Celebrating African Football : GABON 2012

In 2012, the African Cup of nations (CAN) will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, which will give a huge opportunity to develop the game in countries that have not had the chance of hosting the tournament before.

It has been 8 years now since Gabon took part in the African Cup finals and because of that the 2010 final qualification phase for both, African Cup and World Cup in South Africa, are so important for "les Panthères du Gabon" (the Gabon national team).
In March next year, Gabon will face Cameroon, Morocco and Togo in the group A with a qualification for the 2010 CAN in Angola as a priority.
And with Daniel Cousin impact in the Premier League with Hull FC, the all country already dream of being witness of their national team glory.

But the important message for Gabon, about co-hosting the African Cup in 2012, is today visible in the streets of Libreville, Oyem, Mouila or Franceville with the pride and joy of all Gabonese people who probably for the first time felt part of a World which usually turn his back on them.

I will come back later on this topic and try to explain why this huge football event could have an huge impact (a positive one) on the future of my home country, obviously it is quite important to not forget that Equatorial Guinea, as a co-host, is part of the equation and will play his role to make 2012 an special year for both population.

I can't finish without talking about Omar Bongo Odimba, Gabon' President since 1967, because hate him or love him, he has been and still is the huge force behind everything and anything positive we have seen in the past 40 years, making sure despite the sceptical that our country stay a peaceful land where people can live their life without fear and be proud to raise their children in a safe environment.

My Land is Bleeding...Again

"We were on our way back from school when we met the rebels. They made us carry some luggage for them and then told us to go with them," says a 16-year-old caught up in the recent unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Clashes between the army and rebels led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda have created a humanitarian crisis in recent weeks, with an estimated 350,000 people forced to flee their homes, a lot of them, men and children have been forced to serve in the rebels army, and the one who dare to refuse are already dead.

Children are being separated and orphaned by this intense conflict. Thousand of people are vulnerable to rape, malnutrition, abduction and disease, left on the side of the road or in the middle of a field waiting for a miracle to save them from a certain death if the world still keep his eyes close.

While DR Congo's last civil war technically ended in 2002, the country's eastern region remains on the cusp of conflict and Congolese across the country continue to die at an astounding pace: 45.000 a month, according to the International Rescue Committee.

In all, more than 5.4 million people have died in Congo since the war began in 1998, according to the most recent survey’s estimate, the latest in a series completed by the International Rescue Committee, an American aid organization. Nearly half of the dead were children younger than 5 years old.

That picture is not encouraging. The mortality rate in Congo is 57 percent higher than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Particularly hard hit were young children, who are especially susceptible to diseases like malaria, measles, dysentery and typhoid, which can kill when medicine is not available.

Today, the world realise the huge problem this country face and the UN action since last month is an indication that we need to do something to stop this "silence" genocide. Put it that way, Iraq is the main international headline everyday in UK, France or the United States, but since 2003 the war in Iraq killed around 100.000 people according to IBC (Iraq Body Count), 45.000 people died every in DR Congo since 1998 (IRC / Special Report : Congo).

If you want to know, learn, understand or donate to help support the network of concerned organizations and individuals who care about Africa and want to educate the public about the crisis in DR Congo, just visit the Congo Global Action and the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) websites.

Thank you for your help....

Hope of an easier path for my kids...

Last year I had to endure the sadness and anger to have my older boy, Jordan, been called a monkey at school by kids who thought that laughing at the colour of his skin was just a funny and acceptable thing to do. Last month, talking to him about Africa and where he was from, I couldn't stop thinking that the world he joined seven years ago didn't change a lot in term of understanding and accepting difference, whatever religion or race you are from. Perhaps someday he will tell his own kids the way much of his life was transformed when he was just a kid.

For now, I considered the redemptive potential of change and believed that hope was not audacious at all.

When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, I thought that perhaps my son would never feel the sting of childhood labels, would never deal with the awkward uncertainty, and never ask the questions that filled my childhood.

I think I share a very similar experience with Barack Obama from the standpoint that we both grew up mixed in a black and white world. People don't necessary understand that it’s a very different experience, and it’s something my white friends don’t fully understand and something my black friends don’t fully understand. It’s about being sort of in between always.

I'm usually decidedly non-political, but on the US Election night and again last week, I felt proud when I heard Barack Obama referred to "mutts like me". (Bastard)

Child of a mixed-race parents, I always think of the time when I felt "different", but I believe that the US election result could represent the realization of the dream that my children will be judged only by their character and work ethic. It is the dream of every father, of every parent, that their children don’t have to go through all the struggles that we went through, but at the same time, it shaped me to be the person I am today, even though it was a tough time, I’m glad I went through the experience.

You see, you never want to put your kids through oppression or discrimination, you want them to be able to go through struggles, but not like my parents had to go through and hopefully not as bad as I went through. Spending the evening trying to find the best way to explain my child the reason behind white kids calling him monkey at school is something I do not wish to my worst enemy, because the pain and the anger I felt that night is in me for the rest of my life...

I know the feeling of being different, I had to grew up with it, I had black people rejecting me because for them I was a white boy and white people would look at me funny and ignore me. There were some really difficult time for me at a time when a lot of kids just want to fit in, and growing up in Africa, I always found myself to be the only "white boy" in a classroom of 40 kids. I had to learn at an early age that not only it is OK to be different, but it's better to be different.

Barack Obama
elected President show that you are put in a place based on what you've done and who you are, not on what you are. You are there by your merit and by your character, not on what you look like.

My father always taught me, it’s about who you are and it doesn’t matter what people say. It doesn’t matter what people think. It’s not about the way people think you should act or talk. It’s about you as a person. Be proud of the person you are.

For Barack Obama to reach the highest political office in the world, knowing what he went through socially, politically, economically growing up, it makes me feel proud. I was just full of pride and full of excitement when I heard him on election night. I think what he represents, the diversity in his own background, the way he grew up, that’s what the world is today. And it’s exciting.

At seven, Jordan doesn't really understand what politic or discrimination is all about but he understood that been called "monkey" that day at school was not funny at all but just really painful...

The candle burns brighter / by IBM

The ballroom of the Marriott Marquis became quiet when he took the piano bench. In a voice full of life, he began a song, dedicated to his wife, which brought some to tears.

There was only one thing a little different about this moment on a stage in front of nearly 300 attendees. Mike Squillace, a software engineer for the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Centre, is blind.

When IBM was honoured with the Helen Keller Award in Accessibility, last October, Austin-based M. Squillace was able to perform, a testament of his musical talents as well as the software knowledge he’s given to IBM to help people with disabilities.

In a world where nearly 750 million people have a disability, IBM has made accommodating a priority.

IBM has developed a number of products to aid accessibility. They include text-to-speech technology Via Voice, Easy Web Browsing Software for vision difficulty and WebAdapt2Me for physical limitations. Clients are also benefiting from the technological innovations. Macy’s and Japanese store Mitsukoshi have used EasyWeb Browsing software on their Web sites to enhance user-experience for the visually impaired.

IBM also provides videophones, remote-interpreting, ramps, power doors, parking facilities, captioned-videos and sign language interpreters to employees.

The company has even taken it a step further by accommodating those who do not have disabilities but still need accessibility resources. The Centre's recently expanded focus to the low literacy, ageing and cross-cultural populations has allowed others to benefit from the accessible technology solutions as well.

“Many don’t realize accessibility isn’t just for people with disabilities,” said My Luu, program director of the Human Ability and Accessibility Centre, noting many tools are already being re-purposed. “The Centre reaches out to a large range of people all over the world.”

India’s Centre organized the National Summit on Human Abilities and Accessibilities in Delhi in November 2007, which led to the president of India presenting the company with two awards— Innovation in Technology and Barrier Free Workplace. “We take a three-pronged approach that includes working with government, increasing accessibility visibility and working with researchers to drive technology,” said Anil U. Joshi, India program director.

Strides have also been made in China. Using the Center as a guide, several public Web sites improved their accessibility in preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing. The Human Centric Solutions Center in France became successful by proposing Web Accessibility Services to clients. It also helped to sponsor Paris Web, an internet accessibility event.

"I've had 23 managers and as many jobs at IBM. That in itself speaks to the commitment IBM has to its people…and to me" said Jim Sinocchi, director of workforce communications.

Sinocchi, who was hired as a college graduate over 30 years ago, said he was drawn to IBM because of its reputation. But when a surfing accident made him a quadriplegic at 25, he was proud to be part of an accessibility-minded company.

“I have worked in any number of IBM facilities and each location made the necessary changes to make me as productive as possible.”

IBM also supports recruiting programs like Entry Point, Project Able and Project View, programs which specifically target persons with diverse backgrounds and disabilities.

Ron Glover, vice president of diversity and workforce programs, supports the effort. “The programs are designed to give managers a chance to see what people with disabilities can do and a chance to see what IBM offers. It’s a win-win situation.”

For Pamela Siebert, a Kansas software engineer who is deaf, accessibility was a key factor when looking for a place to work.

“I knew IBM was a leader in the accommodation field,” said the former Miss Deaf Kansas. “People would never know I am deaf because of the technology and the tools that have allowed me to feel independent. I was even able to get a videophone in my office," she said. IBM has never said ‘no’ to me.


This was an article on the internal IBM website 2 weeks ago, I was really touched after reading this and thought that sometime we forgot that people with a disability are not that different than us, we all have to face similar challenge everyday.

But by giving anyone an opportunity to work in the best environment possible IBM raise higher to the challenge of today world where anyone should be treated with the same respect, intelligence and understanding, not matter what....

President Barack Obama

In 2004 when Barack Obama spoke during the Democratic National Convention, America saw the future and democrat were exited about this young man passion, love for the people and his will to make a difference. Today, Thursday 06 November 2008, Barack Obama is the new President of the United States of America.

He’s the first of his kind. This moment has nothing to compare itself to.

Last night during Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Chicago’s Grant Park, the World was captivated. Christmas eyes around the world were prominent in their shocked reticence. Crowds cheered like it was New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl bombastic. One of the most unique moments in our planet's history. Joy and tears all around the world....

Blacks people are emotional and that’s just how it is. Now Whites people understand the origin of our emotion. Last night in America, Blacks voted with a smile because they finally felt a part of the political process and of the future of their country.

My brother called me from Lagos (Nigeria) this morning and the sound of his voice was full of hope and pride, I love you my brotha....

Based on America’s reaction, this was a real moment we all should be proud of.

This does not erase 400 years of slavery and racism.

Blacks deservedly will continue to be apprehensive but this will help.

The tears of joy shed by the American collective are something we all need to hold on to but education, racial profiling, affordable housing, criminal justice, the need for jobs and unconditional equality have to be genuinely approached with souls entrenched in reality’s flame.

Last night during his speech, Barack Obama spoke about civil rights through the experience of a 106-year-old woman. "She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people 'We Shall Overcome'." The settling of history matters for all the African-Americans who turned out for him, but Barack Obama does not want to be seen as a black president.

Watching TV last night and looking out at Grant Park celebration, I wondered whether if this was the beginning of a better tomorrow for America and for the world itself. America has voted for a Black man. Only a few years ago, I would have doubted it happening. Racism will not disappear but America recognised in this election that it is a rainbow nation and increasingly so. Diversity is its future. The younger generation does not fear it.

The world is already saluting Barack Obama. The love affair won't last but, for a while, America will regain its lure. The strength and vibrancy of its democracy will be admired. To throw up a candidate like Barack Obama is testimony to the success of the American system. But will it be a history day? It could be but, in any case, to be able to watch this live on TV on that night was a privilege.

BARACK OBAMA : History Making...

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

Barack Obama this morning declared "change has come to America" as he emerged from one of the most extraordinary elections in US history to become his country's first black president.

There were tumultuous scenes at a victory party with more than 100,000 people crammed into and around Grant Park in Chicago, when TV networks simultaneously declared him the winner at 11pm Eastern Time, bringing an emphatic end to the Bush years.

Many, including civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, had tears in their eyes

The American people yesterday demonstrated once again their unique capacity for self-renewal by electing the first black man as head of state, not much more than a generation after the country’s African-Americans were accorded full civil rights.
In electing Barack Obama President by a solid margin, accompanied by a congress with the biggest Democratic majority since the 1970s, Americans have signalled a dramatic change in the direction of the world’s sole superpower.

The country regarded loftily by many Europeans as hopelessly racist and irredeemably right wing has voted to be ruled by a black man, at the head of a party committed to economic redistribution and a foreign policy rooted in peaceful diplomatic engagement.

As Martin Luther King said in 1963 : “I have a dream,” he said, “that one day, down in Alabama, with it vicious racists . . . one day, right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Yesterday American voters — black and white — symbolically honoured the unpaid debt in a way that Martin Luther King could only have dreamt of.


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