Are Our Daughters Coming Home?

It’s been six long, agonizing months since 300 young girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by terror group, Boko Hiram. Of the 300 girls, 50 escaped early on, while the other 250 girls have been held hostage by these terrorists whose name means “Western Education is Sinful”, hence their attack on a school teaching “Western education”.

Imagine being their parents and siblings, wondering if their daughters were alive and under the circumstances, okay. Had they been raped? Tortured? Starved? Would they ever return home? If they do come home, will they ever heal from their experience?

There was global outcry and attempts at intervention, but nothing drastic took place to return these precious souls back to their families in their small town of Chibok (near the Cameroon border). Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticized for his slow response time to the kidnapping, and for his inability to stop the mass murder of his people over the years.

Nigeria’s government recently announced that they have reached a cease fire agreement with Boko Hiram that also includes the release of the girls.
The prayers of the many hope for the safe return of these precious young ladies. These girls are future wives, mothers, teachers, doctors, scientists, politicians, engineers, designers, artists, writers, c-suite leaders, and entrepreneurs.

No parent should ever have to endure the agony of not knowing the whereabouts and safety of their child. Could you ever imagine not having any contact with your child for 6 months or longer? Even 6 days would feel like 6 weeks. Six hours feels like 6 days, and 6 minutes feels like 6 hours. The emotional roller coaster that these girls and their families are feeling cannot possibly be put into words that would make much sense, because how could any of this make sense to a rational person?

I hope that when they do return home that through the resources and support of local and foreign governments, that these girls and their families are provided with counseling and other services to help them through their healing process.

Right now these girls are in survival mode. They just want to be with their families. But once they return home, their nightmare doesn’t end. The images, smells, taste, sounds, and feeling will be long-lasting. Their lives will never return to the normal they once knew, so they have to learn how to make healthy adjustments. They will need a great deal of help to work through this to reach their own level of normalcy.

To read more about the cease fire agreement, and the parties involved in this negotiation process, please read here.

Return our daughters!


Reuters Africa.

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. The Paradigm Life. All Rights Reserved.

Germany Aims to Strengthen Relationship With Rwanda

Peter Fahrenholtz, the German Ambassador to Rwanda has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to maintain close ties with Rwanda.

New Times reporter, Emmanuel Ntirenganya wrote that Fahrenholtz said that Germany was committed to supporting Rwanda’s transformation in areas such as decentralization, economic development and vocational training. He urged the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to visit Germany and encourage investors to come and invest in various lucrative sectors in Rwanda.

Germany and Rwanda have a great deal in common, and Fahrenholtz and others are impressed with Rwanda’s ability to recover and emerge after the tragedy of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that claimed more than one million lives. You can read more about what Fahrenholtz said at this event here


Rwanda Targets 1.8 Million New Off-Farm Jobs By 2020

Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Trade and Industry (Minicom), has said there is a need to create 1.8 million new off-farm jobs by 2020. “This move will help the country achieve the target of 50 per cent of active population absorbed in off-farm jobs.”

Read more here:

Nigeria: Justice in the Twittersphere for Lynched Nigerian Students?

Lagos — Thousands of Nigerians have been murdered and killed by insurgency attacks in the last two years, but no such death witnessed the level of outrage as that of the fatal lynching of four students of the University of Port Harcourt in the oil-rich city. A battle to bring their killers to justice is now playing out online. Some Nigerians believe social media has come to the rescue.

Read more here: Nigeria: Justice in the Twittersphere for Lynched Nigerian Students?.

More News from the Motherland


By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA
Below are links to some intriguing and very informed articles about issues and events taking place throughout several countries in Africa. You or someone you know may be from, a descendant of, or planning a trip to one of these countries. Staying connected keeps you informed, educated, and empowered. As always, share your thoughts if it moves you!

Cameroon: Stepping Naturally Away from Plastic

With news that food wrapped in plastic is known to cause cancer, there has been a move to transition back to the traditional and more natural way of wrapping food…with banana and plantain leaves. Some community radio stations in Cameroon have picked up the warning and are carrying out mass campaigns against the use of plastic to wrap food. In Oku, a locality in Cameroon’s North West Region, the response to the campaign conducted by “The Voice of Oku” has been tremendous.

* Zimbabwe: Pastors Rescue Refugees *
 Local pastors last week thwarted attempts by immigration officials
 to detain and deport Congolese refugees who had sought shelter at
 a church in Makokoba suburb after fleeing political violence in
 their country.
* Congo-Kinshasa: Baloji – a Breath of Fresh Air for Music *
 He spots a four-inch wedge of hair, has a taste for colourful designer
 clothes and sings songs reflecting the experience of coming to terms
 with his African heritage while living in Europe.
* Congo-Kinshasa: Youth Leaders Award Monusco a Prize of Excellence for
 Peace Efforts *
 A local youth association known as Umoja Cargo, awarded the United
 Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic
 Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) a prize of excellence for its peace
 efforts in the Nord-Kivu territory of Rutshuru. The prize, which was
 symbolically represented as a diploma, was awarded in the presence
 of some 50 guests at a ceremony organized for the occasion on
Nigeria: Deregulation Is a Necessary Change – President Jonathan *
 President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has said deregulation of the
 petroleum sector is a necessary change Nigeria must make if government
 will have a significant impact in the lives of citizens.
Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman, MBA. Some Rights Reserved.

The Latest News from the Motherland


By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA
So as many of you know, I am very passionate about what goes on throughout the continent of Africa, and there are some countries that I zoom in on the most (Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda, DRC, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, and several others). I wanted to share the latest happenings and headlines with you, so that you too can expand your mind and vision beyond what you see and read in American media. Enjoy, and of course share your thoughts if you like.
Sudan: Locals Taking Part in Ethiopia’s Trade, Bazaar *
 A number of Sudanese firms and businessmen are taking part at a trade
 and bazaar in Ethiopia’s Amhara state.,41222

South Africa: Will Country Continue to Buckle Under Pressure
 From China?
 As the ANC celebrates its 100 years of existence, South Africa this
 year faces a number of important foreign policy decisions, including
 how to manage its relations with China.
South Africa: ANC At 100 – From Struggle to Power *
 Africa’s oldest liberation movement celebrated 100 years in power on
 Sunday. The highlight should have been a speech by ANC leader Jacob
 Zuma, but while his dancing may have entertained, his words didn’t.
* Zimbabwe: Chinese Become Unwelcome Guests *
 Alec Marembo has built his family fortune making bricks in
 Dzivarasekwa, a sprawling high-density suburb north of the capital of
 Zimbabwe. But due to the economic crisis of the last decade, his
 fortune started crumbling. Although he could break even when the
 downturn started, he finally gave in to competition from the Chinese.

Rwanda: Genocide Suspect Living in Canada Faces Deportation *
 Rwandan scholar Léon Mugesera, who has been living in Canada
 since 1993 was notified on December 27 that he would face deportation
 on January 12, his lawyer told Canadian media on Friday.
Rwanda: Law On Organ Donation Might Remove Taboo and Save Lives *
 A new ministerial order makes it possible for people to volunteer to
 be an organ donor. For that to succeed, some resistance, especially
 from certain religious groups, will have to be overcome.

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.

>Natasha’s Global Management Quote of the Day for 1.4.10



Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed.” 

– President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, 2009  
in interview with BBC reporter Marc Doyle

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.

>Mother Africa Speaks: News for the Diaspora


The Obama administration says it is “concerned” by disturbing acts by
the Rwandan government in the run up to the country’s elections that
President Paul Kagame won. These disturbing acts include the expulsion of a human rights researcher, the suspension of two newspapers, the arrest of journalists, and the barring of two opposition parties from taking part in the election. Kagame won with almost 93% of the votes, and who were his opponents? Three of his former political partners. Is there any reason to question why voters and observers have reservations about the legitimacy of this election? “Democracy is about more than holding elections,” the White House said two weeks ago. Rwanda has come a distance since its post-genocidal period, but that is more due to the commitment and desire of the people than the government that rules them.  

Here is a quick headline that should catch your attention- Rwanda National Police (RNP) strongly refutes the misleading reports published by Rwanda News Agency and on Africa news websites indicating that the grenade attack on civilians which occurred in Kigali on August 12, 2010 killed six people. They said that several people were injured and taken to the hospital, and that of the injured only two people died. 


 As over 1 million workers stayed away from work on Wednesday; courts,
 schools, hospitals and other government institutions remained empty. Despite this, 
 Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi was emphatic
 yesterday that the government would not budge from its final offer of
 a 7% wage increase and a R700-a-month housing allowance for the public
 service, despite the escalating strike, because this was already R5bn
 more than it could afford. The government had given the unions until last Thursday to agree to the current public sector salary increase offer of 7 percent.

The strikers want an 8.6% wage increase and a monthly housing allowance of R1000 (which is roughly $137 U.S. dollars per month)   

On Friday, the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that doctors, nurses and other essential services staff had to return to work. Saturday afternoon, the KwaZulu-Natal government secured a court interdict preventing striking public servants from barricading hospitals and intimidating nonstriking workers. The state has threatened action against all essential service workers who refuse to return to work. Their main argument is that the strike has caused the deaths of people who were either refused treatment or never had the chance to receive or be denied service because the hospitals were closed. They have also argued that this strike has meant no school for the youth. 

I will keep you posted on these developments.   

A key advisor to the king of Swaziland is under fire for saying the
 country’s AIDS epidemic has been exaggerated to benefit pharmaceutical
 companies. Prince Mangaliso – chair of King Mswati III’s advisory
 council – also questioned the effectiveness of programs that promote
 circumcision and condoms as a way of preventing the spread of HIV. 

Although it is understandable to be hyper-critical of the medical community that has historically experimented on people, especially within Africa, it seems as though Prince Mangaliso needs an intense lesson on the effectiveness of condoms…even if the circumcision argument does not seem plausible (which some medical professionals in the United States may also agree). But let’s be real, to say that “water and a bath” would be equally effective in helping prevent the spread of HIV is illogical, when roughly 43% of the country’s women were infected with the virus in 2008, and that rate has increased over the past two years; and Swaziland holds the position as having the highest rate of HIV in the world!

So could anything top this? Well it has been confirmed by a joint government and UN report that “anecdotal evidence” that entrenched cultural beliefs among Swazis actively encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Yes, you read that right. Although the common sense approach to HIV/AIDS is that “AIDS cannot be stopped unless there is a change in people’s sexual behaviour,” there is a commonplace practice in Swaziland to have unprotected sex with multiple partners regardless of the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS.

“All humans have sexual urges, but behaviour is determined by social norms. Swazis still believe that a woman’s role is to bear children continuously, and that a man’s role is to impregnate multiple partners, which is why polygamy is so strong here, both as an institution and in the minds of young men, who may not ever get married but still have many children from multiple girlfriends,” Joseph Dlamini, a youth pastor and counselor was reported as saying. 

A culture where polygamy is the norm, where the men dictate how many children and wives they will have; where the average birth rate is 5 children per mother, and the ultimate goal is to have boys since they continue the lineage (so they keep trying until they have multiple sons); and where they practice “kungena”, or wife inheritance, where a widow becomes the wife of the deceased man’s brother, a practice found to spread HIV. When isolated from other cultures, and lower access to educational sources, trust of outsiders is rare. 

This is such a sad story to read because you see a life expectancy that was age 61 ten years ago, drop tragically to the age of 32 (according to the Human Development Index of the UN Development Programme.)…I’m about to turn 35 in two months…technically if I was Swazi and living there, I would not have been expected to live this long. 
I will let you ponder that.

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. 


Rwanda Sources:
The New Times.
The Monitor

Swaziland Sources: 


South Africa Sources:

>Sharing Pieces of Mother Africa with the Diaspora

>I have wanted to share information about various countries within Africa with the diaspora for some time now…today is the day…Let me share highlights on three countries (states), Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa.


Part of my roots come from this country…on my mother’s side of the family. I look forward to the day when my feet touch ground here. My curiosity keeps this researching queen focused on the latest happenings throughout Ethiopia. I hope my findings encourage you to learn about this country and others throughout Mother Africa. 

We may hear stories about larger cities and villages within Ethiopia…many of us know the name Addis Ababa, but how many of us know about the village and people of Abreha we Atsebeha? The village of Abreha we Atsebeha, in northern Ethiopia, about 45km from Mekele, (capital of the Tigray region) is confident that in another 10 years they will not need food aid, according to their chairman, Gebremichael Giday. 

It took 10 years for this village to see a rise in the water table allowing them the chance to dig shallow wells for irrigation.  They learned the process with the help of Managing Environmental Resources to Enable Transitions to More Sustainable Livelihoods,  also known by the acronym, MERET, meaning “land” in Amharic, the local language. MERET is a program developed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by the government. 

According to IRIN humanitarian news and analysis, “MERET provided Giday with the opportunity to learn about cross-breeding techniques and obtain new seeds for quick-growing varieties of maize. Since then he has cross-bred mangoes with apples – a delicacy that fetches good money in the markets of the national capital, Addis Ababa – and has introduced many new vegetables to the villagers.” They have grown as a people whose only food source was cereal, and now they have an abundant supply of fruits, vegetables, and money to purchase necessities. 

There are more than 5 million Ethiopians in need of food aid each year, but many do not support the idea of accepting aid as a form of charity or welfare…they don’t want a handout they want a hand up…many argue that there is a risk of dependency on aid (as seen in many countries, especially the U.S.) and sources such as MERET would be viable if they were providing the watershed management resources through loans and not aid. 

Without funding MERET may not be sustainable. Many donors would rather give cash, some preferring to donate to another food-for-work program with a watershed management component,  Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). In order for MERET to survive they will need to raise $21.3 million US (33,000mt of food) to provide food-for-work incentives to up to 610,000 people. In order to avoid a major pipeline break in 2010, WFP spokewoman Judith Schuler told IRIN that they “urgently need $12.6 million.” Schuler also responded to the concern of aid dependency by saying that participants are only on aid the first three months in the program where they get 3kg of maize per day; preventing possible aid dependency.

Can MERET be the solution for all of Ethiopia? Can participants learn farming trades in order to be self-sufficient enough where no aid is needed throughout the entire country? Is there potential to reverse the effects of the 1984 famine that killed more men, women, and children than our memory will allow us to recall? I will continue following the efforts of MERET, the growth of  Abreha we Atsebeha, and how the rest of Ethiopia responds to MERET’s progress.


In addition to the World Cup taking place in South Africa, this country can be proud of launching an effort to educate all children through the 1Goal Campaign. BusinessDay reported today that 1Goal has partnered with President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter to make educating all of South Africa’s youth a top priority starting now; with the ultimate goal, that all children worldwide are enrolled in schools by the next World Cup in Brazil. July 7th 1Goal is holding a summit with world leaders to create a road map for this campaign.
The Global Campaign for Education, yesterday highlighted that 72-million children worldwide did not attend school, and half of them lived in Africa. Within South Africa, a new survey shows that 3.4% of the country’s children are not in school, and in the 16-18 age group the numbers show 9.8% of youth not in school, South African Democratic Teachers Union president Thobile Ntola said in an interview with BusinessDay. This campaign has the potential of bridging the gap between all nations of the world, so that all of our children are afforded the opportunity to live a fruitful life as educated producers in this competitive game we call life.  

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (also known as the DRC and the DR Congo)

I have been following this African state for many years, supporting efforts to fight crimes against women and children, and hoping that with added exposure the Democratic Republic of Congo  could one day be a nation of democracy, freedom, and opportunities of advancement for all. 

Today I read an article written by the Catholic Information Service for Africa (Nairobi) that caught my attention, but sadly did not surprise me. It focused on the findings of Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, who urged the Security Council to punish the perpetrators of rape against women in DR Congo. Wallstrom is reported as saying that the DRC is “rape capital of the world”. Evidence shows that during the fighting that took place last year, over 8,000 women were raped by men, and there are no laws protecting women and punishing rapists. 

In the eastern region, specifically in areas such as South Kivu, women are being raped oftentimes gang raped by armed men. Women are not safe walking on the streets, and now not safe within their homes as recently released reports have discovered that at least 60 percent of women were raped inside their homes by civilians. There are still numerous cases of violence especially against women by the army and militia; the five-year war may have officially ended on a grand scale in 2003, but the crimes against women and young girls are still taking place regularly.

The UN’s mission, Munoc is trying to help by escorting women to their homes, working with local authorities, and developing an early warning system. There has to be more that can be done. Are human lives not valuable enough resources to save? Women in the DR Congo have no rights; forget being second class citizens, the animals get more respect in this state and in others throughout Africa, and the rest of the world. What will it take to save these women from having to live in constant fear?  


Reflecting on the three countries I highlighted in this post do you see what connects them, what they have in common? The potential for positive change…growth…healing and prosperity…people who have fought, struggled, overcame, and survived because they have hope and faith in a better life. You have to believe that ‘better’ is possible, within grasp, and in our lifetime. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Do you believe?

                                         Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman

Catholic Information Services for Africa (Nairobi)