African workers protest French Macron neocolonialism

This video says about itself:

Macron publicly ‘humiliates’ Burkina Faso president as French leader’s Africa trip goes wrong

28 November 2017

Emmanuel Macron‘s visit to Africa has been tainted not only by attacks and protest on his first stop in Burkina Faso. The president of the African nation apparently wasn’t so much into French humor either, leaving the room during Macron’s speech at a local university.

Read more here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Macron stoned on visit to former French Sahel colony

Wednesday 29th November 2017

FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron was greeted by volleys of stones on his visit to former colony Burkina Faso yesterday.

Trade unions called for protests during his visit as part of a regional tour before an EU-African Union summit in Ivory Coast later this week.

The government ordered schools in the capital Ouagadougou be closed to reduce traffic amid high-security measures, but many took that as a bid to head off unrest.

Mr Macron’s spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said the presidential motorcade was pelted with stones on its way to a meeting with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

He denied reports of “hundreds of assailants” and vehicles destroyed.

In a speech to students at Ouagadougou University, Mr Macron gave an assurance that Francois Compaore, the brother of former president Blaise Compaore, who was installed in a French-backed 1987 coup, would finally be extradited from France over the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo.

Declining to answer questions about domestic issues, he said: “You talk to me as if I were the president of Burkina Faso, as if France were still a colonial power.”

Mr Macron claimed he belonged to “a generation that has never known Africa as a colonised continent,” although France maintains the territories of Mayotte and Reunion.

Several people were injured on Monday night when two motorcycle-mounted assailants threw a hand grenade at a bus carrying French troops, missing their intended target.

Burkina Faso is one of five former French colonies in the Sahel region south of the Sahara involved in the three-year French-led Operation Barkhane counterinsurgency operation.

The US also has a military presence in Burkina Faso as part of its network of bases across the Sahel.

Neocolonial war in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

French soldier in Mali with skull mask

This photo of a French Foreign Legion soldier, part of the invasion of Mali, shows the real face of that war.

That war is not “against Al Qaeda terrorism” (supported by the French government in Libya, and still in Syria). It is not for women’s rights, human rights or secularism.

It started in support of a military dictatorship.

It brings death, mainly to Malian civilians.

This war is a neo-colonial war.

The French Foreign Legion became infamous in the nineteenth century for its atrocities while imposing colonial rule in Algeria and elsewhere. Now, it plays a role in twenty-first century neo-colonialism as well.

By Thomas Gaist:

Mali war spilling into Burkina Faso, Niger

18 July 2017

Four and a half years after the January 2013 invasion of Mali by a US-backed French force, the war is spiraling toward a larger regional conflict, prompting border closures by neighboring governments, and spurring escalations by the Western governments.

Mali’s border areas are experiencing “a significant expansion of violent extremist and terrorist activities, including coordinated cross-border attacks against security posts and ransacking of border settlements,” the United Nations top official for West Africa said Thursday.

Additionally, opposition groups staged protests over the weekend in Bamako, Mali’s capital, rallying thousands of demonstrators in the name of blocking proposed legal changes that would transfer emergency powers to the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Last Monday, eight Malian troops were ambushed and killed traveling between Gao and Menaka. On Wednesday, Burkina Faso armed forces clashed with heavily armed militants along the Burkina-Mali border. On Friday, Mauritania declared its northeastern border a closed, militarized area, announcing that “any individual circulating or transiting in this part of the national territory will be treated as a military target.”

On July 8, JNIM attacked a French Army base near the town of Tessalit, killing at least three French soldiers. On July 9, JNIM fighters attacked a police station in Mobti province. In March, Mali’s main Islamist factions, Ansar Dine, Al-Mourabitoun, the Massina factions and Al Qaida announced their merger into a new formation, Nusrat-ul-Islam, under the leadership of Iyad Ag Ghaly.

An Al Qaida branch in Mali known as the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) attacked a Nigerian garrison near the village of Tsawah along the Mali-Niger border in June.

French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Timbuktu at the beginning of July to discuss plans to expand the “G5 Sahel” multinational army, an imperialist proxy coalition established in February 2014, consisting of forces from the governments of Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. On July 2, Macron called on the G5 coalition to contribute 5,000 soldiers in support of French military activities against “terrorists, thugs and murderers.”

“This force is first going to secure the borders, particularly in the areas where terrorist groups have developed,” French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian told Le Monde.

“It doesn’t look like France will be pulling out of Mali anytime soon,” France 24 noted in response to the announcement.

Complementing expanding French military operations the German parliament voted in January to expand troop deployments in Mali from 350 to 1,000, making Mali the German military’s largest overseas mission.

The immediate causes of the Mali war flowed from the fallout from the 2011 US-NATO war against Libya. Beginning in January 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg ethnic militia, launched an insurrection against the central government and established control over portions of northern Mali. In March 2012, a coup d’état led by government soldiers declaring themselves the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR), removed President Amadou Toure from power. Rebel militia groups seized control of Malian cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in wake of the coup.

From January 2013, Paris responded with repeated waves of troop deployments, with backing from Washington. The 2013 invasion, “Operation Serval,” served as the spearhead for a major expansion of French militarism across the country’s former colonial holdings in West Africa.

In exchange for French “assistance” in stabilizing northern Mali, Paris demanded and received basing rights for its troops throughout the country. Previous Malian governments had been among the few regimes in Francophone Africa to resist such arrangements, limiting French military activities to small-scale training of local forces. Prior to 2013, French combat troops had been absent from Malian territory since their withdrawal following the country’s formal independence in 1960.

As part of “Operation Barkhane,” the successor to “Serval,” some 6,000 French ground troops, hundreds of armored vehicles, war planes, attack helicopters, and drones are now deployed throughout the Sahel. Additional German and French troops deployed under European Union flags in February 2014, for the official purpose of training of Malian units.

The American and European ruling elites are determined to tighten their grip over the Sahel, which is home to massive natural resource deposits, including uranium and numerous precious metals, and is speculated to have the largest untapped petroleum reserves in Africa.

Mali’s northern Taoudeni basin has been known to contain large gas and petroleum reserves since the 1970s. In 2011, the French firm Total claimed to have found “the El Dorado of petroleum reserves” in the northern desert region. A 2015 US geological analysis found that the Taoudeni Basin contains “160 million barrels of conventional oil, 1,880 billion cubic feet of conventional gas, 602 million barrels of shale oil, and 6,395 billion cubic feet of shale gas.”

Involvement by French, German and other European Union (EU) forces in the Sahel is part of “a major new direction in European security policy,” according to the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

For the European powers, the Sahel represents “a second front in the war on terror,” that is “building alongside a growing number of multinationals hoping to extract oil and gas reserves of Mali and Mauritania, and strong French military presence,” according to Environmental Justice Atlas. In addition to seizing control over the continent’s resources, and asserting the interests of the dominant European banks and corporations, the European powers view the militarization of the Sahel as a means to suppress the flood of refugees northward toward the Mediterranean.

These policies are aimed at reasserting the colonial order established by world imperialism during the 19th and 20th centuries. Throughout the period of “decolonization” from the 1960s onward, the economies and societies of West Africa were subordinated to the needs of French imperialism through an array of mechanisms, including control over African currency reserves and raw materials, monopoly rights for French firms in all key sectors of the economy, and permanent military and police basing arrangements on African soil.

Dozens of coups d’etat have been engineered from Paris against African governments, beginning with the assassination of Togo’s head of state, Sylvanus Olympio in 1963, who made the fatal mistake of attempting to transition Togo’s economy to its own national currency. Malian President Modiba Keita met a similar fate after seeking to leave the French currency zone in June 1962.

In 1975 and again in 1989, French military officers organized the overthrow of Chadian Presidents. In 2003, French troops toppled Central African Republic (CAR) President Ange-Felix Patasse, placing in power General Francois Bozize, after Patasse sought to expel France’s military presence from the CAR. At present, nearly 2,000 French troops are operating in Central African Republic as part of “peacekeeping mission” alongside African Union troops.

More recently, in 2009, Paris organized a coup against the Madagascar government of Marc Ravalomanana, after he sought business deals with rival imperialist interests at the expense of French corporations.

“France established military bases in Africa during the colonial period, and maintained a military presence in Africa after the ‘flag independence’ of its former colonies in the 1960s,” Gary Busch wrote in an article for Pambazuka News this week.

“These agreements allowed France to have pre-deployed troops and police in bases across Africa; in other words, French army and gendarme units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa, run entirely by the French. The Colonial Pact was much more than an agreement to station soldiers across Africa. It bound the economies of Africa to the control of France,” Busch noted.

Notwithstanding the incessant rhetoric about “fighting terrorism,” the thousands of Western soldiers invading Africa are sent primarily to secure strategic interests. The stage is being set for a ferocious antagonistic struggle between the major powers for control over the continent. The coming to power of the Trump administration, with its ultra-nationalist “America First” agenda, is intensifying the inter-imperialist tensions and fueling conflicts in every sub-region of Africa.

This week saw Western media issuing ominous warnings about the dangers of piracy and terrorism in the Gulf of Guinea, Niger Delta, and the Lake Chad Basin. Some 5.2 million have already been displaced by the Western-backed Chadian-led invasion of northern Nigeria, justified in the name of “fighting” Boko Haram.

The expansion of the Mali war is an advanced expression of the tendencies toward war and social breakdown at work throughout Africa and worldwide. Two and half decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the supposed “End of History,” Africa’s governments are tottering in the face of war, famine and disease. The only response of Africa’s national elites is further war preparations and deeper integration into the corporate, political and military establishments of North American and Western Europe.

3 U.S. SOLDIERS KILLED, 2 INJURED IN AMBUSH IN NIGER The Green Berets were attacked in an area known to have an insurgent presence. [Reuters]

Killings of four elite soldiers in Niger highlight vast scale of American military operations in Africa: here.

The war being conducted in West Africa by the United States in partnership with its European counterparts France and Germany, which was exposed by the killing of four US special forces soldiers in Niger earlier this month, is setting the stage for a much broader war in the region: here.

Making clear the October 4 ambush that killed four Green Berets is to be utilized as a pretext for a major escalation of American military operations in the region, Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Mountari requested that the US deploy armed drones against reputed militants: here.

U.S. Troop Deaths in Niger: AFRICOM’s Chickens Come Home to Roost: here.

Burkina Faso: demonstrations in honor of murdered journalist: here.

Eurasian migratory birds need big African trees

This video from England is about a common redstart.

This blog reported already about the count this month of migratory shorebirds in west Europe and west Africa.

More inland in Africa, people count migratory birds as well.

There is an international BirdLife program: Living on the Edge; for improving migratory bird habitats and livelihoods in the Sahel region, just south of the Sahara desert.

In this program, there is participation from Burkina Faso NATURAMA, Mauritania, Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) – Nigeria; and Senegal. And also from European countries where the migratory birds are in summer.

This morning, Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands reported about it. Where do Eurasian migratory birds like common redstart and spotted flycatcher spend their African winters?

It turns out they do so overwhelmingly in just about ten tree species, all in the Acacia genus. And much more so in older, taller trees than in small, young trees.

This research result means there should be more conservation of acacia trees, especially tall, older ones.

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Migratory bird brings African, Dutch school children together

This video from England is called WWT Slimbridge: Common Redstart.

Translated from BirdLife in the Netherlands:

The common redstart nests in Europe but winters in the Sahel, including in Burkina Faso. The curriculum ‘The Incredible Journey‘ will therefore also be offered, in French, to pupils in Burkina Faso in 2014. Children of Belemtisse primary school in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso and the primary school ‘De Oanrin’ in Twijzel [in the Netherlands] will then be in touch. Together, this way, they will get to know better each others’ world and also the world of the common redstart, which flies back and forth between them.

Birds and people in Burkina Faso, Africa

This video says about itself:

Birds and people – Living on the Edge in the Sahel

Aug 27, 2013

Birds and people in the Sahel rely on the same natural resources: trees, water, land. They are living on the edge, for here, the landscape is also changing.

Every year, an incredible 2 billion migratory birds travel from Europe to Africa to spend the winter. They fly thousands of kilometers, some in only a few days. After crossing the Sahara, they arrive in the Sahel, still green but with the dry season approaching fast.

Population increase and urbanisation increase the pressure on natural resources through overgrazing and unsustainable wood cutting. Hydrodams change river flood patterns and turn floodplains into drylands. Large-scale schemes for agriculture and biofuels alter habitats over thousands of hectares.

BirdLife partners, volunteers and local people in the Sahel are striving to counter these effects. This video shows how rural communities are being enabled to use natural resources more sustainably, both restoring natural habitats and improving their livelihoods.

Video launched at the Natural Livelihoods workshop of the BirdLife World Congress in Ottawa, June 2013.

Part of ‘Natural Livelihoods’ video series from BirdLife International‘s Local Empowerment Programme.

Film Living on the Edge on this: here.

Boreholes in the Sahel: Man made oasis that helps the soul – Burkina Faso: here.

Shea butter and birds in Burkina Faso: here.

Volunteer conservationists in rural Burkina Faso are turning to social media in order to save their local wetland. The Lake Oursi Site Support Group are using smart phones to respond immediately to fires and poaching. The group is a passionate volunteer group entrusted to care for their local Important Bird Areas. Lake Oursi is an important wetland in the landlocked West African state: here.

Slavery exhibition in Dutch museum

This video is called Going Dutch – The Netherlands’ slave trade.

Translated from Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde in Leiden, the Netherlands:

This year is the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies. In that context the Ethnology Museum shows until September 29, the exhibition of banners: Slavery in words and pictures. It is an accessible and concise historical overview of the history of slavery, compiled by the University of Amsterdam. A second set of banners shows Raymann’s choice. Jörgen Raymann [Surinamese-Dutch comedian] chose with his daughter Melody ten objects, each telling a story about slavery. The gallery shows a single object. An object which in its simplicity speaks volumes: an iron slave shackle, from Burkina Faso.

Slavery works like this. A human being is made a slave, and becomes a thing afer that. No longer a human being, but a tool or a sex object. Something which you can buy”.

In clear words and powerful images the exhibition shows the history of slavery. Including the major player role of the Netherlands in the slave trade. In 1637, the Netherlands conquered the important fort Elmina in Ghana, part of Angola and part of Brazil: a golden triangle of trade.

African slaves were transported in Dutch ships to Brazil where they had to work at sugar plantations. The same ships then brought that sugar back to the Netherlands.

Raymann’s choice

Melody Raymann, student of History at the University of Amsterdam, together with her father Jörgen Raymann chose ten objects from the Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam and from two private collections. Each of these objects tells a story about slavery. Melody wrote the captions about the objects which she and her father saw and discussed. The ten stories are, eg, about punishments, freedom, slave trade and plantations.

Slave shackle

The foot shackle, part of the Ethnology Museum’s own collection, was collected in the nineteenth century (before 1888) by the German linguist and African studies scholar G.A. Krause. Krause was strongly opposed to German colonial policy and refused any coöperation with it. He publicly fought German colonial bureaucrats in Togo who sold slaves. The foot shackle is from the region of the Mossi, the biggest ethnic group in Burkina Faso.

This exhibition will be open until 29 September 2013, 5pm.

German heavy metal rock and politics

This music video from Germany says about itself:

HEAVEN SHALL BURN – Hunters Will Be Hunted (OFFICIAL VIDEO) feat. Denise Rombouts. Taken from the album “VETO”. Century Media 2013.

DIRECTOR of the video-clip: Philipp Hirsch.

PRODUCER of the video-clip: Philipp Hirsch & Felix Kastl

By Ben Trent:

Heaven Shall Burn’s Veto: Politicised heavy metal

12 August 2013

The metalcore band Heaven Shall Burn, from Saalfeld in eastern Germany, released their seventh studio album in April of this year, simply entitled Veto. The album, coming after their Iconoclast trilogy (Iconoclast—Part 1: The Final Resistance [2008]; Bildersturm—Iconoclast II [The Visual Resistance] [2009]; Invictus [Iconoclast III] [2010]) is full of the same heavy metal sound infused with lyrics of a socially conscious nature.

Death metal” is primarily a form of heavy metal music found in Europe and the US, although in the last half-decade, it has become increasingly global, producing bands such as Bhayanak Maut from India, Crackdust (Botswana) and Seth.Ect (Turkey). For those who are not fans, death metal is not an easy genre to get into, and the politicised message is somewhat lost when the lyrics are hard to make out without having the liner notes at hand. This sort of music certainly isn’t for the casual listener.

The new album is everything that Heaven Shall Burn have showcased to date and, as a death metal band, they utilise an assortment of heavy guitars, blast-beating drums and screeching vocals, along with synthetic effects that give the songs added depth.

To some extent, the band lacks musical innovation because they are limited by the death metal genre, which is now well established and suffers from genuine stagnation. However, they do push the boundaries with their use of synthetic elements.

The band is also unusual amongst its contemporaries in the genre for its use of “political” lyrics, described on as “highly controversial and politicised death metal.”

Not many bands in the genre address socio-political concerns—the 2003 Iraq war being one of the few events that really took the heavy metal scene by storm. There are a few major self-styled “anarchist” bands, including Arch Enemy and The Agonist, and attempts by other acts to release the occasional “politicised” track. However, the depth and seriousness of Heaven Shall Burn lyrics are somewhat refreshing in a genre whose themes are generally nihilistic or empty-headed.

The band has a tendency to reflect on “folk heroes” of the Left, often bourgeois nationalists or other figures promoted by the former Stalinist parties. The album Antigone had songs about Víctor Jara, the murdered Chilean Communist and songwriter, and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela. Presumably, growing up in East Germany has something to do with the band’s political inclinations.

Heaven Shall Burn album cover

The current album’s second track, “Land of the Upright Ones,” is dedicated to Thomas Sankara (1949-1987), the first leader of Burkina Faso, touted as “Africa’s Che Guevara.” It is a song of resistance, and the bridge gives a brief pause to the sustained heaviness of the track, to proclaim over melodic keyboards,

This life, this future, we’ll build a new foundation.

A new era we will bid welcome

The theme of the third track, “Die Stürme Rufen Dich (The Storms are calling you),” is overt anti-imperialism, with reference to genocide, despotism and the looting by “Northern Kingdoms.” The track is very stark and bleak in its recognition of the horrors committed by Western imperialism.

“An unseen genocide, a world war on the enslaved ones

Shieldless, Facing despotism,

This is the time of awakening”

“You Will Be Godless” and “Like Gods Among Mortals” (the sixth and ninth tracks, respectively) are directed specifically at the oppression of the ruling elite. “You Will Be Godless” suggests that the Vatican has a long history of corruption and collusion with the aristocracy and bourgeois classes, with religion used to suppress the spirit of the oppressed—

An isolated super state

Lead and controlled by rotten tyrants

Detached from the world and disconnected from reality

Maintaining power is the highest destination

Suppressing real enlightenment and ruling by oppression

Misanthropic doctrines, committed only to their profit

The song closes with the lyrics “Ancient traditions of justifying dark suppressors.” It’s a very heavy and brutal track, even for death metal music, highlighting the band’s feelings of hostility towards the Vatican and its corrupt nature. However, whether such a violent song will have the apparently intended effect of making the listener question religion is another matter.

“Like Gods Among Mortals” is a quintessentially heavy death metal track. It strikes up an antagonistic tone towards the “democratically elected” elites of the world, alluding to the Bilderberg Conference and the latest assaults on democratic rights (which, with the recent Edward Snowden revelations, resonates even more strongly):

Deathmongers, elected and legitimised

Sitting in secret councils

Corrupted henchmen, no beholder

Fraternity is wiped from the face of this earth

The song title lends itself well to the name of the band, which despite its rather Satanic overtones, is a reflection on the end of a system that falsely promises self-enrichment while actually exploiting all but a very few excessively wealthy individuals. In an interview, a band member explained, “We use the term heaven as a metaphor for some kind of a fake paradise that people create in their heads. Some people close their eyes and don’t see the truth surrounding them. So this kind of fake heaven should burn.”

The opening track (and the inspiration behind the cover art), entitled simply “Godiva,” is a very unusual take on the legend of Lady Godiva—the thirteenth century noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry, pleading with her husband (the Earl of Mercia) to alleviate his heavy taxation of the populace. It requests, “Godiva, promise me, convey our hate and screams” and to give “new hope to all the fallen ones, To all the silenced, to those unheard.”

The cover-track, “Valhalla,” written by another German metal band, Blind Guardian, and featuring a cameo role by its frontman Hansi Kürsch, is a complete departure from Heaven Shall Burn’s politicised topics. The style of the track is (while remaining essentially a metal track) a somewhat light-hearted interlude in an otherwise heavy and dark album.

The final track attacks the “European Super State” and questions poetically,

Why are the proud descendants of Plato

Paying off more debts accommodating NATO?

We the caretakers of democracy

No longer tolerate this hypocrisy

Heaven Shall Burn should be congratulated for their concern with today’s political and social conditions. There are limitations in the genre itself and in the band’s approach, but their music’s aggression and thoughtful lyrics can provide the acquainted listener with a powerful sense of fury at the injustices of capitalism. How many of their listeners take their social attitudes seriously remains an open question.

Burkina Faso pro-democracy march

This video from the USA sats about itself:

Children in Burkina Faso Get Dirty Work of Digging Up Gold

10 July 2013

Gold production has more than doubled in Burkina Faso in recent years. But that boom has led to a increase in the employment of child laborers in small, artisanal mines. In collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, photojournalist Larry C. Price recently visited several communities to document the conditions.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Protests rise against ruler’s bid to go on

BURKINA FASO: Thousands of people marched through Ouagadougou today [28 July 2013] to oppose President Compaore’s bid to extend his rule by creating a new senate.

Opposition leaders fear it will be used to scrap the two-term limit that would bar Mr Compaore from standing in 2015 elections.

Compaore resigns: here.

See also here.

Burkina Faso anti-dictatorship protest

This video says about itself:

An Orange Tree Sweatshop: African Migrant Workers Suffer in Italy

Mar 1, 2012

Orange Harvest, an original investigation by Britain’s Ecologist TV exposes the poor conditions and low wages endured by African migrant workers harvesting oranges in southern Italy. Andrew Wasley reports from Rosarno, Calabria that as many as 2,000 migrants travel to this small agricultural town from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast to make a meager living picking oranges that end up in markets or as juices or concentrates used in making soft drinks.

This investigation has led to calls for multinational food and drink firms purchasing orange ingredients from the region to address the problem. Italy’s largest farmers association says it has written to several companies including Coca Cola, manufacturer of the Fanta orange drink — complaining that prices paid for orange concentrates are unfair and foster unbearable living conditions for migrant workers. Coca Cola says its direct Calabrian supplier was given a clean bill of health by an independent auditor as late as May 2011 but admits the nature of the supply chain means it is unable to audit every farm or consortium whose juice may be bought by its supplier.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Workers protest at high cost of living

BURKINA FASO: Thousands of workers protested on Saturday against the high cost of living and the creation of a new senate they fear will enable President Blaise Compaore to extend his 26-year rule.

Police tear-gassed demonstrations in the capital Ouagadougou, though the prime minister later promised to meet with unions to discuss their economic grievances.