Saturday, 26 May 2012

Africa scores big on Africa Day.

Written by Gael Masengi

The wait is over, South Africa has been chosen but not as the sole host of the much anticipated multimillion dollars “SKA” project.

Dish antennas in Karoo, Northern Cape.
After months of wait, breath-holding and anxiety the decision has finally been made, South Africa will partly host the “Square Kilometre Array’’ project  with Australia-New Zealand joint. However, the decision to split the location of the project was not favoured at first by both S.A and Australia then bidders but now they will have to work together for the advancement of the world’s ground-breaking technology on astronomy.

Once completed the “Square Kilometre Array” (SKA) will be the most advanced radio telescope ever built, it will operate over a wide range of frequencies and will be fifty times more sensitive than any other radio instrument. The “SKA” will give astronomers insight into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, the role of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity, and possibly even life beyond Earth. The announcement is clearly considered as a big blow for Africa; add on top that Africans were celebrating “Africa Day”, the project can have a real impact on economy development for South Africa and its neighbours. Bernie Fanaroff, South African project director for the “SKA” was quoted by Reuters news agency saying “A project like this is iconic; it's inspirational, and it raises the profile of science and technology in Africa dramatically, both in the eyes of the rest of the world and in the eyes of Africans.”  

He added: “Africa was perceived as not too high tech. People talked about Africa as the next big business destination, the next great economic growth story, but you've got to underpin that with something, you don't want to just dig things out of the ground and ship them off to Asia or Europe.”

South African Science Minister, Naledi Pandor at first called the dual hosting site decision a “political settlement” then she withdrew the statement and welcomed the compromise. "It was an unexpected decision, we accept the comprise in the interests of progress." She said

The Britain-based consortium managing the project said that the telescope will be 10,000 times faster than any other telescope on Earth; its central computer will have the processing power of about one hundred million PCs. Also the “SKA” will use enough optical fiber to wrap twice around our planet, the antenna dishes and receivers will produce data double the volume of current internet traffic in one day. The “SKA” will generate enough data to fill fifteen million 64 Gigabytes Apple iPods every day and would take up to two million years to play them back.

The project is expected to fully be operational by the year 2024 with phase 1 of construction is set to start in 2016, followed by phase 2 scheduled from 2018-2023.

As we are reaching for far distances, I hope we won’t have Battleship (film) like scenario playing for real on our beloved planet.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Media boss (to be) taken to court!

Written by Gael Masengi

Award winning veteran journalist, Issa Sikiti has promised to seize the court of law against the editor of SME whom he accuses of allegedly owing him a large amount of money.

Issa Sikiti Da Silva
The Congolese born Issa Sikiti Da Silva is a renowned senior freelance journalist whose work had appeared on a variety of magazines, news websites and newspapers in South Africa and across the African continent both in French and English languages. On Tuesday, the unsatisfied journalist took on Twitter to show his frustration as he “twitpic’d” a picture of Colin Makala to his more than two-hundred followers, the photo was accompanied with words that read “Portrait of Colin Makala, the evil man who owes me 35000 Rand (about US$ 4 300) in unpaid wages, He&His company SME South Africa r doomed!” (sic).

Colin Makala
Issa Sikiti claims to have published 12 stories on Mr Makala’s website ( since January this year and the company is refusing to pay him, he again announced on the micro blogging website, Twitter that He and Mr Makala will soon meet in court.  Gael On Media contacted Colin Makala via E-mail for comments regarding serious accusations which can damage the reputation of the website which he is the editor, luckily Mr Makala replied, he acknowledged the situation and advised Mr Sikiti “As a senior journalist that he is, he must know better how to handle matters such as these” he wrote. However, he also warned Mr Sikiti to review their string of communication before he looks ‘stupid’ should he go for litigation.

Last year Issa Sikiti Da Silva was in centre of a controversy of which an article he wrote on, concerning South Africa’s biggest daily tabloid Daily Sun and its former editor-in-chief Themba Khumalo, was proven to have contained factual errors which were derogatory and defamatory of the tabloid and its editor-in-chief. Bizcommunity retracted the story and subsequently apologised, the news website suspended the 6 years on-demand service of Da Silva causing the long-time contributor to “resign”.

Da Silva later tweeted indicating that Daily Sun lawyers threatened legal action in response to the article therefore he resigned.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Scott is vrij (free)!

Written by Gael Masengi

The African teenager has finally been freed after spending days in refugee detention centre.

Reunited again, Scott with scouts

                                         Photo courtesy:
After spending four years in the kingdom of Belgium where he arrived as a kid, settled in, does well at school and became youth scout leader. Ojong Scott Manyo, a young man of Cameroonian nationality was detained at the refugee detention centre of Merksplas for being an “illegal alien”. Over the past weeks the news of his detention had provoked an outcry from members of his community and public at large who staged marches and protestations against the decision taken by authorities to deport Scott. In response to pressure, this past Friday Maggie De Block, Belgian secretary of State on immigration confirmed to the press that Scott has been released and he can continue his studies in the country. The news of Scott’s release has come as relief to his school friends, community members and most of all to his foster parents.  However no word has been said yet as if what will happen after he finishes school.

 “After a long conversation with the director-general of the Immigration Department, Freddy Roosemont, we decided that it would be best for Scott to be allowed to finish his studies here in Belgium, given his special situation and file.” said Ms De Block.

Maggie De Block
Asylum and immigration is considered to be one of the toughest portfolios within the Belgian government as the country welcomes many refugees from different part of the world every day.  Members of the Belgian right wing believe tough decision must be made when dealing with this kind of problem, Maggie De Block, herself is a liberal. De Block’s first success came as it was revealed that more and more asylum seekers have returned voluntarily since her takeover. Sarah Smeyers , a member of parliament from the center-right (new Flemish alliance) party stressed that the wide media coverage Scott’s case got may impact other similar cases.

Now the Scott Manyo’ saga has proved differently due to attention it had attracted, if it wasn’t for public and us, media and bloggers would the authorities decided otherwise?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Will “tough” Hollande put an end to the corrupted France-Afrique?

Written by Gael Masengi

It seems like the dark side of the neo-colonial relationship France has in Africa can now be laid to rest as the French people have chosen a leftist.

From the critics’ point of view, the relation between France and its former African colonies has always been about personal interests rather than political and diplomatic as it was originally conceived. Just few weeks ago, the investigative French website Mediapart had revealed how former president Nicholas Sarkozy who was said to be the reformist of the much criticised “France-Afrique” has followed on the footsteps of its predecessor Jacques Chirac who received briefcases full of money from various African head of state during his presidency. Like Chirac, Sarkozy used the 50 million Euros given to him by the late Libya’s colonel Gadhafi to win his 2007 presidential election, allegations Mediapart can prove.

In an interview conducted last year by Le Journal du Dimanche with a former adviser to Mr Chirac, Robert Bourgi, said he was acting as a middle man between African leaders and the Elysée. Bourgi who later became Sarkozy’s unofficial adviser claimed to have carry regularly suitcases stuffed with millions of francs from a string of African leaders. He said, he shuttled between African countries including Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Senegal for more than 25 years. He also stated five African leaders as regular “donor” include: Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal), Blaise Compaoré (Burkina Faso), Laurent Gagbo (Ivory Coast), Dennis Sassou Nguesso (Congo) and Omar Bongo (Gabon). These allegations raise questions of the role France plays in African dictatorship, and whether the people from those countries do benefit from this kind of deal. Today millions of children will die in Africa because of hunger and diseases yet their governments will be “unable” to provide for them but top French politicians will be somehow served with the desired amount of cash to “reinforce diplomatic ties” with those governments. France which is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council do simply use its position to protect its “allies” against any kind of sanction or indictment from international organisations, no wonder of the all mentioned countries a true democracy does not exist and most the leaders have been occupying the presidency office for more than ten years with no plan of transparent elections.    

When Felix Houphouët Boigny of Ivory Coast first used the term “Fance-Afrique”, it was meant to signify a close economic relationship French speaking Africa was willing to maintain with France, while acceding to independence, now the term represents more a negative than positive.

Francois Hollande
Now there is a new occupier at the Elysee Palace, will he make any difference? YES, I believe. Two weeks before his victory, the newly elected president of France, François Hollande held a press conference down the Eiffel tower. During Q&A session, a Paris based Congolese journalist asked Mr Hollande if he’s elected president whether he will or not attend the Francophonie summit scheduled later this year in the politically unstable Kinshasa, governed by an illegitimate government. “I will never accept the fraudulent elections” Hollande said “I will make sure that the relations between France and Africa is based on principles of solidarity, economic and linguistic” regarding regimes, FH as known by French people said they must respect the rules of democracy.

We can say, it’s a good start!