The Concoction

An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
        Friday, January 19, 2007
        From genocide to scraping dealth penalty - now that's civilized!
        Rwanda is preparing to "scrap death penalty". As expected, proponents of capital punishment are arguing that "…it serves as a strong deterrent" of crime therefore it should be kept in place.

        Well, take notes from the US, I would say. Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1977 the number of people executed has been on the increase and prison cells are still jam packed. So where is the justification for capital punishment as a “strong deterrent" against crime? Or is the United Executioners Union lobbying hard to expand their "business".

        Between 1977 and 1982, the years immediately following the reinstatement of the death penalty, there were a total of two executions. In 2004, there were 59 executions. An overwhelming number of these executions were carried out by lethal injection. On December 2, 2005, Kenneth Lee Boyd became the 1,000th person to be executed since 1977.

        How a "civilized" nation allows itself to regress to such barbarism in recent history is beyond me. I guess the answer lies with what the public wants and how committed it is to stop such things.

        Although the public still favors capital punishment, support has slipped and the number of executions and new death sentences is trending down.(source)

        "Although the public still favors capital punishment…" There's a clue there.

        The hypocrisy in trying to make capital punishment as humane as possible is equally sickening. Lethal injection is the most preferred method of… well killing. Still, what comes before it, the preping and so on should be as painful for the person going through the last minute generosity – fresh cloths, favourite food, visitors, spiritual advisors… the works.

        I am wondering if there is a reason for making a killing machine look like a Disney attraction. Unless it was quite arbitrary choice of color, there has to be some thought that went into decorating this thing.

        Let's divert and analyse the colour green (source)

        Green was a sacred color to the Egyptians representing the hope and joy of Spring.
        Green is a sacred color to Muslims.
        Japanese Emperor Hirohito's birthday is celebrated as "Green Day" because he loved to garden.


        It is said that green is the most restful color for the human eye.
        Some claim that green has great healing power. It can soothe pain.
        Suicides dropped 34% when London's Blackfriar Bridge was painted

        Just imagine the boss who ordered the paint job…. Was s/he thinking that green has a calming effect? On the other hand, green is the universally accepted color for exit signs. So there is perhaps a subtle symbolism there.

        I will stop here before I completely lose my point… which is capital punishment is not an effective crime deterrent and way to go Rwanda! It must take people a lot to be willing to move forward given their recent history of genocide.
        Another interesting fact about lethal injection is…

        The outcome of these cases may address several emerging issues concerning lethal injection, including how much pain it causes and what role medical professionals should play in ending the lives of prisoners.

        So what’s the law about euthanasia and abortion in the US again?

        Relevant links

        Amnesty International’s facts & figures on capital punishment

        European Union’s stance on Capital Punishment

        Anti-death penalty group’s blog
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:14 PM   2 comments Digg!
        An alternative to development?
        Now, that sounds like a good alternative to decades old let's-dish out-charity-feel good about ourselves-and-hope-for-the-best approach to development.

        Citigroup, CDC launch Africa Fund

        17 January 2007

        US banking giant Citigroup and UK government-backed CDC Group have
        together committed US$200-million to Citigroup's first dedicated
        African private equity fund, the CVCI Africa Fund.

        CDC Group will commit an initial $100-million to the fund, with
        Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI) - which will manage the
        fund - matching CDC's investments dollar for dollar.

        "The fund will provide growth capital to larger companies across
        Africa and will invest alongside CVCI's managed emerging market
        private equity funds," CDC said in a statement on Monday.

        CDC is a British government-owned fund of funds with assets of
        £1.6-billion that targets businesses in poorer countries, with an
        emphasis on Africa and South Asia.

        According to CDC, its commitment to the CVCI Africa Fund will bring
        its total investments in Africa to over $830-million since 2004.

        Investors eye Africa
        The move comes as companies across Africa attract increasing attention
        from both local and international private equity investors.

        The African Venture Capital Association said recently that it expected
        a dramatic increase in the amount of private equity capital invested
        on the continent since 2004, when deals worth more than $1.3-billion
        were done.

        Sunil Nair, CVCI's MD for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and
        Africa, said the new fund would "seek to capitalise on the growth of
        African economies, evidenced by high GDP growth.

        "The investment environment is increasingly attractive given rising
        political and macroeconomic stability, growing disposable income and
        economic reform which will particularly benefit sectors such as
        mining, oil and gas, financial services, infrastructure,
        transportation and consumer goods," Nair said in the CDC statement.

        "We believe that Africa is a high potential market where we can
        generate attractive returns," said CVCI head Dipak Rastogi.

        Individual amounts of between $20-million and $60-million would be
        invested in companies in both sub-Saharan and North Africa, CDC said.

        CDC chief executive Richard Laing said investment areas would include
        infrastructure, natural resources, energy, telecommunications and
        general manufacturing.

        Private equity activity in SA
        The boom in private equity activity worldwide has been mirrored lately
        in South Africa, where a number of large corporations - among them
        Shoprite, Edcon, Alexander Forbes, Consol Glass and Primedia - have
        attracted bids from private equity players.

        And according to Business Report, the governments of Ghana, Nigeria
        and South Africa have intervened to help develop the private equity
        asset class.

        "The South African government has established the National Empowerment
        Fund, which is targeting the black SME sector with investments from
        R100 000 to R50-million," Business Report noted. reporter
        posted by Fikirte @ 8:51 AM   2 comments Digg!
        Thursday, January 11, 2007
        Five things - about me?
        I admit, I can be so slow sometimes. I read Sokari's post on 5 things, read my blogsite's name mentioned at the end and two days later it hit me. Oh my gosh, I was tagged. So here are five things about me.

        1. I can be sloooow.

        2. I collect tea pots - which come with a matching cup as a base for the pot. Those. A brother of a friend, who crushed my New Year's party commented that my kitchen "looks like Starbucks" with all the tea pots. Now I'm going around asking, "Does this look too much like a Starbucks shop?"

        3. I had more cultural shock coming from Europe to America than from Ethiopia to Europe. Go figure.

        4. I draw and paint when depressed.

        5. The coolest thing I ever owned was my first car - a bright red, 1957 Opel Record. You can make 5 Kias and a scooter from the metal of that car. I had to use two hands and the left shoulder to even open the door.

        Now the fun part of tagging. Let's here it from Meskel Square, Swamp Cottage, Jewels in the Jungle, Weichegud and Pernille
        posted by Fikirte @ 11:37 PM   1 comments Digg!
        Friday, January 05, 2007
        Three cents is "...more than an insult"
        If an adoption blog could post on the row between Starbucks and Ethiopia, I felt that I could bring back this old-ish issue. I'm catching up with blogging at the same time. Old or not, the issue remains that Ethiopian coffee farmers get 3 cents per Starbucks cup(according to OXFAM), and they are losing $88 million a year by not owning the IP right on the coffee names "Harar", "Sidamo" and "Yirgachefe".

        "Starbucks is all about community and inspiration, and everything in that movie [Akeelah and the Bees] seemed aligned with that — it has that human connection," Denson said. "It doesn't have to be a family film, but it does have to be socially relevant."

        When Starbucks executives describe the goal of the company's cultural extensions, they invariably lean on the word discovery. "Customers say one of the reasons they come is because they can discover new things — a new coffee from Rwanda, a new food item. So extending that sense of discovery into entertainment is very natural for us. That's all part of the Starbucks experience," said Anne Saunders, senior vice president of global brand strategy and communications.

        It is a shame and I'm sure a missed business opportunity for Starbucks that it is not as zealously connected to real people (like Ethiopian coffee farmers) as they are to movies and books.

        Related links

        What's in a name?
        Intellectual Properties of poor nations
        Dissecting the Starbucks vs Ethiopian government IP row
        OXFAM's campaign
        More Ethiopian coffee, biodiversity, terrorism name it, it's here
        posted by Fikirte @ 4:06 AM   0 comments Digg!
        The face of VAW

        Kamilat - victim of acid burning The face of VAW - violence against women. It should and can be stopped with enough commitment. Helping one woman at a time is a start.
        Go to the blog
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