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Nobody should be president for life: Obama

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Addis Ababa: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday stressed that no president should remain in office for life, as it violates important constitutional provisions which in turn “risks instability and strife” as has happened in Burundi.

“Let me be honest with you, I do not understand this. I am in my second term, it’s been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as president of the United States, I love my work, but under our constitution I cannot run again.

“I actually think I am a pretty good president, I think if I ran I could win,” Obama said in a speech at the headquarters of the African Union, which is hosting for the first time an active US president.

“Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end,” Obama added at the conclusion of his first official visit to Ethiopia.

“When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife, as we’ve seen in Burundi,” Obama said.

Obama was referring to his Burundian counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza, who has just been re-elected for a third presidential term, in violation of the constitutional two-term limit, which provoked a wave of violence that has claimed dozens of victims and forced more than 160,000 people to flee their homes.

“I don’t understand why people want to stay so long, especially when they’ve got a lot of money,” he jested, adding that when a leader acts like the only one capable of holding the nation together, it indicates failure.

“There is a lot that I like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law, and no one person is above the law,” Obama added.

In fact, Obama said he was “looking for the life after being president… I can spend time with my family, I can find other ways to serve, I can visit Africa more often”.

Obama called on African leaders to draw inspiration from late former South African president Nelson Mandela who “forged a lasting legacy by being willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully”.

“Just as the African Union has condemned coups and illegitimate transfers of power, the AU’s authority and strong voice can also help the people of Africa ensure that their leaders abide by term limits and their constitutions,” Obama added, later clearly stating that “nobody should be president for life”.

(IANS)

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‘Everyday Africa’ Project to shatter African Stereotypes

Everyday Africa, an Instagram community of photographers who strive to capture ordinary moments of life, such as children picking flowers in a field, or girlfriends chatting at a coffee shop.

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Breaking stereotypes, one post on Instagram ,at a time. Pixabay
Breaking stereotypes, one post on Instagram ,at a time. Pixabay
  • ‘Everyday Africa’ is an Instagram project which aims at eliminating African stereotypes.
  • They photograph everyday life of common Africans to succeed in their initiative.
  •  With approximately 370,000 followers, it is one of the biggest visual libraries of a continent.

When schoolchildren in Washington, D.C., are asked to say the first thing that comes to mind about Africa, they use words like hot, desert, sand, poverty, hunger, war and Ebola.

These are all accurate things to say about that part of the world — but they reflect an “incomplete” picture, says writer Austin Merrill, who together with photojournalist Peter DiCampo has set out to document African reality beyond common stereotypes.

They are the founders of Everyday Africa, an Instagram community of photographers who strive to capture ordinary moments of life, such as children picking flowers in a field, or girlfriends chatting at a coffee shop. Their Instagram following has topped 370,000.

Africa is no more the poor country we think it is, it is time to break the stereotypes.
Africa is no more the poor country we think it is, it is time to break the stereotypes.

In addition to the Instagram feed, the book “Everyday Africa, 30 Photographers Re-Picturing the Continent,” recently hit bookstores in Europe, the United States and certain countries on the African continent. The book is filled with images documenting life in Africa that aim to shatter misconceptions often found in Western media.

Readers see a teenager rollerblading in the streets of Dakar, a DJ playing music in Lagos, a couple looking at the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town. The book displays the full diversity and visual richness of African life.

Both DiCampo and Merrill invited a diverse “community of photographers” from all over the continent to contribute to the Instagram project and the book. Some are professionals, while others are skilled amateurs.

Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengiste prologues the book in an essay focusing on the power of the ordinary. “We sometimes forget that no matter what is happening in our lives, ordinary moments find a way to move forward,” Mengiste writes.

Normality

Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill, both Americans, met while serving with the Peace Corps in Ivory Coast. In 2012, they received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington to cover the aftermath of Ivory Coast’s civil war.

While they were interviewing refugees and soldiers, Merrill remembers that around them “the vast majority of life was pretty normal, but that wasn’t coming through in the story that we were trying to put together.”

“We were seeing all these other moments, that were many sorts of truer to our daily life experience in that part of the world,” says DiCampo.

So, they took their cellphones and started to photograph what was around them. They felt, says Merrill, that the normal, everyday scenes of life “might be the most important thing we had to tell about that place, about that moment, instead of the crisis story.”

Media organizations tend to focus on breaking news, often triggered by an evolving crisis. Africa has many of those; but, as Di Campo puts it, “It’s quite difficult to have a global understanding when all you see of other parts of the world are really extreme stories.”

This is the gap that the “Everyday Africa” book is trying to fill; to look at the continent from the inside and from different perspectives.

DiCampo and Merrill, with the support of the Pulitzer Center, have also created media workshops that train elementary school students in the United States on how to document their lives and recognize stereotypes.

“We use the story of how we created Everyday Africa,” said DiCampo, “to engage the students in a discussion of how media representation affects them, their lives and their communities and we use our photography to teach basic photography lessons, so that by the end of the workshop, they have an everyday project for their own school or community.”

This social media model has hit a nerve. “The Everyday Africa platform on Instagram may very well be the biggest visual library of the continent,” writes Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah.

“To task African photographers with the burden of changing how the continent is perceived, might be overwhelming,” writes Acquah; but, he adds, “a picture of the real Africa” is slowly emerging. VOA

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