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Showing posts with label Places in Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Places in Africa. Show all posts

Ethiopia, Eritrea sign statement that war ‘has come to an end’

~Punch Nigeria. Sunday, July 8, 2018.

Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea
Ethiopia and Eritrea are no longer at war, the neighbours said in a joint statement Monday, a day after their leaders held a historic meeting in Asmara.
Quoting from a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter the “state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end. A new era of peace and friendship has been ushered (in).”

“Both countries will work to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and security areas,” Yemane added.

He said the agreement was signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday morning at state house in Asmara.

Images of the ceremony showed the two men sharing a wooden desk, backed by their nations’ flags, as they simultaneously signed the document.

The declaration echoed comments made by Abiy at a dinner hosted by Isaias late Sunday, where he said diplomatic, trade, transport and communications ties would be re-established and borders re-opened.

“We agreed that the airlines will start operating, the ports will be accessible, people can move between the two countries and the embassies will be opened,” Abiy said.

“We will demolish the wall and, with love, build a bridge between the two countries,” he said.

Abiy left Asmara after signing the joint agreement on Monday.

Deep inside the red-light district: happenings in Lagos strip clubs

Written by Ademola Olonilua
~Punch Nigeria. Sunday, February 11, 2018.

Catching fun, especially at night, has become a habit for many fun seekers in Lagos. For such people, the prominent places where they choose to catch their fun at night include bars and strip clubs. The go-to place for those who love to turn their X-rated fantasies into realities is usually the strip club. But strip clubs are not easy places to spot in Lagos, except if the fun seeker knows how to look beyond the surface. So, it could be difficult to locate one as there are no eligible signs to advertise their locations, so it is normally a case of, 'if you know, you know.'

Although there are choice strip clubs, both on the Island and the mainland; for the mainland, the clubs' colonies seem to be Allen Avenue and the Government Reservation Area, Ikeja. To spot one, fun seekers only look out for a neon sign or an electronic advertising sign with flickering lights, usually coloured blue and red with what appears to be the drawing of a naked woman.

Funnily enough, Ikeja is the commercial hub of Lagos during the day and also at night. With banks and other business firms situated in the district, human and vehicular traffic in the area during the day is usually heavy and at night, it still comes alive courtesy of the bright lights which seem to focus on the pubs, clubs and even commercial sex workers that conduct their business on the streets.

To a large extent, Ikeja is the red-light district of Lagos State.

Around one of the popular streets in GRA, Ikeja is a popular strip club. While most businesses have locked their doors and closed for the day by 9 pm, that is the time this establishment is resuming for the business of the night, and it takes it right until the following morning.

When Saturday PUNCH visited the establishment at about 9:30 pm on Wednesday, it was obvious that the 'shop' had just opened. Within minutes, the vast compound, which has a large space as its car park, was quickly filled with exotic cars; a testament to the class of people the joint caters for.

It is therefore not surprising that to get into the club as a man on Saturdays; their peak period, a fee of N5,000 is required and on Sundays, the price drops to N3,000. While the ladies pay N3,000 on Saturday and N2,000 on Sundays. Other days are free but the hefty men at the gate never forget to politely ask: 'Sir, anything for your boy even if na one bottle of beer?' Invariably, visitors are sometimes forced to part with money and since it is a high-end club, the bouncers at the door normally smile home.

The crackdown on Southern Cameroonians

~ Tribune Nigeria. Thursday, October 12, 2017.

THE axiom that freedom is never willingly given by the oppressor but must be demanded by the oppressed cannot be more apt in dissecting the current crackdown on “dissident” elements in Southern Cameroon. Just like the unsavoury events that followed the independence votes in Kurdistan and Catalonia, Southern Cameroon was a theatre of anguish penultimate week. On October 1, the day some separatist elements in the region sought to symbolically regain their independence from the Republic of Cameroon, the Paul Biya-led government unveiled the state apparatus to crush any dissent. The symbolic declaration of independence was made on social media by one Sisiku Ayuk, the “president” of Ambazonia.

Early this year, the Biya government cut off internet access in the region for three months. It did not even bother to adopt the option of counter narratives to whatever the “separatists” were saying. It announced a temporary restriction on travel and public meetings across the South-West Region. This was after imposing a curfew in the neighbouring North-West Region. Only a fifth of Cameroon’s 22 million people are English-speaking, and the government has always sought to suppress this minority. In 1961, the former British entity, Southern Cameroons, united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960. At the inception of the union, the federalist system was adopted, but things were to change in 1974 when a patently fraudulent referendum stage-managed by the centralist government in Yaounde imposed the establishment of the Republic of Cameroon.

The assimilation process, a feature of colonial rule, was adopted by the Yaounde government, along with disparities in many parts of the country’s national life: the distribution and control of oil wealth, education and the judicial system. Believing that the federal arrangement, which would allow them considerable power over their own destiny is the way forward for a united and prosperous Cameroon, the Southern Cameroonians have always staged protests, with a much more hard-line section embracing violent rhetoric and calling for outright secession from the country and the formation of a dream country, Ambazonia. But the central government has never pretended to be enamoured of the federalist proposal, let alone secession. On September 22, as thousands of “Ambazonians” took to the streets in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, soldiers reportedly shot at least eight people dead in the restive Anglophone belt, notably Buea in the South-West and Bamenda, the main town in the North-West. Thereafter, teachers and lawyers hit the streets in protest over the use of French in Anglophone schools and courts. This soon mutated into an outright demand for Ambazonia.

Xenophobia: South African xenophobia vs Nigerian internal xenophobia

South African xenophobia vs Nigerian internal xenophobia
- Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians: FG warns S-Africa of dire consequences

South African xenophobia vs Nigerian internal xenophobia
Written by Azuka Onwuka
Twitter: @BrandAzuka
~Punch Nigeria. Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Azuka Onwuka

It has become an annual ritual – just like an annual epidemic – for South Africans to engage in xenophobic attacks against their fellow Black Africans resident in South Africa. There are some trends in these attacks. The South Africans do not attack the Indians who have lived in South Africa for a couple of centuries. They do not attack the Pakistanis or the Chinese. They do not attack the North Africans. They do not attack the Whites who have settled in South Africa for centuries and are in control of the economy and the lands. The reason is simple. The colour of the skin of the above-mentioned people is different from that of the Black South Africans. The Black South Africans still see those with a different colour as superior but prefer to vent their anger and frustration on their fellow Blacks who reside in South Africa to eke out a living.

Coincidentally, the xenophobic attacks have been occurring in the tenure of President Jacob Zuma. They did not occur when Dr Nelson Mandela or Mr Thabo Mbeki were in office. One can infer that the body language of Zuma has been encouraging the attacks. Maybe, if he had shown some righteous anger against the attacks or ensured that the perpetrators are severely punished, they would not have recurred.

Ironically, Nigerians have been expressing their anger over the xenophobic attacks. Many commentators remind South Africans the sacrifices Nigeria and other African nations made to end apartheid in South Africa, including hosting many leaders of the African National Congress as well university students from South Africa.

However, the reason the action of the South Africans is shocking to many Nigerians is that we have a track record of not attacking foreigners within Nigeria. Nigerians even treat foreigners better than they treat fellow Nigerians. For example, in spite of the number of times Nigerian football clubs and national teams have been attacked while in other countries, Nigerians usually don't attack foreign teams. On the contrary, on many occasions, during some international matches, Nigerian football fans are known to have swapped support from the national team to the visiting teams if they are not impressed with the performance of the national team. Even if a visiting team beats the Nigerian team or prevents Nigeria from qualifying for an international competition, such a team can even take a victory lap round the stadium without even a bottle of water thrown at them.

Nigerians are talented-Zuckerberg

Written by By Prince Osuagwu, Levinus Nwabughiogu and Geraldine Anunukem
~Vanguard Nigeria. Friday, September 2, 2016. 

• Meets Buhari, attends Aso Villa Demo Day

• Rich men don't dress like you in Nigeria-Buhari

• FG to partner Facebook

Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg visits President Muhammadu Buhari
in Aso Villa on Friday, September 2, 2016.
Co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of social networking website, Facebook, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg has said that Nigerians were highly gifted in the Information Communications Technologies, ICT.

He said this after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The computer guru said he was impressed by the interest, energy and entrepreneurial spirit displayed by young Nigerians in all the ICT camps that he had visited in Lagos.

"I was highly impressed by the talent of the youths in the Co-creation Hub in Yaba. I was blown away by their talent and the level of energy that I saw," he said.

Recall that Zukerberg was in Nigeria earlier in the week but left Lagos for Kenya amidst speculations that there were no government officials to speak with him.

But on Friday, he returned to Nigeria and met with Buhari in a meeting also attended by numerous ministers including Adebayo Shittu, Ogbonnaya Onu, Okechukwu Enalemah and Lai

Mohammed who are respective Ministers of Communications, Science and Technology, Trade and Investments and Information and Culture.

The president commended Zukerberg for sharing his technological ideas with the Nigerian youths, saying such was mostly needed at the time.

Stephanie Busari heads Nigeria CNN office

Written by Akeem Lasisi
~Punch Nigeria. Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

Seasoned Nigerian broadcaster with the Cable News Network, Stephanie Busari, is back to head the company's Nigerian office to be unveiled in Lagos. The office is to give the network a "nimble, broad-based, digital-first presence in Africa's most populous country."

The lady, who will be the Supervising Producer, Africa, will work across CNN's news gathering and digital operations, and will be the network's first responder for all platforms.

A statement from the organisation indicates that since joining CNN in 2008, Busari has worked across some of the network's most important African stories.

She was central to CNN's coverage of the missing Chibok girls, working alongside Senior International Correspondent, Nima Elbagir.

On her feeling about the new assignment, she says, "I am thrilled and excited to be back home after a long time away. I have always kept close links with Nigeria and have a considerable network here already. CNN is investing here because we believe Nigeria is a globally important nation with enormous potential and it is v ery exciting that I have been entrusted with helping to tell the story of my country to the world."

According to her, her wide experience across the globe will aid her.

"I have covered a wide variety of beats across hard news stories and features. I have even worked on the party scene as a showbiz reporter, and, at the other extreme, I have worked as a court reporter. So, hopefully all of this experience will stand me in good stead in such a diverse country as Nigeria. There are literally stories to tell everywhere you look here," she notes in an interview.

A multi-award winning journalist, Busari began her career at the defunct London-based newspaper, New Nation, which was aimed at the UK's black and ethnic minority communities. She then moved to the UK's Daily Mirror, where, among other beats, she covered Northern Ireland, reporting on some of the worst-affected areas of "The Troubles". While in Belfast, she also launched and edited an award-winning lifestyle column for the paper. A native Yoruba speaker, she also speaks French fluently.

I made N3,000 hawking water in 20 minutes - White Naija Girl

~PUNCH, Nigeria. Sunday, May 15, 2016

Popularly known as White Naija Girl, Ibukun Afolabi, from Hungary tells ARUKAINO UMUKORO why she decided to hawk sachet water on the streets of Lagos

Can you give a brief background of yourself?

My husband gave me a Nigerian (Yoruba) name, 'Ibukun,' which means 'blessing.' I am originally from Hungary. I live in the United Kingdom at the moment. In 2008, I came to the UK, where I met my husband, Gbenga Afolabi of MagnumN3. I studied Business and Management. I also hold degrees in German and French languages. When I first came to the UK, I could not speak English, so I had to start learning it from the beginning.

In 2012, I decided to start ­a blog, the, soon after I got married. Initially, I wanted to write a book, but my husband advised me to start a blog instead so I could reach more people. I started to write about my experiences as a 'Nigerian' wife. Soon, many people - men and women – in relationships with Nigerians started to contact me, asking different questions. The blog became quite successful. Finally, I visited Nigeria in the middle of October last year. I stayed for a month. It was during that period that the video of me selling sachet water was shot.

Was your visit to Nigeria in October your first trip to the country?

Yes it was. But here in the UK, I have had contacts with a lot of Nigerians. The church I attend in the UK is predominantly a Nigerian church. I have always been inspired by Nigerians and their way of living. I love the culture, food and their attitude to life. I also love it that Nigerians take education seriously. My husband is a film-maker and I produce most of his films. When we came to Nigeria; that was when I noticed how hard people in Nigeria are working and how much they needed to struggle on a daily basis to earn a living.

What was the inspiration behind the video of you selling pure water and drinks on the streets of Lagos?

It is because I saw these people doing this every day for a living. And I wondered why they had to live like that in a rich country like Nigeria. That 'pure' water video was done because I wanted to experience what Nigerians are going through, to empathise with them and to go through what they are going through. I realised that it is really hard. And I wanted people to know about this. In the UK, when you have a child, you get child benefits. In Nigeria, there is nothing like that. It is difficult for the women hawking 'pure' water. It is really a difficult job. I wanted to raise awareness about their plight. These people need help from the government. They don't have to risk their lives on the road doing such a job. That was purely my inspiration. It was a great experience, I felt their struggle, because it was hot, you could see me sweating. The load was very heavy. At the beginning, I could not take off the bowl from my head. It was hurting my head even though I had the scarf on. I am planning other projects to raise more awareness about the difficulties every day people face. For me, what I did (selling pure water) was not so extraordinary. What is extraordinary is that people are doing this job daily for a living.

That thing (bowl of sachet, bottled water and drinks) on my head felt so heavy and I only carried it for less than an hour. But those people who do it for a living actually do that for about eight to 10 hours a day. They are the real heroes, not me. I did it for less than an hour because we attracted a little too much attention so we could not carry on. And that was at the time the police were really after people selling on the streets. So, we were a little cautious so as not to get into trouble.

Were you scared at any point?

South Sudan allows soldiers rape women as salaries – UN

~Punch, Nigeria. Friday, March 11, 2016

South Sudan has encouraged fighters to rape women in place of wages while children have been burnt alive, the UN said Friday, calling the young nation one of the world’s most “horrendous” human rights situations.

Grotesque rights violations could amount to war crimes, said a report on the world’s youngest country from the United Nations human rights office.
The UN findings coincided with an Amnesty International report saying government forces deliberately suffocated to death more than 60 men and boys by stuffing them into a baking hot shipping container.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan erupted into civil war in December 2013, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

The UN said it had evidence that fighters from pro-government militia which fight alongside the Sudan People’s Liberation Army are compensated under an agreement of ‘do what you can and take what you can.'”
“Most of the youth therefore also raided cattle, stole personal property, raped and abducted women and girls as a form of payment,” the report said.

It also found that civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children, had being burnt alive and hanged from trees and cut to pieces.
“This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

Both the government and rebel sides have been accused of perpetrating ethnic massacres, recruiting and killing children and carrying out widespread rape, torture and forced displacement of populations to purge their opponents from areas.

Sexual erotic triggers

Written by Funmi Akingbade
~Punch, Nigeria. Saturday, March 5, 2016

Couples do not know that almost every part of their bodies is an erotic trigger region. Many times, husbands come to me and bitterly complain that they are not enjoying the best of their wives sexually. A man will say because the woman is circumcised, pregnant, nursing a baby, undergoing menopause or fed up with the same old ways they have been making love, hence she is not fully involved anymore.

One thing is basic, there are high sexually sensitive areas and there are lower sexual sensitive areas but when couples concentrate only on the high sensitive areas, they tend to run out of techniques sooner than they wish, but when they interplay the high and low sexual zones intermittently, there is a possibility of newness and excitement at all times. Now, the most basic sexual trigger of most wives that many husbands play with are the breast and the clitoris, all because these organs are prominent and easily accessible. This is also because blood rushes to these areas especially when the woman is turned on, and also because the stimulation of the clitoris triggers the hood of her clitoris. The hood of the clitoris is the fold of skin that surrounds and protects the clitoral glans. Since it is less sensitive, many husbands ignore it but amazingly, this hood can handle both gentle squeezes that get her ready to be on heat without even touching the clitoris itself.

Essentially also, the pubic mound is a good place to add some variety to your thinking selection. Try this trick; take your fingertip into a firm point, and trail it around the mound. Since you usually focus on the top three quarters of her vaginal area, she'll be surprised and aroused because beneath the arena you are trailing your fingers on is packed full of sensory nerves.

Also think of her clitoris like the head of your penis, her clitoris is jam-packed with millions of nerve endings, as is the tip of your penis. However, if the head of your penis can take a bit more pressure- the nerves are spread over a slightly larger area- her clitoris is more sensitive. This spot is filled with nerves, so it needs to be stimulated carefully. Tease the areas around it first, and then make your way to it, building up speed as you go. But finger with caution: if you spend too much time there or are too rough, too soon, she may become overstimulated, and that can be really painful for her. To keep that from happening, switch your tactics. Don't stick with one for more than 10 seconds or so.

Love and War in Sudan

Written by By Natalie Peart - digital journal

I hope I don't disappoint you by telling you that this isn't a real love story. I am not going to recite an enchanting story of how I fell in love with a Sudanese man, petrified my Mother and gave up all to move to Sudan and live a nomadic life in the desert raising his camels, or how I witnessed a Mills and Boon style love affair in the country that is 'The Sudan'.

The love story does involve me, but it was not one single person but the country and everyone I met and the possibilities it holds that I fell in love 
with. The kind genuine Nubian people and the beautiful Nubia desert sand and skies and the possibilities for growth the country has.

Archaeologists say the pyramids, cemeteries and ancient palaces of the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan hold mysteries to rival ancient Egypt and as I meandered through the forgotten pyramids of Meroe with not another tourist in sight (apart from the other 22 people of course) I knew I was one of the privileged few who has ever experienced this. It really sets them apart from the pyramids of Egypt which I feel are slightly overshadowed by the hundreds of other people you have to share the experience with. And this is just one of the many attractions that Sudan hosts.

The war story however is a real war story, as with hope in this country comes misery, violence and death in Darfur. For over three years, everyone from the UN Secretary-General to the President of the United States to actors George Clooney and Mia Farrow have been calling for a stop to the conflict in Darfur. And nothing changes.
For four years the Government has been content in letting humanitarian agencies do the work of the Government and provide basic services to two-thirds of the entire population of Sudan’s Western region. The outcome, affluent suburbs in Khartoum and complete desolation in Southern Sudan and Darfur's states.

When I said I was going to Sudan the response that I got wasn't all unexpected. I'm the first to admit that I was cautious yet curious about the country that we have read so much about in terms of the civil war. But as the oracle that is the Lonely Planet said to me '"Khartoum (the capital of Sudan) is one of the friendliest and safest cities in the world", and of course the Planet didn't disappoint.

Twenty years on: Three love stories from Rwanda

...culled from Haaretz - Rwanda

In April 1994, the Rwandan genocide left an estimated 800,000 dead, most of them ethnic Tutsis. Haaretz hears the remarkable stories of three couples who have reconciled themselves with past horrors and found love and some form of redemption.

A memorial to the Rwandan genocide

Twenty years ago, in the small, landlocked, east-central African country of Rwanda, members of the Hutu ethnic group turned on their neighbors, friends and family of the ethnic Tutsi group and began slaughtering them. Starting in early April of 1994, and during the course of the next 100 rainy days, an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and their moderate Hutu sympathizers were murdered.
But these are not stories recounting that genocide. These are love stories – tales of men and women, like men and women the world over, who find someone with whom to share a first kiss. These are couples with dreams and disappointments, good moments and bad.
That said, these couples, forced to live out their relationships in a time of unimaginable horror, do end up telling a story about the genocide after all. It's a story we don't often hear – one of resilience and redemption. One about picking up the pieces, forgetting, if only a little, and forgiving themselves and each other, as much as might be possible, and moving on.  
Agutsine Nkurikiyinka was a broken man when he was released from jail. His wife had died of malaria. His two daughters, after a decade apart from their father, barely knew him. He had lost his job and home, and been reduced, so he felt, to nothing less than a perpetrator of genocide.
As many as two million people, practically all from the Hutu ethnic group, are believed to have participated in one way or another in the genocide that occurred in Rwanda in the rainy spring season of 1994, leaving 800,000 of their neighbors, friends and family – the vast majority of them Tutsi – dead.
Just before the genocide began, Agutsine – a mild-mannered son of Hutu farmers in Kimironko – had found a new job he was excited about: Working for the agriculture ministry, as a guard on a forest conservation project. On April 7, 1994, the day after President Juvénal Habyarimana’s airplane was shot down on its descent into the capital, Kigali, he set out to erect a roadblock.

A woman on the run
A thin woman with cropped hair, Christine Bamurange grew up working in her parents’ beer and soft drinks kiosk. The last of eight children, she was the one pulled from school when her parents’ business started doing badly, so she never learned how to read or write. She was married off young – to her neighbor Sylvester, a fellow Tutsi, who, after producing three children with her, left for the Ugandan border to fight with the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Ajegunle: 'Here, girls can't be virgin at 15!'

Written by Chukwuma Okparaocha, Lagos 

Arguably one of the most popular places in the country, Ajegunle has been described as a community that epitomises the entity called Nigeria. It is a community that swims in the pool of neglect, tragicomedy and absurdities.
It shares certain similarities with communities such as Trenchtown in Jamaica as well as the slums in the northwest and southeast regions of Soweto, South Africa, where many residents rank among the poorest in Johannesburg.
Also known as AJ City, Ajegunle is a Yoruba word which literarily means 'fortune has landed.' Therefore, in a community that has such an enviable name, one would ordinarily expect to easily find an evidence of fortune.
However, the situation at Ajegunle is far from what its name suggests. It is a community that exudes raw poverty, neglect, infrastructural decay and squalor. It is not uncommon to see houses, especially those on a street called Olodan, off Ezeagu Street, built with planks on a piece of land which is so soft that by merely walking on it, one would have a sensation of sinking.
Such shacks are usually 'painted' with old carpets which are cut like ribbons and pasted on the shacks with glue. Rows of tube-like structures made from corrugated aluminium sheets which serve the dual purpose of toilets and bathrooms can be seen standing just a few metres from the shacks just at the edge of a huge canal covered with plants and filth.

All an individual who wishes to answer the call of nature needs to do is to defecate inside a black polythene bag and afterwards 'shot-put' the content into the canal, which, needless to say, reeks of human filth.

Nigeria's comedians have over time adduced the word 'pikin,' which is the general Nigerian Pidgin English word for a child, to children of the poor or low-income members of the society.
They probably had Ajegunle in mind when formulating this idea, as virtually every kid in Ajegunle is usually referred to as a pikin. "Na where you put my pikin," one woman was heard yelling at a young girl in one of the sections visited.

Elephant appeal: Photojournalist Kate Brooks documents the dangerous demise of these giants of the wild

Culled from the Independent - Kenya

As a photojournalist, Kate Brooks was used to documenting war zones. Then she discovered a new kind of genocide – the killing of Africa’s elephants

I am a conflict photographer. At the age of 23, I packed my bags and moved to Pakistan in the weeks after 9/11 so that I could dedicate myself to documenting the war in Afghanistan and the impact of US foreign policy in the region. Over the decade that followed, I traversed the Middle East, covering the impact of war on civilian populations, and at times, military operations.
In 2010, after embedding with a 'medevac' unit at Kandahar Airfield, I went to Kenya on a long-planned vacation. It was in the Maasai Mara, among the majestic beauty and grandeur of vast open spaces and magnificent creatures, that I was able to find peace and solace, and heal from the inhumanity I had witnessed: countless troops and Afghan civilians having their limbs blown off by IEDs [Improvised Explosive Devices] and Afghan children working on farms being errantly bombed and killed by coalition forces. I left Kenya determined to photograph wildlife in the future.

Little did I know at the time, genocide was brewing across the continent. > Over the past few years, the slaughter of African elephants and rhinoceros has skyrocketed to supply international markets with their tusks and horns. Some experts say 35,000 elephants are being killed per year, others believe the number is as high as 50,000.
At any rate, over 60 per cent of Africa's forest elephants have died and elephant populations are vanishing from the Earth at an alarming rate. We are at a critical moment in natural history, because Africa's elephants are dying in such an unnatural way. It's hard to fathom, but wildlife, as we know it, is ceasing to exist due to the commoditisation of wildlife, the value of rhino horn and ivory and the insatiable demand by China.

The Benin Girl and Benin Mama

Written by Patrick Dele Cole - Nigeria

ESOSA Susan is 5ft. 7 inches tall. Excellently proportioned; today she is wearing a designer dress she bought in Paris, at the Etienne Hugo. The dress fits perfectly and stops demurely at her knees. She is wearing a 7-inch Jimmy Choo heels killer sexy heels any other woman would die for. Her handbag is a small affair from Prada. The hair, the latest hair attachment - is full and luxurious looking as if she has just stepped out of a salon. Where others make or do their hair with three bunches, she did five, which is styled by a professional hair stylist. The total effect is stunning - get people - men and women - gapping at this apparition of beauty stepping down the road. Heads turn as she passes. She is a Benin girl whose name is Esosa Susan.

Her swagger is different from that of every other girl.

You cannot intimidate her; she has a peculiar life view - that life is for the present to be enjoyed in full. She speaks with a low voice but with a tilt that emphasizes the peculiar Pidgin English that is entirely unique to Benin in the same way as you can tell when a "Warri boy" or "Port Harcourt boy" speaks pidgin. But that voice can rise with particular venom when she is angry or distressed. All the sophistication of Esosan is skin deep. She is not beyond descending to the language of a gutter snip or fighting. Hers is a tough world and only the tough survive.

Furthermore, the Benin girl is a special phenomenon. It is unique - why? She is part of an industry - with world-wide implications and connections - it is the employment of young women who are upwardly mobile, beautiful, well "educated", trained in the sexual arts, able to make a lot of money through gifts from men: the closest comparable relationship is that of geisha girls in Japan (without the overt sexuality). She is obviously intelligent - street wise - but can fit in a sophisticated setting.

Benin is a centre, a confluence of several cultures - Edo, Ibo, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ishan, Estshako, Isoko, Kwale, Agbor, Ubulu Uku, Isele Uke, Asaba, etc.
The early historical influence of Benin Empire went as far as present day Benin Republic, Lagos, Warri, Ife, Ishan etc. Moreover, there is a long historical connection with Benin Empire: today Benin is a confluence of beauty, brain, money, power and influence. Benin was the epicenter of the 419 scam until recently when it moved to Asia.

Ikeja beauty parlours: Home of deadly glamour

Written by Anna Okon - Punch, Nigeria.

From the dingy shops and dubious tools of self-acclaimed hairdressers under the Ikeja Bridge, Lagos, come a most unexpected service: breast enhancement.

The Lagos traffic snakes along the main road from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, crawling sluggishly towards the bridge which leads to the Oba Akran Road. A similar scenario plays out under the bridge where rows of shops line both sides of the road. Smartly dressed young men and women are everywhere, clustering around these shops, while some are by the road side calling on pedestrians, trying to entice them for patronage.
This place is known as Ikeja Under Bridge. It is an area that has always been home to both male and female artisans in the beauty business.
Recently, however, men appear to have upstaged women in the business. It is now a common sight to see young men hovering along the fringes of the roundabout linking Obafemi Awolowo Way and Oba Akran Avenue, soliciting customers and taking them to nearby shops.

One of these shops is owned by Linus Solanke (not real names), a hairdresser. He is one of those who make extra money by renting out their shops on a short-time basis to other hairdressers who need space for a few hours to attend to their customers.
Solanke's salon, a makeshift space, is equipped with a wall mirror and a few straight-backed chairs and it has become a haven for other young men who do hair braiding, pedicure and manicure body piercing, tattoos, permanent eye lashes/brows, permanent lip colour and other services. For each client attended to in his shop, Solanke charges between N300 and N400.
While in their salons, one easily understands why men are taking over the business. Unlike their female counterparts, the young men take their time to do their work and their charges are very flexible. Whereas the women charge between N2, 500 and N3, 000 for hair 'fixing,' the men take as low as N1,000 or less and they hardly leave a client unattended to.
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