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Ilhan Omar may soon become first African Born immigrant in the US Congress

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Ilhan Omar, winner of the Democratic primary in the Minnesota Fifth, will likely become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. AFP/Getty Images

Ilhan Omar, a 36-year-old Somali refugee who immigrated to the United States as a teenager, beat a packed field of six candidates in the race to fill current Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat. Ellison decided to run for Minnesota attorney general rather than return to Congress; he faced allegations of domestic abuse in the last days of his campaign. She will likely become one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress after winning a heated Democratic primary in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District on Tuesday.

Given the district’s partisan makeup (Cook Political Report rates it D+26), Omar is all but assured of being elected to the House in November. She should be joined by Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib as the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Tlaib won last week’s primary to replace disgraced Rep. John Conyers, who resigned after sexual misconduct allegations, in another safe Democratic district.

Congress currently has only two lawmakers who identify as Muslim — and both of them, including Ellison, are men.

Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim to be elected to the Minnesota legislature or any elected office in the United States, is also part of a historic wave of women looking to clinch higher office this year. Women and people of color are still underrepresented in Congress (20 percent women and 19 percent people of color), but 146 women have won Democratic primaries in 2018.

'When you are the first it is really important that you re not just climbing the ladder yourself but that you are leaving the ladder for everyone else to climb after you.' - Ilhan Omar Click To Tweet

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Zimbabwe Artists Unite To Raise Funds For Cyclone Idai Victims

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Cyclone Idah

Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe

Last week Thursday, cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe destroying human and properties on its path. It is said to be one of the worst disaster to hit the south-eastern African region. According to statistics, over 2.6 million people are affected across the three countries. Subsequently, the cyclone led to devastating flooding. The cyclone hit the port city of Beira in Sofala province at over 177 km/h (106 mph). Consequently, the port city of Beira which was once home to 500,000 people is now an ‘island’.

The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday announced three days of national mourning. The official death toll as of Monday across Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are 56, 98, and 200 respectively. However, many are still missing. President believes over 1,000 people may have been killed in the disaster. Consequently, the real death toll may remain unknown for many months as the disaster unfolds.

The urgent need for humanitarian services

There is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped within the devastated cities hit by cyclone Idai. Also, the survivors will be relying on humanitarian aid for survival. In the ‘new island’ people are clinging to trees and house roofs for survival. Speaking about the disaster, Manuel Rodrigues, Manica province governor, said,

“We saw people besieged and asking for help… on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”

Several aid agencies in Mozambique are complementing government efforts in the distribution of food. Over 3,800 families are taking refuge in Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management.

Zimbabwe musicians rise for cyclone Idai victims

Veteran Zimbabwe musicians have taken to their social media pages to solicit for donations to assist the victims. They also used the medium to share their condolence with the victims. The hip hop icon, Ex Q, Jah Prayzah said,

Jah Prayzah soliciting for donations for victims of cyclone Idai

“Let’s join hands and help those who have been affected by the cyclone Idai. No donation is too small to make a change. Anything you think can assist those in need right now in Chimanimani please bring it over… to 31 Hebert Chitepo in Belvedere.”

Michael Mahendere, a renowned gospel musician wrote,

“Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the cyclone Idai. The scenes are saddening but we know that there is Hope in the God we pray to. The relief that comes from Him is permanent and we stand with them during this devastating season.”

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African Ingenuity

Tanzania Blockchain Baby is the World’s First

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Tanzania blockchain baby

Tanzania blockchain baby is the first in the world and is making headlines all over. Africa is doing all it can to improve the lives of its citizens in all spheres of life.

Blockchain is a technology that allows distribution (and not copying) of digital information. It was originally created for digital currencies (cryptocurrencies) such as Bitcoin. A blockchain is simply a series of absolute or immutable data records. A bunch of computers not owned by any single entity manage these records. Each of these single blocks is bound to the other using cryptographic technology and principles, what is called a chain. In this way, a blockchain is a way of passing information from one point to another in a safe and automated manner. This is the technology on Tanzania blockchain baby.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016).

Blockchain Technology and Maternal Health

In an effort to improve access to good healthcare, Africa is making history in the world. The latest feat towards improving maternal health is Tanzania blockchain baby. It is difficult to connect blockchain technology and maternal health (leave alone a baby) but be as it may, Africa has a baby through blockchain. As if this is not amazing enough, blockchain does not have only one, but three babies in Tanzania.

The project by Irish AID: Tech and Dutch PharmAccess was initially funded to tackle controversies in the charitable industry in areas of equitable distribution of donations. In order to track the aid given to susceptible women, the project decided to use blockchain technology in facilitating proper distribution of this aid. Additionally, they used this technology to share important data and to streamline the entire support process. This record keeping technology for cryptocurrencies and bitcoins is a major breakthrough for the Tanzania blockchain baby.

Tanzania Blockchain Baby Technology

According to reports, Tanzania blockchain baby feat was born last July but has just come to the limelight. Aid:Tech is an Irish project and it seems it has finally found a humanitarian application of blockchain technology. The technology seeks to digitally identify pregnant women and provide them with the support and care they require in Tanzania. These digital IDs allow women to get proper access to vital elements such as folic acid. The technology also uses IDs to track the pregnancy progress from the initial women data entry to the blockchain, to delivery.

On 13th of July 2018, the first Tanzania blockchain baby was born. Two more followed this Tanzania blockchain bay a week later on 19th July 2018. This brought the blockchain babies to a total of three bundles of joy. Currently, the technology has made it possible for the mothers to get access to postnatal care as well as following up on doctor’s appointments and receiving needed medications. This distributed ledgers technology is lighting a new path towards better access to better maternal health in Africa.

How Blockchain Technology Works for Blockchain Babies   

According to recent reports by Forbes, the technology works like this;

  • Each pregnant woman receives a digital ID.
  • The digital ID entitles the woman to get access to important vitamins such as folic acid.
  • Additionally, the ID tracks the pregnancy progress through data added to the blockchain.
  • The tracking starts after the woman is first registered, through medical appointments to birth.
  • Currently, the system also allows women to receive postnatal care and follow-up doctor’s appointments as needed.

This Tanzania blockchain baby technology project has well-meaning goals for infants and mothers in Tanzania. The country has high infant mortality rates that currently stand at 556 deaths per 100,000 live births. In addition to other healthcare challenges, Tanzania also has difficulties in getting fund donations from well-wishers to deserving women. For these two reasons, the project was established and it is working quite well.

Joseph Thompson co-founded AID:Tech in order to provide more transparency in the distribution of aid to deserving people. The idea came as a result of his previous encounter with aid distribution fraud. The organization made the first successful attempt at aid distribution to Syrian refuges in Lebanon in 2015 using blockchain technology. The system encountered fraud in food vouchers where wrongful beneficiaries would benefit. The system invalidated these vouchers.

Global Recognition

The United Nations named AID:Tech one of their ten global Sustainable Development Goal Pioneers for 2017. Additionally, many private investors got interested in blockchain technology and how it can deliver important aid. For this reason, the organization drew interest from private investors such as Enterprise Ireland, TechStars, SGInnovate and American backer Jason Calacanis. The list also includes Rockefeller and Expo2020.

Despite immense global recognition, it is the Tanzania blockchain baby that elevates the project to international limelight and popularity.

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Business and Development

Chinese Business Woman Gets 15 Year Prison Sentence For Animal Poaching In Tanzania

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Yang Feng Glan in court

In a single decade (1979 to 1989), Africa lost half of its elephants to ivory trade. Up until 2014, the price of a kilo of raw ivory in China tripled to $2,100. Experts say Africa lose 55 elephants every day. Inasmuch as poaching figures are on the decline, there are still pockets of syndicates that participate in the illegal trade. Yang Feng Glan, popular with the moniker ‘Ivory Queen’ is one of them.

A Tanzanian court found Glan guilty of smuggling 860 elephant tusks worth $6.45 million. Glan was sentenced together with Tanzanian accomplices Manase Julius Philemon and Salivius Francis Matembo for 15 years in prison. In line with the Tanzanian Wildlife Protection Act, they will have an additional two years jail term or a fine twice the value of their trade gains. Prosecutors said through court documents that,

“[Yang] intentionally did organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies.”

How Yang Feng Glan’s animal poaching in Africa began

In 1975, Glan, 70, came to Tanzania as a translator. She worked with a Chinese company building a railroad from Dar es Salaam to Zambia. According to reports, she is one of the first Chinese to fluently learn Swahili. Glan was so much in love with the country that she named her daughter Feizhou, a Mandarin translation of the word Africa.

In Dar es Salaam, 23 years later (1998) she opened a restaurant. The restaurant quickly became popular among wealthy locals and Chinese expats. However, officials believe it was just a front for her illegal ivory trade. Yang was arrested after a yearlong manhunt on September 28, 2015.

Reactions trailing the arrest of the Ivory Queen

Different groups were in support of Yang’s sentence. The executive director of PAMS Foundation, a nonprofit group supporting the fight against poaching, Krissie Clark lauded the judgment. Clark Said,

'The government is taking wildlife trafficking very seriously. Today’s sentencing is a testament that nobody in Tanzania is above the law.' - Krissie Clark Click To Tweet

Country director of WWF, Amani Ngusaru told Reuters that

“[it] is not punishment enough for the atrocities she committed, by being responsible for the poaching of thousands of elephants in Tanzania.”

Geng Shuang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterates that the Chinese government is against the illegal trade. Shuang told the press,

“The Chinese government asks its citizens overseas to abide by local laws and regulations and will never shield those who violated laws. We support the relevant departments of Tanzania in investigating and trying this case fairly in accordance with law.”

The Chinese government in 2018 banned all trades in ivory or ivory products. Hitherto, China has been the largest global market for ivory. According to the court, the defendants have already filed an appeal.

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