USAfricaonline.com,first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be publishedon the internet, is listed among the world's hot sites by theinternational newspaper, USAToday. USAfrica has been cited by the NewYork Times as America's largest African-owned multimedia company.8303 SW Freeway, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77074.Phone: 713-270-5500. Cell direct:832-45-CHIDO (24436)
On the Prof. Chinua Achebe project, log on to www.Achebebooks.com
CNNInternational interview with Nigeria'sPresident Obasanjo and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu onDemocracyand Security Issues
African LeadersOffered $5 Million Prize
By ALAN COWELL, The New YorkTimes
LONDON, Oct. 26 &emdash; After the Nobels, the Pulitzers, theOscars, why not a prize for African presidents? Not just anypresidents, of course.
At a news conference in London today, Mo Ibrahim, a 60-year-oldSudanese-born billionaire who made his money in the cellphonebusiness, announced the creation of what he called the world'sbiggest individual prize &emdash; $5 million,spread over 10 years, for the sub-Saharan African president who onleaving office has demonstrated the greatest commitment to democracyand good governance.
"We must face the reality," Mr. Ibrahim said, referring toAfrica's leadership record. "Everything starts by admitting thetruth: we failed. I'm not proud at all. I'm ashamed. We really needto resolve the problem and the problem, in our view, is badleadership and bad governance."
It is possible that there might be a shortage of contestants tocompete for that moment of quivering tension when the compèresays: "And the winner is....."
"Eligible candidates," the prize rules insist, "will have takenoffice through proper elections and left having served theconstitutional term stipulated when taking office." Mary Robinson, aformer Irish president who is a member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundationboard, said the prize "need not be awarded every year."
In one way, the announcement was familiar &emdash; a wealthyperson taking on Africa as a cause, be it Bill Clinton or Bill Gatesanteing up billions, or Bono singing songs or Madonna adopting aMalawian baby.
Yet the differences were equally striking. "This is an Africaninitiative celebrating the successes of new African leadership,"Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, said in one ofseveral video-cast messages of support. Unlike many projects thattarget famine-stricken villages or far-flung AIDS clinics, this oneis supposed to strike at the political leadership &emdash; andpost-independence culture of autocrats and kleptocrats that spawnedsuch figures as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire or Idi Amin of Uganda.
John Githongo, Kenya's anticorruption czar, who is in self-exilein Britain, said in a separate telephone interview that, whileprivate philanthropists had addressed issues such as AIDS and healthcare in Africa, Mr Ibrahim "is heading into challenging territory,the most important territory" by confronting bad leadership. "Will itmake a difference? I think it already has. It's already going to leadto these issues being debated," he said.
Africa's more familiar culture of The Big Man clinging to officewas built in part, Mr. Ibrahim indicated, on a sense among manyAfrican leaders that, if they relinquish power voluntarily, they facepenury and powerlessness, no longer the font of patronage or thetenant of what he called "the hilltop palace."
"We want them to have a life after office," Mr. Ibrahim said.
"Your leaders here become rich after they leave office," he said,referring to the directorships, book deals and lecture circuit toursthat accrue to Western leaders. ''What life is there for our peopleafter office? Some of our leaders cannot even afford to rent anapartment" in their own capitals, he said.
By comparison, "look at President Clinton," Mr Ibrahim said,evoking Mr. Clinton's philanthropic expeditions, largely focusing onAfrican deprivation. "His legacy is being created now, before oureyes, not his eight years in office."
The prize is to be awarded according to how leaders of 48 Africancountries scores on a complex index devised by Robert Rotberg, anAmerican professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School ofGovernment. The index, Prof. Rotberg said, will evaluate eight mainareas, including leaders' ability to offer their people security,rule of law, economic opportunity and political freedoms.
The prize is called The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement inAfrican Leadership and the first one may be given next year.
A critical African official, who spoke in return for anonymitybecause he was not authorized to speak on behalf of his government,said some African citizens might well ask why leaders should berewarded "for doing something that people are already paying them todo."The competitors and winners will be selected by a panel whosemembership has yet to be announced. The names of the losers will notbe made public, according to members of Mr. Ibrahim's entourage. Thewinner will be given $500,000 a year for 10 years and, thereafter$200,000 a year. An additional $200,000 a year may be given toleaders pursuing philanthropic work.
The prize, Mr. Ibrahim said, will be funded from his own resourcesfollowing the $3.4 billion sale of his company, Celtel, in 2005.Depending on how many ex-presidents are selected, the prize couldcost his foundation up to $18 million a year, he said in a briefinterview.
At a news conference, he insisted that the money for the MoIbrahim Foundation sponsoring the prize was separate from anybusiness interests. "This prize is about honor," Mr, Ibrahim said."Like the Nobel: if you win the Nobel, do you say: I got $1 million?Or do you say: wow, I am honored."
Many Nigerians still feel disappointed that a man (Obasanjo)who had gained so much from Nigeria would cling so tightly to power,even against the popular will of the people, moreso with age, energyand fresh ideas for a new era not on his side.
Also, USAfricaonline.com review of Nigeria's recent history show thatPresident Obasanjo seems to be moving rapidly into the zone ofill-repute of his former military colleagues who, like him, refusedto leave office when it was time to go. Gen. yakubu Gowon in 1975;Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1993; Gen. Sani Abacha in1995, 1996, 1997,1998. More baffling many Nigerians we interviewed recall is thelessons of the excesses of the late Gen. Abach who jailed Obasanjowhile the former schemed to remain in power. For the specialreport by USAfrica multimedia networks' Publisher Chido Nwangwu,click on 3rdterm.
DEMOCRACYWATCH: What Bush Should TellObasanjo.... By ChidoNwangwu (Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com)
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective ofthe true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing anddisposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures)this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce,juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of thevitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality ofChi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... itis a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude whiletaking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community.I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, therigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed inmost of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, becauseI share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a briefsentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here,folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle onthe Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one likeyou!
Ugo n'abo, chukwu gozie gi oo!. ChidoNwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), isFounder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-ownedU.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet),USAfrica The Newspaper,CLASS magazine and TheBlack Business Journal. He has served as an adviser to theMayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as ananalyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.
This USAfricaonline.com commentary is copyrighted. Archivingon any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with aWritten Approval by USAfricaonline.comFounder.
CLASSis the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine forAfricans in north America, described by The New York Times as themagazine for affluent Africansin America. It is published byprofessional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders andpioneers.
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials
Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century.
Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu(First written on March 1, 2002, for USAfrica, updated for Prof. Achebe's 74th Birthday tribute on November 16, 2004, and published in CLASS magazine same month): Africa's most acclaimed and fluent writer of the English Language, the most translated writer of Black heritage in the world, broadcaster extraordinaire, social conscience of millions, cultural custodian and elevator, chronicler and essayist, goodwill ambassador and man of progressive rock-ribbed principles, the Eagle on the Iroko, Ugo n'abo Professor Chinua Achebe, has recently been selected by a distinguished jury of scholars and critics (from 13 countries of African life and literature) as the writer of the Best book (Things Fall Apart, 1958) written in the twentieth century regarding Africa. Reasonably, Achebe's message has been neither dimmed nor dulled by time and clime. He's our pathfinder, the intellectual godfather of millions of Africans and lovers of the fine art of good writing. Achebe's cultural contexts are, at once, pan-African, globalist and local; hence, his literary contextualizations soar beyond the confines of Umuofia and any Igbo or Nigerian setting of his creative imagination or historical recall.
His globalist underpinnings and outlook are truly reflective of the true essence of his Igbo world-view, his Igbo upbringing and disposition. Igbos and Jews share (with a few other other cultures) this pan-global disposition to issues of art, life, commerce, juridical pursuits, and quest to be republicanist in terms of the vitality of the individual/self. In Achebe's works, the centrality of Chi (God) attains an additional clarity in the Igbo cosmology... it is a world which prefers a quasi-capitalistic business attitude while taking due cognizance of the usefulness of the whole, the community. I've studied, lived and tried to better understand, essentially, the rigor and towering moral certainties which Achebe have employed in most of his works and his world. I know, among other reasons, because I share the same ancestry with him. Permit me to attempt a brief sentence, with that Achebean simplicty and clarity. Here, folks, what the world has known since 1958: Achebe is good! Eagle on the Iroko, may your Lineage endure! There has never been one like you!
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'
Powell named Secretary State by G.W. Bush; bipartisan commendations follow.
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."
These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Apple announces Titanium, "killer apps" and other ground-breaking products for 2001. iTunes makes a record 500,000 downloads.
Steve Jobs extends digital magic
CLASS is the social events, heritage excellence and style magazine for Africans in north America, described by The New York Times as the magazine for affluent Africans in America. It is published by professional journalists and leading mulitmedia leaders and pioneers.