The President of Botswana Visits the Washington Mandela Fellows on Campus and Sparks Conservation Discussion

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This story was originally posted by UW-Madison International Division 

For six weeks, UW–Madison has been home to 25 young Africans taking part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship—an academic and experiential learning program designed to prepare them to be future leaders in their countries. July 25, the final day of the program, was made especially significant through a visit to campus by Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, president of Botswana.

Since assuming the presidency in 2008, Khama has worked to build Botswana into one of the continent’s most stable nations. Understanding the larger role Botswana’s national resources will play in the future, Khama has continually championed sustainable growth and responsible conservation.

President Ian Khama

President Ian Khama at Botswana spoke at a faculty round table discussion at issues surrounding conservation.

Khama met with the Mandela Washington fellows during a luncheon to conclude their program. He spoke on the importance of conservation to the future of Africa and gave the young leaders the opportunity to ask him about the challenges faced by his nation as well as their own countries.

President Ian Khama and Mandela Washington Fellows

Members of the Mandela-Washington Fellows are pictured with Ian Khama, president of the Republic of Botswana during a luncheon ceremony hosted by the International Division, where Khama was presented with a Global Citizen Award. The event was hosted in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on July 28, 2017. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

“When we talk about conservation, there are three entities responsible for driving it if you are to have any success,” Khama said. “Those areas are the conservation NGOs, the private sector, and government. I have learned in government that if you have committed leadership, you can achieve more than the other two sectors combined. That is something we have been trying to set an example for by doing what we are doing in Botswana when it comes to sustainability and conservation and protecting the flora and fauna.”

Protecting resources

The protection of fauna is an ongoing battle given the prominence of poachers on the African continent. However, policies established in Botswana have greatly reduced the number of animals killed each year from poaching.

Khama stated around 160,000 of the estimated 415,000 elephants living in Africa can be found in Botswana. Thanks to strict measures against poaching, including a ban on all hunting other than on private ranches, Botswana only lost 44 elephants in 2016 to poaching. Yet on the continent, almost 100 elephants can be lost every day.

“We are not very kind to poachers, and they know it,” Khama said. “We use all of our security services. We use police, army, intelligence and correctional services.”

Khama has also led Botswana in responsible development across the nation and with neighboring countries. Mandela Washington Fellow Diénéba Deme-Diallo, a radio journalist from Mali, asked Khama about key policies Botswana has implemented to support environmental issues. Khama cited several examples, including the requirement that before any infrastructure projects begin, an environmental impact assessment must be completed. A team of dedicated experts then assess how the project might negatively impact the environment, archaeological sites, water resources, vegetation and the well-being of people.

“As we develop our countries we should do it with the natural resources in mind and ensure it is done in a sustainable way,” Khama said.

Khama also discussed efforts to roll out a sustainability agenda to the rest of the African continent at a 2012 summit in partnership with Washington, D.C. based Conservation International. The summit was attended by heads of state from 10 countries and focused on the importance of the environment and discussed the introduction of natural capital accounting into national programs and policies. According to Khama, such collaboration is crucial to ensuring a sustainable future for Africa.

Global Citizen Award

During his visit, Khama’s conservation efforts were recognized with the International Division’s Global Citizen Award. In giving the award, Guido Podestá, vice provost and dean of UW–Madison’s International Division, recognized many of Khama’s roles in promoting conservation, noting Khama’s service as a board member for Conservation International and his pivotal role in establishing the Khama Rhino Sanctuary and Kalahari Conservation Society.

Guido Podesta and Ian Khama

Guido Podesta (left), dean of International Division, presents a Global Citizen Award to Ian Khama (right), president of the Republic of Botswana during a lunch ceremony attended by members of the UW community, including the Mandela-Washington Fellows, held in the Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on July 28, 2017. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

“President Khama’s work continues to inspire in a world where we see more and more how critical it is to preserve the natural resources all around us,” Podestá said. “The policies and actions he has taken to introduce sustainable practices to Botswana and neighboring nations will have a significant impact on the future of Africa.”

While accepting the honor, Khama reaffirmed his commitment to safeguarding the natural treasures of Botswana and working to create a culture of sustainability throughout Africa.

“I feel very honored to be presented with this distinguished award,” Khama said. “This recognition is certainly a source of encouragement and motivation.”

The Wisconsin-Botswana connection

While more than 8,400 miles separate UW–Madison from Botswana, many individuals associated with Wisconsin and the university have created significant ties with the African nation.

During a roundtable discussion between Khama, faculty and university partners, UW–Madison alumnus and International Advisory board member John Lange, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Botswana, recalled a notable Wisconsin connection.

Ian Khama and University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty

Ian Khama, president of the Republic of Botswana, answers questions from members of a round-table discussion session hosted by the International Division at the Pyle Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on July 28, 2017. Earlier in the day, President Khama was presented with a Global Citizen Award. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

“I still remember the visit of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, the former governor of Wisconsin, to Gaborone in 2002,” Lange said. “That visit proved to be a pivotal moment that helped spur the creation of President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).”

Khama’s visit holds additional significance in that he is not the first head of state from Botswana to visit the university. International Division Advisory Board Member and alumnus Tony Carroll, a key figure in arranging Khama’s visit in partnership with members of the Botswana government, also arranged a visit to campus from Botswana President Quett Masire in 1996.

“The fact that two presidents of a nation would choose to visit the university in a relatively short period signifies an unusually deep relationship—one that could blossom to mutual benefit from Wisconsin and Botswana,” said Carroll. “The relationship between the university and Botswana is a robust articulation of the Wisconsin idea.”

Ambassador John Lange, Ambassador David Newman, President Ian Khama, Dean Guido Podestá, and Tony Carroll.

From left to right:
Ambassador John Lange, Ambassador David Newman, President Ian Khama,
Dean Guido Podestá,
and Tony Carroll.
(Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

UW–Madison’s student activities and programs often engage Botswana as well.

The African Studies Program also sees students, faculty and alumni involved with Botswana and the rest of Africa. Wisconsin has awarded 750 Ph.D. degrees to Africa specialists since 1961. Two students served as interns in Botswana last year, with one continuing to work with David Newman, ambassador of the Republic of Botswana to the U.S.

Several alumni from Botswana have also assumed leadership roles. Two of the vice chancellors of the University of Botswana have received degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and several top leaders in government attended the university.

Given so many ties between the university and Botswana, leaders at UW–Madison are optimistic that the university and Botswana could collaborate in more ways in the future.

“I am proud that UW–Madison is serving as a stage for talks on important topics such as conservation, leadership, and the future of Africa,” said Podestá. “It also strikes me that this occasion could mark a new point in the relationship between the university and Botswana. I look forward to exploring ways the university and Botswana can connect so that we can continue to learn through each of our nations.”

– By Steven Barcus

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UW Hmong: American Nurse Brings her Community to the Doctor’s Office

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Originally posted in WiscNews

MADISON – Nursing student Maichou Lor wanted to bring her fellow Hmong community members out of the shadows and into the doctor’s office.
Lor, who recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand before her family immigrated to Madison. As she pursued nursing, starting in high school, Lor discovered that the Hmong immigrant community lacked access to major medical care because low rates of literacy and English proficiency kept their health status murky. In an interdisciplinary research program, Lor developed new survey tools that respond to the needs of the Hmong, which she hopes can help close gaps in access to care among her own community and other underserved populations.

Along the way, she became the first Hmong-American nurse to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.

“Throughout my whole life, I saw a lot of inequalities and injustice in issues surrounding health care,” says Lor, “not just among the Hmong population. It’s the Cambodian population, the Laotian population, a lot of Southeast Asian populations who have gone through the same kind of history that we have are also struggling.”

Following the Vietnam War, Wisconsin became a hub for displaced Hmong from Southeast Asia immigrating to the United States. The Hmong community is the largest Asian population in Wisconsin, which has the third-largest Hmong population, behind California and Minnesota. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 54,000 Hmong lived in Wisconsin in 2015, nearly 20 percent of all Hmong in the country.

As an undergraduate nursing student at the UW, Lor partnered with three other Hmong students to try to survey the local Hmong population about cancer screening. But the group found that written surveys, even if they only asked for true-false answers, resulted in mostly blank responses.

“We ended up just reading the questions and having people raise their hands to respond, but we realized there’s contamination, because they just looked around at how others were responding,” says Lor. “That was an ‘aha’ moment for me, to realize we can’t collect data from this population, and I’m sure there are other populations experiencing the same thing.”

Lor saw that without an effective way to ask Hmong about their health, there was no way to fully integrate them into the health care system. In graduate school, she worked with an interdisciplinary group of mentors to create a data collection tool that responded to the needs of the Hmong community.

She adapted a survey system from sociology that combines prerecorded oral translations in the Hmong language, written text in English and color-coded responses to facilitate communication and to accommodate any level of language proficiency. In addition, a family helper was included to assist with the survey completion process. The tool allowed Lor to successfully survey all of her study participants on their health status, without missing responses.

One concern was that respondents might be reluctant to answer a question that may be sensitive or potentially embarrassing in the presence of family members. To test this, Lor included a question about frequent urination.

“What I realized is because I translated the question in a culturally sensitive way, people were fine answering it, and they didn’t see any question as being too sensitive or embarrassing to answer,” says Lor.

“She’s just tenacious. She’s the most curious student I’ve ever had,” says Barbara Bowers, the associate dean for research at the School of Nursing and Lor’s advisor. “She ends up being a cultural broker for a lot of people in the Hmong community.”

“I’m hoping she comes back here and establishes her own center for Hmong health at the university,” says Bowers.

Lor is leaving Madison in August to train in informatics and data visualization at Columbia University. She wants to find ways to communicate with her patients about their health that bypass linguistic and cultural barriers. But Wisconsin remains her home.

“My family threw me a graduation party back in May, and I had some of my research participants come — they were sad I’m leaving. They’re often forgotten in research, in health, in everything, and they felt like I was a voice for them,” says Lor.

“I told people I will come back; I just have to go get another kind of tool to help me develop as a researcher and make a greater impact.”

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Communications intern position open at GHI

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The Global Health Institute is looking for a communications intern who is savvy in social media and has the skills to perform other communications duties.

The intern works directly with the GHI communications manager and GHI’s administrator on a variety of tasks, including website posts, social media outreach, infographics, news writing, newsletter creation and other tasks as assigned.

Apply by August 11, 2017.

Responsibilities:

  • Take a lead role in the planning and execution of a social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo)
  • Assist with website, including posting new content and making existing content more user friendly
  • Take a lead role in producing the weekly Events+ newsletter; assist with e-newsletter and annual report
  • Write and edit content, including news stories, feature articles, news releases and development and website materials
  • Perform administrative services such as word processing, proofreading, fact checking, organizing photo files, preparing information for distribution, creating graphics, etc.
  • Work at GHI events through set-up, cleanup and assistance throughout the event
  • Other ad hoc projects assigned by communications or administration that ensure that GHI communications run smoothly

Qualifications:

  • Excellent communication skills, especially listening, writing, editing and design capabilities
  • Hands on experience with social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn
  • Must be graduating no sooner than May 2018
  • Ideally, be able to work starting in late August/ September start date possible
  • Preferred: global health/ environmental health students with experience in Journalism and/or Mass Communications/Life Sciences Communication
  • Hands on experience with a variety of electronic tools including MailChimp, Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator), Microsoft Office, WordPress
  • Working knowledge of AP style
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently within deadlines
  • Curiosity and enthusiasm for global health and GHI, and a desire to share the mission and vision to attract support for the Institute

Other Details:

  • Wage: $10.00 per hour
  • 10-12 hours per week depending on workload and class schedule. Most hours will be spent at the Medical Sciences Center office. More hours may be available during the summer.

How to apply:

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Grant Awarded to the School of Nursing to Expand Native American Enrollment

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MADISON, Wisconsin - Two faculty members at the UW-Madison School of Nursing have received a $1.3 million federal grant to develop a comprehensive system of support services that will help admit, retain and graduate 30 Native American nursing students over the next four years.

Audrey Tluczek, an associate professor of nursing, and Mel Freitag, the school’s director of diversity initiatives, will lead the project, called “Success Through Recruitment/Retention, Engagement, and Mentorship (STREAM) for American Indian Students Pursuing Nursing Careers.” The project aligns with a Wisconsin Center for Nursing goal of expanding the diversity of the nursing workforce to mirror the diversity of the population it serves.

The goal is based on evidence showing that increasing diversity in the nursing workforce improves access to health care and leads to better health outcomes for underrepresented groups, including Native Americans. Currently, the Wisconsin nursing workforce is 94 percent white, while the Wisconsin population is only 79 percent white. About 90 percent of nurses who provide services in Wisconsin tribal health facilities are white; the vast majority of patients are American Indian.

“This project is vital for the state, as we believe it can make a real difference in improving health outcomes within American Indian populations by increasing the number of Native nurses in these communities,” says School of Nursing Dean Linda D. Scott. “This grant validates the important relationships already forged by Dr. Tluczek and Dr. Freitag with Wisconsin American Indian communities. It reflects the UW-Madison School of Nursing’s commitment to admitting, educating and graduating students from diverse backgrounds in an effort to better serve all Wisconsin residents and eliminate the health disparities that many populations experience.”

 All 12 Wisconsin tribes (11 federally recognized and one state-recognized) are federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, builds on a previous community-academic partnership project among the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, the UW-Madison School of Nursing, and UW Population Health Institute, which was funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program. One of the objectives of that project, “Increasing Cultural Congruence Among Nurses in Wisconsin,” was to increase the number of American Indian nurses in the state. “This new grant will help us do just that,” Tluczek says.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to collaborate with and learn from tribal communities,” she says. “Working closely with our American Indian partners provided us valuable insights about the need for more Native nurses who can help develop models of health care that combine traditional American Indian healing with western medicine. Doing so holds great potential for improving the health and well-being of tribal communities. That experience also taught us much about the challenges that American Indian students and communities face and the role the University of Wisconsin-Madison can play in supporting these students interested in nursing careers.”

“We have visited tribal communities throughout the state to develop relationships and identify ways the School of Nursing can help expand the Native nursing workforce and access to culturally congruent health care for Native populations,” Freitag says. “We designed this program with our Wisconsin tribal partners to educate Wisconsin students to serve Wisconsin populations. We’ve been saying all along that this is the Wisconsin Idea in action, and it is. It really is.”

The STREAM grant specifically calls for recruiting more students with the help of a nursing-specific online recruitment tool, and yet recruitment is only part of the challenge, Freitag says. The STREAM program will also focus on retention and graduation. This involves providing structured support designed to address the specific challenges and barriers Native students encounter when attending UW-Madison.

Freitag says Native Americans, like many students from underrepresented populations, are more likely to face barriers and challenges on a large, predominantly white campus. Geographic factors also come into play for Native students, as Madison can seem like a very isolating place to them.

“The desire for a sense of belonging, or the lack of a sense of belonging, comes up with our Native students as it does for other underrepresented groups,” Freitag says. “Underrepresented groups are small groups in Madison, and Native Americans are the smallest of the small. It can be difficult for them to find and forge peer groups on campus and certainly within the school.”

To foster community within the school and on campus, STREAM will use traditional American Indian talking circles to provide student peer support. The program will also work to foster confidence by connecting American Indian students with mentors who are Native nurses currently practicing in Wisconsin. The grant proposal also calls for continued efforts to strengthen relationships with tribal communities through yearly Native Nations Nursing Summits, which Tluczek and Freitag have organized since 2015.

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Research by GHI Associate Director Tony Goldberg Reveals Relationship Between a Virus, a Parasite and an African Bat.

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If there is anything scientists are certain of when it comes to bats and their supposed role in causing human disease, it is that they still have a lot to learn.

Aside from well-established things like rabies virus, SARS coronavirus (the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome) and Marburg virus (an extremely dangerous but rare hemorrhagic fever pathogen), bats appear to carry a plethora of other germs with unclear effects, if any, on human health.

And even some commonly believed bat paradigms may be incorrect. For example, some speculate that bats play a role in the transmission of Ebola simply because Ebola and Marburg are related pathogens. But scientific evidence to support such speculation is scant, at best.

A lack of evidence that bats are key reservoirs of human disease has not prevented their vilification or efforts to exterminate bat colonies where threats are presumed to lurk.

“The fact is that they provide important ecosystem services – insect control, pollination and seed dispersal, to name a few – and we want them around,” says Tony Goldberg, a University of Wisconsin-Madison epidemiologist and virus hunter. “But bats are also increasingly acknowledged as hosts of medically significant viruses. I have mixed feelings about that.”

To better understand the dynamics of bats and potential threats to human health, Goldberg and his colleagues explored the relationship of an African forest bat, a novel virus and a parasite. Their work, described in a report published July 13 in Nature Scientific Reports, identifies all three players as potentially new species, at least at the molecular level as determined by their genetic sequences.

Many viral pathogens often have more than one or two hosts or intermediate hosts needed to complete their life cycles. The role of bat parasites in maintaining chains of viral infection is little studied, and the new Wisconsin study serves up some intriguing insights into how viruses co-opt parasites to help do the dirty work of disease transmission.

The parasite in the current study is an eyeless, wingless fly, technically an ectoparasite. It depends on the bat to be both its eyes and wings. And it plays host to a virus, as the current study shows. For the virus, the fly plays the role of chauffeur. “From a virus’s perspective, an ectoparasite is like Uber. It’s a great way to get around – from animal to animal – at minimal expense and effort,” Goldberg explains.

The bat in the study belongs to the megabat suborder. It is a fruit bat and was trapped, tested and released by Goldberg’s colleague and study co-author Robert Kityo of Uganda’s Makerere University in Kampala.

The bat fly, according to the new study, was infected with a newly discovered rhabdovirus dubbed Kanyawara virus, a distant relative of the rabies virus. “These things were chock-full of the virus,” says Goldberg, a professor of pathobiological sciences at UW-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine. That said, he adds that “we don’t know if this virus is transmitted beyond the ectoparasite. We couldn’t find it in the bat. Maybe it is an insect virus.”

However, it is well known that ectoparasites transmit disease, says the Wisconsin epidemiologist, noting that things like ticks and fleas harbor important pathogens like typhus, bubonic plague, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

“Bat flies bite people if given the chance,” Goldberg says of the parasite, which he described as “shockingly large, leggy and fast – a parasite from hell.”

The report published this week notes that rare cases of human infection with bat-associated viruses remain enigmatic. The study cites the 1969 case of a British dockworker bitten by an unknown insect while unloading peanuts from Nigeria, and who was subsequently infected by Le Dantec virus, a relative of the virus Goldberg and his colleagues found in abundance in the bat flies they sampled. “Was the dockworker bitten by a bat fly? We’ll never know.”

The subtext of the research, according to Goldberg, is Ebola and the ecology of disease. Scientists are beginning to understand that serious pathogens like Ebola and SARS don’t come out of nowhere. They are already lurking in the environment, and the leap from an animal to a human can be just a matter of time and an organism’s ability to shift from one host to another.

“The big picture relevance of the research is that if we’re going to understand the diversity of viruses in the world, we need to look in unusual places,” Goldberg says. “We have a lot to learn about the basic distribution of species on the planet.”

By Terry Devitt, UW-Madison/ July 13, 2017

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Celebrating Independence Across Africa: YALI Fellows Emerencia Nguarambuka, Marcio Brito, and Omari Mahiza reflect on the meaning of Independence

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This story was originally posted July 10 by the African Studies Program 

Over the 4th of July holiday our 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows joined in the celebration of American independence with a bit of BBQ, baseball, and fireworks. Afterwards, three fellows took a moment to reflect on the commemorations of independence in their home countries and to explain the meaning of these celebrations.

Emerencia Nguarambuka: Celebrating freedom in Namibia on March 21st

Independence is freedom, democracy and growth. It means being able to live peacefully, and coexist in harmony, respect for fellow human beings and fighting for equal rights for all humanity, regardless of sex, creed, race, color, religion, etc. It also means having equal access to resources, closing the inequality and poverty gap.

Independence means a second chance and making use of all opportunities the right way. This is especially important to me because prior to an independent Namibia, we were not allowed education, work, free movement, and so much other social stuff. Now we have a chance to redefine our future, and let our children grow up in a better environment with greater opportunities.

Image submitted by Emerencia Nguarambuka

In Namibia, independence is celebrated on the 21st of March. Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990. We were colonized since the late 19th century. From 1884, Namibia was a German colony known as German South West Africa. After the First World War, South Africa was mandated to administer Namibia as a colony/territory.

To celebrate the holiday, traditional performances and artists provide music and dance throughout the day and after the main event. There are parades by the Defense Force (army), Air Force and the marines, which are inspected by the President and given honors. Previous heroes and heroines are also honored and receive special badges in honor of their role for the fight of independence.

School children also have plays and parades at the Independence Day, which adds more color to the event. At times we also have parachutes as part of the celebrations. The Government will provide small promotional materials such as paper flags and t-shirts to the public for free. Each five year independence (I.e. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years) is always a bigger celebration held in the capital city Windhoek and the President invites dignitaries and international friends from countries which helped Namibia attain independence.

Image submitted by Emerencia Nguarambuka

WINDHOEK, 22 March 2015 – Young Namibians celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Independence held at Independence Stadium. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

After the big event, other regions can also hold delayed independence celebrations for those people who could not travel all the way to the capital city. Food and entertainment is provided. Normally various Ministers will be assigned to these regions to deliver the President’s independence message.

Free Transport is normally provided to all who want to attend the celebrations in order to attract as many people as possible.

Prior to independence celebrations, all media normally carries news and video articles related to independence, focusing on development in the country, as well as interviewing heroes and heroines who can tell their stories of their time fighting for independence.

 

Marcio Brito: An independent Cape Verde honors Amilcar Cabral on July 5

Cape Verde received its independence from Portugal on the 5th of July in 1975. On the 4th of July, young people host parties in anticipation of the July 5th holiday, people meet up with family and share meals. There’s also a festival and military parade where the president gives medals to officers. Independence celebrations in Cape Verde are about commemorating the birth of a liberated country. They’re also about celebrating the father of Cape Verde – Amilcar Cabral.

Wall painting honoring Amilcar Cabral

Cabral was born on the 12th of September (another national holiday) in Bafata, Guinea-Bissau and was assassinated in 1973, two years before Cape Verde gained independence. His efforts, along with members of the African Party of Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (P.A.I.G.C.) helped instill dignity in a population who recognized the evident discrimination against them by Portugal, despite the country’s claims that its colonies could “never be separate.”

After the 1974 death of the Portuguese president and dictator and a military coup, the years 1974-1976 marked the independence of the former Portuguese colonies, with Guinea-Bissau being the first nation to receive its independence.

Since its independence, Cape Verde has grown from having a population where 80% of its citizens were unschooled to its current place as a nation with an educated population of 95% gaining access to a basic right that had been denied by the imperial Portuguese powers.

UN Mission in the Cape Verde Islands

Omari Mahiza: From two countries to one independent Tanzania on December 9th

I am from Tanzania. My independence day is on the 9th of December. Before Independence day – before Tanzania – there were two different counties. One is an island, that is Zanzibar and the other one is the mainland, that was called Tanganyika. So these two places came together and together (in 1964) they formed the country now that is known as Tanzania. So, that day these two countries came together – that’s called Union Day. It’s usually on the 26th of April. But, there is another date that is known as Revolution Day, which is celebrated in Zanzibar. They went through a revolution before their independence. This is known as Revolution Day which is on the 12th of January.

Cloth commemorating the life of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere. African Studies Collection.

Starting with Independence day, usually there’s a big parade, usually there is an announcement of where the year’s celebration is going to take place so we all know where we need to gather. Usually, it takes place in the National Stadium in Dar el Salaam. Recently it’s been moved around so it can be anywhere, really. People go dressed in flags. You find that all the armed forces are there – the police, army, the navy – everyone will be there. There’ll be a parade, where all those forces pass in front of the president. They salute the president and put on a show for everyone. It’s free, so everyone can attend.

There’s a speech from the president who might wait a whole year to say something specifically for Independence day with regards to workers rights or something which is big. Usually it’s just a celebration of where we’ve been, so we remind ourselves where we were – we got our independence in 1961 from the British. So usually we remind ourselves where we were, where we are right now, and where we want to go.

Fifty-something years after independence I think we’re still struggling with the same things that we were struggling with like fifty years ago. Some of the issues have actually become worse than they were fifty years ago, if you can imagine that. So, what independence means to me, is at least, more freedom of expression these days. I think mostly it means the freedom of expression – people can say I am this – and most of the time not being persecuted. It’s still a challenge, there are certain issues where we are not there yet, but you can see that we are trying. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression is what independence should be.

4th of July Mallards game. Photo by Meagan Doll

Emerencia Nguarambuka (Namibia) is an Executive Assistant to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of ICT and does her own charity work in her community by assisting poor, young vulnerable women and children through donations of basic items.

Márcio Brito (Cabo Verde) works in the ‘Rádio e Tecnologias Educativas ‘ RTE’ where he produces and presents a daily program from 8 to 11 o’clock in the morning from Monday to Friday.

Omari Mahiza (Tanzania) is a doctor employed by the government to work at Amana Hospital in the pediatrics department.

-by Hiwot Adilow

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