The Ivory Game: Elephants in Crisis

The Netflix Original documentary The Ivory Game directed by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson exposes the harsh brutality of Elephant poaching and its illegal ivory trade. The title sequence immediately grabs the viewer with the stunning views of the African landscape as well as jarring imagery of elephant tusks and facts about the elephant population of Africa. Reminding viewers that every 15 minutes an elephant is poached and killed. This epidemic has reached a crisis point with an estimated 15 years until elephants are extinct on the continent.

Over the last 5 years 150,000 elephants have been killed for ivory and the film doesn’t waste time throwing the viewer into the hunt for one of the most infamous poachers in Africa… Boniface aka Shetani who runs a large poaching syndicate throughout East and Southern Africa. His syndicate of poachers are estimated to have killed up to 10,000 elephants for ivory trade.

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Produced by Oscar winning-actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Allen this riveting film pulls back the curtain on the operations of African poachers and their relationships with ivory dealers in China. It captures the stunning scenery of African landscapes and their elephants and features characters from Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia as well as their counterparts in China.

 

In China where there is still a legal market in ivory even if it is illegal in the rest of the world. This legal market deals with quantities monitored by government estimated at 5 tonnes every year. Sadly the demand is higher than that hence the use of legal licences to launder illegal ivory, the money made off one piece of ivory can easily reach $300,000 dollars on the legal market so one can only imagine illegal prices.

 

Craig Millar Head of Security at the Big Life Foundation (Kenya) explains, “Elephants cannot protect themselves against a concentrated effort to poach them, no matter what they do, firearms and poachers will win every time. So everything we do is aimed at helping those elephants fight back.”

The film was shot over 16 months and required the production team and their sources, journalists and rangers to work undercover and risk their lives. These front-line rangers and undercover operatives are the champions of the elephants and seek justice for the slaughtered as well as the protection of the remaining species. The film shows how they put themselves in life threatening situations infiltrating camps set up by poachers and the seedy underbelly of ivory trade in China and Hong Kong.

One of the proudest moments in the film is when we meet Zambia’s very own Georgina Kamanga the first female to lead the Intelligence and Investigations Unit at the Department of National Parks in Zambia. She is tasked to work closely with Elisifa Ngowi the man who has been tracking Shetani and believes that members of Shetani’s syndicate may be in Zambia. Without giving anything away all I can say is that she definitely proves herself worth of her position in the Investigations Unit.

This is the kind of film that needs a box of tissues as it stirs up emotions of sadness, anger and frustration that leave you wondering how human beings can be so cruel to this majestic creature!

 

 

Gender and Access to ICTs- LIF 17

I recently had the pleasure of attending the first ever Lusaka Internet Forum hosted by the Embassy of Sweden and the Zambia Governance Foundation. It was a two day forum on the 10th and 11th of May that discussed access and use of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in a Zambian context. The three key areas were, Sustainable Agriculture and ICTs, Freedom of Expression online and Gender and Access to ICTs. The forum was held under the theme of “Leave No one offline” which is focused on the SDGS, ICTs for development and principles of digital development.

Among the attendees were people representing different sectors of ICTs and its users, farmers, journalists, activists, Non-governmental organizations, policymakers and other individuals. The main goal was for all of us to discuss how far we have come with ICTs in Zambia, where we need to go and what we need to do to get there.

I sat in the two-day panel discussions and work lab on Gender and Access to ICTS. One of the first things our panelists reminded us was that ICTs extend beyond computers, mobile devices and tablets, they include radio and television. Audio-visual mediums are often the most common way that people living in rural areas can access ICTs, radio is the most common and widely used across the continent. One of the main issues discussed was that Zambia’s Internet usage is not very high and what the barriers to access are and how they can be resolved.

The first thing that became apparent in our work lab was the need to define Gender, as our lab on its first day was 90% women and 10% men. The common misconception about Gender conversations and politics is that only women can participate but this is not the case, we need men involved in the conversation in order to change the narrative. Gender is not about men vs. women, it deals with the social constructs of gender roles and gender relations; e.g. women must stay in the home, men should be educated and be the breadwinners. It is about enforcing equality and in this context equality in ICTs and access to them.

In the ICTs community the old school of thought was always that computers and technology were male oriented subjects that women shouldn’t participate in and wouldn’t thrive in. One of the panelists, Sara Longwe emphasized the need to unlearn bad habits that perpetuate gender inequality in ICTs. Another key moment is when we were reminded, “the internet is a school everyone is qualified to enroll.”

Overall the main issues addressed were the lack of access for Zambian’s in rural areas or areas without towers. The lack of digital literacy among women was also brought up with a statistic from ZICTA that showed 6% of Zambian women use the Internet. Guest Speaker Wakabi Wairagala from CIPESA (http://cipesa.org/) noted that 2016 research in the African region showed that men are almost doubly connected to the Internet than women. He noted that there could be many reasons behind that, culture, literacy, low income and the cost of data itself. My Gender and Access work lab also addressed this by noting that in the rural household the man is often the one in control of the mobile device. Online violence is a real problem and is increasingly one sided towards women with revenge pornography, cyber bullying and hate speech against women.

Solutions that the work lab came up with were:

1. Zambia needs stronger laws regulating online platforms so that women and children are protected from abusers.

2. Educate on online privacy and how we can all protect ourselves as well as how parents can protect their children while still providing them access.

3. Sensitize users on the usefulness of social media when it comes to business, free speech, educational purposes, etc.

4. There are pre-existing female oriented ICT projects taking place around the country are often running at different times, if these organisations and workshops worked together they could do better work and reach more people. The efforts need to be better co-ordinated.

5. Male children need to be taught that women are their equals; this goes back to unlearning bad habits that society has instilled in us that have limited women from progressing.

6. We have to approach and engage with parents to educate them on why their children should have access to ICTs and also teach the parents so that they are capable of monitoring their children.

7. We need to pool and share research already conducted by NGOs, policymakers and government so as not to overlap and to give everyone access to relevant stats on Gender and Access to ICTs.

Overall ICTs for Development has a long way to go within Sustainable Agriculture, Freedom of Expression online and Gender and Access. Developing countries have to work with the network providers, policy makers, and government in order to ensure Digital Development is sustainable and effective. To see more of what happened at the Lusaka Internet Forum use the hashtag #LIF17

Tikambe Tv: Episode 10 Role Models

The final episode of Tikambe Season 1 aired last week Friday, watch it below and watch any others you missed on YouTube.

What would you do if your religious leader asked you to sleep with him to solve a problem? Nancy shares her story, and gospel artist Pompi gives his opinion about this.
#LetsTalk

 

Tikambe Tv: Episode 9 Early Marriage

This episode shares one of many stories of early marriage in Zambia. It features media personality Christine Ngwisha who gives her views on the story. Watch this and other episodes available on the YouTube channel.

 

Tikambe Episode 8: Sex Talk

This episode shows how young sexual debuts are occurring without youth getting information on the consequences. It’s the story of Iness, a young lady who had a child at 13 yrs old, right after writing her Grade 7 exams. It features fashion bloggers, social influencers and sisters MaFashio (Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda). They are interviewed by Amos Mwale, Executive Director – Centre of Reproductive Health and Education.

 

 

 

Tikambe Tv: Episode 5 #AlfredsStory

 

What would you do if you found out your partner was HIV+? Alfred faced a similar dilemma but made a very tough decision about his next move. I feature celebrity guest and media mogul Chinyota Msimuko (Chi) to weigh in as he’s interviewed by youth facilitator Tilvas Ngosa.

 

Colourism on the Airwaves…

A few nights ago I came across a shared post from the radio station Power FM Zambia, the post simply said “Good Morning… #YouthRadio” with a photo of two unknown regular women (who probably didn’t consent to their images being used, it looks like a google image) next to each other and it said “A or B?” It took about 5 seconds before I rolled my eyes and got irritated, why you ask? Because the women in question are both black but they are different skin tones, immediately the 30 year old black woman in me was raging. Before you try to say maybe they meant their hair or eyebrows or eye shape take a moment to recognise how they didn’t even expand past “A or B?” probably to avoid controversy. Well epic fail because it’s bloody controversial and we aren’t happy, this is blatant colourism.

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Now this post  was offensive not only to me but to many of my friends who saw it, why you ask? Well the answer is best defined by the word COLOURISM, below is the definition of that word if you do not understand it.

“colourism
ˈkʌlərɪz(ə)m/

noun

US
noun: colorism 1.prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”
It’s no big secret that within the black community there is colourism, it has existed for centuries. It dates back to slavery when lighter skinned slaves were “house slaves” and darker skinned slaves were “field slaves”. It also affects us in 2016 when clubs or college parties let white girls in free, light girls in cheaper and dark girls have to pay more money to enter because they aren’t “ideal”. It also infiltrates our everyday when you meet a sister who bleaches her skin or you see a Facebook advert with someone selling bleaching agents for k800. What are women supposed to think when lighter skin is festishized? This affects the self-esteem of all shades of women, you get light-skinned girls thinking they are better and dark girls thinking they are less. This especially happens at a young age as a child when people make comments about skin colour or compliment lighter skin. I know many a black girl who is light who grew up being told “umuhle”( you’re beautiful) why? all because they were light!
 
One FEMALE twitter follower reading my tweets expressed, “No hun but that’s a personal choice. If I choose to get a boob job, that is also a choice. We can’t blame the community for that.” she also went on to add “It’s a silly question I agree. But do you prefer the tall dark and handsome guys? I like mine with pot bellies lol”. I was a little too infuriated at her attempts to justify or try to avoid the obvious issue with the comparison of the two women. Of the 20 women I spoke to about this post 15 were black and 5 were white and most agreed it was colourism. Only one white woman questioned what we were supposed to be looking at in the picture, I also spoke to 5 males 4 of whom were black and 1 white who agreed that it was colourism. Now that isn’t a survey worthy of statistical analysis but if everyone is seeing the same thing am I really that wrong?
 
Here are a few screen grabs from my conversations on twitter and Facebook:
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My point is that comparing any two human beings based on looks or outer appearance is just plain wrong. What is the intention if not to make one feel more inferior than the other, we as black people have endured so much to now turn on ourselves and further inferiority complexes. What bothers me as a “light-skinned” women is the fact that once again men have decided to dissect us, they have made our colour a debate, they are fetishizing us. The same men who commented have mothers and sisters and daughters of different coloured skin but yet they see no harm when it comes to commenting on this photo. I have always found all shades beautiful and for one I loathe being called “yellow bone” or “red bone” as it’s demeaning…I am more than my hair, my teeth, my clothes, my height or weight or colour.
Just to give you a taste of the commentary under the article here are some screengrabs from the radio’s page that show that these women were judged about intellect or their viability as wives. I haven’t blurred out Elikem because he made the most sense out of all these men. Oh wait for the dude who says he picks B cos he wants “light children”!
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Using your platform to inform  young people is one thing but using it to promote this kind of dangerous conversation centered around women and their colour is unacceptable.
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By the way if you read this I have this to say, if three women don’t agree with the post and voice their opinions, how about you don’t delete our comments from your page like you so clearly did when I went to find them today! Start a conversation about why it’s a problem to post that, don’t run away from the conversation that so clearly needs to be had. Just do BETTER!!!

Tikambe Tv Episode 2: Child Abuse

Child abuse is something that is often swept under the rug in African cultures, we are taught not to talk about it. In episode 2 of Tikambe my friend Ngosa Chungu discussed this topic as it related to the testimony of one very brave girl. Incase you missed it click below to watch it:

 

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