African novels to look out for this year, 2013

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This year is looking good for African writing. We should expect new discoveries and fresh voices to emerge from the continent as there are still stories yet to be told whilst those who have already proven themselves will likely wax stronger. This is who we expect to rock:

Noviolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)

Noviolet Bulawayo

Noviolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names is the lovely title of the forthcoming debut novel by Noviolet Bulawayo (pen name of Elizabeth Tshele). Noviolet won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 for her story Hitting Budapest.

According to Libyan author Hisham Matar, who was one of the Caine Prize Judges: “The language of Hitting Budapest crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language. Noviolet’s works are intensely lyrical and moving, while engaging with real social issues. She is a 2012-2014 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. We Need New Names comes out in May.

Teju Cole (Nigeria)

Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Writer, art historian, street photographer, Teju Cole (his real name is Obayemi Babajide Adetokunbo Onafuwa) was born in the United States to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria, and moved back to the US at the age of 17. His first book, a novella, Everyday is for the Thief, was published in Nigeria in 2007 by Cassava Republic. Cole has earned flattering comparisons to literary heavyweights like JM Coetzee, WG Sebald and Henry James for his second book, Open City (Faber 2011), a novel described as “finely written” and “free-flowing form with no plot, narrated by a scholarly solitary walker”.

Teju Cole is also well known for the compact stories he crafts on his Twitter account called Small Fates. These Tweet-sized narratives are based on odd stories drawn from small news items in newspapers. Last year Cole was included in the panel of judges for the inaugural twitter fiction festival “a virtual storytelling celebration” featuring “creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world”. I have a hunch that he will spring up surprises in 2013 and delve into greater adventures in the world of arts.

Lauren Beukes (South Africa)

Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes

Shining Girls is a novel much raved about from Lauren Beukes, one of the finest genre writers in the continent. Her first novel was Moxyland but her major break came with Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. Zoo City won the 2011 Arthur C Clarke award, the 2010 Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel and was short-listed for several other prizes and the film rights have been sold.

In 2011, HarperCollins brokered a six-figure sum deal at the Frankfurt Book fair for Shining Girls and plans to publish it in May this year. In Shining Girls, The Time Traveler’s Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in this story of a time-traveling serial killer who is impossible to trace, until one of his victims survives.

Taiye Selasi (Ghana)

Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi

Selasi met Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison at Oxford in 2005. She was introduced by Morrison’s niece, the producer of a play she had written as a graduate student. Morrison invited Selasi to her home when they returned to the States. Morrison subsequently encouraged Selasie to pen her first story The Sex Lives of African Girls which was published in Granta magazine in 2011 in its feminism issue and appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012.

In 2010 Ann Godoff at Penguin Press bought Selasi’s unfinished novel and Ghana Must Go is now set to be published in 15 countries in 2013. The novel opens with a scene of a father who is about to die and traces the saga of his disintegrating family back to Africa. Ghana Must Go is widely tipped as one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year.

Victor Ehikhamenor (Nigeria)

Victor Ehikhamenor

Victor Ehikhamenor

Excuse me, Ehikhamenor’s newly released collection of essays, is a book of wit and humour. What began as a weekly column of the same title, while he served as Nigeria’s NEXT Newspaper’s first creative director, evolved into a book of satirical proportions. These funny pieces draw heavily on the experiences of everyday life in Nigeria as well as from the lives of Nigerians abroad.

Victor graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, USA and has won awards for his works including the 2008 Leon Forest Scholar Fiction Award and a Breadloaf Scholarship.

Alain Mabanckou (Congo)

Alain Mabanckou

Alain Mabanckou

Franco-Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou is among the best known and most successful writers in the French language and one of the best known African writers in France. Sometimes referred to as Africa’s Samuel Beckett, Mabanckou was selected by Vanity Fair as one of the continent’s greatest living writers.

His works include Black Bazaar, Memoirs of a Porcupine, African Psycho and Broken Glass and his style has been described as colloquial and highly entertaining. He is also prolific, Mabanckou’s latest offering Tomorrow I Will be Twenty Years Old is set to be published in May this year. Drawn from his own childhood experiences the book recounts the story of ten year old Michel living in Pointe Noire, Congo in the 1970s.

Sarah Lotz (South Africa)

Sarah Lotz

Sarah Lotz

Lotz is an award-winning author and scriptwriter who has published three novels Tooth and Nailed, Exhibit A and Pompidou Posse. Sarah writes urban horror novels under the name SL Grey with author Louis Greenberg and a Young Adult zombie series with her daughter, Savannah, under the name Lily Herne. Lotz recently accepted a pre-emptive six-figure offer from UK publishers Hodder and Stoughton for her novel The Three and another book.

Igoni Barrett (Nigeria)

Igoni Barrett

Igoni Barrett

Igoni Barrett, one of the finest writers around, was the winner of the BBC World Service short story competition for 2005. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled From Caves of Rotten Teeth, was first published in 2005 and re-issued in 2008. Known for the raw energy of his prose and characters that feel alive on the page, Barrett’s new collection of stories Love Is Power, Or Something Like That is due to be published in the UK, US and Nigeria in June. I encourage you to put it on your list of must-reads for 2013.

Mehul Gohil (Kenya)

Mehul Gohil

Mehul Gohil

Mehul Gohil is a writer born and living in Nairobi, Kenya. He won the Kenya I Live In short story competition organised in 2010 by Kwani Trust for his short story Farah Aideed Goes To Gulf War. He has previously been published in Kwani 06. Those hungry for his first book hopefully won’t have to wait long.

Rachel Zadok (South Africa)

Rachel Zadok

Rachel Zadok

In 2005 Rachel was nominated for the Whitbread First Novel Award for her novel Gem Squash Tokoloshe, which was also a finalist in the UK TV presenters’ Richard and Judy How to Get Published competition. The book is a story of the dissolution of a marriage seen through the eyes of an innocent child in rural South Africa. Gem Squash Tokoloshe was widely seen as marking the arrival of a young writer to be reckoned with.

This year Rachel’s second book Sister Sister (Kwela Books) is being released in South Africa in April. It is the story of the gregarious bright Thuli and her stuttering, introverted twin Sindi. In childhood they are inseparable outcasts but the arrival of an uncle they never knew they had sets into motion a course of events that will destroy their relationship and, eventually, their lives. You might want to read this one with the lights on if I know anything about Rachel’s ability to write stories that crawl along your spine.

Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria)

Cover of Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Cover of Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Okorafor is the author of Who Fears Death, The Shadow Speaker and Zahrah the Windseeker and has won many awards for her works. Her collection of short stories KabuKabu, will officially be released October 2013.

Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda)

Beatrice Lamwaka

Beatrice Lamwaka

Short-listed for the Caine prize in 2011 for her story Butterfly Dreams, Lamwaka is the General Secretary of the Uganda Women Writers Association. She was a finalist for the 2009 SA PEN/Studzinski Literary Award and was a fellow of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation/African Institute of South Africa Young Scholars programme that year. Lamwaka is currently working on her first novel and a compilation of her short stories.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Celebrated novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie returns with a new novel Americanah. The title comes from the word Nigerians use for those who have left the country for the US and become “Americanised” – a borderline insult. With three books to her name and a clutch of literary prizes, Chimamanda is one of the most beloved and critically lauded writers working today. Americanah comes out in May.

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54 Ways to say “I Love You”; in Africa

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I Love You

I Love You

It’s the month of love!
Forget roses.

We’ve got 54 unique ways to show your love–one for each country within Africa.
And if you want to learn how to say “I love you” in 54 African languages, start practicing with our language list!

Algeria: Read a love poem written in French, one of the languages of Algeria

Angola: Give a back massage with palm oil, sourced in Angola

Benin: Listen to a bedtime story sung by Angelique Kidjo from Benin, a Grammy-Award winner

Botswana: Buy a piece of jewelry—maybe a ring?—with diamonds mined in Botswana

Botswana

Botswana

Burkina Faso: Serve a gluten-free sorghum beer, brewed in Burkina Faso

Burundi: Bake heart shaped cookies with sugar exported from Burundi

Cameroon: Make a ceramic heart-shaped dish, with the clay found in the highlands in Cameroon

Cape Verde: Drink Portuguese-style wine, made in the vineyards of Cape Verde

Central African Republic: Make a rich, vanilla-flavored tapioca pudding for dessert, made from cassava imported from Central African Republic

Chad: Listen to a love ballad played on a kinde, a harp from Chad

Comoros: Delight in a triple-thick vanilla milkshake, flavored with natural vanilla imported from the Comoros

Congo-Brazzaville: Learn to paint at the Poto Poto School of Painters in Brazzaville, Congo

Congo-Kinshasa: Watch the film When We Were Kings, about Mohammad Ali’s famous match against George Foreman in Kinshasa, known at the time as the famed “Rumble in the Jungle”

Cote d’Ivoire: Buy a gold mask to hang on the wall, from extensive collections crafted in Cote d’Ivoire

Djibouti: Get a hand-woven wool rug from Djibouti to keep your feet warm

Egypt: Purchase tickets to the Cairo International Film Festival

Equatorial Guinea: Drink a cup of osang tea, grown organically in Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea: Read My Father’s Daughter by Hannah Pool, a heartwarming book about an Eritrean girl adopted by a British family

Eritrea

Eritrea

Ethiopia: Wake up to the smell of coffee, made with beans sourced from Ethiopia

Gabon: Obtain a stone sculpture of a woman’s face, items for which Gabon’s artisans are famous

Gambia: Take a bird watching trip for two around MacCarthy Island, an ornithologically rich part of The Gambia.

Ghana: Serve authentic Ghanaian dark chocolate, the birthplace of the cocoa bean

Guinea: Take a stroll down the streets of Conakry at sunset

Conakry; Guinea

Conakry; Guinea

Guinea-Bissau: Pound away on a dried calabash, or gourd, which is used to make music in Guinea-Bissau

Kenya: Try purple tea sourced from Kenya, a country considered by connoisseurs to be among the best tea producers in the world

Lesotho: Travel to the Oxbow, one of the only places in Africa to go skiing

Liberia: Sing the lyrics to Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl: “You know that you came and you changed my world”

Libya: Enjoy bazeen, an unsweetened cake made with barley flour and usually served with tomatoes and eggs

Madagascar: Purchase a blue sapphire gem, extracted from the sapphire mines of Madagascar

Madagascar

Madagascar

Malawi: Find a nyau mask, still used by the Chewa people for initiations and important events

Mali: Plan a romantic dinner with a desert view in Timbuktu

Mauritania: Hand make soft bed linens from the ultra soft tie-dyed cotton fabric from free-trade cooperatives in Mauritania

Mauritius: Have your hotel arrange a white linen and china dinner for two on the beach at sunset

Mauritius

Mauritius

Morocco: Buy a token of love in one of Morocco’s many souks

Mozambique: Experiment with a marimba, a type of xylophone native to the country

Namibia: Express your inner child by sandboarding down the sand dunes

Niger: Wrap yourself and your lover with a traditional hand-woven wedding blanket in colorful patterns

Nigeria: Listen to the soulful rhythm of Zombie, one of Fela Kuti’s most acclaimed albums

Rwanda: Perform the Intore, the most famous, traditional Rwandan dance for your loved one in private

Sao Tome and Principe: Savor Corallo Chocolate, voted by some to be amongst the world’s best organic chocolate

Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe

Senegal: Give your valentine a sand painting, made from Senegalese volcanic sand, beach sand, and dune sand

Seychelles: Visit the white, sandy beaches on the island of Mahe, while indulging in the French-African creole culture

Sierra Leone: Drink Star Beer, produced by the national brewer, Sierra Leone Breweries

Somalia: Read Crossbones by Nuruddin Farrah, a novel about a family returning to Somalia 

South Africa: Uncork a rich, red Merlot from the Cape winelands, and give your lover a bouquet of protea flowers, the national flower of South Africa

Sudan: Read the poem The Trees Have Passed, by formerly imprisoned poet Mahjoub Sharif

South Sudan: Take a rafting expedition along the White Nile river and get a glimpse of wildlife along the untraveled section of the Nile

Swaziland: Light your bedroom with the gentle and romantic glow from Swazi candles

Tanzania: Indulge in a konyagi, an indigenous, gin-like beverage

Togo: Hang a zota painting (which is made with scorched wood and smoke) made by Paul Ahyi, the designer of Togo’s flag

Togo

Togo

Tunisia: Visit a hammam, a traditional Tunisian public steam bath

Uganda: Take a romantic safari in one of Uganda’s many safari parks

Zambia: Wrap your gift in a tonga basket, which are woven by Tonga women, renowned for their weaving abilities

Zimbabwe: Propose to your loved one at Victoria Falls with a platinum engagement ring, with platinum exported from Zimbabwe.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Sister, Randi, Gets Book Deal

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Randi Zuckerberg

Randi Zuckerberg

It’s called “Dot Complicated,” get it?
Randi Zuckerberg, the social media executive and entrepreneur who left her CEO brother Mark’s Facebook in 2011, has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins.
Dot Complicated, the same name as her newsletter, will be a memoir that includes her thoughts on the digital age, covering her years as Facebook’s marketing director to 2011, when she became a mother.
The second book will be a children’s story. We hope she can dish a little on Mark as well.

Hillary’s Farewell Speech: Read the Transcript

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Clinton speaking on Thursday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

Clinton speaking on Thursday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

On the day before she retires as secretary of state, Clinton spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations about her tenure. Read her remarks here:

“Thank you, Richard, for that introduction and for everything you’ve done to lead this very valuable institution.  I also want to thank the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and all my friends and colleagues and other interested citizens who are here today, because you respect the Council, you understand the important work that it does, and you are committed to ensuring that we chart a path to the future that is in the best interests not only of the United States, but of the world.
 
As Richard said, tomorrow is my last day as Secretary of State.  And though it is hard to predict what any day in this job will bring, I know that tomorrow, my heart will be very full.  Serving with the men and women of the State Department and USAID has been a singular honor.  And Secretary Kerry will find there is no more extraordinary group of people working anywhere in the world.  So these last days have been bittersweet for me, but this opportunity that I have here before you gives me some time to reflect on the distance that we’ve traveled, and to take stock of what we’ve done and what is left to do.
 
I think it’s important, as Richard alluded in his opening comments, what we faced in January of 2009:  Two wars, an economy in freefall, traditional alliances fraying, our diplomatic standing damaged, and around the world, people questioning America’s commitment to core values and our ability to maintain our global leadership.  That was my inbox on day one as your Secretary of State. 

Today, the world remains a dangerous and complicated place, and of course, we still face many difficult challenges. But a lot has changed in the last four years. Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve ended the war in Iraq, begun a transition in Afghanistan, and brought Usama bin Ladin to justice. We have also revitalized American diplomacy and strengthened our alliances. And while our economic recovery is not yet complete, we are heading in the right direction. In short, America today is stronger at home and more respected in the world. And our global leadership is on firmer footing than many predicted.

To understand what we have been trying to do these last four years, it’s helpful to start with some history.

Last year, I was honored to deliver the Forrestal Lecture at the Naval Academy, named for our first Secretary of Defense after World War II. In 1946, James Forrestal noted in his diary that the Soviets believed that the post-war world should be shaped by a handful of major powers acting alone. But, he went on, “The American point of view is that all nations professing a desire for peace and democracy should participate.”

And what ended up happening in the years since is something in between. The United States and our allies succeeded in constructing a broad international architecture of institutions and alliances – chiefly the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, and NATO – that protected our interests, defended universal values, and benefitted peoples and nations around the world. Yet it is undeniable that a handful of major powers did end up controlling those institutions, setting norms, and shaping international affairs.

Now, two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a different world. More countries than ever have a voice in global debates. We see more paths to power opening up as nations gain influence through the strength of their economies rather than their militaries. And political and technological changes are empowering non-state actors, like activists, corporations, and terrorist networks.

At the same time, we face challenges, from financial contagion to climate change to human and wildlife trafficking, that spill across borders and defy unilateral solutions. As President Obama has said, the old postwar architecture is crumbling under the weight of new threats. So the geometry of global power has become more distributed and diffuse as the challenges we face have become more complex and crosscutting.

So the question we ask ourselves every day is: What does this mean for America? And then we go on to say: How can we advance our own interests and also uphold a just, rules-based international order, a system that does provide clear rules of the road for everything from intellectual property rights to freedom of navigation to fair labor standards?

Simply put, we have to be smart about how we use our power. Not because we have less of it – indeed, the might of our military, the size of our economy, the influence of our diplomacy, and the creative energy of our people remain unrivaled. No, it’s because as the world has changed, so too have the levers of power that can most effectively shape international affairs.

I’ve come to think of it like this: Truman and Acheson were building the Parthenon with classical geometry and clear lines. The pillars were a handful of big institutions and alliances dominated by major powers. And that structure delivered unprecedented peace and prosperity. But time takes its toll, even on the greatest edifice. 

And we do need a new architecture for this new world; more Frank Gehry than formal Greek. (Laughter.) Think of it. Now, some of his work at first might appear haphazard, but in fact, it’s highly intentional and sophisticated. Where once a few strong columns could hold up the weight of the world, today we need a dynamic mix of materials and structures.

Now, of course, American military and economic strength will remain the foundation of our global leadership. As we saw from the intervention to stop a massacre in Libya to the raid that brought bin Ladin to justice, there will always be times when it is necessary and just to use force. America’s ability to project power all over the globe remains essential. And I’m very proud of the partnerships that the State Department has formed with the Pentagon, first with Bob Gates and Mike Mullen and then with Leon Panetta and Marty Dempsey. 

By the same token, America’s traditional allies and friends in Europe and East Asia remain invaluable partners on nearly everything we do. And we have spent considerable energy strengthening those bonds over the past four years.

And, I would be quick to add, the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, and NATO are also still essential. But all of our institutions and our relationships need to be modernized and complemented by new institutions, relationships, and partnerships that are tailored for new challenges and modeled to the needs of a variable landscape, like how we elevated the G-20 during the financial crisis, or created the Climate and Clean Air Coalition out of the State Department to fight short-lived pollutants like black carbon, or worked with partners like Turkey, where the two of us stood up the first Global Counterterrorism Forum.

We’re also working more than ever with invigorated regional organizations. Consider the African Union in Somalia and the Arab League in Libya, even sub-regional groups like the Lower Mekong Initiative that we created to help reintegrate Burma into its neighborhood and try to work across national boundaries on issues like whether dams should or should not be built.

We’re also, of course, thinking about old-fashioned shoe-leather diplomacy in a new way. I have found it, and I’ve said this before, highly ironic that in today’s world, when we can be anywhere virtually, more than ever, people want us to actually show up. But while a Secretary of State in an earlier era might have been able to focus on a small number of influential capitals, shuttling between the major powers, today we, by necessity, must take a broader view.

And people say to me all the time, “I look at your travel schedule; why Togo?” Well, no Secretary of State had ever been to Togo. But Togo happens to hold a rotating seat on the UN Security Council. Going there, making the personal investment has a strategic purpose. 

And it’s not just where we engage, but with whom. You can’t build a set of durable partnerships in the 21st century with governments alone. The opinions of people now matter as to how their governments work with us, whether it’s democratic or authoritarian. So in virtually every country I have visited, I’ve held town halls and reached out directly to citizens, civil society organizations, women’s groups, business communities, and so many others. They have valuable insights and contributions to make. And increasingly, they are driving economic and political change, especially in democracies. 

The State Department now has Twitter feeds in 11 languages. And just this Tuesday, I participated in a global town hall and took questions from people on every continent, including, for the first time, Antarctica.

So the point is: We have to be strategic about all the levers of global power and look for the new levers that could not have been possible or had not even been invented a decade ago. We need to widen the aperture of our engagement, and let me offer a few examples of how we’re doing this.

First, technology. You can’t be a 21st century leader without 21st century tools, not when people organize pro-democracy protests with Twitter and while terrorists spread their hateful ideology online. That’s why I have championed what we call 21st century statecraft.

We’ve launched an interagency Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications at State. Experts, tech-savvy specialists from across our government fluent in Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi, Somali, use social media to expose al-Qaida’s contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians.

We’re leading the effort also to defend internet freedom so it remains a free, open, and reliable platform for everyone. We’re helping human rights activists in oppressive internet environments get online and communicate more safely. Because the country that built the internet ought to be leading the fight to protect it from those who would censor it or use it as a tool of control. 

Second, our nonproliferation agenda. Negotiating the New START Treaty with Russia was an example of traditional diplomacy at its best. Then working it through the Congress was an example of traditional bipartisan support at its best. But we also have been working with partners around the world to create a new institution, the Nuclear Security Summit, to keep dangerous materials out of the hands of terrorists. We conducted intensive diplomacy with major powers to impose crippling sanctions against Iran and North Korea. But to enforce those sanctions, we also enlisted banks, insurance companies, and high-tech international financial institutions. And today, Iran’s oil tankers sit idle, and its currency has taken a massive hit. 

Now, this brings me to a third lever: economics. Everyone knows how important that is. But not long ago, it was thought that business drove markets and governments drove geopolitics. Well, those two, if they ever were separate, have certainly converged.

So creating jobs at home is now part of the portfolio of diplomats abroad. They are arguing for common economic rules of the road, especially in Asia, so we can make trade a race to the top, not a scramble to the bottom. We are prioritizing economics in our engagement in every region, like in Latin America, where, as you know, we ratified free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. 

And we’re also using economic tools to address strategic challenges, for example, in Afghanistan, because along with the security transition and the political transition, we are supporting an economic transition that boosts the private sector and increases regional economic integration. It’s a vision of transit and trade connections we call the New Silk Road. 

A related lever of power is development. And we are helping developing countries grow their economies not just through traditional assistance, but also through greater trade and investment, partnerships with the private sector, better governance, and more participation from women. We think this is an investment in our own economic future. And I love saying this, because people are always quite surprised to hear it: Seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. Other countries are doing everything they can to help their companies win contracts and invest in emerging markets. Other countries still are engaged in a very clear and relentless economic diplomacy. We should too, and increasingly, we are. 

And make no mistake: There is a crucial strategic dimension to this development work as well. Weak states represent some of our most significant threats. We have an interest in strengthening them and building more capable partners that can tackle their own security problems at home and in their neighborhoods, and economics will always play a role in that. 

Next, think about energy and climate change. Managing the world’s energy supplies in a way that minimizes conflict and supports economic growth while protecting the future of our planet is one of the greatest challenges of our time. 

So we’re using both high-level international diplomacy and grassroots partnerships to curb carbon emissions and other causes of climate change. We’ve created a new bureau at the State Department focused on energy diplomacy as well as new partnerships like the U.S.-EU Energy Council. We’ve worked intensively with the Iraqis to support their energy sector, because it is critical not only to their economy, their stability as well. And we’ve significantly intensified our efforts to resolve energy disputes from the South China Sea to the eastern Mediterranean to keep the world’s energy markets stable. Now this has been helped quite significantly by the increase in our own domestic production. It’s no accident that as Iranian oil has gone offline because of our sanctions, other sources have come online, so Iran cannot benefit from increased prices. 

Then there’s human rights and our support for democracy and the rule of law, levers of power and values we cannot afford to ignore. In the last century, the United States led the world in recognizing that universal rights exist and that governments are obligated to protect them. Now we have placed ourselves at the frontlines of today’s emerging battles, like the fight to defend the human rights of the LGBT communities around the world and religious minorities wherever and whoever they are. But it’s not a coincidence that virtually every country that threatens regional and global peace is a place where human rights are in peril or the rule of law is weak. 

More specifically, places where women and girls are treated as second-class, marginal human beings. Just ask young Malala from Pakistan. Ask the women of northern Mali who live in fear and can no longer go to school. Ask the women of the Eastern Congo who endure rape as a weapon of war.

And that is the final lever that I want to highlight briefly. Because the jury is in, the evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue, which, of course, it is. It is an economic issue and a security issue, and it is the unfinished business of the 21st century. It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy. 

One of the first things I did as Secretary was to elevate the Office of Global Women’s Issues under the first Ambassador-at-Large, Melanne Verveer. And I’m very pleased that yesterday, the President signed a memorandum making that office permanent. 

In the past four years, we’ve made – (applause) – thank you. In the past four years, we’ve made a major push at the United Nations to integrate women in peace and security-building worldwide, and we’ve seen successes in places like Liberia. We’ve urged leaders in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to recognize women as equal citizens with important contributions to make. We are supporting women entrepreneurs around the world who are creating jobs and driving growth. 

So technology, development, human rights, women. Now, I know that a lot of pundits hear that list and they say: Isn’t that all a bit soft? What about the hard stuff? Well, that is a false choice. We need both, and no one should think otherwise.

I will be the first to stand up and proclaim loudly and clearly that America’s military might is and must remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. I will also make very clear, as I have done over the last years, that our diplomatic power, the ability to convene, our moral suasion is effective because the United States can back up our words with action. We will ensure freedom of navigation in all the world’s seas. We will relentlessly go after al-Qaida, its affiliates, and its wannabes. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

There are limits to what soft power on its own can achieve. And there are limits to what hard power on its own can achieve. That’s why, from day one, I’ve been talking about smart power. And when you look at our approach to two regions undergoing sweeping shifts, you can see how this works in practice. 

First, America’s expanding engagement in the Asia Pacific. Now, much attention has been focused on our military moves in the region. And certainly, adapting our force posture is a key element of our comprehensive strategy. But so is strengthening our alliances through new economic and security arrangements. We’ve sent Marines to Darwin, but we’ve also ratified the Korea Free Trade Agreement. We responded to the triple disaster in Japan through our governments, through our businesses, through our not-for-profits, and reminded the entire region of the irreplaceable role America plays.

First and foremost, this so-called pivot has been about creative diplomacy: 

Like signing a little-noted treaty of amity and cooperation with ASEAN that opened the door to permanent representation and ultimately elevated a forum for engaging on high-stakes issues like the South China Sea. We’ve encouraged India’s “Look East” policy as a way to weave another big democracy into the fabric of the Asia Pacific. We’ve used trade negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership to find common ground with a former adversary in Vietnam. And the list goes on. Our effort has encompassed all the levers of powers and more that I’ve both discussed and that we have utilized.

And you can ask yourself: How could we approach an issue as thorny and dangerous as territorial disputes in the South China Sea without a deep understanding of energy politics, subtle multilateral diplomacy, smart economic statecraft, and a firm adherence to universal norms?

Or think about Burma. Supporting the historic opening there took a blend of economic, diplomatic, and political tools. The country’s leaders wanted the benefits of rejoining the global economy. They wanted to more fully participate in the region’s multilateral institutions and to no longer be an international pariah. So we needed to engage with them on many fronts to make that happen, pressing for the release of political prisoners and additional reforms while also boosting investment and upgrading our diplomatic relations.

Then there’s China. Navigating this relationship is uniquely consequential, because how we deal with one another will define so much of our common future. It is also uniquely complex, because – as I have said on many occasions, and as I have had very high-level Chinese leaders quote back to me – we are trying to write a new answer to the age-old question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet.

To make this work, we really do have to be able to use every lever at our disposal all the time. So we expanded our high-level engagement through the Strategic & Economic Dialogue to cover both traditional strategic issues like North Korea and maritime security, and also emerging challenges like climate change, cyber security, intellectual property concerns, as well as human rights. 

Now, this approach was put to the test last May when we had to keep a summit meeting of the dialogue on track while also addressing a crisis over the fate of a blind human rights dissident who had sought refuge in our American Embassy. Not so long ago, such an incident might very well have scuttled the talks. But we have though intense effort, confidence building, we have built enough breadth and resilience into the relationship to be able to defend our values and promote our interests at the same time.

We passed that test, but there will be others. The Pacific is big enough for all of us, and we will continue to welcome China’s rise – if it chooses to play a constructive role in the region. For both of us, the future of this relationship depends on our ability to engage across all these issues at once.
That’s true as well for another complicated and important region: the Middle East and North Africa. 

I’ve talked at length recently about our strategy in this region, including in speeches at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Saban Forum, and in my recent testimony before Congress. So let me just say this.

There has been progress: American soldiers have come home from Iraq. People are electing their leaders for the first time in generations, or ever, in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. The United States and our partners built a broad coalition to stop Qadhafi from massacring his people. And a ceasefire is holding in Gaza. All good things. But not nearly enough. 

Ongoing turmoil in Egypt and Libya point to the difficulties of unifying fractured countries and building credible democratic institutions. The impasse between Israel and the Palestinians shows little sign of easing. In Syria, the Assad regime continues to slaughter its people and incite inter-communal conflict. Iran is pursuing its nuclear ambitions and sponsoring violent extremists across the globe. And we continue to face real terrorist threats from Yemen and North Africa. 

So I will not stand here and pretend that the United States has all the solutions to these problems. We do not. But we are clear about the future we seek for the region and its peoples. We want to see a region at peace with itself and the world – where people live in dignity, not dictatorships, where entrepreneurship thrives, not extremism. And there is no doubt that getting to that future will be difficult and will require every single tool in our toolkit.

Because you can’t have true peace in the Middle East without addressing both the active conflicts and the underlying causes. You can’t have true justice unless the rights of all citizens are respected, including women and minorities. You can’t have the prosperity or opportunity that should be available unless there’s a vibrant private sector and good governance.

And of this I’m sure: you can’t have true stability and security unless leaders start leading; unless countries start opening their economies and societies, not shutting off the internet or undermining democracy; investing in their people’s creativity, not fomenting their rage; building schools, not burning them. There is no dignity in that and there is no future in it either.

Now, there is no question that everything I’ve discussed and all that I left off this set of remarks adds up to a very big challenge that requires America to adapt to these new realities of global power and influence in order to maintain our leadership. But this is also an enormous opportunity. The United States is uniquely positioned in this changing landscape.

The things that make us who we are as a nation – our openness and innovation, our diversity, our devotion to human rights and democracy – are beautifully matched to the demands of this era and this interdependent world. So as we look to the next four years and beyond, we have to keep pushing forward on this agenda, consolidate our engagement in the Asia Pacific without taking our eyes off the Middle East and North Africa; keep working to curb the spread of deadly weapons, especially in Iran and North Korea; effectively manage the end of our combat mission in Afghanistan without losing focus on al-Qaida and its affiliates; pursue a far-ranging economic agenda that sweeps from Asia to Latin America to Europe. 

And keep looking for the next Burmas. They’re not yet at a position where we can all applaud, but which has begun a process of opening. Capitalize on our domestic energy renewal and intensify our efforts on climate change, and then take on emerging issues like cyber security, not just across the government but across our society.

You know why we have to do all of this? Because we are the indispensable nation. We are the force for progress, prosperity and peace. And because we have to get it right for ourselves. Leadership is not a birthright. It has to be earned by each new generation. The reservoirs of goodwill we built around the world during the 20th century will not last forever. In fact, in some places, they are already dangerously depleted. New generations of young people do not remember GIs liberating their countries or Americans saving millions of lives from hunger and disease. We need to introduce ourselves to them anew, and one of the ways we do that is by looking at and focusing on and working on those issues that matter most to their lives and futures.

So because the United States is still the only country that has the reach and resolve to rally disparate nations and peoples together to solve problems on a global scale, we cannot shirk that responsibility. Our ability to convene and connect is unparalleled, and so is our ability to act alone whenever necessary.

So when I say we are truly the indispensible nation, it’s not meant as a boast or an empty slogan. It’s a recognition of our role and our responsibilities. That’s why all the declinists are dead wrong. (Laughter.) It’s why the United States must and will continue to lead in this century even as we lead in new ways. And we know leadership has its costs. We know it comes with risks and can require great sacrifice. We’ve seen that painfully again in recent months. But leadership is also an honor, one that Chris Stevens and his colleagues in Benghazi embodied. And we must always strive to be worthy of that honor.

That sacred charge has been my north star every day that I’ve served as Secretary of State. And it’s been an enormous privilege to lead to the men and women of the State Department and USAID, nearly 70,000 serving here in Washington and in more than 270 posts around the world. They get up and go to work every day, often in frustrating, difficult, and dangerous circumstances, because they believe, as we believe, that the United States is the most extraordinary force for peace and progress the world has ever known.

And so today, after four years in this job, traveling nearly a million miles and visiting 112 countries, my faith in our nation is even stronger, and my confidence in our future is as well. I know what it’s like when that blue and white airplane emblazoned with the words “United States of America” touches down in some far-off capital and I get to feel the great honor and responsibility it is to represent the world’s indispensable nation. I’m confident that my successor and his successors and all who serve in the position that I’ve been so privileged to hold will continue to lead in this century just as we did in the last – smartly, tirelessly, courageously – to make the world more peaceful, more safe, more prosperous, more free. And for that, I am very grateful.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Nigerian Writer: Who is Chika Unigwe?

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Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and now lives in Turnhout, Belgium, with her husband and four children.
She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and an MA from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. She also holds a PhD from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, having completed a thesis entitled “In the shadow of Ala. Igbo women writing as an act of righting” in 2004.

Chika Unigwe is the author of fiction, poetry, articles and educational material. She won the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition for her story “Borrowed Smile”, a Commonwealth Short Story Award for “Weathered Smiles” and a Flemish literary prize for “De Smaak van Sneeuw”, her first short story written in Dutch. “The Secret”, another of her short pieces, was nominated for the 2004 Caine Prize. She was the recipient of a 2007 Unesco-Aschberg fellowship for creative writing, and of a 2009 Rockefeller Foundation fellowship for creative writing.

Chika Unigwe’s stories have been broadcast on BBC World Service, Radio Nigeria, and other Commonwealth Radio Stations.

Her first novel, De Feniks, was published in Dutch by Meulenhoff / Manteau in September 2005; it is the first book of fiction written by a Flemish author of African origin. The story, set in Turnhout, explores themes such as grief, illness and loneliness, subjects already touched upon in Unigwe’s earlier work. By featuring a central character who shares the novelist’s Afro-European background, the narrative also exposes some shortcomings of Belgian society, like its pervasive unwelcoming atmosphere and the superficiality of many of its inhabitants.

Chika Unigwe has recently published her second novel, On Black Sisters’ Street (first released in Dutch under the title Fata Morgana), a tale of choices and displacement set against the backdrop of the Antwerp prostitution scene.

Chika won the prestigous 2012 NLNG Prize for Literature for her novel On Black Sisters’ Street and has been longlisted for the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Wowza!!!

© 2006-2009 Chika Unigwe Website

The Next Frontier: Technology companies have their eye on Africa. IBM leads the way!

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MAMADOU NDIAYE grew up in Senegal. His parents were “not poor, but not rich”. He was fascinated by mathematics, which he studied at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and then taught for several years in Côte d’Ivoire, saving to pursue his dream of studying in America.

He went to New York, where he worked at Staples, an office-supplies chain, to finance his masters in statistics at Columbia University. A customer, impressed by Mr Ndiaye’s sales advice, suggested that the Senegalese apply for a job with his own employer, IBM. That was 15 years ago. Now Mr Ndiaye is back home, as manager of the office Big Blue opened in Dakar last May.

The office in Senegal is just one sign that IBM believes Africa will bring in billions. It is no newcomer: it sold its first gear there to South Africa’s railways in 1911 and a mainframe computer to Ghana’s central statistics bureau in 1964. Lately it has been paying special attention to the continent.

In July 2011 it won a ten-year, $1.5 billion contract to provide Bharti Airtel, an Indian mobile-phone company, with information-technology services in 16 African countries. Since mid-2011 it has set up shop in Angola, Mauritius and Tanzania, as well as Senegal. In all, it boasts a presence in more than 20 of Africa’s 54 countries. Last August it opened a research lab in Nairobi, one of only 12 in the world. And between February 5th and 7th Ginni Rometty, its chief executive, and all who report directly to her met dozens of African customers, actual and prospective, in Johannesburg and the Kenyan capital. It was, Mrs Rometty said, the first time the whole top brass had assembled outside New York since she became the boss just over a year ago.

Big Blue may be ahead, but it is not alone. Last month Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, spent a week in sub-Saharan cities. He enthused about Nairobi, which, he wrote, “has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader.” Orange, a French mobile operator, and Baidu, China’s answer to Google, recently introduced a jointly branded smartphone browser in Africa and the Middle East. Orange also sponsored this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, a football tournament, in South Africa. (Nigeria won it, beating Burkina Faso in the final on February 10th.)

This month Microsoft, which has offices in 14 African countries, unveiled a smartphone to be sold in several African markets. It is made by China’s Huawei and uses Microsoft’s new operating system.

Africa’s chief attraction is that it has been growing while richer regions have stalled . Its demographic prospects are promising, too. As America, Europe and China age, Africa can expect a bulge of workers in their productive prime. Though skills are in short supply, they are becoming more abundant. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the consulting firm’s research unit, in 2002 only 32% of Africans had secondary or tertiary education, but by 2020, 48% will have.

Technology companies say they are keen to serve smaller businesses too. Microsoft has announced a programme called SME4Afrika, which is intended to bring 1m small and medium-sized enterprises online. Mr de Sousa points out that technology can also draw informal businesses into the formal economy. The ability to use software, computing power and storage online “as a service”, paying only for what you need and only when you need it, may put the cost of information technology within the budget of many small African businesses. “The person who invented the cloud did it for Africa,” says Mr Ndiaye of IBM in Senegal.

Mr Kelly makes a bolder claim, linking Africa’s emergence to that of “big data”. IBM’s answer to how the world can cope with the rising torrent of exabytes is “cognitive computing”. Instead of being given detailed instructions, cognitive computers are fed masses of data and use statistical analysis to answer complex questions.

Africa has plenty of problems. Computing power can help Africans solve them.