Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Sweet Taste of Freedom

There is life beyond the razor wire. A total of 42 children and their families have been released from the immigration detention centres in Australia, so far.

And for those children who were born in prison, this will be their first taste of freedom in the land Down Under.

Indeed, this is a significant development and a clear indication that the Federal Government’s policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers (and refugees) has outlived its usefulness.

There are cracks in the fabric of policy, so to speak!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Africans Boycott Macquarie University over Racist Remarks

African students in Australia have decided to stage a boycott of Sydney’s Macquarie University over racist remarks by Associate Professor Andrew Fraser. The professor claimed that refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa were a high crime risk because they had low IQs and high testosterone levels.

The comments have led to increasing harassment of innocent Sudanese Students in places like Toowoomba, according to The Australian newspaper report.

Consequently, the students have called on the university to discipline its professor and curb racism.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A New Door Opens for Refugees

At last, the asylum seekers in Australia have something to smile about. The full bench of the Federal Court has ruled that asylum seekers whose Temporary Protection Visas (TVPs) had expired could be issued with a permanent visa.

This means they can no longer be deported unless the government could prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that their country of origin was safe.

The refugee advocates are rubbing their hands with glee.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Australia's Trade and Investment Relations with Africa

The Australian parliament will soon begin public hearings on trade and investment relations with the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Consequently, the Federal parliament’s Trade Committee invites interested persons to make submissions addressing terms of reference by 5th August 2005.

For more information, visit:

Saturday, July 23, 2005

African Refugees Face New Hate Campaign

Today, there are cracks in the proverbial melting pot; so to speak! The right wing extremists in Australia are targeting African refugees in a new wave of race hate campaign; according to The Australian newspaper report.

The recent campaign against the African war victims in Australia is evident in the following areas of the country: Toowoomba, Blacktown, and Parramatta in western Sydney where most of the new arrivals and their families now live.

But the Africans are not rattled. Nor their trust in the nation betrayed. In fact, most Africans have stood firm in the face of rampant racism. And all fair-minded Australians are right behind them in their struggle for survival.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bombs Create Panic in London

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, calls for calm as bomb explosions create panic in London.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Racist Professor attacks African Refugees

Professor Andrew Fraser of Sydney’s Macquarie University in Australia has launched a fresh attack on African refugees. And the public is not amused!

The Canadian-born professor claims that refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa should not be allowed into Australia because they had low IQs and “significantly more testosterone floating around their system than whites”; making them a crime risk; according to The Australian newspaper report.

The African community leaders have labelled the statement racist and inflammatory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Identity Fraud

The Australian government plans to crack down on “identity fraud” as part of a broader strategy of fighting international terrorism, rampant welfare fraud, people smuggling, and illegal immigration.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Free at Last

Today, the good news is that Australia’s longest serving detainee, Peter Qasim, has been released from the immigration detention centre, after almost seven years behind the razor wire.

It’s a fantastic day for all freedom lovers!

Now, with a brand new temporary visa under his belt, stateless Peter Qasim is allowed to live in the Australian community; and can look for a job when his health improves.

In fact, he is free to do anything within reason. In a manner of speaking, he can now watch the big brother, if he likes; instead of the big brother watching him.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

National Identification Card

The national ID card is back on the political agenda in Australia, to counter the threat of international terrorism. But the debate about the national identification system is still in its infancy.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, set the ball rolling when he publicly stated that he would “Never say never” to the idea of a national ID card for all Australians. But he cautioned against “knee-jerk” reactions to the potential terrorist threat in the country.

One thing is certain though, the national security consideration has made the “Australia Card” or the creation of some form of electronic individual identification system a much more attractive proposition now than it was in the 1980s when the idea was first suggested by the Hawke Labour government.

Yet, in 1987, it was Mr. Howard who, as an opposition leader, campaigned against the “Australia card” . Today, he is the champion of a national ID card system. The London bomb blasts have, definitely, changed everything; reviving plans for a broader rethink of the national security question in Australia.

The most persuasive argument, at the moment, is that the national ID card will aid the campaign against terrorism. It may even help prevent unlawful detention of refugees and asylum-seekers. The jury is still out on the subject! And civil liberties groups have condemned the scheme.

Nevertheless, on the related issue of national security, the Prime Minister believes anyone who does not think that Australia is at risk from suicide bombers is complacent and foolish.

Thus, every measure that makes it harder for terrorists to mask their plans and hide their identities continues to frame the debate about the need for a national ID card in Australia.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Australian Investments in West Africa

The African community is delighted with the news that Sphere Investments, an Australian exploration outfit, has recently expressed an interest in iron ore projects in Mauritania and has also acquired oil and gas ventures in Mali.

Furthermore, Sphere has something else out of West Africa; it is targeting major discoveries in Niger, Chad, and the Sudan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New Breed of Workers

A completely new specie of the proletariat has been found in Australia. The Prime Minister, John Howard, announced this significant discovery in a landmark speech to business leaders last night. He described the new class of workers as those workers who are willing to put Australia’s long term interest before their own.

Meanwhile, nobody knows exactly how large this new specie might be. And any attempt at accurate classification has so far proved fruitless.

In fact, all what we know at the moment is that the new breed is white-collar and blue-collar; including “knowledge workers”.

“They work each day in our factories”, so says the Prime Minister. They also work in “Our businesses, our great service companies, our farms and mines”.

This is good news for the Australian economy of the 21st Century. These highly productive “enterprise workers” know that businesses must be successful for their jobs to be secured.

They also know, in their heart of hearts, that it is the right of managers to manage and workers to do as they are “told”.

Nevertheless, the distinguishing feature of the new breed of Australian workers is that they are very relaxed and comfortable with workplace reforms; even if that means a drastic reduction in wages and conditions.

Thus, the new specie of the proletariat is a highly skilled group of workers united by an attitude of mind – workers who can single-handedly change the fortunes of most industries.

Affordable Housing Initiative

The Adelaide city council in South Australia has developed an Affordable Rental Housing Initiative for the low income earners – the first of its kind in Australia.

This new and innovative program ensures that young people are not priced out of the city housing market.

Furthermore, the program also provides a viable and affordable rental option for the new migrants and refugees who want to sample the unique lifestyle Adelaide city has to offer, at reasonable cost.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The New Age Africans

The new generation of Africans in Australia strongly believes in the power of positive thinking. And thinking about Africa has become the most potent instrument of adaptation and survival in the emerging communities.

Thus, as the African proverb says:

You can take a child out of Africa
But you can’t take Africa out of a child.

Generally though, the longing for a meaningful existence has also kept alive important strands of African consciousness in the land Down Under. Yet, there is evident of significant progress in a number of areas.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The G8 Summit and New Deal for the Poor

The three-day summit of the G8 countries (the world’s most powerful nations) ended in Scotland with a new pledge on climate change and the dawn of a new era of aid to the world’s poorest nations.

Although details are sketchy, the decision signals a “new deal” for Africa on trade, access to AIDS medication, and the cancellation of debt for the poorest countries, most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bomb Attacks in London

Blood in the streets of London as the deadly hand of terror rips apart the city’s heart; crippling the transport system. On last count, 38 people have been killed and 700 wounded; including 7 Australians.

My thoughts and prayers are with the peace-loving people of London; and the victims of international terrorism.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

New Housing Program

There is a new hope for the 7000 homeless people in South Australia, as the drive to provide affordable inner city housing shifts into high gear.

In effect, homelessness in Adelaide city has, finally, been recognised as a significant problem – a problem that is now on top of the government’s agenda for social inclusion.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Act of Giving and Sharing

African refugees in Australia are showcasing their traditional ideals of philanthropy by helping each other on a daily basis; giving and sharing their priceless little possessions and aspects of their culture.

In its contemporary form, African philanthropy is a survival mechanism designed to help the new arrivals come to terms with the immediate problems of adaptation to the new environment. The aim is to facilitate the smooth transition to a new and better life.

Concerned with issues of poverty and inequality, African philanthropists reach out to those in need. And giving and sharing have reached new heights!

People like Johnson Buol Juuk knows what it means to be poor; and what charity is all about. He works with the new arrivals; helping out whenever he can; winning friends and touching many hearts in the emerging communities.

And Johnson is a kind and generous soul, a Sudanese refugee with a golden heart. He obviously likes to help the new comers read and write; acting as an interpreter and trying desperately to bridge the yawning communication gap between people of diverse cultures.

The talk in the street is that Johnson wants to play a key role in the development and implementation of African language programs in South Australian schools.

And he is well qualified to do the job!

He is a native Dinka speaker, with a good knowledge of the Dinka Culture and lifestyle.

Thus, the point to note is that the act of giving and sharing has become a fundamental means of helping those in need and managing the African disadvantage.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Cape Verde National Day

On this day, the Republic of Cape Verde achieved independence from Portugal in 1975. Now, the country remains one of Africa’s most stable democratic governments.

Rwanda Liberation Day

Today, Rwandans across Australia celebrate their liberation from genocide and dictatorship. It was on this day in July 1994 that the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) liberated the capital Kigali.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Elements of African Philanthropy

A new mode of idealism is sweeping across the emerging African community in Australia; and one of its main features is the belief in the infinite potential of African philanthropy.

By way of definition, African philanthropy is a new type of giving and sharing; a utopian vision of reality. It is an effective grassroots movement that relies on the goodwill of ordinary people to resolve a number of nagging problems affecting the new generation of African migrants and refugees throughout the land.

In its most active form, the movement facilitates the resettlement process; helping the new arrivals, feeding the poor and housing the homeless. It has the power to alter the perception of the new environment in significant ways.

In fact, the real strength of the movement lies in its ability to identify the need and mobilise resources for the common good; creating linkages with well-established charitable organisations and individuals.

African philanthropists have worked cooperatively with community organisations to provide moral and financial support to the new arrivals. As powerful volunteers and care givers, they live modestly; giving and sharing and helping those in need.

It is the poor helping the poor at the local level, where it matters most!

Essentially though, it could be argued that the African philanthropists are the unsung heroes of our time; whose activities have remained largely unknown in the mainstream society.

Margaret Bako, a Sudanese woman of distinction who came to Australia as a refugee in the 1980s, has worked tirelessly with a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); including the Australian Refugee Association; helping the new migrants and refugees make sense of the world around. Her recent appointment to the Women’s Health Advisory Council in South Australia has brought the work of the African philanthropists into sharp focus. Meanwhile, she is trying to carry women’s health issues over the cultural divide; thereby building an effective relationship between the public health system and the emerging African communities.

Yet, Margaret is not alone! Others have also made their marks in many areas of need.

One of the rising stars in the movement is Tony Oyet, a refugee with attitude. He is a selfless, highly motivated young man in his prime of life who has worked tirelessly to help others and never sought any reward or recognition.

He works with street kids, giving and sharing, offering advice on how best to access the mainstream services during the early days of arrival, where people are at their most vulnerable position in the community.

Meanwhile, through the generous support of Adelaide Central Community Health Service, Tony has found his real niche in life by getting involved in the inner city Youth Development Projects; including drug and alcohol counselling to run-away kids.

Thus, in a very real sense, the new way of giving and sharing is here to stay. The activities of African philanthropists like Tony and Margaret (and others) have done a great deal to improve the lives of the deprived and the homeless; helping those at the margin of society.

Friday, July 01, 2005

African Language Programs

Today, the African language programs are becoming more popular in Australian schools. Thanks to the foresight of the principals and program designers.

Indeed, I was over the moon, so to speak, when I first heard from reliable sources that the School of Languages in South Australia is working towards the successful introduction of Dinka and Swahili African languages into its current programs.

And the African community is delighted!

Meanwhile, African-Australians are now confident that the school system has found new and innovative ways to further strengthen and promote the learning of African languages in Australian schools.