• Excelencias Group to Announce the 2020 Awards Next Week

    The Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, next week (May 19).

    Faithful to its tradition, the Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, on May 19, at 4:45 p.m. Madrid time, Spain, on the very same day of the opening of Spain's premier tourism event. The awards ceremony will be held in the Auditorio Sur of the IFEMA fairgrounds.
    The EXCELENCIAS AWARDS were created 16 years ago by the Excelencias Group to promote excellence in different fields related to tourism, gastronomy and culture in Ibero-America.

    These awards have become a benchmark in the fields of tourism and gastronomy in Ibero-America. Once again, the event will take place at FITUR, Madrid, Spain.

    EXCELENCIAS TURÍSTICAS AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects from 12 countries (Spain, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico). Ministers, Governors, Secretaries of Tourism, General Directors and international tourism personalities will be present.
    EXCELENCIAS GOURMET AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects/individuals from 5 countries. (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Costa Rica and Colombia) We will have the presence of personalities from the international gastronomic field.
    SPECIAL EXCELENCIAS AWARDS: SPIRIT OF EXCELENCIA: Global excellence of a project category. CARIBBEAN NEWS DIGITAL: Tourism Personality of 2020. RAMÓN ÁLVAREZ AWARD: MICE category. NICOLÁS MUELA AWARD: Ibero-American Gastronomy Category. SILVIA ZORZANELLO AWARD: Brazil Category.

  • Experts 'find location of final Van Gogh masterpiece'

    A postcard has helped to find the probable spot where Vincent van Gogh painted what may have been his final masterpiece, art experts say. The likely location for Tree Roots was found by Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Institut Van Gogh.

    He recognised similarities between the painting and a postcard dating from 1900 to 1910 showing trees on a bank near the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise. The site is 150m (492ft) from the Auberge Ravoux, where Van Gogh stayed for 70 days before taking his own life in 1890.

    "The similarities were very clear to me," said Mr Van der Veen, who had the revelation at his home in Strasbourg, France, during lockdown.

    He presented his findings to Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, whose researchers conducted a comparative study of the painting, postcard and the hillside.

    Experts and senior researchers at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum concluded that it was "highly plausible" that the correct location had been identified, saying: "In our opinion, the location identified by Van der Veen is highly likely to be the correct one and it is a remarkable discovery.

    "On closer observation, the overgrowth on the postcard shows very clear similarities to the shape of the roots on Van Gogh's painting. That this is his last artwork renders it all the more exceptional, and even dramatic."

    At the time of his death in July 1890, Tree Roots was not entirely completed.

     

  • Extinction of Small States is the Price of Inaction Against Climate Change

    Only rapid and drastic action against climate change can prevent a climate breakdown, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today. The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, stressed the urgency to heed this warning and act now to protect Commonwealth Small States.

    “For over thirty years the Commonwealth has been raising the alarm on climate change, yet the window of opportunity for taking action to avoid irreversible consequences is now closing even more rapidly than scientists had previously predicted – and with it the prospects of safety and even survival for some of our Small and Vulnerable States. Jeopardising their continuing viability and sustainability would be too high a price to pay for failure to agree and implement urgent measures to prevent further damage,” said Secretary-General Scotland.

  • Farewell Ghana!

    As their memorable and groundbreaking trip draws to a close, centurians Mother Fletcher and Uncle Redd have completed something that many thought would never happen, returning home to Africa. After receiving countless gifts, honorary titles and many happy memories, they will be bidding farewell to Ghana, and we wish them all the best, and a safe flight home.

    It has been an honour for The Phoenix Newspaper to be Media Partners throughout this momentous visit, and we would like to personally wish Mother Fletcher and Uncle Redd the best of health and happiness for the future.

    Look out for full coverage in the September edition of The Phoenix Newspaper!

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  • Farmers need to get their affairs in order after Brexit changes

    Farmers are being urged to ensure they have up-to-date succession plans in place following the start of the Agricultural Transition Plan which came into being after the UK’s departure from the EU.

    Tom Chiffers, from leading national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, says farmers have entered into a period of great change and need to be ready to deal with the consequences to avoid future costly disputes over succession. The government’s Agricultural Transition Plan (ATP) outlines a timescale to change the way farming is funded, managed and incentivised which will have a significant impact on the income of farms and the farming industry.

    Tom, a partner in Clarke Willmott’s Private Capital team, says that the support payments farmers currently receive in the form of BPS will start to be phased out from 2021, becoming delinked in 2024 and eventually getting replaced with a system which pays farmers for specific types of environmental land management. “All direct payments will be reduced progressively but with bigger reductions on the higher payment bands; operating much like income tax bands. For example, everyone will have a reduction of 5% on their first £30,000 of payments in 2021.

    “The higher reduction rates will apply to those farms currently receiving larger direct payments. A farm receiving more than £150,000 will see a 25% reduction in 2021 followed by 40%, 55% and 70% reductions in the subsequent scheme years with the last of the direct payments being made in 2027. Meanwhile the direct payments will be replaced by a new universally accessible Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, that will reward farmers, growers and land managers for delivering public goods, with an anticipated 50-60% drop in funding in real terms by 2030.

    “Defra is also offering a lump sum exit scheme from 2022 to help farmers who wish to retire in place of any further BPS and delinked payments enabling them to capitalise the future stream of direct payment income that would otherwise be available until 2027. Whilst there is still much uncertainty and lack of clarity as to what the new payment schemes will look like, there is an expectation there will be a significant drop in funding for all farmers at the end of the transition plan in 2027.”

    “In addition to the ATP, the government has also been applying greater scrutiny to both inheritance tax and capital gains tax and given its current pandemic spending, there are concerns that the generous inheritance tax reliefs currently available to farmers in the form of Business Property Relief and Agricultural Property Relief could be cut or even abolished to help pay for the furlough scheme and other COVID-19 support schemes.

    “The government may announce their future plans for changes to the inheritance and capital gains tax regime as part of their post budget announcements on March 23. All of this means that farmers need to be in a state of financial and legal preparedness with a robust succession plan in place which should include the right kind of will.”

    Clarke Willmott has recently launched its #GoodWill campaign which aims to encourage people to take steps to safeguard their family’s future wealth by pledging that they will make a will this year. The firm has developed a free, online ‘Which Will?’ tool to help people that prompts the user to think about what is important to them when making a will and recommends which will best meets their needs.    

    Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton. It is also the NFU legal panel firm for Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

  • Finnish town offers locals cake (and other rewards) for cutting CO2 emissions

    Lahti, a town in Finland, offering cake, free transport tickets and other rewards to locals who cut their carbon emissions, has developed an app that tracks residents' CO2 outlays based on whether they travel by car, public transport, bike or on foot. The app, called CitiCAP and developed with European Union funds, gives volunteers a weekly carbon quota.

    If their allowance is not exhausted, participants get virtual money that can be used to buy bus tickets, access to the swimming pool or a piece of cake.

    Ville Uusitalo, the project's research manager, said: "You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low. But this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.” Currently, around 44% of trips in the city are considered sustainable.

    Head of the project, Anna Huttunen, said: "Lahti is still very dependent on cars. Our goal is that by 2030 more than 50% of all trips will be made via sustainable means of transport”.

    On average, a resident Lahti — population 120,000 people — "emits the equivalent of 21 kilograms of CO2 per week", according to Uusitalo. The app challenges users to reduce their carbon emissions by a quarter.

    So far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app, with up to 200 of them using it simultaneously.

    CitiCAP's developers hope similar tools in the future will help people manage their consumption-related emissions.

    "Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint," Uusitalo said .

    The town, which is also the EU's 2021 Green Capital, aims to significantly reduce its environmental impact over the next ten years.

  • Fire breaks out on Africa's greatest mountain

    Efforts are continuing to extinguish a fire that has broken out on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa as members of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) and local people have been struggling to put out the blaze. Their efforts, though, have been hampered by the altitude as well as strong winds and dry weather which have caused the fire to spread fast.

     

    The cause of the fire is not clear, but according to a Pascal Shelutete, an official from Tanapa, the blaze started at the Whona area, a rest centre for climbers using two of the several routes up the mountain.

     

    He (Mr Shelutete) said "The fire is still going on and firefighters from Tanapa, other government institutions and locals are continuing with the efforts to contain it."

     

    "The fire is big and they are continuing to fight it," Alex Kisingo, deputy head at the College of African Wildlife Management, located near the mountain.

     

    The college sent its 264 students to help fight the fire and distribute supplies to firefighters.

    The parks authority said in a statement that it had taken "every step to make sure that, the fire will not affect the lives of tourists, their equipment, porters and tour guides".

     

    Mount Kilimanjaro, which is 5,895m (19,341 feet) high is a popular tourist destination and tens of thousands of people climb it every year.

     

  • First batch of vaccines arrives in the UK

    The first consignment of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has arrived in the UK.

    It has been taken to a central hub at an undisclosed location, and will now be distributed to hospital vaccination centres around the UK. The UK has ordered 40 million doses - enough to vaccinate 20 million people.

    England's deputy chief medical officer said the first wave of vaccinations could prevent up to 99% of Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths.

    Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that would be possible if everyone on the first priority list took the vaccine and it was highly effective. He said it was key to distribute the vaccine "as fast" and at the "highest volume" as possible, but he acknowledged there would need to be some flexibility in the list.

    The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are made in Belgium and have travelled to the UK via the Eurotunnel. The order in which people will get the jab is recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and decided by the government.

    Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by over-80s and health and care staff.

    However, because hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at the necessary -70C, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there - for care home staff, NHS staff and patients - to lower the risk of wasting doses.

    Prof Van-Tam said: "If we can get through phase one [of the priority list] and it is a highly effective vaccine and there is very, very high up take, then we could in theory take out 99% of hospitalisations and deaths related to Covid 19.

    "That is why the phase one list is what it is, that is the primary ambition." The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine.

    Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, has since said that the UK was not as rigorous as the US in its Covid-19 vaccine approval process.

    "The UK did not do it as carefully," he told Fox News. "If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated." But the UK has defended its process, and said the jab is safe and effective.

    Dr June Raine, the head of the UK medicines regulator, said "no corners had been cut" in vetting the jab. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reviewed preliminary data on the vaccine trials dating back to June.

    The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

    The UK's 40 million doses will be distributed as quickly as they can be made by Pfizer in Belgium, with the first load rolled out next week and then "several millions" throughout December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. But the bulk of the roll-out across the UK will be next year.

    And it could take until April for all those deemed most at-risk to receive the new vaccine, according to NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.

  • FOR WINNIE: A TRIBUTE TO ZINDZI

    Just a mere 27 months after the untimely death of our Great Mother of Africa, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who transitioned on 2 April 2018, her youngest daughter, Zindzi Mandela, made so much in her image, was laid to rest right next to her mother in Johannesburg, South Africa on 17 July 2020.

    Zindzi’s death will, of a surety, be felt by her family, the people of South Africa, and the world at large for years to come.

    I was so blessed to have met Zindzi when she was a young woman, and what amazing times we had over the years.

    No matter whether eating some of the best food in the world prepared by none other than Mama Winnie, falling out laughing on the veranda in Orlando West at some anecdote that Mama Winnie told us, anxiously awaiting results of medical tests, flying across the world, walking the plains of the Holy Land, or hearing her strong and kind laughter on the Thursday before she transitioned as she thanked me for the 1000th time for taking such good care of her mom and reminding me of how much my beloved BFF loved me, followed by a kind and loving text assuring me of how much she loved me and signed “your daughter Zindzi,” Zin always showed care and love and respect for those who shared the walk of life with her.

    And as much as I ascribe to the reality that we never really die as long as we are held in the hearts and spirits of those who remain, I AM going to miss Zin for all that she was, for all that she is, and for all the hope and promise she was in the process of giving to the legacy of her Great Mother and for the benefit of our nation -- really and truly she is gone way too soon.

    When I consider the fire in her belly, the passion in her heart for justice, fairness and well-being for others, the power in her soul, I am reminded of so many strong, courageous Black warrior women, who were created for and destined for unravelling the status quo as was she.

    Great women like The Dahomey Amazons: The All-Female Warriors of Benin in West Africa; Sojourner Truth, the African American warrior who spoke out and stood against racial and sexual inequalities; Harriet Tubman, an African American abolitionist who risked her life time and time again to free more than 300 enslaved men, women and children, and was a Union spy during the American Civil War; Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh one of the great leaders of the Mino.

    In 1890, King Behanzin used his female Mino fighters alongside the male soldiers to battle the French forces during the First Franco-Dahomean War, wherein the French army lost many battles because of the female warrior’s skill in battle.

    Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Edweso tribe of the Asante, who fought and beat the British; Queen Nanny, a Jamaican national hero, a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroons in the 18th century.

    Amanirenas, one of the greatest queen mothers, who ruled over the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush in northeast Africa and led her army against the Roman Emperor Augustus and won.

    Carlota Lukumí, a Yoruba captured and taken to Cuba to work on a sugar plantation who in 1843, along with another enslaved woman named Fermina, led an organized rebellion at the Triumvarato sugar plantation and won.

    I think of Queen Nzinga Mbande, a highly intelligent and powerful 17th-century ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms (modern-day Angola), who around the turn of the 17th century fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom of her kingdoms against the Portuguese.

    I think of Muhumusa, a feared leader of the East African Nyabingi priestesses who was influential in Rwanda and Uganda and in 1911, she proclaimed “she would drive out the Europeans” and “that the bullets of the Wazungu would turn to water against her.”

    I think of my BFF, Nomzamo Winifred (Winnie) Zanyiwe Madikizela Mandela her intelligence, beauty, fearlessness, and courage that kept a freedom movement alive with her capacity to inspire millions to be free.

    And now added to the annuals of Great Warrior Women is Zindziswa (Zindzi) Mandela, who possessed the fearlessness to battle against apartheid, the fortitude to resist against injustices, and the fervor to defy inequality.

    So big is Zindzi’s life, so powerful her own voice that I hesitate to speak of her in the past tense, for I know while the body expires, when we are in God, our spirit never dies, rather we merely transition to a higher plane.

    Zindzi was a fortress of passion and energy. She was charming, eloquent, very funny, often making fun of the past hurts and troubles she and her family endured, when she allowed herself to think about them at all, and she was very, very brave.

    Zindzi was a strong, bold and valiant activist for righteousness, the courageous defender of the weak, an unafraid protector of the downtrodden, and an audacious voice for the forgotten, no matter the cost.

    A survivor, who endured unutterable trauma and indescribable horrors at the hands of the heinous apartheid system.

    Often branded a terrorist, a troublemaker, names called to deflect from the malevolent behaviours of the oppressor who in truth and fact were the real terrorists, killers and looters, but no matter what the enemy called her, Zindzi rose to the challenges and contended against the oppressors, heroically.

    In her beloved and cherished role as mother, she was deeply divided with the tasks of balancing the responsibility of caring for herself, giving to her children, and fighting for her nation and its freedom.

    Zindzi fought for the needs of millions of other children, not born of her body, but born in and of her spirit.

    Having seen and heard firsthand of unspeakable things done to her mother, that no child should have to endure, memories etched permanently in her spirit, although needing care for her tattered heart, Zindzi always found a way to prevail.

    Even though scarred from the pain of her past and bearing a responsibility to right the wrongs, almost too heavy for a mere mortal to bear, Zindzi carried her load with dignity and grace.

    Amazingly, she had compassion for others, even those who disappointed her, optimistically trusting that maybe they just did not understand the miles of bad road she had traversed.

    No matter the cost, Zindzi lived in the framing of a sublime truth uttered eons ago by Galileo: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    How blessed we have been, even for too short a time, to have been graced by Zindzi’s use of good sense, kindness, forbearance, amazing reason, and sharp intellect.

    Truly, she has left a path of positive action, courage, fortitude and loving care for us to follow allowing us the material of her life’s living to forge a bridge of justice, peace and well- being for our people.

    For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever… Their righteousness endures forever.”

    VIVA ZINDZI VIVA!

    For the righteous will never be moved;theywill be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings;theirhearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;inthe end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have distributed freely; they have given to the poor;theirrighteousness endures forever…”.

  • Former ABR president welcomes PMB new CoS

    The new Chief of Staff (CoS) has been sworn in before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso presidential Villa, in Abuja.

    The man whom many described as the medal on the block is a Nigerian academician, diplomat and had held positions in the diplomatic circle in the course of the trajectory of his career and public life.

    Professor Gambari whom many also refer to as another ‘global citizen’ hails from a royal family in the Kwara State Capital.

    The National Chair, diplomat, friend and private sector’s leading icon, who is the most recent of former president of the ABR (African Business Roundtable), HE Ambassador Dr Bamanga Tukur described Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari as a to[ professional diplomat, seasoned mediator an one who believes in meritocracy.

    Dr Tukur added that the new Chief of Staff will bring new ways of doing business and strengthening the Nigerian brand globally.

    According to him, “Post coronavirus, Nigeria will need to focus on the economy, not politics, which should be a driving force for Africa’s development.

    “It is time for the sleeping giant to wake up and take its rightful position”.

    He continued: “To lead the private sector in the economic revival and development should be through one strong trade path, the necessary foundation.

    “Organisations such as AfDB, ABR, African Free Trade Zone must be brought together.

    “If Nigerians are given the chance to head such, it will take the continent higher and ABR can co-ordinate and put the necessary structures under a new trade platform to flourish. Having partners in North, South, East and West Africa with an overseeing committee, I have no doubt that the Ambassador will succeed on this major call and an assignment to the nation”.

    Also, former Chair and an Executive of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation NIDO and Commandant of Nigerians in Diaspora Mentoring Corp, Alistair Soyode, in his message did say: “It’s with a good sense of responsibility and expectation, especially from the Diaspora community who are their millions that we send our best wishes believing as a meritous diplomat.

    Professor Gambari will deploy his skills to bring in the best of the Diaspora to participate in the nation’s building”.

    MC Alistair also used the medium to call non Nigerians all over the world to support the new CoS to deliver on good and sustainable governance – especially during the post Covid-19 era”.

  • Former India president Pranab Mukherjee dies after Covid diagnosis

    India's former president Pranab Mukherjee has died 21 days after it was confirmed that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The 84-year-old was in hospital to remove a clot in his brain when it was discovered he also had Covid-19.

    Before serving as president between 2012 and 2017, Mr Mukherjee held several important portfolios during his 51-year political career. These included the finance, foreign and defence ministries.

    His son, Abhijit, confirmed the news in a tweet.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Mr Mukherjee's contribution to the country, saying the former president had "left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation".

    Mr Modi wrote on Twitter: "A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society".

    The current president, Ram Nath Kovind, called Mukherjee "a colossus in public life" who served India "with the spirit of a sage".

    The job of president is largely ceremonial but becomes crucial when elections throw up fragmented mandates. The president decides which party or coalition can be invited to form a government.

    Mr Mukherjee didn't have to take such a decision because the mandate was clear during his presidency. But he showed his assertiveness in other decisions, such as rejecting the mercy petitions of several people who had been sentenced to death. He also served on the boards of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

    Most of his career was with the Congress party which dominated Indian politics for decades before suffering two consecutive losses in 2014 and 2019 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Mr Mukherjee joined the party in the 1960s during the tenure of then prime minister Indira Gandhi whom he had described as his mentor.
    In 1986 he fell out with the Congress leadership and started his own political party, but returned two years later.

    A parliamentarian for 37 years, Mr Mukherjee was widely known as a consensus-builder. Given that consecutive governments before 2014 were built on coalitions, this was an important and valued attribute. However, Mr Mukherjee's larger ambition - of becoming India's prime minister - was never realised. He was overlooked for the post twice - after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and after his party's unexpected election win in 2004.

    Manmohan Singh, a trained economist who was chosen as the prime minister, later said that Mr Mukherjee had every reason to feel aggrieved.

    Dr Singh said: "He was better qualified than I was to become the prime minister, but he also knew that I have no choice in the matter".

  • Former president, Trump, already preparing to run again

    A renowned media mogul, business person, and politician who served as the 45th president of the United States, former U.S. president Donald Trump's political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, isolationist, and nationalist. The growth of his business empire, however, remains on an upward curve, with no down-turn any time soon.

    The New York-native, who attended Fordham University before receiving a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, before became the president of his father 's real estate business in 1971 - renaming it The Trump Organisation – and expanding the company's operations to building and renovating skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He later started various side ventures, mostly by licensing his name.

    Both he and his businesses have been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, including six bankruptcies and he owned the Miss Universe brand of beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015 and produced and hosted the US reality series The Apprentice from 2004 to 2015.

    With his political positions described as populist, protectionist, isolationist, and nationalist, he entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and was elected in an upset victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while losing the popular vote - becoming the first U.S. president without prior military or government service.

    “Experience taught me a few things,” he said. “One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper.

    “The second is that you're generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don't make”.

    Donald John Trump has promised a comeback in the wake of the failure to impeach him. The former President is now free to run for office again after the Democrats were unable to muster enough votes in the Senate.

    “In the months ahead I have much to share with you”, he said “and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it."

  • Former US president, Obama's grandmother, Sarah, dies

    It has been announced that the step-grandmother, of former US president, Barack Obama, Sarah Obama, has died at a hospital in Kenya.

    Affectionately called Granny Sarah by the former president, Mrs Obama defended her grandson during his 2008 presidential campaign, when he was said to be Muslim and not born in the US. Her home became a tourist attraction when he was elected as the first Black US president.

    Sarah Obama was the third and youngest wife of Barack's grandfather. She died at a hospital in the western town of Kisumu, her daughter Marsat Onyango said. A family spokesperson said Mrs Obama had been unwell for a week, but did not have Covid-19.

    "We will miss her dearly," Mr Obama said, "but we'll celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life." Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter that Mrs Obama was a strong, virtuous woman and an icon of family values.

    Before her grandson became a household name, Sarah was well known for the hot porridge and doughnuts she served at a local school. She became more widely known when Barak visited Kenya in 2006. At the time he was a senator from the state of Illinois, but a national celebrity in Kenya, and his grandmother spoke to the media about his rise in politics.

    He returned in 2015, becoming the first sitting US president to visit Kenya, meeting Mrs Obama and other family members in Nairobi. He visited his step-grandmother's home in the village of Kogelo in 2018, after leaving office, joking he had been unable to visit earlier because the presidential plane was too big to land at the local airport.

    Sarah Obama was born in 1922 in a village on Lake Victoria, according to AFP. She was a Muslim and part of Kenya's Luo ethnic group. For decades, she ran a foundation in Kenya to help educate orphans and girls, something she felt strongly about as she couldn't read herself.

    She was the third wife of Hussein Onyango Obama, President Obama's paternal grandfather. Her husband, who died in 1975, fought for the British in Burma, now called Myanmar, and is reported to be the first man in his village to swap goatskin clothing for trousers.

    Buried later on Monday, she was 99.

  • Former Zimbabwe leader, Robert Mugabe, dead

    Zimbabwe's first post-independence leader and Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe ruled the southern African country - first as Prime Minister, from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017- as a revolutionary and politician.

    He embraced Marxism and joined African nationalist protests calling for an independent state led by representatives of the Black majority. After making anti-government comments, he was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974. On release, he fled to Mozambique, established his leadership of ZANU, and oversaw ZANU's role in the Rhodesian Bush War, fighting Ian Smith's predominantly white government.

    As independent Zimbabwe's first leader, he promised democracy and reconciliation, following years of British rule of what was called, by many, the ‘bread basket’ of Africa.

    Dominating Zimbabwe's – and the continent’s - politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe was a controversial figure who was praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule.

    Mugabe reluctantly took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom that resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement ended the war and resulted in the 1980 general election, at which Mugabe led ZANU-PF to victory. As Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe, his administration expanded healthcare and education and—despite his professed Marxist desire for a socialist society—adhered largely to mainstream, conservative economic policies.

    The hopes, however, that followed independence in 1980 dissolved into violence, corruption and economic disaster with President Mugabe becoming an outspoken critic of the West, most notably the United Kingdom, the former colonial power, which he denounced as an "enemy country" – at the same time brutally treating his political opponents and economically mismanaging a once prosperous country.

    Whilst reportedly doing so, he continued to attract the support of other African leaders who saw him as a hero of the fight against colonial rule. Critics, on the other hand, would accuse Mugabe of being a dictator responsible for widespread corruption, anti-white racism, human rights abuses, and crimes against humanity.

    In 2000, he lost a referendum, after which pro-Mugabe militias invade white-owned farms and attack opposition supporters. His calls for racial reconciliation failed to stem growing white emigration, while relations with Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) also declined.

    In 2008 he came second in the first round of elections to former trade union leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who pulled out of a run-off amid nationwide attacks on his supporters but, amid economic collapse, in 2009 Mugabe swears in Tsvangirai as prime minister, who serves in uneasy government of national unity for four years. In 2017, he sacked his long-time ally Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his wife Grace to succeed him.

    Defiant to the end Mugabe refused to resign. But, on 21 November, as a motion to impeach him was being debated in the Zimbabwean parliament, the speaker of the House of Assembly announced that Robert Mugabe had finally resigned.

    Born to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia, he was 95.

  • Foundation builds new home for people living with disability in Nigerian State

    The Focus on Disability Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation responsible for creating and providing new life and hope for people living with disability, has scored another high in its efforts of looking after people with disability as it unveiled a new accommodation for the disabled and disadvantaged of diverse nature in Nigeria.

    The multi-roomed bungalow with modern and recreational facilities, which is situated in Odogbolu, in the government State of Ogun, was commissioned in the presence of dignitaries from across the length and breadth of the State, who took turns to inspect the facility, and applaud the visionary, and founder of the Focus on Disability Foundation, Mr. Abiodun Enilari Paseda.

    The image highlights the events that took place when Mr Paseda was in town, and hosted various dignitaries during an inspection tour of the facility.

    Paseda, who is based in the United Kingdom, is known for his passion to uplift the standard of living of people living with disabilities across the globe, especially in Nigeria, Ghana and England where his impact has been greatly felt so far.

  • France to intern French-American inter Josephine Baker in Pantheon Mausoleum

    French-American entertainer and World War II resistance fighter Josephine Baker will be interred in France’s Pantheon Mausoleum after a successful petition. France will bestow one its highest honours on famed Black French-American entertainer, Josephine Baker. 

    A request to have her remains interred in the Pantheon Mausoleum has been approved. An aide to Emmanuel Macron confirmed to AFP that the ceremony would take place on November 30.

  • G20 recognizes importance of Public Development Bank financing to tackle rural poverty and hunger, and leadership of IFAD

    In the first-ever joint declaration by foreign affairs and development ministers, G20 countries today recognised the vital role Public Development Banks (PDBs) can play in filling the financing gap to sustainably tackle rural hunger and poverty, and the leadership of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in bringing them together to strengthen their long-term investments in food and agriculture.

  • George Floyd family urge protesters to 'be his legacy' during March on Washington

    The sister of George Floyd, whose death in police custody sparked months of racial turmoil across the US, has urged civil rights protesters to "be his legacy" as thousands gathered for a rally in Washington DC.

    "My brother cannot be a voice today," said Bridgett Floyd. "We have to be that voice, we have to be the change".

    Ms Floyd was one of several relatives of Black Americans harmed or killed by police to address the event commemorating a historic 1963 civil rights march.

    Speakers demanded racial justice and urged people to vote. Jacob Blake Sr, whose son was shot in Wisconsin, told the rally they were holding court on racism in America - and the verdict was "guilty, guilty, guilty!"

    Thousands of people gathered in Washington DC for the event that commemorated the 1963 civil rights March on Washington and in protest at police violence.

    Called the ‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ - a reference to the murder of George Floyd, who died in May after a policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes - it follows renewed protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

    The event brought together generations of activists to call for police reform and to urge Americans to vote in November's general election. It was organised by civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III - the eldest son of Mr King Jr.

    The families of Black Americans shot or killed by police spoke at the same site where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his I Have a Dream speech. The 1963 March on Washington was a seismic event in US history, credited with spurring the passage of the Civil Rights Act outlawing segregation the following year.

    Some 250,000 supporters packed the 1.9 miles (3 km) strip from Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, making it one of the largest political gatherings the country had ever seen.

    Rev Sharpton announced the 2020 march - which falls on the 57th anniversary of the 1963 event - at Mr Floyd's memorial service in June. His organisation, the National Action Network, worked with Mr King III to convene the rally.

    "The nation has never seen such a mighty movement, a modern day incarnation of what my father called the coalition of conscience," said Mr King III.

    "And if we move forward with purpose and passion, we will complete the work so boldly began in the 1960s."

    The event comes in the wake of at times violent protests over Mr Blake's shooting that have left two dead in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mr Blake was shot and injured by police.
    Since Mr Floyd's death in May, marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against racism and police brutality have swept the US and the globe.

    Speakers during the morning's programming included congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who paid tribute to the activism of Black Americans of the past whose "sacrifice and self-determination shaped history and brought us to this moment".

    "We are Black with a capital B," she said. "We are the manifestation of the movement. We are a symbol of social, political and cultural progress."

    Other presenters included a young activist who called for an end to the gun violence that plagues Black communities, and representatives from unions, gay rights groups and Hispanic activism groups, who expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Democratic vice-presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris addressed the rally virtually.
    Harris, who grew up in an activist household, paid tribute to civil rights leaders of the past.

    "Let's march on for our ancestors and let's march on for our children and grandchildren," she said.

    Among the initiatives on the agenda were slavery reparations, defunding police departments and investment in healthcare, housing and social services in Black communities, organisers said. It was drafted by hundreds of delegates from across the country.

  • George Floyd murderer, Chauvin, sentenced to over 22 years

    The US white ex-police officer convicted of murdering African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 has been sentenced to 22 years and six months in jail.

  • Germany to return priceless artefacts that they looted from Nigeria

    Germany has agreed to return priceless artefacts to Nigeria that were stolen during the colonisation of Africa. British troops looted thousands of artworks known as the Benin Bronzes from the Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, in 1897.

    Following auctions, some of the bronzes ended up in museums and private collections across Europe. They hold deep cultural significance, and there is growing international pressure to give them back.

    Berlin's Ethnologisches Museum holds more than 500 artefacts from the Kingdom of Benin, most of them bronzes. "We want to contribute to understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of those whose cultural treasures were stolen during colonisation," German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said, adding that the first returns were expected to take place in 2022.

    Scotland's University of Aberdeen said last month it would repatriate a Benin bronze whose acquisition in 1957 at an auction it called extremely immoral. Last year, France approved the restitution of its collection of pillaged Benin Bronzes.

    Hundreds of pieces are still held in the British Museum and several museums in the United States. There are plans to house the returned artefacts in the forthcoming Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA).

    The project is a joint effort between the Nigeria-based Legacy Restoration Trust, the British Museum and architecture firm Adjaye Associates. The Benin Bronzes - thousands of brass, bronze and ivory sculptures and carvings - have become highly charged symbols of colonialism and .

    More than 900 of these artefacts are housed in the British Museum, which has come under increasing pressure to return them in the wake of last year's Black Lives Matter protests. The British Museum has said that it is committed to facilitating a permanent display of Benin material in Edo, but has not specified how many items would be returned, adding that the selection of objects will be determined through discussion with our Nigerian colleagues.

    Historians say Benin City, formerly known as Edo, boasted earthen walls longer than the Great Wall of China. It was also said to be one of the first cities with a form of street lighting.

    British troops razed the whole city to the ground in 1897 to avenge the killing of an earlier force.