Abdisamad Adan: From Somaliland to Harvard University. Read Full Story

Abdisamad Adan: From Somaliland to Harvard University. Read Full Story

With the odds stacked heavily against him, few people would have expected Abdisamad Adan to go to college, let alone one of the world’s elite institutions of higher learning-Harvard University.

But the 20 year-old from Somaliland has just done that. Abdisamad Adan was accepted to study at Harvard University on a full scholarship where he will begin classes this month.

For Adan, being accepted to study at Harvard is nothing short of extraordinary, considering the college rejects about 95 percent of applications. Somaliland (not internationally recognised) is still recovering from years of infighting while unemployment and poverty are widespread.

Unlike most of Harvard University freshmen, Adan comes from a modest background, his parents divorced before he was born and he was raised by an illiterate grandmother and only met his mother for the first time at 12-years old. Add to that, “some of his 18 siblings are illiterate and never went even to first grade, and he was raised without electricity or indoor plumbing,”Somalilandpress reported.

Adan’s fortunes dramatically changed when he was accepted to study on scholarship at Somaliland’s Abaarso School of Science and Technology, a small boarding school, founded by American Jonathan Starr, in 2009, a former hedge fund manager.

Despite what seems like a daunting college challenge, new environment and extremely different cultures, Adan is up for it.

“People kept telling me that Harvard is really really competitive and everyone is trying to beat you. I was like, great. That’s what I want,” CNN reported.

Source: Somalilandpress

Somalia’s 13-year-old inventor makes electronic toys from scraps.

Somalia’s 13-year-old inventor makes electronic toys from scraps.

A 13-year-old boy’s passion for making electronic toys in Somalia has won him local fame and a free education.

Guled Adan Abdi, from the northern town of Buhodle, taught himself how to make plastic toys from bits of discarded objects, and then worked out how to motorise them by studying real cars.

“I started making toys when I was younger,” he told the BBC Somali Service.

“I used to play with them without any motor. But later I said to myself: ‘Why don’t you make them into a moving machine?’

“So I looked at the cars in the town and invented my toys with the same design.”

His mother struggles to support the family by selling anjeera – Somali pancakes – so when things get tough financially, the family sometimes has to stay with relatives in a remote area where Guled cannot go to school.

‘Proud of genius’

But they have spent the last year in Buhodle and Guled has dedicated hours to his inventions after school, which finishes at midday.

“From noon to late in the evening I usually work on my cars.

“I have never seen anyone make such things and I was not trained by anyone. I investigated and found out for example how a car’s tyres turn.”

To get the toys to move, he connects them to a battery-powered control box, which is marked with a plus and minus sign.

“If it is switched to minus, the car will move backwards, if you move the switch to the plus it will go forwards,” he said.

The toys are fashioned from rubbish, so the only things he has to pay for are the batteries, which cost $0.25 (£0.17) for a pair.

It is his teacher, Asha Ahmed Omar, who has been the real driving force behind Guled, encouraging him to continue with his experimenting and buying him the first batteries.

As his reputation has grown, people now come along in the afternoon to give him encouragement and watch him at work.

This has won over his mother, Maryan Hassan, who has not always been keen on his obsession and sometimes threw away out his model cars that cluttered up their home.

She is now proud of her son and believes he is a genius.

Guled’s blossoming has been very positive for the family, who are recovering from being caught up in clan fighting a year ago when Mrs Hassan was injured by a bullet which shattered her shoulder.

Manufacturing ambitions

Now his fame has spread beyond Buhodle after his teacher told the local authorities about her pupil, and earlier this month he was asked to travel 270km (170 miles) to Garowe, the main town of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Dressed up in a suit, Guled showed his inventions to Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali at state house.

President Ali promised that the Puntland government would now fund his education.

But for Guled there is another problem – getting funds to buy new parts for his toys, which he would like to be able to sell.

Eyeing his future, the teenager said his ambitions are not limited to models.

“I would like to gradually learn how to become a producer of cars.”

credit – bbc.com

This 9-Year-Old Started A Charity Called “Khloe Kares” That Makes Toiletry Kits To Help Homeless

This 9-Year-Old Started A Charity Called “Khloe Kares” That Makes Toiletry Kits To Help Homeless

While the average nine-year-old is consumed with their favorite toy or television show, 9-year-old Khloe Thompson of California, is concerned with making the lives of other people better.

One day as she was walking to school with her mother, Khloe noticed a homeless woman and asked her mom what she could do to help the woman.

This is when inspiration struck and she came up with the idea to hand out essential items to homeless women. With the help of her grandmother, they began to sew sturdy bags and fill them with toiletries. The bags contain: soap, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, wipes and hand sanitizers, tampons and pads, and other daily hygiene products.

To continue the work she has started, a charity called Khloe Kares, has been setup in order to further help her community. Khloe is hoping to soon be registered as a 501(c)3 charity and has a GoFundMe campaign in which she hopes to raise $10,000.

One of the women that Khloe has helped, told her “you make me feel like a human being.” When asked what kind of reaction she gets from the people she is helping, Khloe said, “sometimes they give me hugs, sometimes they say ‘God bless you,’ and then they say thank you.”

The charity that Khloe started, helps homeless women in the Southern California area. Khloe is already looking forward to her next venture, which is to supply kids that live in group homes with toys.

By Musah Idriss

SA Kids Find International Acclaim for Performing Ancient Marimba.

SA Kids Find International Acclaim for Performing Ancient Marimba.

As the world surrenders to civilization, Africa is quickly losing touch with its traditions and the Zulu people of South Africa are no exception. However, many South African kids have found a way to reconnect with their heritage — and enjoy international acclaim — by learning to play the marimba, a traditional musical instrument used by the Zulus.

With this long-forgotten musical tool, the children have attracted an international audience who love their different interpretations of classical pieces by Beethoven and Vivaldi on the marimba, according to CNN.

“The Marimba Hubs is a concept that we have started in South Africa to take children off the streets. What we do is train teachers from scratch who have never ever played the instrument before, and we get them to teach their pupils,” Joan Lithgow, a music specialist running the program, said.

“It’s like someone (who) wants to get in to the rugby or the cricket team. It’s a very exciting instrument.

Watch the school children play the marimba here:


Lithgow hopes the children will become the professional marimba players of tomorrow and pass on their knowledge to others.

Last year, the band from Goedehoop Primary School enjoyed a cultural tour of the United Kingdom, where they interacted with children from several schools in London.

At the moment, the students are already participating in the International Marimba and Steelpan festival, organized by Educate Africa, a non-profit program designed to assist children from disadvantaged families in South Africa to obtain quality and relevant education.

The international festival aims to inspire creativity among school children and showcase diversity in culture. The event attracts participants from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Swaziland.

“Not only is it [the Marimba] socially acceptable for boys and girls, alike, it also offers emotional, physical, intellectual as well as musical satisfaction,” Education Africa claims.

Marimba Hubs lessons do not require prior knowledge of the instrument, allowing all children and teachers to learn a piece of marimba music in just 40 minutes.


Meet Student Who Helped Thousands of Refugees Escape War. Read Full Story

Meet Student Who Helped Thousands of Refugees Escape War. Read Full Story

Betty Asha is a 23-year-old South Sudanese student in Kampala, Uganda, who helped more than 2,300 people escape the ongoing civil war in South Sudan in July this year, according to the Guardian.

When the fighting broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and spread to other parts of the country, including her hometown Yei, Asha decided to shelve her studies for a while and travel to the border to assist affected refugees get to Uganda.

With help from her American sponsor, Chris Hurley, the student arranged for four lorries and 10 motorbikes to ferry thousands of refugees across the border.

In the first week alone, Asha managed to evacuate 800 people from Pukuka village in South Sudan to Uganda, and the number rose to about 1,500 over the subsequent three weeks as the word of her quick evacuation spread.

“When they arrived at Oraba, I was there to pay the drivers. It was also my responsibility to feed everyone to be with them and to see that everybody was safe. I took them straight to the UN reception center,” Asha explains.

According to the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office and refugee agencies in Uganda, Asha managed to evacuate at least 2,296 refugees from the troubled South Sudan over a period of one month.

Among the thousands of refugees that Asha managed to evacuate are her own mother and five siblings. Most of these refugees are now settled at Rhino camp in northwestern Uganda.

Many have thanked Asha for her remarkable efforts to save them from the deadly civil war that has rocked the world’s youngest nation for the last three years.

“I received Betty’s phone number and called her to tell her I was in trouble. Betty told me to board any vehicle leaving Yei for Oraba at the border and she will pay for transport. She really saved my life,” Alemi Charles, a 47-year-old refugee from South Sudan, says.

According to Hurley, an American missionary sponsoring Asha’s education, it only cost them $5.66 to transport each refugee to the border, an amount he says is less than what he spends on his lunch every day.

“I am still shocked by the sheer number of people Betty was able to rescue. She is proof that people can achieve greatness if they are only given the opportunity and support needed,” Hurley says.

Asha, a second year student at Kampala University, has since returned to school and is sponsoring a 12-year-old South Sudanese refugee girl, whom she is living with, in her one-bedroom apartment.


Black is beautiful, don’t bleach your skin.

Black is beautiful, don’t bleach your skin.

The search for beauty is something as old as humanity and doesn’t really surprise many of us, but a recent radio advert for a skin-bleaching cream that guaranteed turning dark skin into light one within a few days without any side-effects shocked me.
If light skin is beautiful, as many believe, one should remember that it comes at a high cost. Most bleaching products contain dangerous chemicals that are deleterious to health.

While some skin lightening products are outrightly illegal, others, such as clobetasol, betamethasone, and hydroquinone are legal products with legitimate medicinal uses (skin conditions), but at times misused for skin lightening.

The main issues even of legitimate products is prolonged use. In the legitimate medicinal use, they are often prescribed by qualified medical practitioners in small quantities, often for short durations and in strictly regulated concentrations. This is informed by the medical principle that no medicine is 100 percent safe.

As an example, the use of mercury, a heavy metal which is contained in some skin products, is highly controlled with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for instance, recommending less than one part per million (1 ppm) for medicinal face creams. But some face creams can contain as much as 50,000 ppm causing mercury poisoning leading to kidney failure and cancer. Similarly, in the USA any preparation containing 1.5 to 2 percent hydroquinone cannot be sold over-the-counter and without a doctor’s prescription because of its possible carcinogenic effects.

It seems no most people don’t pay much attention to this sound medical advice.

Twenty-four year old Saadia is a hardcore skin-bleacher. “I use different creams for over a five months to get a white-skin,” she says.

Saadia doesn’t know the exact name of the cream she uses relentlessly, because what she uses is a combination of many different creams in an unlabeled clear bottle and sold in some cosmetic shops.

Sadia is a genuine customer for the shop and is even constantly reminded by the salesperson to collect her monthly dose and costs her as low as $4 a month, at times getting the cream on credit.

Saadia uses these products because she thinks having a light skin is beautiful and makes her feel more confident. Even though she quickly gained her desired complexion, however, it didn’t come without embarrassing side effects.

She cannot cook or go for shopping in sunlight or else her face suddenly turns reddish and patches of purple appear over her cheeks. Sadia’s skin has lost its natural ability to endure heat and sunlight, this in turn has badly affected her self-esteem and she now regrets her actions.

Saadia is lucky.

Recently, I met an old friend from high school who I had not seen in awhile. I remember her from back in the day with her radiant dark skin and an exuberant personality.

Alas, her face had turned uncharacteristically light with prominent scarring and widespread discoloration. Surprisingly, her arms and legs have remnants of her original skin tone. She now wears the niqaab or face-veil and became introverted. She says she was happier with her natural skin and now she spends a lot of money to restore a healthy skin.

My old friend is not alone in this misery.

The use of skin-bleaching products (which come in different formulations such as creams, lotions, soaps, pills, or even injections) is a trend across Africa especially among women. According to the World Health Organization, 77 percent, 59 percent and 35 percent of women in Nigeria, Togo and South Africa, respectively, regularly use skin-bleaching products.

There is no study done in Somalia, but it is obvious that many Somali women are increasingly messing with their natural skin color using various new products that are flooding the markets.

In one popular cosmetic shop in Somali region of Eastleigh in Nairobi, there are buckets filled with liquid bleach solution – a concoction fermented for a day or two and which contains popular brand names with everything from steroids, hydroquinone, mercury, glycerine to any number of unknown substances. The mixture is packaged in individual plastic bags, tied at the top with a simple knot, and sold without a label for between $3 to $5.

The mixture, nick-named Qas-Qas or cocktail by Somalis, is predominantly used by young skin-bleachers that often don’t have enough cash to buy expensive products or those wanting quick results.

The lay buyers are not aware of the toxic nature of these substances which are sold freely without a doctor’s prescription.

Many dark skin women are happy with and proud of their natural complexion but not all. The reasons why women use skin-bleaching products traditionally vary on the basis of their cultural background. Most women prefer not to discuss openly why they use skin-lighteners.

Psychologists say there are several underlying reasons why people tend to bleach their skin but low self-esteem and perception that light-skinned persons are more likely to find a spouse, are the most common reasons.

Given the dangers above, health authorities should strictly ban selling and advertising illegal products and control more forcefully the sale of legal medicinal skin products that have a high potential for abuse.

Health practitioners and activists should stand up for mass awareness against the rampant practice of young people risking their health in search of an illusion of beauty in bleaching.

Most of all, a collective effort is needed to change the perception that “black is not beautiful”, right from young people during school to the society at large, a most ignorant perception.

South Africa is marketed to the world as Mandela’s rainbow nation, where everyone is proud of their race and heritage. But for some black South Africans there is such a thing as being too black.

A recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in three in South Africa bleaches her skin. The reasons for this are as varied as the cultures in this country but most people say they use skin-lighteners because they want “white skin”.

Local musician Nomasonto “Mshoza” Mnisi, now several shades lighter, says her new skin makes her feel more beautiful and confident.

She has been widely criticised in the local media and social networking sites for her appearance but the 30-year-old says skin-bleaching is a personal choice, no different from breast implants or a having nose job.

Nomasonto Mnisi: Before & After

Nomasonto Mnisi, Musician
“I’ve been black and dark-skinned for many years, I wanted to see the other side. I wanted to see what it would be like to be white and I’m happy,” she says candidly.

Over the past couple of years Ms Mnisi has had several treatments. Each session can cost around 5,000 rand (£360; $590), she tells the BBC.

Unlike many in the country, she uses high-end products which are believed to be safer than the creams sold on the black market but they are by no means risk-free, doctors say.

By Africanlandpost

Report previously appeared on Sahan and cosmeticdesign

South Sudanese Refugees Selling Their Own Clothes for Food in Uganda. Read Full Story

South Sudanese Refugees Selling Their Own Clothes for Food in Uganda. Read Full Story

South Sudanese refugees in Uganda have resorted to selling their own clothes and bed sheets for money to buy food, according to CBC News.

Mary Opia Philip, a 32-year-old mother of five, told CBC News that she was forced to sell clothes off her own back and a few bed sheets in order to raise enough money to feed herself and her five children.

The UN refugee agency says Uganda is currently hosting more than 373,000 South Sudanese refugees and the number is expected to rise as the fighting continues.

“I never thought I would be selling my clothes, but I did it because I have nothing. It was my last option. Now we are just waiting to see whether we will survive or die,” Mary told CBC News.

Food Rationing

With the growing number of refugees fleeing the troubled South Sudan, the government of Uganda, the UN refugee agency, and the World Food Program have been forced to reduce food supply for those who arrived more than a year ago by half.

“The numbers are escalating and the resources we are receiving are not matching that escalation,” WFP’s country director in Uganda, Mike Sackett, told CBC News.

According to Mike, food donations for Ugandan refugee program amount to $6 million per month, but the organization needs at least $7 million a month to be able to resume its full food rations to all refugees.

He further noted that WFP requires another $20 million be able to provide full food rations to all refugees for the whole year.

“Without very significant contributions we face the prospect of having to make more cuts,” Mike warned.

Risky Return

Some South Sudanese refugees are now contemplating going back to Juba, where government forces and Machar-led rebels have been engaging in heavy military bombardment, leaving hundreds of people dead.

Moses Asobaku, a 30-year-old father of two, told CBC News that his family isn’t used to eating red sorghum, and now he is thinking of sending his wife back to Juba, where they used to sell diesel and petroleum, to collect money and some food supplies.

In Juba, his family used to eat several meals a day, but now they have been forced to survive on one meal a day.

He also said he doesn’t have money to pay for his daughters’ education.


Photos:Thousands of Swazi ‘Virgins’ Perform Reed Dance at 36th SADC Summit. See More

Photos:Thousands of Swazi ‘Virgins’ Perform Reed Dance at 36th SADC Summit. See More

Tens of thousands of Swazi virgins braved the baking sun to perform the traditional reed dance in front of several heads of states who attended the opening of 36th South African Development Community (SADC) summit in Swaziland Tuesday, according to Anadolu Post.

The young maidens swayed and swerved in their colorful traditional attire while stamping their feet on the ground in unison to the amusement of thousands of attendees who witnessed the ancient Swazi traditional carnival.

In attendance were King Mswati III of Swaziland, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Ian Khama of Botswana, PresidentHage Geingob of Namibia, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique as well as other national leaders.

The three-day summit ended Wednesday in a ceremony held at the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Swaziland in Lozitha, where King Mswati III was elected the chairperson of the community.

“There is need for the region to intensify resource mobilization efforts in order to become a strong economic bloc. To have such a bloc is important if our continental vision of creating infrastructure that will enhance cooperation and integration is to be realized,” King Mswati III said in his closing remarks.

Reed Dance Spectacle

The reed dance is a centuries-old tradition among the Zulu people, involving singing, dancing, virginity testing, and other traditional activities that are designed to help prepare young girls (virgins) for womanhood.

The annual event, locally referred to as the Mkhosi woMhlanga, takes place in September, right at the beginning of spring at the eNyokeni Palace in Nongoma, Zululand.

It’s an important rite of passage for young Zulu girls, and it lasts for about three days, giving older Zulu women an opportunity to teach the young girls, who must be virgins to participate, the morals of a grown woman.

The climax of this event is the presenting of reeds to the King. Each girl is expected to wear a traditional intricately beaded outfit, most of whom are bare-chested, as she offers a cut reed to the king.

The tradition also permits the King to choose a new bride from the crowd every year during the reed dance; every girl tries her best to be picked as the bride.

Critics of the reed festival fault the ceremony as retrogressive, though, with its parading of young girls bare chested and the testing of their virginity.


Nigeria Sues Multinational Oil Firms for Alleged Crude Oil Theft. Read More Info

Nigeria Sues Multinational Oil Firms for Alleged Crude Oil Theft. Read More Info

Nigerian authorities are suing several international oil firms for illegally exporting more than $12.7 billion of crude oil between 2011 to 2014, according to the Atlanta Black Star. Chevron, Eni, Total, Shell, and Petrobras are all mentioned in the lawsuit and Exxon may also join the list of defendants, according to reports. Earlier this week, the federal government announced that it is seeking $406.75 million from Shell and its surrogate, Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Court papers indicate that the amount represents the total sum of the missing revenues from oil shipments that were either undeclared or under-declared.

In their deposition, government lawyers said that the forensic analysis of shipping documents and a detailed auditing of bills of lading have exposed the fraudulent practices of the multinational oil companies.

During their analysis of export records from Nigeria and import records at ports in the U.S., investigators found mind-boggling discrepancies, reports NAN.

For instance, the shipping vessel, AUTHENTIC, which arrived at the U.S. port of Chester, Pennsylvania with crude oil from lifted from Nigeria on January 6th, 2013, was later discovered to have been loaded with about 660,712 barrels of crude oil worth more than $72 million, but none of it was declared to the relevant authorities in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s new leadership, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, has successfully managed to recover the country’s stolen assets which were stashed away in several western countries.

In May, he told reporters that he was not offended by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments, describing Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt,” as long as Cameron would assist in returning Nigeria’s looted funds stashed away in British banks.


Burundi Plans To Withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Read More

Burundi Plans To Withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Read More

burundi’s government says it plans to withdraw its membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC), reports Reuters. The withdrawal announcement comes six months after an investigation began in to the violence that erupted due to President Pierre Nkurunzinza’s bid for a third term during the 2015 election. In April, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the court would look into the post-election violence that left at least 450 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

Last week, Burundi’s Vice President, Gaston Sindimwo, told the press that officials had drafted a law to officially withdraw from the ICC and had sent it to the national assembly for adoption.

“We are ready to face the consequences of withdrawal,” Sindimwo added, maintaining that the government is not worried about a possible backlash from the international community.

Sindimwo insisted that Burundi would be OK, even if it had to suffer diplomatic consequences for its decision.

“You know, we may be isolated, but it’s fine with us if [that] is the case. At least we will be enjoying our freedom,” he explained.

“How many countries did not ratify this convention? Are they isolated? The United States, Russia, China, and even some neighbouring countries did not!” he said, referring to the fact that the majority of the world’s super powers have been reluctant to ratify the Rome Statute that brought the ICC into existence in 1998.

The activities of the ICC, however well-intended, continue to be a source of great division for many African countries, which have accused the Hague-based court of selectively pursuing justice. The ICC typically tries those accused of war crimes, genocides, and crimes against humanity, but in its 14-year history, more than 90 percent of the people it has tried have come from Africa.