazon.com does not honor orders from Nigeria or if they do, it takes 12 weeks to ship the product to Lagos. I may be wrong here but I haven’t yet met anyone in Lagos who successfully placed an order on Amazon.com. I know that most online stores automatically reject credit cards issued in Nigeria or credit card orders originating from Nigeria, and often reject orders placed for delivery to Nigeria even when you pay for them with credit cards issued elsewhere (the usual claim is that concern about fraud but overall, credit card fraud originating in the USA is more than 1000% higher than that from all of Africa combined. As any cursory internet search will tell you, the most sophisticated credit card fraud rings are run out of Europe). This means that even those prospective buyers in Nigeria who wanted to purchase my book online couldn’t do so. At the launch, I was besieged by people who wanted to buy the book (at the last count, the purchase list contains over 120 orders) and I had to explain to them that copies of the book were simply not yet available for sale in Nigeria. I had tried to arrange orders to ship copies of the book to Lagos since January but was unable to do so because the cost of shipping more often doubles the cost of the books themselves. Express shipping by international courier is simply out of the question. I mailed a FEDEX package to Lagos last week containing 18 sheets of paper, letters sent to invite several people for the upcoming Nollywood Foundation Convention in Los Angeles in June 2009: it cost me $107 to send the package for delivery in ten days. Consider relative to this cost, what it will cost to send 60 pounds worth of hardcover books in the same time.The price is considerably less to ship by sea but that takes from anywhere from 12-18 weeks for delivery. As at this posting, I am still frantically trying to get additional copies of my book shipped to Lagos so that they can be distributed in Nigeria. My publishers have been very cooperative in this process but our combined efforts have only recently identified a possible economically viable means to accomplish this goal. I give my publishers a lot of credit in that regard, since they also are interested in selling as many copies of the book as possible, but I've had to ask the hard question of whether they had any plans at all for selling my books in Nigeria, given that ordering through the usual channels is not really an option in that context.

It is thus apparent that there is a real and significant economic cost associated with living in a country like Nigeria, which is an added cost not often factored into economic estimates involving the country. This is part of what I’ve defined earlier on this blog as “poverty market” economics which actually penalizes Africans for living in Africa and African Diaspora peoples for living in ghettos in the West. That this issue equally affects academics is not often taken into consideration in analysis of how knowledge about Africa is produced and consumed. My experiences as an international scholar reveal to me that African knowledge has become another raw material produced in Africa, processed or refined in the West and resold to Africans at exorbitant costs if they are allowed to buy it at all. We are used to speaking of natural resources in this manner including oil and gas (the Nigerian government is even now trying to build a pipeline to Europe from the Niger Delta even though it hasn’t curbed the enormous gas flaring that has scorched that accursed environment since Shell first struck oil at Oloibiri in the 1950s!!!), cocoa, gold, diamonds, and many other items. For most of my professional career, I have been a harsh critic of this unequal access but it is only in the past few years that I have started to engage it as a quantifiable phenomena. What I have found is shocking beyond belief, but even more shocking is the fact that its impact on most aspects of African life is not yet properly taken into consideration in our analysis of the causes of African underdevelopment, which continue to subscribe to pseudo-scientific theories of voodoo economics that actively support Western appropriation of African resources. The biggest issue is how this situation undermines our traditional understanding of economics, that given adequate demand for a commodity, supply always rises to meet demand. This is not always the case where African demand for products and services are concerned and its impact is often insidious but very real.

There is a lot more to say about these issues as time goes by. And so, as the Bard said, once more into the breach, dear friends…Aluta Continua

Image credit:
View of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, with Bellview Airlines, and Kenya Airlines jets at the terminal. MMA is the ninth busiest airport in Africa by volume of traffic but it has the second highest passenger growth rate on the continent at 23.5%.

Apr 3, 2009

The Restitution Wars

Recent skirmishes in the ongoing Restitution Wars: An Egyptian coffin has been seized in Miami while the Egyptian government's claims of ownership are legally tested (cross posted form Looting Matters). A Nigerian newspaper, the Punch, reports on a new effort to attach monetary value to the plethora of Benin artworks looted from he kingdom by the British in 1897 and now scattered across several Western museums. According to the newspaper, 'agitators' for the return of the bronzes put the estimate at about $1.8 billion. I personally think The Punch lowballed the estimate but it is significant that those calling for restitution of the bronzes have come up with a number at all.