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lauantai 28. toukokuuta 2016

Nigeria, Cool Facts #114

<= 113. Namibia                                                                                                           115. Rwanda => 

1. Giant of Africa

Nigeria is often referred as the Giant of Africa, that's because Nigeria is the leading African country in many statistics.

- Nigeria has the biggest population in Africa with 184 million people out of the 1,15 Billion people on the African continent
- Nigeria is Africa's biggest economy
- Nigeria has 521 different languages of which 512 are still spoken
- Lagos is Africa's biggest city
- Nigeria listed as "Next Eleven" economies set to become the biggest in the world
- Nigeria's film industry "Nollywood" produces second-most films in the world after India

2. British Colony 

Great Britain established the Oil Rivers Protectorate in the southern part of present-day Nigeria. The British protectorate was confirmed in the Berlin Conference in 1885. 

In 1893 Oil Rivers Protectorate merged with the territories of the Royal Niger Company forming the Niger Coast Protectorate. This union was renamed Southern Nigeria Protectorate in 1900. 

The Lagos colony was incorporated into the Southern Nigeria Protectorate in 1906. The Southern Nigeria Protectorate merged with Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914 to form the single colony of Nigeria. 

The British had merged many existing Caliphates and Empires into the Northern Nigeria Protectorate after its establishment in 1900 until the unification with Southern Nigeria Protectorate. 

The unification was done for economic reasons and not political. In 1956 the southern parts of Nigeria gained autonomy and in 1960 Nigeria became independent from Great Britain. 

The ancient Kingdom of Biafra was joined to Nigeria in 1914 during British conquest. In 1967 the Republic of Biafra declared independence, which was the primary cause of the Nigerian Civil War. The secession was carried out due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions between the peoples of Nigeria. 

The war lasted between May 1967 until January 1970. Over three million Biafran civilians had died in fighting and starvation. Finally the Biafran forces surrendered to the Nigerian Federal Military Government and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria. 

The national anthem of Biafra was the "Land of the Rising Sun" which adopted its tune from Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia", from the piece of the famous Finnish composer. The anthem was written by Nnamdi Azikiwe. 

Starving children of the Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War)
Map of Biafra

4. Oil in Niger Delta

The Niger Delta is the delta of the Niger River and the area was the British Oil Rivers Protectorate between 1885-1893. The area is sometimes called Oil Rivers because the area is an oil rich area. 

The Niger Delta area has been the centre of many conflicts. 

Biafran War 1967-1970
The entire Niger Delta region was a warzone where over million civilians died. 

Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni PeopleMOSOP, the organization formed in 1990 by the Ogoni people led a non-violent campaigning for social, economic and environmental justice in the Niger Delta, where Shell Nigeria had caused severe environmental damages. MOSOP tried to get Shell Nigeria accountable for its actions but the movement was crushed violently and the leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other activists were executed in 1995.

The people of the Niger Delta area haven't seen improvements in living conditions but rather environmental disasters and conflicts that go on. 

Shell Nigeria

5. Nigerian Society 

- Nigeria has over 500 ethnic groups and over 500 languages 
- The northern part is dominated by the Muslim Hausa and Fulani people 
- The southern part is dominated by the Christian Yoruba and Igbo people
- The most volatile tension is between the two biggest ethnic groups Yoruba and Hausa 
- Some states in the north have adopted the sharia-law, which has worsened the ethnic and religious split in the country 
- 58% are Christians and 41% Muslims of the population 

Biggest ethnic groups in Nigeria

Linguistic map of Nigeria


500 BC - 200 Nok civilization thrived in Northern Nigeria producing life-sized terra-cotta figures
948 Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people established, which lasted until 1911 in Southern Nigeria
700s Kanem Kingdom was established, which became later a regional superpower
1200-1300s The Hausa people established many flourishing city states in Northern Nigeria
1200-1500s The Yoruba people created states in the southwest part of Nigeria
1400-1600s Benin Kingdom flourished controlling practically the entire coast of the present-day Nigeria, the Empire was established already in the 1100s and annexed by UK in 1897
1804 Sokoto Caliphate established under Usman Dan Fodio, which was in 1903 defeated by the British
1807 Slave trade was ended and the British conquered the inner lands of the country
1861 Lagos Treaty of Cession, Lagos annexed to Great Britain as a Crown Colony
1885 British claims over Nigeria were recognized at the Berlin Conference
1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate
1901-1902 Anglo-Aro War between Aro Confederacy and the British
1914 Northern and Southern Nigeria was united as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, but administratively the Nigeria was divided into Northern and Southern Protectorates and Lagos Colony
1936 Northern Nigeria outlawed slavery which was outlawed in other parts much earlier
1956 Southern parts of Nigeria gained autonomy
1960 Nigeria got independence
1961 After a plebiscite Northern Cameroons chose to remain in Nigeria, while Southern Cameroons joined the Republic of Cameroon
1963 Nigeria became a republic
1966 Military coup in which the Prime Minister and the Premiers of the Northern and Western Regions were killed
1967 Eastern Region declared independence as the Republic of Biafra as a new military coup started the civil war
1970 The Civil War ended in which many western countries were involved like the Soviet Union and Britain backing Nigerian government as France and some other backed the Biafrans
1975 Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in a military coup
1976-1979 Military president Olusegun Obasanjo ruled the country
1979 Obansajo transferred the power to a civilian regime
1984 Shehu Shagari's corrupt and incompetent regime was overthrown after fraudulent elections by Muhammadu Buhari
1985 Buhari's regime overthrown as Ibrahim Babangida became the new head of state
1993 Free and fair democratic elections were won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, but Babangida annulled the elections leading to violent protests and to the appointing of interim government with Ernest Shonekan as the leader
1993 General Sani Abacha overthrew the interim government in a military coup and established one of the most violent and corrupt regime's in Nigeria
1998 Sani Abacha died in unclear circumstances
1999 Multi-party elections won by Olusegun Obasanjo
2007 Umaru Yar'Adua won the elections, which were condemned as severely flawed
2009 Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group, led a violent uprising in which their leader was killed
2010 Yar'Adua died and Goodluck Jonathan became the head of state
2015 Muhammadu Buhari won the elections, which were said to be fair by the observers 

tiistai 10. toukokuuta 2016

Namibia, Cool Facts #113

<= 112. Malawi                                                                                                               114. Nigeria =>

1. Namibian Flag 

The Namibian flag got its colors from SWAPO's flag, which was the liberation movement in Namibia. The SWAPO flag stripes were rotated into oblique position and white stripes and the sun were added. 

The meaning of the flag elements: 

Sun = represents the energy of life, which shines bright to the population freed from repression 
Sun rays = the 12 sun rays represent the 12 ethnic groups in Namibia
Blue = represents the sky and the Atlantic Ocean characterizing the importance of water and rainfall
Red = refers to the population and to its heroism 
Green = represents the plant kingdom
White = color of peace and unity 

SWAPO flag

2. German South-West Africa  

In 1884 Namibia became a German colony under Otto von Bismarck's leadership. The German rule lasted until 1915 when South Africa occupied the colony after defeating the German forces during the World War I.

In 1904 the Herero people rose against the German occupiers, which started a conflict lasting until 1907. Other tribes joined the uprising like the Nama people.

During the conflict half of the Nama people were killed and about 80% of the Herero people. Some historians have speculated that the genocide in Namibia was a model used by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

The survivors, who were released from detention were subjected to deportation, forced labour, racial segregation and discrimination. The event was called the the "first genocide of the twentieth century" and the German government apologized for the genocide in 2004.

Herero prisoners
Herero people who escaped the genocide

3. South-West Africa 

South Africa ruled Namibia as South-West Africa between 1915-1990. South Africa established their apartheid policies in 1948, which affected Namibia also. Native territories were turned into "Bantustans" or "homelands" where non-white people were placed.

After the World War I League of Nations gave South-West Africa to the UK under the administration of South Africa. Namibia was a de facto fifth province of South Africa and it refused to surrender its mandate, when the United Nations demanded it in 1946.

The liberation movement SWAPO started its armed resistance in 1960. In 1966 UN cancelled South Africa's right to administer Namibia and in 1971 the International Court of Justice stated that the South African rule in Namibia was illegal. Despite all this South Africa continued ruling Namibia.

SWAPO had bases in Angola and South Africa occupied a big part of southern Angola supporting simultaneously the UNITA guerrillas during the Angolan civil war. Finally in 1988 South Africa, Angola and Cuba with the USSR and USA as observers made an agreement, which led to the withdrawal of the South African troops from Namibia.

Between 1989-1990 UN peace keeping force UNTAG, led by Finnish Martti Ahtisaari, was deployed to monitor the peace process and elections. Namibia gained independence finally in 1990 and changed its name from South-West Africa to Namibia.

Martti Ahtisaari in negotiations in 1989

Namibian Bantustans

4. Between Two Deserts 

Namibia is located between two big deserts, Namib and Kalahari. The country has got its name from Namib Desert, which is probably the oldest desert in the world being around 55-80 million years old. It has the highest dunes after the Chinese desert of Badain Jaran.

The Kalahari Desert covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia. It sustains much more animal and plant life than a true desert like the Namib Desert.

The Namib Desert covers nearly the whole coast and it prevented the Europeans to invade the area for a long time. Europeans arrived to the present-day Namibia already in 1485 but they started colonizing the area as late as in the 1800s.

Namibia map
Kalahari Desert
Namib Desert

5. Namibian Economy

Namibia produces almost one third of the world's natural diamonds. It's also a leading exporter of uranium and copper. The mining activities are in the hands of South African and Western companies. 

GDP in Namibia is quite high in African standards but the wealth is distributed very unevenly. The gap between rich and poor is even deeper than in other African countries. 

About 10% of the population are White, but their income is over 100 times higher than the average of the Black. The White Namibians control the economy and politics. 

The challenge after independence has been figuring out how to become free from the apartheid mentality imposed by South Africa, when it ruled Namibia until its independence. Especially problematic have been the land ownership issues. 


1300s The Bantu people started arriving from central Africa to the areas inhabited by the San, Damara and Nama people since early times
1485 The Portuguese navigator Diogo Cao was the first European to disembark present-day Namibia and a year later by Bartolomeu Dias, however the Portuguese crown didn't try to claim the area
1700s The Orlam clans from Cape colony crossed the Orange River and moved to the present-day southern Namibia
1800s White settlers started moving from Cape Colony to present-day Namibia, the missionaries, traders and soldiers followed them in the end of the century
1870s Finnish Christian missions started at the area
1880 The Nama-Herero War broke out after the Orlam encountered the Herero tribe at Windhoek, Gobabis and Okahandja, the Imperial Germany was involved in the conflict
1884 Namibia became a German colony but the British kept Walvis Bay, which was annexed to the Cape province of British South Africa
1904-1907 The Herero and Nama people fought against the German occupiers and as a punitive action the Germans killed half of the Nama people and about 80% of the Herero people
1908 A vast diamond deposit was discovered from the Namib desert
1915 South Africa occupied the colony after defeating the German forces during the World War I
1919 South Africa ruled the colony onwards as a League of Nations mandate, they wanted to annex it but didn't do it
1946 League of Nations was replaced by United Nations, South Africa refused to surrender its earlier mandate as UN wanted to monitor Namibia's (South-West African then) administration and make a schedule towards independence
1966 International Court of Justice dismissed Liberia's and Ethiopia's complaint about South Africa's presence in Namibia, in response to this decision SWAPO and other groups started the armed struggle for independence
1978 UN Security Counsil passed UN Resolution 435, which was a plan for transition towards independence in Namibia, South Africa still kept fighting
1988 South Africa, Angola and Cuba with the USSR and USA as observers made an agreement after which South Africa agreed to withdraw its troops from Namibia
1989-1990 UN peace keeping force UNTAG, led by Finnish Martti Ahtisaari, was deployed to monitor the peace process and elections
1990 Namibia became independent and elected SWAPO's leader Sam Nujoma as the first president
1994 South Africa ceded Walvis Bay to Namibia
2005 The transition of power went smoothly as Hifikepunye Pohamba became the president after Nujoma's 15-year rule

sunnuntai 8. toukokuuta 2016

Malawi, Cool Facts #112

<= 111. Liberia                                                                                                             113. Namibia =>

The current flag of Malawi was taken in use when the country became independent in 1964. During president Mutharika's rule Malawi used a different flag between 2010-2012 after which Mutharika died and the new president Joyce Banda restored the former flag. 

The flag resembles the Pan-African flag, designed by Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. The design of the Pan-African flag has been copied by various countries or areas, which have tried to gain independence. 

Meaning of the colors: 

Black = the indigenous people of the continent
Red = the blood of the indigenous people's struggle
Green = nature
Rising sun = the dawn of hope and freedom for the African continent

African flags

2. Maravi Kingdom

Malawi was called the Nyasaland before its independence in 1964. The name Malawi is said to be derived from the ancient Kingdom of Maravi. The word "maravi" means fire flames.

The Kingdom of Maravi extended at its greatest extent to present-day Mozambique and Zambia also.

3. David Livingstone at Lake Malawi

The world-famous Scottish explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, made an expedition to Malawi in 1859 when he arrived at Lake Malawi. Livingstone identified the Shire Highlands, south of the lake, to be a good place for an European settlement. 

As a result of his visit, Presbyterian and Anglican missions were established at the area in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1876 a trading settlement was established in Blantyre. In 1878 the African Lakes Company Limited was created to set up trade and transport concern working closely with the missions. 

In 1883 a British Consul took up residence in Blantyre. The British prevented the Portuguese occupation at the area by making treaties with the local rulers. In 1889 a British Protectorate was created including the Shire Highlands and later in 1891 it extended to include the whole present-day Malawi. 

David Livingstone
Lake Malawi

4. British Nyasaland Colony 

The British Protectorate was created in 1889 and in 1891 included the present-day Malawi as the British Central Africa Protectorate. It was renamed as Nyasaland in 1907. The British authorities suppressed a farm workers' uprising led by Pastor John Chilembwe. 

The Nyasaland African Congress NAC was created in 1944 to promote local interests to the British government. In 1953 Britain linked Nyasaland with Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was still semi-independent. The Federation lasted until 1963. 

The linking caused opposition and Dr. Hastings Banda, a European-trained doctor working in Ghana, was asked to assist the nationalist cause. He returned to Malawi but was jailed in 1959. In 1960 Banda was freed and he helped to draft a new constitution for Nyasaland. 

When Nyasaland became independent Banda became the first prime minister and then president of the country. 

Evolution of the Nyasaland Protectorate

5. First President Hastings Banda

Dr. Hasting Banda was the leader of Malawi between 1961-1994. When Malawi gained independence he was the Prime Minister in 1964-1966 and after reclaiming Malawi as a republic he was the president between 1966-1994. 

Banda ruled authoritarically and declared Malawi as a one-party state. In 1971 he became the President for Life of Malawi. He suppressed opposition but he generally supported women's rights, improved the infrastructure of the country and maintained a rather good educational system compared to other African countries. 

Banda was also criticized for maintaining full diplomatic relations with apartheid-era South Africa. In 1992 Malawi was hit by severe drought and famine and after widespread protests and international pressure Banda had to arrange referendum about the political system.

The population voted for returning to multi-party system and the presidential elections were won by Bakili Muluzi in 1994. Banda died in 1997 when he was 99 years old.

Hastings Kamuzu Banda 1898-1997

1500s The tribes at the area had established the Kingdom of Maravi
1600s The Portuguese arrived at the area trading and making alliances with the tribesmen
1700s The empire had broken up into several areas controlled by different tribes 
1800s The Swahili-Arab slave trade reached its peak in the middle of the century
1859 Scottish explorer David Livingston arrived at Lake Malawi and as a result of his visit Anglican and Presbyterian missions were established at the area in the 1860s and 1870s
1878 The African Lakes Company Limited was established to set up trade and transport concern 
1889 A British Protectorate was established over the Shire Highlands, which was extended in 1891 to include completely the present-day Malawi as the British Central Africa Protectorate
1907 The Protectorate was renamed Nyasaland 
1915 Pastor John Chilembwe led an farm worker uprising, which the British authorities suppressed violently 
1944 The Nyasaland African Congress NAC was established to promote local interests 
1953 Nyasaland was linked with Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia by the British as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
1960 Hastings Banda, the president of NAC who had been jailed in 1959 and freed now, was asked to help draft a new constitution for Nyasaland
1963 Banda became the Prime Minister of Nyasaland and the same year the Federation with the two Rhodesias ended
1964 Nyasaland became independent from Great Britain renaming itself as Malawi, Banda became the first president of the country in 1966
1971 Banda was declared president-for-life and the following centuries his authoritarian regime controlled the country
1992 First demonstrations against the government in decades after several drought and famine
1993 Banda agreed to a referendum where the population voted for multi-party democracy 
1994 First multi-party elections where Banda was defeated and Bakili Muluzi became the president
1998 Muluzi re-elected
2004 Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika was elected as the president
2009 Mutharika re-elected despite the charges of election fraud, Mutharika also forced the parliament to accept the new flag despite the resistance of the opposition and the population
2012 Mutharika died of a heart attack and the Vice-President Joyce Banda became the president and restored the former flag
2014 Banda lost elections to Mutharika's brother Peter Mutharika