Category Archives: General

Meet Captain South Africa; She’d Rather not Punch Criminals

The usual suspects — Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Darth Vader — roamed at Comic Con Africa. A few African characters were also on display: Kwezi, Captain South Africa and Shaka Zulu.
The success of Marvel’s “Black Panther” film spiked interest in African stories, and creators on the continent hope to capitalize with more comic book characters of their own. The three-day convention ending Sunday in South Africa was a platform for their efforts, even if it was dominated by the global superheroes, villains and other pop culture figures who have been around for decades.
Many of the first African comic books are “caricatures of Supermans, of Captain Americas,” said Bill Masuku, a Zimbabwean artist and writer. “But if you allow that to grow, giving it time, you will get better quality story-telling that is naturally African.”
One example is Masuku’s Captain South Africa, a black female superhero who “doesn’t want to punch criminals because that doesn’t end crime,” he said at a convention stall where he also promoted another of his creations, Zimbabwean superhero Razor-Man.
Thousands of people, many in costume, turned out for the suburban Johannesburg event introduced by Reed Exhibitions. ReedPOP, a subsidiary of the global company, hosts similar conventions around the world and brought its model to Africa for the first time.
Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya have been running their own “comic con” festivals for several years; South Africa’s annual ICON comic and games convention started in 1992.
Hurricane Florence scrapped plans by Anthony Mackie, the actor who has played Marvel’s Falcon superhero, to travel to Comic Con Africa. Aquaman actor Jason Momoa also canceled. Kevin Sussman from “The Big Bang Theory” and YetideBadaki from “American Gods” made it, to the delight of autograph and photo op seekers.
“If you have issues with personal space, comic cons are not for you,” said ICON director Les Allen as he waded through crowds. Up ahead, video gamers playing a “Counter-Strike” first-person shooter in sound-proof booths battled each other on giant screens as spectators followed the combat. Someone in a reptilian “Predator” outfit paced the hall, posing with fans. Other people had masks, hoods, swords and staffs and there was plenty of spandex and hair spray, of course.
“Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince,” a glossy graphic novel about the real-life Zulu king who built an empire at a time of European expansion into Africa, was among home-grown projects on display. The story of power and intrigue was written and drawn by South African Luke Molver.
“To a large extent, African stories get told by people outside of Africa, about people in Africa,” said Robert Inglis, the book’s promoter and director of Jive Media Africa, a company based in South Africa. Part of the reason is that many African stories circulate through “word of mouth” and don’t have the “lasting kind of print space” to resonate internationally, he said.
Nearby, Janine Evans was offering capes modeled on traditional Basotho blankets and other clothing merchandise associated with a band of southern African superheroes.
“Our aim here is to actually take the Afrocentric from the fantasy world and bring it into people’s everyday lives,” she said.
One African superhero is Kwezi, a comic book character drawn by creator LoyisoMkize. He is a young man who learns he has special powers, and then sorts out problems in the local community. In a short video animation, a flying Kwezi checks a phone message that summons him to an urban Johannesburg neighborhood: “Trouble in Braamfontein, we need you now!!!!”
Other promotions at Comic Con Africa include “The Tokoloshe,” a South African horror movie whose name refers to an evil spirit; and “Apocalypse Now Now,” a South African short film and novel whose name plays on the uniquely South African phrase meaning “soon.”
The goal is “to normalize the existence of African content and creators,” said Masuku, the Captain South Africa creator. “We’re still making the steps to get there. I’m happy with where we are right now.”

Source: Voice of America

Rwandan Opposition Leader, 2,100 Others Walk Free from Prison

One of Rwanda’s most prominent opposition leaders walked free Saturday after the government approved the early release of more than 2,100 prisoners with little explanation.
Supporters of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and the state-run The New Times newspaper posted photos of the opposition leader walking out of Nyarugenge prison hours after the justice ministry’s announcement.
Also approved for early release was musician Kizito Mihigo, who along with Ingabire received a presidential commutation. The ministry statement said both had made their most recent requests for clemency in June.
Ingabire, head of the FDU-Inkingi opposition party, was arrested in 2010 and found guilty of conspiracy to undermine the government and denying Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, charges that she denied. She was sentenced to 15 years.
Human Rights Watch has called the charges politically motivated and linked to her criticism of the government ahead of the 2010 presidential election.
Mihigo had been convicted on charges of conspiring against the government.
Rwanda’s government has long been accused by rights groups of suppressing the opposition and having a justice system that lacks independence, which the government has denied. Human Rights Watch has expressed concern that the government uses accusations of “genocide ideology” as a way to silence critics.
Still detained in Rwanda is Diane Rwigara, who tried to challenge longtime President Paul Kagame in last year’s election but was disqualified from running over allegations that she forged some of the signatures on her nomination papers. She denied it.
Rwigara later was charged with inciting insurrection against the state.

Source: Voice of America

US: Reforms First, Then Removal of Zimbabwe Sanctions

The newly appointed United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols, says that Zimbabwe must follow through on promised reforms if it wants U.S. sanctions on the country to be lifted.
In an interview Friday at the Voice of America’s Washington headquarters, Ambassador Nichols told Marvelous Mhlanga-Nyahuye of VOA’s Zimbabwe Service that the newly elected government of President EmmersonMnangagwa will get the full support of the U.S. government if it implements legal changes it promised during the election campaign.
He said those reforms include observing the rule of law and allowing citizens such freedoms as access to information and free speech.
Sanctions renewed
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump renewed sanctions against Zimbabwe and set out steps the country needed to take to have them removed. The presidential act, called the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018, also known as Zidera, set one such condition as ensuring that July’s national elections were free and fair.
Following those elections, the ruling ZANU-PF was declared the winner, but the opposition challenged the results claiming fraud. The Constitutional Court held a hearing on the matter in August, ruling against the opposition’s claims of election rigging.
The election, which many said was peaceful compared to previous elections, was not free from all violence. The army reportedly used live ammunition and killed at least six people during opposition protests of the vote.
Ambassador Nichols said he has met both President Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and looks forward to working with both of them.
“I think they are both people who love their country, and are committed to improving Zimbabwe and changing many of the problems of the past,” he said.
Targeted sanctions, remedies
Mnangagwa has called for the lifting of U.S. sanctions against officials from the ZANU-PF ruling party, top military figures and some government-owned firms, which were imposed during former President Robert Mugabe’s rule for election rigging and human rights abuses.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister SibusisoMoyo has said Mnangagwa’s government was shocked by the renewal of U.S. sanctions.
Nicholas emphasized that the United States has targeted sanctions on only some individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, but not the entire country, and that U.S. businesses are not restricted from investing or doing business in Zimbabwe.
He said businesses want to invest in Zimbabwe, but said investors want to see reforms implemented that have been talked about by government officials.
“Decisions on investment in Zimbabwe are driven by the economic conditions in Zimbabwe, the rule of law, the assurances that people’s investments will be protected, that they have the right to have majority ownership in their businesses,” he said.
Economic potential
Nichols says he believes Zimbabwe has so much economic potential, especially in the areas of tourism, agriculture and mining.
“When you look at the area of tourism, Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. … Zimbabwe should be capturing more tourists and providing them with a world-class experience,” he said.
In terms of agriculture, Nichols said he hopes reforms that both candidates talked about during the presidential campaign will be implemented to help build a more “resilient and successful” agricultural sector. Zimbabwe’s agriculture output plummeted under Mugabe, who seized white-owned farmland beginning in 2000 and gave it to blacks with little experience in large-scale farming.
“And then obviously the extractive industry sector, mining, is one where Zimbabwe has tremendous potential — 40 different valuable minerals in Zimbabwe — that I think, if properly managed, could provide tremendous, tremendous opportunities,” Nichols said.
Nichols also announced an initiative in which the United States would help Zimbabwe fight a cholera epidemic. He said the United States was working to provide Zimbabweans with more than 300,000 vaccinations that can help prevent cholera or help people who are infected to recover more quickly.

Source: Voice of America

Namibia Launches NDC Partnership Plan for Climate Action

The Namibian Government and development stakeholders came together to join forces in delivering on the country’s commitments to advance the Paris Agreement. A newly developed Partnership Plan connects international resources for climate mitigation and adaptation to five priority areas set by the government and builds a community around climate action in Namibia.

WINDHOEK, Namibia, Sept. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Namibia today released its strategy to deliver its commitments to the Paris Agreement by fast-tracking climate action. Building off progress already made through Namibia’s existing climate plans and policies, the Namibia NDC Partnership Plan identifies priority areas set by the government for implementation of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The Plan takes ongoing action into account but, more importantly, looks to the future for development partners to deliver on their responsibility in supporting the global south to fight climate change. The priority areas set by the Government, and supported by the development community, private sector and others, include:

development of better framework conditions for effective climate change governance;
strengthening financing of projects that help reduce emissions and enhancing the country’s resilience against the effects of climate change;
tracking progress toward greenhouse gas emission reduction targets;
strengthening coordination across national and international stakeholders to fast track decisions and interagency collaboration.

Deputy Minister of Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism Bernadette Jagger

“We [Namibia] are aware that the implementation of our NDC presents several challenges, particularly in terms of financial and technological resources. We know we cannot tackle these challenges alone and that we need coordinated and concerted efforts of all our partners. It is for this reason that Namibia has joined the NDC Partnership and we believe that it will be a valuable partnership to assist us in attracting transformative projects to achieve our NDC targets and contribute to the overall goals outlined in the Paris Agreement,” said the Honorable Bernadette Jagger, Deputy Minister of Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

In its NDC, Namibia committed to ambitious mitigation and adaptation targets. In mitigation, Namibia committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 89 percent by 2030 through climate smart agriculture, reducing deforestation and renewable energy. Namibia is also highly vulnerable to climate impacts: half of Namibia’s population relies on subsistence agriculture, and water insecurity is a serious threat to the welfare of the Namibian people and its economy. To reduce this vulnerability, Namibia seeks a diversity of solutions, including improving water security, preventing desertification and increasing resilience to flooding, to name a few. To achieve these goals, Namibia has embraced the NDC Partnership’s integrated planning process to strengthen coordination, resource mobilization and transparency on NDC implementation.

Several members of the NDC Partnership have already pledged support to Namibia through the Partnership Plan, including the African Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the French Development Agency (AfD), the European Commission, the Federal Republic of Germany (through GIZ and KfW), the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and World Resources Institute. Strong interest has also been expressed from several banks, including the Namibia Development Bank and NedBank, in investing in climate smart projects. A growing community of development partners, private sector and government institutions is quickly assembling behind an urgent call for action to address climate impacts to achieve global climate goals.

“According to the recent publication on the State of the World’s Food Insecurity launched 11 September 2018, hunger is on the rise thanks in part to extreme climate events. Therefore, now more than ever we need to accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods through national commitments like NDCs to cope with the impacts,” said Resident Representative Farayi Zimudzi of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The NDC Partnership is a global coalition of countries and institutions committed to transformational climate action, co-chaired by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Morocco. The Partnership has grown to 83 member countries, 19 institutional members and seven associate members since its launch in November 2016. Namibia was one of the first countries in Africa to join the NDC Partnership and formalized its request for technical assistance in March 2018. The NDC Partnership is supporting more than 30 developing countries to enhance and implement their NDCs through technical assistance; capacity building; knowledge sharing and access to finance. Members give specific support to one another to strengthen policy frameworks; mainstream climate actions into national, sectoral and sub-national plans; develop budgeting and investment plans; share knowledge and resources and build more robust monitoring and reporting systems in line with country-driven requests.

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MoneyGram Launches Money Transfer Service to all Mobile Wallets in Ghana

Company expands digital offerings to offer consumers more choice in Africa’s fifth largest receive market

ACCRA, Ghana, Sept. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — MoneyGram (NASDAQ:MGI) and Zeepay, a mobile financial services company, announced today a new partnership that enables customers around the world to send money directly to more than 11 million mobile wallets in Ghana. With this new service, MoneyGram becomes the only leading money transfer provider in the country to offer consumers three different options to pick up funds from over 200 countries around the world.

“This is an important milestone for MoneyGram in Ghana as we’re now offering real-time, seamless service to our customers and giving them more choices about how to receive their funds – at a physical location, directly to a bank account or a mobile wallet,” said Grant Lines, MoneyGram’s chief revenue officer. “Giving consumers the flexibility to choose between digital and cash pick-up is, and will continue to be, a competitive advantage for the company.”

Funds can be sent via MoneyGram online or at any one of MoneyGram’s thousands of locations in 200 countries and territories around the world into mobile wallets in minutes. Money can be accessed 24/7 and used instantly for purchasing goods and services online. The receiver may also pick up their remittance in cash at over 2,000 banking partners’ locations across the country or have it debited into a bank account.

“Together with MoneyGram, we are building the future digital payments ecosystem in Ghana. I look forward to seeing the launch of similar services in other African countries,” said Andrew Taki Appiah, managing director at Zeepay.

According to the World Bank, in 2017, $2.2 billion flowed into Ghana, mainly from the United States ($585 million), Nigeria ($395 million), the United Kingdom ($286 million), Italy ($145 million) and Germany ($115 million).

For more information about the service, please visit www.moneygram.com.gh

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About MoneyGram International
MoneyGram is a global provider of innovative money transfer and payment services and is recognized worldwide as a financial connection to friends and family. Whether online, or through a mobile device, at a kiosk or in a local store, we connect consumers any way that is convenient for them. We also provide bill payment services, issue money orders and process official checks in select markets. More information about MoneyGram International, Inc. is available at moneygram.com.

Media Contact:
Michelle Buckalew
Tel: +1 214-979-1418
Mbuckalew@moneygram.com
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Logo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/600838/MoneyGram_International_Logo.jpg