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 July, 2007

Photo of Darfur

Darfur:  Between the Camera Lenses and Scribe's Pen
By John Oryem

I once read how an American marine serving in one of the African Union bases in Darfur captured a dying child in his camera. It detailed that child's painful moments until her premature death in the desert region of Darfur. (continued below...)

   
         
 

Children - The Diamonds of Africa

 

By Winona Rasheed
Managing Editor
Author-me.com

Plant the seeds and your garden will grow. Spring time comes and almost everyone is out planting
something in their gardens to grow, it may be flowers, or it may be vegetables, or it just may be both. It’s an exciting time when the little shoots start to pop their heads up out of the ground because you know that soon you will have a beautiful flower garden to show off, or some yummy vegetables to eat that you grew and nurtured yourself. The seeds that you planted are prospering because you are nurturing them, giving them your attention.  You are taking pride in your endeavors because you are about to reap what you have sown.
However, there are some seeds which have been planted generation after generation which aren’t so lucky and those seeds are the children of Africa. The lives of most African children are snuffed out before they can even begin to grow. Their futures grow dim with each passing day as Africa’s gardens slip away. Why can’t these precious seeds grow and prosper? Aren’t they just as important as a flower garden or a vegetable garden?
Since the Darfur conflict there are thousands of minor children who are living and working the streets in major cities across the dark continent of Africa, from the top of the map where you will find Algeria to the tip where Botswana is located; you will find thousands of children who are left to defend and raise themselves, no place to call home and no parents to look after them. Children left behind because of abandonment and poverty, but who have the will to live.
Imagine your day as you prepare yourself in the morning to go to your place of employment, perhaps you are getting ready to go to your dream job. Your children, a girl and a boy, perhaps 7 and 8 years of age are sitting around the table, dressed and eating a good healthy breakfast as they get ready to go to school. Their faces are glowing because they are happy and they have no worries.
However, can you imagine a child, age 6 or 7 in any city in Africa as they prepare themselves for a new day of survival. No class room to go to, their education and experiences come from the streets that they have to work in order to endure and survive. Instead of going to school, they go to work, and what they call work is nothing more than an act of survival, coping with the misfortune that has been laid on their narrow little shoulders because they want to live. They have a desire to survive.

(continued below)

Your Publishing Success Depends on Your Platform

By Patricia L. Fry

Call it popularity, prominence, visibility or expertise. In publishing, it’s what you need in order to succeed.

Think about this: How many people will rush out to buy your book as soon as it lands in Borders and B&N? Why would anyone choose your novel, cookbook, poetry book, children’s story or self-help book over the competition? Before you produce that book, you really must adequately answer these questions. If you can’t come up with answers, I suggest that you start creating some. How?

Even before writing the book, if you don’t have a following, start attracting one. If your name is not known in your field or genre, take steps to become known. If you are not already an expert or authority, begin the process of establishing yourself as such.

Start now, building your platform.

Don’t suddenly emerge from your writing cave into the bright lights of publishing with a manuscript and hope to get it produced. Today, publishers care more about what you can bring to the promotional table than whether you’ve dotted all of your i’s and crossed all of your t’s. What is a hopeful author to do? Take your responsibility as promoter as seriously as you do the task of writing an excellent book. Here are some tips:

  • Write about what you know. This long-held rule is even more important now because your expertise in the topic and your visibility can mean a big difference in sales.
  • If you are not known in the subject or genre of your book, take steps to become known before you attempt to publish. Build a web site, start a blog, present workshops and circulate a newsletter, for example.
  • Launch or become involved in an organization related to the topic or genre of your book—a poetry association, a national medical support group, a therapy dog organization or a major horror/thriller web site, for example.
  • Make news and report it. Start a charity or a contest related to the theme of your book. If your novel features a child with Downs syndrome, create an annual fundraiser for the National Downs Syndrome Society, for example.
  • Write articles on your topic or stories in your genre for appropriate magazines, ezines and web sites.

 

Patricia Fry is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org. She is also the author of 25 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Follow her informative publishing blog: www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog

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Darfur (continued)

After reading his piece, a long poem had been knitted at the corner of the brains.

In Darfur, after capturing the scenes vividly in your camera and securing them safely under your belt, there is always a feeling of haven't done enough. Though for most of us, images should speak and explain more than a pen should do. It is the competition of the lenses and pen to transmit the real life situation of Darfur across the world that is too difficult. Rape, killings, tortures, burning and all sorts of inhuman ways of reducing humanity into nothingness took place in Darfur since 2003. One is left to wonder if any other art of killing is left in this world yet to be applied and experimented in Darfur.

In January 1999, fresh from academic life, I left for Nyala in Darfur onboard an old Antonov plane en route to Central African Republic. Touring northern part of Darfur and venturing slightly to the west was an unforgettable experience. Jebel Marra peak was the most fascinating. Throughout peaceful periods in the Sudan, newly wed couples would go to Jebel Marra to experience the beginning of new life after rejecting bachelorhood. Until mid 90s banditry had halted such tourism experiences by northern Sudanese who never experienced war at their doorsteps. They always went to the south to fight 'infidels and rebels,' the people whom they thought were always against Islam and Arabs.

Thank God, such thoughts are no more since late Dr. John Garang has put things right through New Sudan philosophy.

Darfur was always ready to explode; it did so in 2003 when southern Sudan was reaching peace with unlawful rulers in Khartoum. At hearing about the beginning of that revolution, it was welcoming news for the marginalized Sudanese. Sudan People's Liberation Army, SPLA, was badly defeated in Darfur in September 1991 as it tried to take the revolution to Darfur. Commander Daud Yahya Bolad, a man from Darfur whose blood haunted people of Darfur until 2003, will rest assured in his unknown grave. His own tribe's men murdered him as he was bringing revolution to them from southern Sudan. They have since called him martyr, a great recognition in today's Sudan.

Darfur captured world's attention not because of the successes of the revolution in Darfur, but because of the humanitarian catastrophe it presented immediately when joint Sudan Liberation Army, SLA, and Justice and Equality Movement, JEM, stormed Fasher airport one early February in 2003. Dreadful war machinery of Khartoum that destroyed the south for long time suffered untold defeats at the hands of the inexperienced revolutionaries. That first attack became a landmark, scare in the face of Khartoum. Arab tribal militias used in the south and popularly known as Popular Defense Force quickly changed its name to Janjaweed with the same color of death remaining. The work of the fearful Janjaweed, the racist militia force whose mission was to terminate another racial group for a purpose came to light as camera lenses began beaming scenes from the heart of Darfur.

As a writer, one feels there isn't enough written about once this peaceful land of Ali Dinar; a Fur Sultan who was known beyond Darfur because of many wonderful things. The British, through its stooges in Khartoum annexed his country to Sudan, 'elephant stomach' as others like to call the mess.  While in Darfur, the fresh images of deaths will continue to linger deep in your mind, leaving you guilty because as if the dead are telling you; "you should have not allowed us to die!" Each time one is for a purpose in Darfur, you come out with a book in your head. The most unwritten book that refused to vacate the mind is; Darfur: where God wrestled with the devil.  Alex de Waal and Julie Flint had the experience of the Nuba Mountains and now kudos to them for sitting under baobab trees in Darfur to write Darfur, a short history of a long war.

Children: Diamonds of Africa (continued) While you are sitting at your table, enjoying the company of your children and eating a slice of buttery toast and scrambled eggs, the street children of Africa are scrounging around trash cans looking for food, eating what ever scraps they can find; children running around with bare dusty feet, begging or stealing morsels of food just so they can live; living for the moment and yet, preparing for another day because they do not give up or give in to their circumstances all because they want to survive. Africa’s street children walk the roadways panhandling, trying to get someone to notice and pay attention and hear their cries of desperation as they try to eat and survive; but, in  most cases the well dressed and polished individuals whom these children approach look at them in disgust and annoyance. They show no humanity and give no mercy or helping hands to the young seeds of Africa. How can anyone treat a child this way? What if one of those street children was your son or daughter trying to survive after you were gone from their lives permanently?  What if the shoe were on the other foot?
Who and what is the blame behind innocent children being forced into the streets? Why are there so many children both male and female having their childhood snatched away from them as they try to survive their situations. These are just a few questions to ask yourself if by chance you are reading this because life at times can be so unfair, especially to the young in Africa.
Can you imagine a 7 or 8 year old being arrested because they are trying to survive by any means necessary? They refuse to just lie down and die because it seems they are always looking for hope.
Why do the young and defeated also have to cope with physical abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse on top of being hungry? Who would do such horrible things to a child who is already beaten down and feel good about it? In most cases, you will find that it is the adults doing these things and taking advantage of the helpless and innocent, not to mention the other rug rats that are on the streets preying on Africa’s children. The streets are not safe and friendly. Africa’s children are not living a fairy tale dream; they are living in a nightmare of pain and suffering.  This is not the life intended for a child, and it certainly should not be the way of life for an African Child just because that’s how things are in Africa.
There is so much turmoil and pain in glorious Africa. It makes you wonder how diamonds can be of more importance the lives of children. The precious gems of Africa are not the stones that are hidden in the earth, the diamonds, even in the rough, are the children of Africa. They are the seeds that need nurturing, especially the ones without parents. What would Africa be without its children? Aren’t children supposed to be the future, the future of Africa? If the seeds in your garden are hindered from growing and producing, what then happens to your garden?
What will happen to the children of Africa when they come from broken homes and their educational system is less then perfect, and don’t forget the ever menacing threat of malnutrition and HIV? Are they the cause of their own plight? Did the children bring their own personal, individual situations on themselves?  I can only say……….I think not!!!
The diamonds of Africa are just coping with the fate that the government and society has dealt them. As children, they are being cheated out of a happy, carefree childhood. Their lives have been stolen and rearranged. Their wings have been clipped, and yet they still struggle to fly.
Is this hard for you to believe? Do you not think that these things are actually happening, right now?
The statistics paints a very dim picture of what is actually going on in Mother Africa. The numbers are astronomical and the proof is on the streets and in the mind, body, and spirit of Africa’s children, Africa’s young diamonds.
According to a report made by “Abaana,” there are 17 million children who die from malnutrition and starvation each year. There are 10 million children involved in the sex trade, and 100 million young people living on the streets. This shows a country-wide picture of the perils that exists for the children. However, in Africa alone, 80% of her children are under the age of 15 and living with HIV, and according to the Senegal government, there are between 50-100 thousand child street beggars. 21% of Kenya’s children do not have access to schools, and there is an estimated count of 130,000 street children living in Nairobi. All across Africa, you can see the children’s plight. Did you know that there are 200,000 orphans just in Rwanda alone?  
Aids is taking the diamonds right out of Africa. Because of this horrendous monster of a disease, the mortality rate is very high, claiming the lives of children under the age of five.  In Kenya, the children who die because of aids is 35%, in Namibia, its 48%, in South Africa and Zimbabwe the numbers are 50%, with Botswana, having a high rate of 64%. Do you need more proof?
According to the Labour and Social Affairs Minister, there are 150,000 children living on the streets of Ethiopia, 40% of Ethiopian children start working the streets at the age of 6, working a 30 hour work week. Can you imagine your 6- year- old walking up to strangers begging for hand outs?
The statistics does not paint a perfect picture if you are a child living in the heart of Africa. Have you been to beautiful Ghana lately? According to Ghana’s department of social welfare and local NGOs, there are 21,000 children living and working on the streets of Accra. Nationwide, there could be as many as 50,000 street children, with which most of them are in Kumasi. Are you adding these figures up? Isn’t it a disgrace for these kinds of numbers to exist? Isn’t it a disgrace to the human race that these conditions exist for children? Where is the humanity? Where is the love for your neighbor, though they may be far?
Take another look at the Aids statistic for these children:
Statistics on Africa
An estimated 24.5 million adults and children were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2005.
During that year, an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. The epidemic has left behind some 12 million orphaned African children.
The estimated number of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, the number of deaths from AIDS, and the number of living orphans in individual countries in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2005 are shown below.


Country

People living with HIV/AIDS

Adult (15-49) rate %

Women with HIV/AIDS

Children with HIV/AIDS

AIDS deaths

Orphans  
due to AIDS

Angola

320,000

3.7

170,000

35,000

30,000

160,000

Benin

87,000

1.8

45,000

9,800

9,600

62,000

Botswana

270,000

24.1

140,000

14,000

18,000

120,000

Burkina Faso

150,000

2.0

80,000

17,000

12,000

120,000

Burundi

150,000

3.3

79,000

20,000

13,000

120,000

Cameroon

510,000

5.4

290,000

43,000

46,000

240,000

Central African Republic

250,000

10.7

130,000

24,000

24,000

140,000

Chad

180,000

3.5

90,000

16,000

11,000

57,000

Comoros

<500

<0.1

<100

<100

<100

-

Congo

120,000

5.3

61,000

15,000

11,000

110,000

Côte d'Ivoire

750,000

7.1

400,000

74,000

65,000

450,000

Dem. Republic of Congo

1,000,000

3.2

520,000

120,000

90,000

680,000

Djibouti

15,000

3.1

8,400

1,200

1,200

5,700

Equatorial Guinea

8,900

3.2

4,700

<1,000

<1,000

4,600

Eritrea

59,000

2.4

31,000

6,600

5,600

36,000

Ethiopia

420,000-  
1,300,000

0.9-  
3.5

190,000-  
730,000

30,000-  
220,000

38,000-  
130,000

280,000-  
870,000

Gabon

60,000

7.9

33,000 

3,900

4,700

20,000

Gambia

20,000

2.4

11,000

1,200

1,300

3,800

Ghana

320,000

2.3

180,000

25,000

29,000

170,000

Guinea

85,000

1.5

53,000

7,000

7,100

28,000

Guinea-Bissau

32,000

3.8

17,000

3,200

2,700

11,000

Kenya

1,300,000

6.1

740,000

150,000

140,000

1,100,000

Lesotho

270,000

23.2

150,000

18,000

23,000

97,000

Liberia*

-

2.0-5.0

-

-

-

-

Madagascar

49,000

0.5

13,000

1,600

2,900

13,000

Malawi

940,000

14.1

500,000

91,000

78,000

550,000

Mali

130,000

1.7

66,000

16,000

11,000

94,000

Mauritania

12,000

0.7

6,300

1,100

<1,000

6,900

Mauritius

4,100

0.6

<1,000

-

<100

-

Mozambique

1,800,000

16.1

960,000

140,000

140,000

510,000

Namibia

230,000

19.6

130,000

17,000

17,000

85,000

Niger

79,000

1.1

42,000

8,900

7,600

46,000

Nigeria

2,900,000

3.9

1,600,000

240,000

220,000

930,000

Rwanda

190,000

3.1

91,000

27,000

21,000

210,000

Senegal

61,000

0.9

33,000

5,000

5,200

25,000

Sierra Leone

48,000

1.6

26,000

5,200

4,600

31,000

Somalia

44,000

0.9

23,000

4,500

4,100

23,000

South Africa

5,500,000

18.8

3,100,000

240,000

320,000

1,200,000

Swaziland

220,000

33.4

120,000

15,000

16,000

63,000

Togo

110,000

3.2

61,000

9,700

9,100

88,000

Uganda

1,000,000

6.7

520,000

110,000

91,000

1,000,000

United Rep. Of Tanzania

1,400,000

6.5

710,000

110,000

140,000

1,100,000

Zambia

1,100,000

17.0

570,000

130,000

98,000

710,000

Zimbabwe

1,700,000

20.1

890,000

160,000

180,000

1,100,000

Total sub-Saharan Africa

24,500,000

6.1

13,200,000

2,000,000

2,000,000

12,000,000

* Insufficient data available for Liberia

Notes

Adults in this page are defined as men and women aged over 15, unless specified otherwise.
Children are defined as people under the age of 15, whilst orphans are people  under the age of 18 who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
AVERT.org has further information about HIV and AIDS in Africa, more HIV and AIDS statistics pages and a guide to understanding the statistics.

Sources:

An African Quote:  See the difference?
“A small child from a developing country has the advantage, from a very early age, of having access to toys which structure his mind, which constitute a sure advantage over the little African child who has never even held a modern toy.”
                                                                    Abdoulaye Wade

We can never really know what life it is really like for someone, not unless we can walk in their shoes. But, do you really need to walk in the shoes of the poor, the destitute, the young and helpless before we give a helping hand?  Where is the compassion for the human race and it’s children?  

 

 

          If you would like to read more on Africa’s street Children go to the following sites:

http://www.stolenchildhood.net/entry/horrendous-life-of-street-children-in-bangladesh

         http://www.streetchildafrica.org.uk/about.htm
        
         http://abaana.org/projects/streetchildren.cfm

         http://allafrica.com/stories/200705230220.html

       

Resources:
http://www.abaana.org/resources/statistics,CFM
http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=48799
http://www.africanculturalcenter.org/5_2populations.html
http://www.irnnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=70620

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Publishing New Writers,

July, 2007 (no. 807)

 

Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

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