Tag Archives: Africa

today’s birthday: Louis Leakey (1903)


Louis Leakey (1903)

Leakey was a British anthropologist and archaeologist whose work helped establish the course of human evolution in Africa. The son of missionaries, Leakey grew up among the Kikuyu people of Kenya. After attending university in the UK, he returned to E Africa, where he and his wife discovered the first known remains of Homo habilis, an extinct species of hominin widely regarded as the earliest member of the human genus. Who are “Leakey’s Angels,” and what have they gone on to accomplish? More… Discuss

Advertisements

today’s holiday: Ethiopia National Day


Ethiopia National Day

A military junta called the Derg brought an end to the Ethiopian Empire and Haile Selassie‘s rule on September 12, 1974. The Derg socialist military regime was overthrown by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in 1991, commemorated by the May 28 holiday. A constitution was adopted in 1994 and Ethiopia‘s first multiparty elections were held in 1995. More… Discuss

today’ Did you know… (DYK)


Did you know… (DYK)


Basilica of Our Lady of Peace Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire – Basilique Notre-Dame de la PaixArchitect(s): Architect – Pierre Fakhoury


Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Yamoussoukro)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
There is a similarly named Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu.
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix
Notre dame de la paix yamoussoukro by felix krohn.jpg

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
Basic information
Location Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire
Geographic coordinates 6°48′40″N 5°17′47″WCoordinates: 6°48′40″N 5°17′47″W
Affiliation Catholic (Roman Rite)
Year consecrated 1990
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Minor basilica
Website Official Website
Architectural description
Architect(s) Pierre Fakhoury
Architectural type Church
Direction of façade NE
Completed 1990
Construction cost US$300m
Specifications
Capacity 18,000
Length 195 metres (640 ft)
Width 150 metres (490 ft)
Width (nave) 55 metres (180 ft)
Height (max) 158 metres (518 ft)
Dome dia. (outer) 90 metres (300 ft)[1]
Materials marble

The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro (French: Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 at a cost of US$300 million. The design of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by[2] those of the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican City, although it is not an outright replica.[3] The cornerstone was laid on 10 August 1985, and it was consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II.[4]

The basilica is not a cathedral. The nearby Cathedral of Saint Augustine is the principal place of worship and seat of the bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro.[5]

Guinness World Records lists it as the largest church in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion. It has an area of 30,000 sq metres (322,917 sq ft) and is 158 m (518 ft) high.[6] However, it also includes a rectory and a villa (counted in the overall area), which are not strictly part of the church. It can accommodate 18,000 worshippers, compared to 60,000 for St. Peter’s.[7]

The Basilica is administered by Polish Pallottines.

Festivalul Cetelor de Feciori Fagaras 2015


Festivalul Cetelor de Feciori Fagaras 2015

20 Exotic and Breathtaking Places From Around the World | ViralSmash


20 Exotic and Breathtaking Places From Around the World | ViralSmash.

word: lackadaisical


lackadaisical

Definition: (adjective) Lacking spirit, liveliness, or interest.
Synonyms: languid, languorous, dreamy
Usage: In spite of his lackadaisical manner, he has moments of energy that would surprise you. Discuss.

The Temples of Malta dating back to 3500 to 2500BC are some of the oldest structures in the world.


El Cóndor Pasa…Única Versión Original, según la partitura de Daniel Alomía Robles.


El Cóndor Pasa…Única Versión Original, según la partitura de Daniel Alomía Robles.

Peuple français, la prochaine fois que tu seras tenté de douter de ton pays, de toi, de ta force, rappelle toi de cette journée #JeSuisCharlie


WORD: carouse


carouse

Definition: (verb) To engage in boisterous, drunken merrymaking.
Synonyms: roister
Usage: They were so happy to be finished with exams that they continued to carouse until morning, when the bartender finally asked them to leave. Discuss.

people and places: Wilhelm Steinitz


Wilhelm Steinitz

Steinitz was a pioneering modern chess player. After discovering a talent for chess while a student in Vienna, he devoted himself to the game and by 1866 was recognized as the world champion, although the title did not officially exist yet. His loss of the world championship in 1894 so disturbed him that he spent much of the rest of his life in mental institutions and died a pauper in 1900. Who took the title from Steinitz, and what did he say with regard to Steinitz and his unfortunate fate? More… Discuss

quotation: You shall judge of a man by his foes as well as by his friends. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)


You shall judge of a man by his foes as well as by his friends.Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Discuss

today’s holiday: Fossey Day (2014)


Fossey Day (2014)

American conservationist Dian Fossey (1932-1985) conducted groundbreaking research on Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, a species long victimized by wide-scale poaching, and helped ensure their preservation. Fossey was murdered in her cabin at a research center in the Virunga Mountains on December 27, 1985. Ceremonies for the anniversary of her death take place in Volcanoes National Park, which contains a permanent memorial to the zoologist. Individuals typically perform traditional dances, while government officials deliver speeches and lay wreaths on her grave site. More… Discuss

word: umbrage


umbrage

Definition: (noun) A feeling of anger caused by being offended.
Synonyms: offense
Usage: I had tried to phrase it politely, but he still took umbrage at my question. Discuss

from the Washington Post: When a female mantis is hungry, she fakes fertility to snack on duped mates – The Washington Post


A praying mantis at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC on July 31, 2014. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

By Rachel Feltman December 23 at 12:35 PM

As you probably know, the female praying mantis will sometimes bite her mate’s head off. It’s not something that the insects make a habit of, exactly — they probably only do it when a male is particularly aggressive, or when the female really needs a nutrient boost in order to successfully lay her eggs.

But when a lady is really hungry, she sometimes throws off fake fertility signals to get a guy into bed. And when that happens, he’s pretty much always on the menu.

via When a female mantis is hungry, she fakes fertility to snack on duped mates – The Washington Post.

Health Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly


Study: HIV Becoming Less Deadly

HIV is evolving into a less infectious and deadly form, according to a study by the University of Oxford. When HIV infects an individual with an immune system better equipped to battle the virus, it may become less effective at replicating. This weaker version of the virus may then be passed on. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate evidence of this process occurring in Africa by comparing versions of the virus in Botswana and South Africa. Researchers warn that even less infectious forms of HIV could still cause AIDS. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Umoja Karamu


Umoja Karamu

The African-American holiday of Umoja Karamu, which means “unity feast” in Kiswahili, celebrates family members’ commitment to one another. Five periods of African-American life, each symbolized by a color, provide the framework for the ceremony: the family in Africa, before slavery in America (black); the enslaved family in America (white); the family freed from slavery (red); the family struggling for true liberation (green); and the family anticipating the future (orange or gold). Narratives, music, and foods relating to each period are part of the ceremony. More… Discuss

quotation: “Humans in space suits make monkeys nervous.” ― Richard Preston, “The Hot Zone…”


The Hot Zone

The Hot Zone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Humans in space suits make monkeys nervous.”
Richard Preston, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

Low calories diet: Asparagus officinalis A low calories diet for diabetes sufferers, and healthy people alike (from wikipedia)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
For the botanical genus, see Asparagus (genus). For the colour, see Asparagus (color).
Asparagus officinalis
Asparagus-Bundle.jpg
A bundle of cultivated asparagus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Asparagoideae
Genus: Asparagus
Species: A. officinalis
Binomial name
Asparagus officinalis
L.

Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial[1] plant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia,[2][3][4] and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.

Biology

 

Asparagus is a herbaceous, perennial plant growing to 100–150 centimetres (39–59 in) tall, with stout stems with much-branched feathery foliage. The “leaves” are in fact needle-like cladodes (modified stems) in the axils of scale leaves; they are 6–32 mm (0.24–1.26 in) long and 1 mm (0.039 in) broad, and clustered 4–15 together. The root system is adventitious and the root type is fasciculated. The flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white to yellowish, 4.5–6.5 mm (0.18–0.26 in) long, with six tepals partially fused together at the base; they are produced singly or in clusters of two or three in the junctions of the branchlets. It is usually dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, but sometimes hermaphrodite flowers are found. The fruit is a small red berry 6–10 mm diameter, which is poisonous to humans.[5]

Plants native to the western coasts of Europe (from northern Spain north to Ireland, Great Britain, and northwest Germany) are treated as Asparagus officinalis subsp. prostratus (Dumort.) Corb., distinguished by its low-growing, often prostrate stems growing to only 30–70 cm (12–28 in) high, and shorter cladodes 2–18 mm (0.079–0.709 in) long.[2][6] It is treated as a distinct species, Asparagus prostratus Dumort, by some authors.[7][8]

History

Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans even froze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action.[Note 1][9][10] A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third-century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.

The ancient Greek physician Galen (prominent among the Romans) mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD, but after the Roman empire ended, asparagus drew little medieval attention.[11][Note 2] until al-Nafzawi‘s The Perfumed Garden. That piece of writing celebrates its (scientifically unconfirmed) aphrodisiacal power, a supposed virtue that the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to “special phosphorus elements” that also counteract fatigue. By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538,[Note 2] and in Germany until 1542.[10]

The finest texture and the strongest and yet most delicate taste is in the tips.[12] The points d’amour (“love tips”) were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.[13] Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.[10]

Uses

Asparagus
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 85 kJ (20 kcal)
 
3.88 g
Sugars 1.88 g
Dietary fibre 2.1 g
 
0.12 g
 
2.2 g
 
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.

(5%)

38 μg

(4%)

449 μg

710 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(12%)

0.143 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(12%)

0.141 mg

Niacin (B3)
(7%)

0.978 mg

(5%)

0.274 mg

Vitamin B6
(7%)

0.091 mg

Folate (B9)
(13%)

52 μg

Choline
(3%)

16 mg

Vitamin C
(7%)

5.6 mg

Vitamin E
(7%)

1.1 mg

Vitamin K
(40%)

41.6 μg

 
Trace metals
Calcium
(2%)

24 mg

Iron
(16%)

2.14 mg

Magnesium
(4%)

14 mg

Manganese
(8%)

0.158 mg

Phosphorus
(7%)

52 mg

Potassium
(4%)

202 mg

Sodium
(0%)

2 mg

Zinc
(6%)

0.54 mg


Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten: once the buds start to open (“ferning out”), the shoots quickly turn woody.[14]

Water makes up 93% of Asparagus’s composition.[15] Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium,[16][17] as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.[citation needed] The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.

The shoots are prepared and served in a number of ways around the world, typically as an appetizer[18] or vegetable side dish. In Asian-style cooking, asparagus is often stir-fried. Cantonese restaurants in the United States often serve asparagus stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, or beef. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over charcoal or hardwood embers. It is also used as an ingredient in some stews and soups. In recent years asparagus eaten raw, as a component of a salad, has regained popularity.[19]

Asparagus can also be pickled and stored for several years. Some brands label shoots prepared this way as “marinated”.

Stem thickness indicates the age of the plant, with the thicker stems coming from older plants. Older, thicker stalks can be woody, although peeling the skin at the base removes the tough layer. Peeled asparagus will however poach much faster.[20] The bottom portion of asparagus often contains sand and dirt, so thorough cleaning is generally advised before cooking.

Green asparagus is eaten worldwide, though the availability of imports throughout the year has made it less of a delicacy than it once was.[6] In Europe, however, the “asparagus season is a highlight of the foodie calendar”; in the UK this traditionally begins on 23 April and ends on Midsummer Day.[21][22] As in continental Europe, due to the short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus commands a premium price.

White asparagus in continental northwestern Europe

Typical serving of asparagus with Hollandaise sauce and potatoes.

 

Typical serving of asparagus with Hollandaise sauce and potatoes.

Asparagus is very popular in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, and is almost exclusively white; if not, it is specified by the local language term for “green asparagus”. White asparagus is the result of applying a blanching technique while the asparagus shoots are growing. Compared to green asparagus, the locally cultivated so-called “white gold” or “edible ivory” asparagus, also referred to as “the royal vegetable”,[13] is less bitter and much more tender.[citation needed] Freshness is very important, and the lower ends of white asparagus must be peeled before cooking or raw consumption.

To cultivate white asparagus, the shoots are covered with soil as they grow, i.e. earthed up; without exposure to sunlight no photosynthesis starts, so the shoots remain white in colour.

Only seasonally on the menu, asparagus dishes are advertised outside many restaurants, usually from late April to June. For the French style, asparagus is often boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil, Parmesan cheese or mayonnaise.[23] Tall, narrow asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently, their tips staying out of the water.

During the German Spargelsaison or Spargelzeit (“asparagus season” or “asparagus time”), the asparagus season that traditionally finishes on 24 June, roadside stands and open-air markets sell about half of the country’s white asparagus consumption.[24]

Effects on urine

The effect of eating asparagus on urine has long been observed:

“[Asparagus] cause a powerful and disagreeable smell in the urine, as every Body knows.” (Treatise of All Sorts of Foods, Louis Lemery, 1702)[35]
“asparagus… affects the urine with a foetid smell (especially if cut when they are white) and therefore have been suspected by some physicians as not friendly to the kidneys; when they are older, and begin to ramify, they lose this quality; but then they are not so agreeable.” (“An Essay Concerning the Nature of Aliments,” John Arbuthnot, 1735)[36]
“A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour…” (“Letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels,” Benjamin Franklin, c. 1781)[37]
Asparagus “…transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume.” Marcel Proust (1871–1922)[38]

There is debate about whether all—or only some—people produce the smell, and whether all (or only some) people identify the smell. It was originally thought this was because some of the population digested asparagus differently from others, so some people excreted odorous urine after eating asparagus, and others did not. In the 1980s three studies from France,[39] China and Israel published results showing that producing odorous urine from asparagus was a common human characteristic. The Israeli study found that from their 307 subjects all of those who could smell ‘asparagus urine’ could detect it in the urine of anyone who had eaten asparagus, even if the person who produced it could not detect it.[40] However, a 2010 study[41] found variations in both production of odorous urine and the ability to detect the odour, but that these were not tightly related. It is believed most people produce the odorous compounds after eating asparagus, but only about 22% of the population have the autosomal genes required to smell them.[42][43][44]

In 2010, the company 23andMe published a genome-wide association study on whether participants have “ever noticed a peculiar odor when you pee after eating asparagus?”[45] This study pinpointed a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in a cluster of olfactory genes associated with the ability to detect the odor. While this SNP did not explain all of the difference in detection between people, it provides support for the theory that there are genetic differences in olfactory receptors that lead people to be unable to smell these odorous compounds.

Chemistry

 

Asparagus foliage turns bright yellow in autumn

Certain compounds in asparagus are metabolized to yield ammonia and various sulfur-containing degradation products, including various thiols and thioesters,[46] which give urine a characteristic smell.

Some[47] of the volatile organic compounds responsible for the smell are:[48][49]

Subjectively, the first two are the most pungent, while the last two (sulfur-oxidized) give a sweet aroma. A mixture of these compounds form a “reconstituted asparagus urine” odor. This was first investigated in 1891 by Marceli Nencki, who attributed the smell to methanethiol.[50] These compounds originate in the asparagus as asparagusic acid and its derivatives, as these are the only sulfur-containing compounds unique to asparagus. As these are more present in young asparagus, this accords with the observation that the smell is more pronounced after eating young asparagus. The biological mechanism for the production of these compounds is less clear.[citation needed]

The onset of the asparagus urine smell is remarkably rapid. The smell has been reported to be detectable 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion.[51][52]

Gallery

 

this pressed: Obama aides criticize Ebola quarantine rules – USA TODAY


“If you put everyone in one basket, even people who are clearly no threat, then we have the problem of the disincentive of people that we need,” Fauci said on ABC’s This Week. “Let’s not forget the best way to stop this epidemic and protect America is to stop it in Africa, and you can really help stopping it in Africa if we have our people, our heroes, the health care workers, go there and help us to protect America.”

Aides to President Obama are criticizing decisions by three states to quarantine people who are returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and United Nations ambassador Samantha Power said quarantines may discourage health workers from traveling to West Africa to help block the disease at its source.

“If you put everyone in one basket, even people who are clearly no threat, then we have the problem of the disincentive of people that we need,” Fauci said on ABC’s This Week. “Let’s not forget the best way to stop this epidemic and protect America is to stop it in Africa, and you can really help stopping it in Africa if we have our people, our heroes, the health care workers, go there and help us to protect America.”

via Obama aides criticize Ebola quarantine rules.

this pressed: BREAKING: NY, New Jersey governors issue quarantine for travelers who had contact with Ebola-infected people in W. Africa. — The Associated Press October 24, 2014


EBOLA – The Plague Fighters – NOVA Documentary (invite your friends to learn about Ebola!)


EBOLA – The Plague Fighters – NOVA Documentary – FULL

The Ebola virus The Search for a Cure |BBC Full Documentary 2014 (ignorance, fear, unfounded hope: fight back with knowledge!)


The Ebola virus The Search for a Cure BBC Full Documentary 2014

from NOVA | SURVIVING EBOLA |PBS (“because knowledge keeps one rational, unlike ignorance”)


NOVA | SURVIVING EBOLA

this pressed for your right to know: What We Were Told About Ebola|FactCheck.org


At a July 28 press briefing concerning the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official Stephan Monroe said the virus “poses little risk to the U.S. general population.” But, he added, “it’s possible that someone could become infected with the Ebola virus in Africa and then get on a plane to the U.S.” Monroe called this scenario a “very remote possibility,” but he didn’t say it could never happen, as the senator claimed.

via What We Were Told About Ebola |FactCheck.org

this pressed for your right to know: Schumer urges Obama to send Ebola experts to NYC..|TheTruth24.com


Sen. Charles Schumer wants the ​Obama administration to immediately put a team of experts on the ground in the Big Apple to ensure the safety of New Yorkers in case someone tests positive for Ebola.

Since the city that never sleeps has two ​international ​airports in the region — JFK and Newark — that see more people arriving from virus-​​ridden west African nations than any other ​part of the country, the ​D​emocratic lawmaker urged the ​​Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday to dispatch specialized teams to the city as a way to “remain vigilant” against the threat of Ebola.

“We’re also asking, while that team is on the ground here, that they go around and do the same thing our city and state health departments are doing, go inspect the hospitals to make sure that they have everything in place,” Schumer said Sunday.

via Schumer urges Obama to send Ebola experts to NYC...

this pressed for your right to know: AP photographer captures Ebola outbreak in Africa in pictures


or view the video @  http://on.msnbc.com/1sZD1V7

this pressed for your right to know: Obama Plans to Let Ebola-infected Foreigners Into U.S. for Treatment – Judicial Watch


English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House Español: Barack Obama firmando la Ley de Protección al Paciente y Cuidado de Salud Asequible en la Casa Blanca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Distribution of Ebola and Marburg virus in Afr...

Distribution of Ebola and Marburg virus in Africa (note that integrated genes from filoviruses have been detected in mammals from the New World as wellWikipedia)

Schematic showing pathogenesis of Ebola

Schematic showing pathogenesis of Ebola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

via
Obama Plans to Let Ebola-infected Foreigners Into U.S. for Treatment – Judicial Watch
.

this pressed for your right to know: 2nd Nurse with Ebola may have had worse case during flights..


via 2nd Nurse with Ebola may have had worse case during flights...

18/10/2014 07:20     by: CBSNews

EBOLA IN AMERICA – Why Is There NO FLIGHT BAN from WEST AFRICA to U.S. ?


EBOLA IN AMERICA – Why Is There NO FLIGHT BAN from WEST AFRICA to U.S. ?

news: It’s a Vast World After All


It’s a Vast World After All

The world’s population currently stands at 7.2 billion and is projected to rise to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by the end of this century. Earlier estimates had forecast a leveling off of world population around 2050, but higher-than-expected birth rates in sub-Saharan Africa mean the number of people on the planet will likely continue to rise instead. In Africa alone, the population is expected to rise from the current 1 billion to between 3.5 and 5.1 billion by 2100. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: South Africa Heritage Day


South Africa Heritage Day

On September 24, 1995, the Republic of South Africa celebrated its first Heritage Day, which was declared a national holiday by the first democratically elected government of South Africa. To help South Africans celebrate their heritage, this day has been set aside to recognize all aspects of South African culture, including creative expression, historical inheritance, language, food, and the land in which they live. The first Heritage Day celebration focused on composer Enoch Sontonga, the creator of a hymn that was adopted as the national anthem. More… Discuss

Maafa Commemoration


Maafa Commemoration

The Maafa Commemoration is an annual remembrance of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the experience of Middle Passage. The commemoration, held at the St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, centers around a dramatic presentation put on by the church’s drama ministry. “The Maafa Suite … A Healing Journey” depicts the history of African Americans, from Africa to the Jim Crow South. Other events during the week include lectures, worship services, Maafa museum tours, and special activities for senior citizens and young people. More…

Seals, Not Europeans, Brought Tuberculosis to New World


Seals, Not Europeans, Brought Tuberculosis to New World

Genetic tests have cast doubt on the long-held belief that Europeans arriving in the Americas in the 15th century introduced tuberculosis to the New World. The new evidence, collected from ancient Peruvian skeletons that predate the Europeans’ arrival by about 500 years, suggests it was not humans at all but seals that first brought TB to the Americas. Researchers hypothesize that seals picked up the disease from infected humans in Africa, where TB originated, and then carried it across the ocean to the Americas, where they were hunted and eaten, thereby transmitting the disease to humans there. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: African World Festival


African World Festival

The African World Festival is a cultural festival held annually on the third weekend of August in Detroit, Michigan. Sponsored by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, the African World Festival includes entertainment, arts, education, and cultural exhibits. Traditional African dancers and drummers perform, and musicians entertain audiences with various styles of African-influenced music. The African Family Village offers arts, crafts, games, spoken word performances, and music for families with children. More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Liberia Gains Independence (1847)


Liberia Gains Independence (1847)

Situated on the west coast of Africa, Liberia was founded by the American Colonization Society (ACS), a controversial group of white Americans—including both slaveholders and abolitionists—who aimed to colonize Africa with freed slaves. ACS officials obtained Cape Mesurado in 1821, and the first African-American immigrants arrived a year later. By the 1840s, however, the ACS was facing bankruptcy, and Liberia became independent in 1847. What African country had Britain settled similarly? More… Discuss

today’s birthday: King Hassan II of Morocco (1929)


King Hassan II of Morocco (1929)

Hassan II became king of Morocco upon the death of his father in 1961. In 1965, political unrest caused him to assume full executive and legislative control, and although an abortive coup led him to yield some of his powers to parliament, the dictatorial period during his rule became known as the “Years of Lead.” During his reign, he claimed Western Sahara for Morocco and resolved long-standing border issues with Algeria. What two assassination attempts did Hassan survive in the 1970s? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Saba Saba Day


Saba Saba Day

July 7 marks the day when the ruling party of Tanzania, known as TANU (Tanganyika African National Union), was formed in 1954. The TANU Creed is based on the principles of socialism as set forth in the TANU Constitution. Also known as Saba Saba Peasants’ Day or Industrial Day, it is officially celebrated in a different region of the country each year with traditional dances, sports, processions, rallies, and fairs. Tanzania, perhaps best known as the home of Mount Kilimanjaro, was formed in 1964 when Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar. More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Revolt Aboard the Amistad (1839)


Revolt Aboard the Amistad (1839)

In 1839, 53 African slaves being transported on the Spanish merchant ship La Amistad revolted against their captors. Having gained control of the ship, they demanded that the navigator set a course for Africa. However, he deceived them and sailed the ship northward until it was intercepted by the US Navy off the coast of New York. After a widely publicized court battle, the Supreme Court ruled that the Africans were not legally slaves and ordered them freed. What does amistad mean? More… Discuss

Democratic Republic of Congo Independence Day


Democratic Republic of Congo Independence Day

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) gained independence from Belgium on this day in 1960. It had been a Belgian colony since 1907, and powerful movements had struggled for self-rule since the 1950s. The people celebrated the first independence day with fireworks and bonfires in the capital city of Léopoldville (now Kinshasa). More… Discuss

Mosquito-Borne Virus Spreads to Caribbean and US


Mosquito-Borne Virus Spreads to Caribbean and US

Chikungunya, a debilitating, mosquito-borne viral disease that causes fever and potentially long-term joint pain, has long troubled Africa and Asia, but it is now rapidly spreading to other parts of the globe. It was first detected in the Caribbean in December, and there have since been nearly 5,000 confirmed cases and more than 160,000 suspected cases in the region. There have also been 57 infections reported in the US this year, and though all were thus far acquired outside the US, experts believe it is only a matter of time before it spreads throughout the Americas. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Seychelles Liberation Day


Seychelles Liberation Day

Less than a year after gaining independence, a coup overthrew the government in Seychelles. Two major political parties had developed, the Seychelles Democratic Party (SDP) and the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP). James Mancham, the leader of the SDP party, which won the majority vote, became president, and France Albert René became prime minister. René’s supporters led the overthrow and ousted Mancham on June 5, 1977, an event commemorated as a public holiday on Liberation Day. More… Discuss

Enhanced by Zemanta

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: HOSNI MUBARAK (1928)


Happy Birthday Audrey

Audrey Hepburn’s 85th Birthday

Hosni Mubarak (1928)

After ascending the ranks of the Egyptian Air Force, Mubarak was appointed vice president of the Arab Republic of Egypt and became president after Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. As president, Mubarak sought to combat economic problems, but his rule suppressed legitimate dissent, tolerated widespread corruption, and faced continued opposition from militant Muslim fundamentalists. Protests in early 2011 led the military to force him to resign. How many days had these protests lasted?More… Discuss

Enhanced by Zemanta

TODAY’S HOLIDAY: ZIMBABWE INDEPENDENCE DAY


Zimbabwe Independence Day

Like much of Africa, the area that is now Zimbabwe was long controlled by Europeans. In 1922, the 34,000 European settlers chose to become a self-governing British colony, Southern Rhodesia; in 1923, Southern Rhodesia was annexed by the British Crown. A fight for independence took place in the 1970s. An independent constitution was written for Zimbabwe in London in 1979, and independence followed on April 18, 1980. Independence Day is celebrated in every city and district of the nation with political rallies, parades, traditional dances, singing, and fireworks. More…Discuss

Enhanced by Zemanta

THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: JOMO KENYATTA SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS HARD LABOR (1953)


Jomo Kenyatta Sentenced to Seven Years Hard Labor (1953)

Kenyatta was an African political leader and the first president of an independent Kenya. His activities were integral to the effort to liberate Kenya from British colonial rule. In 1953, British leaders sentenced Kenyatta to seven years in prison for his suspected ties to the Mau Mau guerilla organization. Released in 1959, he participated in negotiations with the British to write a new constitution for Kenya, which became independent in 1963. What did he achieve during his 14-year presidency? More… Discuss

Enhanced by Zemanta

TODAY’S HOLIDAY: BOGANDA DAY


Boganda Day

In the Central African Republic, Boganda Day marks the anniversary of the death of Barthélemy Boganda, the nation’s first prime minister, who died in a plane crash on March 29, 1959. Boganda had been a driving force in the creation of the Central African Republic, which became a self-governing republic in 1958. He was also a leader in the movement to unite black African nations. Boganda Day is a national holiday in the Central African Republic; all banks, official government offices, businesses, and schools are closed. More… Discuss

Enhanced by Zemanta

THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: TUNISIA GAINS INDEPENDENCE FROM FRANCE (1956)


Tunisia Gains Independence from France (1956)

Over the centuries, many nations have fought over, won, and lost the African country of Tunisia. It was under Ottoman rule from 1574 until the late 19th century, when France, England, and Italy contended for it. France emerged the victor. In 1955, it granted Tunisia complete internal self-government. Full independence came in 1956. A year later, the monarchy was abolished and Tunisia became a republic. Prior to the 2011 revolution, how many presidents had Tunisia had since gaining independence? More… Discuss

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

TODAY’S HOLIDAY: MOSHOESHOE’S DAY


Moshoeshoe’s Day

Moshoeshoe (c. 1790-1870) was a leader in South Africa who organized a group of tribes to fight the Zulu warlord Shaka. He called his followers the Basotho people, and although they succeeded in fending off the Zulu, they were drawn into war with Europeans who started settling their territory. In 1966, the Basotho nation became the independent kingdom ofLesotho within the British Commonwealth. The Basotho people honor their founder on this day with a wreath-laying ceremony in the capital city of Maseru, along with sporting events and traditional music and dancing. More…Discuss

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

TODAY’S SAINT: ST. JOHN OF GOD


Feastday: March 8
John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.
1495 – 1550
From the time he was eight to the day he died, John followed every impulse of his heart. The challenge for him was to rush to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit gave him, not his own human temptations. But unlike many who act impulsively, when John made a decision, no matter how quickly, he stuck with it, no matter what the hardship.

At eight years old, John heard a visiting priest speak of adventures that were waiting in the age of 1503 with new worlds being opened up. That very night he ran away from home to travel with thepriest and never saw his parents again. They begged their way from village to village until John fell sick. The man who nursed him back to health, the manager of a large estate, adopted John.John worked as a shepherd in the mountains until he was 27. Feeling pressure to marry the manager’s daughter, whom he loved as a sister, John took off to join the Spanish army in the waragainst France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.

When he returned he kept his spur of the moment vow, made a confession, and immediately changed his life. His comrades didn’tmind so much that John was repenting but hated that he wanted them to give up their pleasures too. So they used his impulsivenature to trick him into leaving his post on the pretext of helping someone in need. He was rescued from hanging at the last minute and thrown out of the army after being beaten and stripped. He begged his way back to his foster-home where he worked as a shepherd until he heard of a new war with Moslems invading Europe. Off he went but after the war was over, he decided to try to find his real parents. To his grief he discovered both had died in his absence.

As a shepherd he had plenty of time to contemplate what God might want of his life. When he decided at 38 that he should go to Africa to ransom Christian captives, he quit immediately and set off for the port of Gibraltar. He was on the dock waiting for his ship when he saw a family obviously upset and grieving. When he discovered they were a noble family being exiled to Africa after political intrigues, he abandoned his original plan and volunteered to be their servant. The family fell sick when they reached their exile and John kept them alive not only by nursing them but by earning money to feed them. His job building fortifications was grueling, inhuman work and the workers were beaten and mistreated by people who called themselves Catholics. Seeing Christians act this way so disturbed John that it shook his faith. A priest advised him not to blame the Church for their actions and to leave for Spain at once. John did go back home — but only after he learned that his newly adopted family had received pardons.

In Spain he spent his days unloading ship cargoes and his nights visiting churches and reading spiritual books. Reading gave him so much pleasure that he decided that he should share this joy with others. He quit his job and became a book peddler, traveling from town to town selling religious books and holy cards. A vision at age 41 brought him to Granada where he sold books from a little shop. (For this reason he is patron saint of booksellers and printers.)

After hearing a sermon from the famous John of Avila on repentance, he was so overcome by the thought of his sins that the whole town thought the little bookseller had gone from simple eccentricity to madness. After the sermon John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. Clothes torn and weeping, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.

Friends took the distraught John to the Royal Hospital where he was interned with the lunatics. John suffered the standard treatment of the time — being tied down and daily whipping. John of Avila came to visit him there and told him his penance had gone on long enough — forty days, the same amount as the Lord’s suffering the desert — and had John moved to a better part of the hospital.

John of God could never see suffering without trying to do something about it. And now that he was free to move, although still a patient, he immediately got up and began to help the other sick people around him. The hospital was glad to have his unpaid nursing help and were not happy to release him when one day he walked in to announce he was going to start his own hospital.

John may have been positive that God wanted him to start a hospital for the poor who got bad treatment, if any, from the other hospitals, but everyone else still thought of him as a madman. It didn’t help that he decided to try to finance his plan by selling wood in the square. At night he took what little money he earned and brought food and comfort to the poor living in abandoned buildings and under bridges. Thus his first hospital was the streets of Granada.

Within an hour after seeing a sign in a window saying “House to let for lodging of the poor” he had rented the house in order to move his nursing indoors. Of course he rented it without money for furnishings, medicine, or help. After he begged money for beds, he went out in the streets again and carried his ill patients back on the same shoulders that had carried stones, wood, and books. Once there he cleaned them, dressed their wounds, and mended their clothes at night while he prayed. He used his old experience as a peddler to beg alms, crying through the streets in his peddler’s voice, “Do good to yourselves! For the love of God, Brothers, do good!” Instead of selling goods, he took anything given — scraps of good, clothing, a coin here and there.

Throughout his life he was criticized by people who didn’t like the fact that his impulsive love embraced anyone in need without asking for credentials or character witnesses. When he was able to move his hospital to an old Carmelite monastery, he opened a homeless shelter in the monastery hall. Immediately critics tried to close him down saying he was pampering troublemakers. His answer to this criticism always was that he knew of only one bad character in the hospital and that was himself. His urge to act immediately when he saw need got him into trouble more than a few times. Once, when he encountered a group of starving people, he rushed into a house,stole a pot of food, and gave it to them. He was almost arrested for that charity! Another time, on finding a group of children in rags, he marched them into a clothing shop and bought them all new clothes. Since he had no money, he paid for it all on credit!

Yet his impulsive wish to help saved many people in one emergency. The alarm went out that the Royal Hospital was on fire. When he dropped everything to run there, he found that the crowd was just standing around watching the hospital — and its patients — go up in flames. He rushed into the blazing building and carried or led the patients out. When all the patients were rescued, he started throwing blankets, sheets, and mattresses out the windows — how well he knew from his own hard work how important these things were. At that point a cannon was brought to destroy the burning part of the building in order to save the rest. John stopped them, ran up the roof, and separated the burning portion with an axe. He succeeded but fell through the burning roof. All thought they had lost their hero until John of God appeared miraculously out of smoke. (For this reason, John of God is patron saint of firefighters.)

John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, of the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta