Africa 2050: trends, hopes and fears for the future


Event at the Temple of Peace, organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs

Roundtable discussion with:
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB
Ambreena Manji, Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff University
Martha Musonza Holman, Founder of Love Zimbabwe
Chaired by: Fadhili Maghiya, Diaspora & Inclusion Officer, Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel
Report by: Lara Hirschhausen

Will Oxfam still be working in Africa in 2050?

This was the opening question to Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring at a roundtable discussion organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs on the 24th of February.

Mark Goldring, the current CEO of Oxfam GB, had just returned from a visit to Ethiopia and offered an informative insight into the organisation’s current work on the continent. Referring to the devastating impacts of the current draught in Ethiopia, Mr. Goldring highlighted the necessity to recognise climate change as a major challenge faced by the developing world. He further spoke about conflict, unequal distribution of economic growth, and illicit money as major opponents to just development on the African continent. However, the Oxfam Chief Executive also emphasised that credit needs to be given to the advancements of African leaders. Positive examples of the improved conditions in many African nations do exist, such as the increase of democratically elected governments or the 2005 plea for the abolition of African debt and the increase in school enrolment thereafter.

Ambreena Manji, a lecturer at the Law Department of Cardiff University, commented on her research area of land tenure as a core issue that is holding back a more equitable development agenda in many African states. She elaborated further on the disputes that arise from land allocation being dominated by commercial interested rather than public interest, and how the promotion of a legal framework was at the core of just economic development.

Martha Musonza Holman, founder of the NGO Love Zimbabwe, spoke about current issues in her home country Zimbabwe, from which she had also just returned. She particularly emphasised the need to mobilise civil society both within the states, but also through the diaspora, to tackle corruption in the political leadership. As Zimbabwe is also currently suffering a draught, Martha pointed out the consequences of environmental change on the industrialised world that relies on food imports from African countries. As a teacher by training, she further endorsed the benefit and need for exchange programmes that allow African students to visit the United Kingdom.

The initial roundtable was followed by a lively QA session. The audience, which seemingly was made up of people involved with human rights or development organisations in Africa, raised a number of relevant questions. The event captured well the various issues and diverging opinions how to solve them. What role does China have to play in African development? And what are the risks, what the opportunities of Chinese investment in the continent? How is Climate Change hindering development? How can we ensure adequate mitigation as well as adaption strategies? Is there hope that these strategies can be used to lead to not only more environmentally, but also sociably, sustainable economic growth? Arguably, these are some of the big questions that our world has to address, and for Africa these challenges will be of crucial importance in order to determine its way over the next 50 years. While there is undoubtedly a lot of work left to be done, allowing for a dialogue that focuses on the needs of the citizens will hopefully form the core of it. You can see a detailed transcript of the event here.

Where do you draw line between terrorists and dictators?

by Wario Denebo

Saturday the 12th of March 2016 was a bright day with relatively mild temperatures inEhtiopia blog South Wales. In the evening, it looked as though many people were upset while others (probably few) were overjoyed following the Six Nations Match- particularly England Versus Wales. For those at the Oromo community meeting in Cardiff, however, the mood was entirely different. Every one of us was hit hard in the stomach with the brutality of the Ethiopian regime back home. Every one of us was mourning deaths of close friends or family members killed by the Ethiopian soldiers at peaceful demonstrations in Oromia. Unfortunately, the atrocities have continued and the regime has continued to enjoy the supports from the West including the UK and the USA.

Almost all of us have only been in Wales for less than three years and ever since leaving home we have received regular accounts of killings, arbitrary arrests, deliberate starvation and inhumane or degrading treatments of innocent people at the hands of the Ethiopian government authorities in Oromia, as reported by Human Rights Organisations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.

The situation has gotten worse recently as government soldiers have been firing live ammunitions at peaceful demonstrators demanding respect for basic human rights. Despite this, Ethiopia has remained one of arguably the largest aid recipients from the UK. It was against this background that members of the Oromo community in Wales held a meeting in Cardiff on 12/03/2016 to reaffirm our commitments to continue to stand against genocide and all other forms of human rights violations that the terrorist Ethiopian regime has perpetrated against the Oromo people. While we are grateful to the British and all other nations in Europe that have given sanctuary to thousands of Oromo people who have fled from persecution in Oromia, we are dejected by the continued atrocities committed against our people. We all feel deeply affected by the violation of basic human rights taking place in Oromia, our country, and would like to appeal to the British government and its EU counterparts to stop giving technical and financial supports to the Ethiopian terrorist regime that has murdered several thousand of Oromo children, youth, parents and grandparents in attempt to silence public demands for fundamental right, freedom and justice since 1991.

Thomas Evan Nicholas (Niclas y Glais)


Nioclas GlasThomas Evan Nicholas – otherwise known as “Niclas y Glais” – was born in rural West Wales in 1879. Niclas was a passionate believer in peace. He preached against war every Sunday during WWI and was eventually imprisoned for his pacifist stance during WWII. As a member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) he stood up for the rights of the poor. He was also a prolific poet. During his time in prison he wrote 150 sonnets on pieces of toilet paper, which were later published in the volume ‘Canu’r Carchar’ (‘Prison Sonnets’). He died in 1971.

Thomas Evan Nicholas was the son of Dafydd and Bet, of Y Llety, Pentregalar. He was born on October 8th. 1879 on the slopes of Foel Dyrch in the Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire. Times were hard. There were 6 children in the family, and Y Llety was a rented smallholding. The landlords called from time to time to ensure the money was paid.

He later became known as Niclas y Glais – y Glais being the name of the Chapel where he was minister for a period.

It is often argued that the community of the Preseli Hills represented the socialist ideal for Niclas – a community where people cooperated for each other’s good. It was a civilized society where ideas, stories, debates, sermons and politics were shared. There was a great deal of sharing of books and journals, too. Niclas was introduced to what was happening in Parliament by the newspaper ‘Baner ac Amserau Cymru’ published by Thomas Gee.

His first job was as a messenger to The Swan public house. The journey by horse and cart from the Swan to Crymych gave him the chance to learn chunks of poetry by heart. He was often told off by his boss for taking too long over the trip, which tended to happen if he had a lengthy piece to learn!

Early in his life he became aware that the ‘system’ was unfair – ‘the system’ being the way society was ordered. Niclas believed that the traditional ‘fairness’ of Welsh people – their system built on a sense of ‘fair play’ – was their contribution to the world.

When the First World War broke out, Niclas was a minister in Llangybi, Cardiganshire. He could not see war as part of Christ’s teaching, and preached against it every Sunday. Policemen were sent to listen to his sermons. Because of his anti-war stance, he had a tough time, but surprisingly – given the anti-German fever which was sweeping Britain at the time – he wasn’t arrested.

In 1918, he was selected as the Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) candidate for the seat of Aberdare. He is said to have lost the election when he was asked, ‘Would you shake hands with a German?’ and he replied, ‘Of course. Why ever not?’.

By the time the second World War came the authorities seized the opportunity to take Niclas to court in 1939 when the ‘Emergency Powers (Defence) Act’ became law. This law allowed the authorities to imprison anyone who ‘impaired the war effort’. Niclas and his son, Islwyn, were accused of being Fascists, although both were staunch Socialists!

When Niclas and Islwyn were in Brixton jail, the surrounding area was regularly bombed. They were locked in their cells without any light while the German planes circled overhead. They were imprisoned in the area kept for ‘Aliens’ (i.e. foreigners) and were not allowed to go to the shelters like the other prisoners, but had to stay put as the prison shook.

While in prison, Niclas perfected the craft of the sonnet. The 14 lines of a sonnet fitted perfectly on a piece of toilet paper – thus it was the ideal form for a prisoner-poet! These were later published as ‘Canu’r Carchar’ (and translated into English as ‘Prison Sonnets’).

Niclas didn’t live to see the egalitarian society he dreamed of, but his vision remains.

Thomas Evan Nicholas (Niclas y Glais)

Nioclas Glas Ganed Thomas Evan Nicholas – neu fel roedd yn cael ei adnabod “Niclas y Glais” – yng nghefn gwlad gorllewin Cymru yn 1879. Roedd Niclas yn credu’n gryf mewn heddwch. Roedd yn pregethu yn erbyn y rhyfel bob dydd Sul yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf ac yn y pen draw, cafodd ei garcharu am ei safiad fel heddychwr yn ystod yr Ail Ryfel Byd. Fel aelod o’r Blaid Lafur Annibynnol (ILP), roedd yn sefyll dros hawliau pobl dlawd. Roedd hefyd yn fardd prysur iawn. Yn ystod ei gyfnod yn y carchar, ysgrifennodd 150 o sonedau ar ddarnau o bapur tŷ bach a gyhoeddwyd yn ddiweddarach mewn cyfrol o’r enw ‘Canu’r Carchar’. Bu farw yn 1971.

Roedd Thomas Evan Nicholas yn fab i Dafydd a Bet, o’r Llety, Pentregalar. Cafodd ei eni ar 8 Hydref 1879, ar lethrau Foel Dyrch yn y Preselau, Sir Benfro. Roedd hi’n gyfnod anodd. Roedd 6 phlentyn yn y teulu ac roedd y Llety yn dyddyn wedi’i rentu. Byddai’r landlordiaid yn galw o bryd i’w gilydd i sicrhau bod y rhent yn cael ei dalu.

Yn ddiweddarach, roedd yn cael ei adnabod fel Niclas y Glais – y Glais oedd y Capel lle roedd yn weinidog am gyfnod.

Mae pobl yn dweud yn aml mai’r gymuned yn ardal y Preselau oedd yn cynrychioli’r ddelfryd sosialaidd i Niclas – cymuned lle roedd pawb yn cydweithredu er budd ei gilydd. Roedd yn gymdeithas waraidd lle roedd pobl yn rhannu syniadau, straeon, trafodaethau, pregethau a gwleidyddiaeth. Roedd llawer hefyd yn rhannu llyfrau a chyfnodolion. Daeth Niclas i ddarllen am yr hyn oedd yn digwydd yn y Senedd drwy ‘Faner ac Amserau Cymru’, papur newydd a oedd yn cael ei gyhoeddi gan Thomas Gee.

Ei swydd gyntaf oedd negesydd i dafarn The Swan. Roedd y siwrne gyda chert a cheffyl o’r Swan i Grymych yn gyfle iddo ddysgu darnau o farddoniaeth ar ei gof. Byddai ei reolwr yn ei ddwrdio yn aml am gymryd gormod o amser i deithio, rhywbeth oedd yn tueddu i ddigwydd os oes ganddo fe ddarn hir i’w ddysgu!

Yn gynnar yn ystod ei fywyd, daeth yn ymwybodol bod y ‘drefn’ yn annheg – ‘y drefn’ oedd sut roedd cymdeithas wedi’i strwythuro. Roedd Niclas yn credu mai ‘tegwch’ traddodiadol y Cymry – eu trefn nhw oedd wedi’i chreu yn ôl eu synnwyr o ‘chwarae teg’ – oedd eu cyfraniad i’r byd.

Pan ddechreuodd y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, roedd Niclas yn weinidog yn Llangybi, Ceredigion. I Niclas, nid oedd rhyfel yn rhan o ddysgeidiaeth Iesu Grist, ac roedd yn pregethu yn ei erbyn bob dydd Sul. Anfonwyd heddlu i wrando ar ei bregethau. Oherwydd ei safbwynt heddychlon, cafodd amser anodd, ond yn rhyfeddol, o gofio’r ysbryd gwrth-Almeinig chwyrn oedd ym mhob man ar y pryd ym Mhrydain, ni chafodd ei arestio.

Yn 1918, cafodd ei ddewis fel ymgeisydd y Blaid Lafur Annibynnol ar gyfer sedd Aberdâr. Mae’n debyg iddo golli’r etholiad pan ofynnwyd iddo, ‘A fuasech chi’n ysgwyd dwylo gydag Almaenwr?’ a’i ateb oedd, ‘Wrth gwrs. Pam na fuaswn i?’.

Erbyn yr Ail Ryfel Byd, manteisiodd yr awdurdodau ar eu cyfle i fynd â Niclas i’r llys yn 1939, pan basiwyd ‘Deddf Pwerau Argyfwng (Amddiffyn)’. Roedd y gyfraith yma yn caniatáu i’r awdurdodau garcharu unrhyw un a oedd yn ‘ymyrryd ag ymdrech y rhyfel’. Cyhuddwyd Niclas a’i fab Islwyn o fod yn Ffasgwyr, er bod y ddau yn Sosialwyr i’r carn!

Pan oedd Niclas ac Islwyn yng ngharchar Brixton, roedd yr ardal o’i amgylch yn cael ei bomio’n rheolaidd. Cawsant eu cloi yn eu celloedd heb olau wrth i awyrennau’r Almaenwyr hedfan uwchben. Yn y carchar roedden nhw’n cael eu cadw yn yr ardal ar gyfer ‘Dieithriaid’ (sef tramorwyr) a doedden nhw ddim yn cael mynd i’r llochesi fel y carcharorion eraill. Roedd rhaid iddyn nhw aros yn eu celloedd wrth i’r carchar grynu.

Yn ystod ei gyfnod yn y carchar, perffeithiodd Niclas grefft y soned. Roedd 14 llinell y soned yn ffitio’n berffaith ar ddarn o bapur tŷ bach – ac felly roedd yn gerdd berffaith ar gyfer bardd yn y carchar! Cyhoeddwyd y sonedau hyn yn ddiweddarach fel ‘Canu’r Carchar’ (a’u cyfieithu i’r Saesneg fel ‘Prison Sonnets’).

Ni fu Niclas fyw i weld y gymdeithas egalitariadd roedd yn breuddwydio amdani, ond mae ei weledigaeth yn parhau.