Letters Readers’ views
RIP Whitney! The death of Whitney Houston on 11 February 11, 2012, at the age of just 48, came as a shock to the whole world but as her global African audience, we want to remember and celebrate her exceptional vocal talent and her immense contribution and achievements to Black music, other than her tragic personal life.
Despite personal struggles, Whitney not only set the bar high as the bestselling single female singer of all time, who other Black female international heavyweights, such as Janet Jackson and Beyoncé aspired to, she was also an unsung humanitarian at heart, who spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. In 1988, she was one of the international artists who performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday concert in London, an event that highlighted further his incarceration and calls to end racial segregation in South Africa.
Following his release and eventual election as South Africa’s first black president, Whitney subsequently performed three concerts in South Africa to honour President Mandela. Proceeds from one of the concerts were donated to various charities in the country. Symbolically, Whitney died on 11 February, the 22nd anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison!
In 1989, Whitney formed The Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, a charity that has raised funds for the needs of vulnerable children around the world, Africa inclusive. The organisation cares for homeless, cancer and HIV/Aids-affected children, and tackles other issues of child empowerment.
Never shy of her African roots, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1993, she stated: “People know who Whitney Houston is – I’m black. You can’t hide that fact.”
aymond Eyo Kumba, Cameroon
New priorities in Tunisia In Tunisia’s first free elections held last October, the Ennahda party won 41% of the Constituent Assembly seats. As a result, it could have easily secured a majority with independent MPs.
But the victorious Islamists preferred instead to set up a coalition government with secular partners, namely the Congress for the Republic and the Democratic
Forum. Domestic as well as foreign considerations explain the Islamists’ option for this inconvenient alliance. They are well aware that the old “winner takes all” system doesn’t bode well with the new revolutionary reality in the country, and that a purely Islamist government would not be well received by Tunisia’s partners abroad, particularly in Europe and the US.
As a result, a two-month marathon of negotiations ended up with Ennahda getting the so-called sovereignty ministries of Justice, Interior, and Foreign Affairs, while it gave up to its secular partners some “social ministries” that are crucial for preaching and outreach, like Religious Affairs, Social Affairs and Education.
Today, Ennahda wants to go back to pre-Charfi era textbooks, while trying a far-reaching “Arabisation” programme in order to end what its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, calls “linguistic pollution”, meaning the intrusive and intensive use of French in education and the public sphere. But this will not be easy.
The secular partners have made it clear that education should remain out of Ennahda’s hands, and the Islamist leadership is well aware that permanent reform in this respect requires a national consensus, which is difficult to secure in the current circumstances.
Ennahda gave up also on the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs. Its leadership is well aware of the limited mandate the movement got from the polls, especially given the fact that 3.7 million people, roughly half the total number of eligible
Whitney Houston was also a humanitarian at heart voters, didn’t show up for the election.
And with 3 million people (nearly a third of the total population) holding Facebook accounts, the risks, that a majority of Tunisians could become completely disenchanted with them in the future, are high.
Obama will never be Cromwell “Baffour’s Beefs” (NA, Jan) assuring that Africans “will fight if pushed around” was sweet music to our ears! The unmitigated gall of President Barack Obama in threatening Africans in Africa today concerning their own cultural values and customs, while African-Americans in the USA are still being discriminated against, have not received reparations for hundreds of years of the most violent bestiality in human history (slavery in the Americas), and when Martin Luther King Jr, hero of millions of African-Americans, is not even correctly quoted on what is supposed to be a national monument, is just too much – the straw that broke the camel’s back!
We have no Oliver Cromwell in America with enough guts and power to clean out the Capitol. In spite of all the hoopla and high hopes, Barack Obama will never be a Cromwell! Nowhere near!
Goods are priced the way they are displayed I would like to add to the voices of those who have stood steadfastly against the wiles of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who still wants to arrogate to himself the right to dictate to African leaders what to do with gay rights on the continent (NA, Dec).
While saluting the “courage” of the African leaders who told Cameron off, I would like to add that they are partly to blame for situations where people who should come to us as beggars today parade themselves as saviours and aid-givers.
I believe that the problem is that we Africans, most especially our leaders, have always been too polite to want to give offence. It might have to do with our cul-
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