Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nigeria ID Card mess

http://newsroom.mastercard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NIMC-Card-front-and-back.jpg
Nigerian ID, courtesy, mastercard.com

You cannot make this up! A few days ago the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan rolled out the much-awaited and controversial national ID card project, with his own oversized card--like those made-for-TV lottery winners checks. Nigeria and Nigerians, we are told, can now be effectively connected to the global cashless economy. And I thought, National ID and cashless economy? Anyway. The ID card has a smartcard chip in front, along with all the usual info you would expect on electronic ID cards these days. But when you turn the back, Lawd a  mercy! What do you see but a Mastercard logo visibly set below the magnetic strip. When in May this year the American company announced gleefully that "Mastercard to Power Nigerian Identity Card Program," I thought it was some bad joke. Well, it turned out to be a very bad joke. And I cannot but ask: what has the Nigerian government been drinking?!

You see, it appears that Mastercard is in the process of securing for itself an unprecedented market in Africa, and it is doing so through national governments in the guise of the so-called National Identity Cards. These cards, we are told will store basically every important personal--biometric, financial, demographic--information of the bearer and can be used as--and here is the point of my outrage--Debit and Credit card! So, an American company whose data, as the Edward Snowden leaks revealed, is constantly scoured and archived by the secretive American NSA is given free pass by the Nigerian Government to all the personal and official data of the 100+ millions of Nigerian citizens/residents that the government expects to have these ID cards. And since this ID card is yoked to the Mastercard platform, the information contained in it is subject to US legal (and pseudolegal) regimes much of which take place beyond the bounds of known laws. When other countries are seeking for ways of unbinding their data traffic from the reaches of the NSA, Nigeria is packaging and offerings its citizens in a platter of plastic.

And my question is this: How much did Mastercard pay the Nigerian government (officials) to pretty much turn most of its citizens to clients of this self-described US "technology company in the global payment industry"? When did the debate take place to establish this supercard, rather than a real government-managed Identity Card?

If getting this Nigerian ID card means signing up for a Mastercard, I am having none of it, and I don't see why Nigerians should accept this blatant attempt to hand over all their personal information to a private company that answers to the laws of another country. If Nigeria cannot develop or establish its own secure information management system or agency, away from the prying eyes and tentacles of foreign interests and businesses, then it is not yet ready to embark on an ID card project. And by the way, why is it that my Nigerian passport does not have a Visa or even American Express logo?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Curator for African Art--Baltimore Museum of Art

Curator for African Art

Department for Arts of Africa,
the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific Islands



The BMA is seeking a dynamic and innovative Curator and Department Head for African Art to join an 11-member curatorial team in an institution with an impressive collection and a strong record of African art exhibitions. Directing the Department for Arts of Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands, the curator will oversee the BMA’s extensive collection of over 2,000 African objects including textiles. The curator reports to the Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs.  The Department is supported by a Curatorial Assistant, a part-time Associate Curator for the Arts of Asia, plus work study students and interns.  The Museumretains consulting scholars on an as-needed basis to offer Museum staff expertise in overseeing the diverse collections that make up this department.

The curator’s first assignment is to participate in the reinstallation of the African collection in expanded galleries.  This will include public engagement throughtours, interviews with the media, and other events associated with the re-opening.  This project is collaborative, including colleagues in education as well as digital experience and communication and exhibition design and installation.At the same time, the curator will be expected to work on an exhibition for the new 750-square foot rotating gallery to open in November 2015.  This space rotates every six months.  

S/he will work with a dedicated group of collectors, including the support group, The Friends of the Arts of Africa, The Pacific, and the Americas.  Through exhibitions and public programs, this curator will enhance a long tradition of commitment to the appreciation and study of African Art. S/he will build new and more diverse audiences and help connect the BMA to other arts and academic institutions in Baltimore.

Requirements:
This position requires an advanced degree with a specialty in African Art, and a record of scholarship. Depending on experience, the position offered will be offered at the level of Associate Curator with a minimum of 3 years experience, and at the level of Curator, with a minimum of 5 years experience.  The Curatorwill work collaboratively both inside and outside the institution and willdemonstrate leadership.  S/he will have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including writing and public speaking skills.  The candidate will be creative, innovative, and influential.  S/he will be skilled in diplomacy, negotiation, planning, and organization.

Benefits:

The BMA is an equal opportunity employer and a drug free workplace. We offer a competitive salary and a generous benefits package. For this exempt position we offer medical, dental, vision, prescription, 403b retirement plan, long term disability, flexible spending account, flexible and condensed scheduling, museum and restaurant discount, and reduced fee gym membership. We also offeraccrued vacation, holidays, personal days, a floating holiday, and sick days. 


Apply:

Curatorial title and salary will be commensurate with background and level of museum experience.  Please send cover letter, resume, record of scholarship,and salary requirements via email to HR@artbma.org with “Curator of African Art-AAAPI  Last Name and First Name in the subject line.  

No phone calls please.

Incomplete application packages will not be considered.

The application review process will begin on October 20, 2014.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Johannesburg Art Fair 2014

Africa's premier contemporary art fair, the FNB Johannesburg Art Fair will take place this week (Aug. 22-24) at the Sandton Convention Cenre, Jo'burg. Congrats to the organizers of this very important event. While a few of the more established galleries that came from the US and Europe in the past are apparently absent this year, there is a strong presence of Nigerian dealers (Arthouse, Art 21, and Omenka), which is a clear indication that Lagos--like the Nigerian economy since the re-calibration a few months ago--is hot now, at least when it comes to buying and selling art. The fair organizers are quite aware of this, as they are featuring two Nigerian art forums on the opening day:
  • "Current tendencies of the Nigerian Art Scene": Speakers: Joseph Gergel (Curator at African Artists' Foundation and Co-Curator at Lagos Photo Festival), Oliver Enwonwu (Director of Omenka Gallery, founder of Omenka Magazine and Head of the Society of Nigerian Artists); Moderator: Bronwyn Law-Viljoen


  • "Collectors Forum: Focus on Nigeria": Speakers: Sammy Olagbaju (Collector), Prince Yemisi Shyllon (Collector and founder of Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation, Lagos), Kavita Chellaram (CEO of Arthouse Contemporary, Lagos); Moderator: Bomi Odufunade


Here is the plan/layout of this year's fair:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

African Scholars and Scholars of African in Solidarity with Palestine

In the wake of the incredible carnage and utter devastation of life and property in Palestine by the Israeli military, African scholars have now weighed in on the contentious BDS campaign. Might African experience of colonization fund a near-unanimous support of the Palestinian independence cause; or will there be a counterposition by African scholars who see the situation in the Middle East differently, and who will support the ongoing 8-year siege of Gaza, and deferment Palestinian independence? Surely, there will be a backlash from outside Africa, but this is an move on the part of Africans who until now had not found a platform for expressing their view on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. One thing is clear. While it may be politically expedient to watch by the sidelines or tacitly endorse the status quo, it is no longer morally defensible to keep quiet about what is happening to the stateless people of Palestine. Please read the text of the petition and make up your mind whether or not to support it.

Palestine Solidarity
African scholars and scholars of Africa

We, the undersigned African scholars and scholars of Africa, hold that silence about the latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s new military assault on the Gaza Strip—the third and most devastating in six years—constitutes complicity. Member states of NATO which mounted an air war on Libya ostensibly to protect civilians in Benghazi have been by and large quiet about the fate of civilians in Gaza. World governments and mainstream media do not hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. We, however, as a community of scholars have a moral responsibility to do so.
Neither the violation of international law nor the destruction of Palestinian life in Gaza, however, began or will end with the current war[1]. The suffering of Palestinians is not limited to Gaza: the occupation and dispossession in East Jerusalem, the Naqab (Negev), and the West Bank; the construction of walls and fences around the Palestinian population, the curtailment of Palestinian freedom of movement and education, and the house demolitions, all have long histories that will have to be addressed.
As employees in institutes of higher learning we have a particular interest in and responsibility to respond to the obstacles to the right to higher education that the Israeli state has created for Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories. In the past two months alone, Israeli forces have raided Al Quds University in Jerusalem, the Arab American University in Jenin, and Birzeit University near Ramallah.[2] In the current attacks, Israeli aerial bombardment has destroyed the Islamic University of Gaza. More generally, the Israeli state discriminates against Palestinian students in Israeli universities;[3]and it isolates Palestinian academia by, among other tactics, preventing foreign academics from visiting Palestinian institutions in Gaza and the West Bank.[4] We are also alarmed by the long history of confiscations of Palestinian archives and the destruction of libraries and research centers.[5]
The ongoing Israeli massacres in Gaza have been ghastly reminders of the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in the occupation and oppression of Palestinians. Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Ilan University, Haifa University, Technion, and Ben Gurion University have publicly declared their unconditional support for the Israeli military.[6]More generally, there are intimate connections between Israeli academic institutions and the military, security, and political establishments in Israel.[7]  To take but one example: Tel Aviv University is directly implicated, through its Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in developing the Dahiya Doctrine,[8]adopted by the Israeli military in its assaults on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza today. The Dahiya Doctrine advocates the extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure and “intense suffering” among the civilian population as an “effective” means to subdue any resistance.[9]
We applaud the few dozen Israeli academics who have protested against their government, and the several dozen who signed a petition calling for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.[10]Alarmingly, they have faced disciplinary measures from their own universities.[11]We stand by these academics and support them.
We feel compelled to join the growing number of academics in Israel and around the world who support the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. This call responds to Palestinian civil society organizations’ long-standing appeal for the comprehensive implementation of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, and is supported by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE).
Following in the footsteps of the growing number of US academic associations that have endorsed boycott resolutions,[12]we call on our colleagues to boycott Israeli academic institutions, and we pledge not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences and other events at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel. We call for doing so until such time as these institutions end their complicity in violating Palestinian rights as stipulated in international law, and respect the full rights of Palestinians by calling on Israel to:
1.End its siege of Gaza, its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, and dismantle the settlements and the walls;
2.Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and the stateless Negev Bedouins to full equality; and
Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
For more information, please contact:

Palestine Solidarity
Dakar, Senegal
Phone: +221338259822/23
Email: africans.palestine@gmail.com



Here is the link  to the petition:

Should have any difficulty signing in online, please send an email to:
africans.palestine@gmail.com
NOTES
[1] Associated Press, "Israel used calorie-count to limit Gaza food during blockade, critics claim," The Guardian, 17 October 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/17/israeli-military-calorie-limit-gaza.
[2] See incident report on Academic Freedom Monitor of Scholars at Risk Network, http://monitoring.academicfreedom.info/reports/2014-06-22-birzeit-university-arab-american-university-al-quds-university-palestine.
[3] The Arab Cultural Association, Annual Summary Report 2011-12, November 2012, http://alrasedproject.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/alrased1_eng.pdf.
[4] Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Academia Undermined: Israeli Restrictions on Foreign National Academics in Palestinian Higher Education Institutions, May 2013, http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/2013/Education%20Report%20Academia%20Undermined%20May%202
013.pdf
.
[5] Gish Amit, "Salvage or plunder? Israel's 'collection' of private Palestinian libraries in West Jerusalem," Journal of Palestine Studies 40 (July 2011): 6-23.
[6] http://www.shalomlife.com/business/24941/how-tel-aviv-university-supports-the-idf. Also, see the following: for Haifa University, https://www.facebook.com/HaifaUniversity/posts/10152140137120044for Technion,
https://www.facebook.com/Technion.Israel/photos/a.170241609659974.47375.149494148401387/9060544694
12014/?type=1&theater
; for Bar Ilan, https://www.facebook.com/barilanwall/photos/a.189536784430293.62558.120725437978095/7726621594
51083/?type=1&theater
.
[7] Gil Eyal, “Military Establishment and Middle East Studies,” in The disenchantment of the Orient: Expertise in Arab Affairs and the Israeli State (Stanford University Press, 2008), 185-236. See also: Keller, Uri Yacobi. “The Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories.” Alternative Information Center (http://electronicintifada.net/files/091214-academic-boycott.pdf).
[8] See The Goldstone Report, 24, and http://electronicintifada.net/files/090708-soas-palestine-society.pdf.
[9] http://imeu.org/article/the-dahiya-doctrine-and-israels-use-of-disproportionate-force.
[10] http://haimbresheeth.com/gaza/an-open-letter-to-israel-academics-july-13th-2014/and reported here: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/handful-israeli-academics-responds-call-condemn-gaza-slaughter.
[11] http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/politics/israeli-sosaciety/3279-bar-ilan-university-discriminating-against-leftist-academics-3279.
[12] These associations are: the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA), African Literature Association (ALA), Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), Association for Humanist Sociology (AHS), Association of Asian American Studies (AAAS), and American Studies Association (ASA).
"This is an adaptation of a letter calling on scholars and librarians within Middle East studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions"

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Book: Rowland Abiodun's "Yoruba Art & Language: Seeking the African in African Art"



Rowland Abiodun, the Paul C. Newton Professor of History of Art and Black Studies, Amherst College, and an indisputable authority in Yoruba and African art, has come out with a new book, Yoruba Art & Language, published by Cambridge UP. I have only browsed the book, the e-book edition of which is out--the print version is due next month. And I can say that it promises to be a game-changer in the way we think and write about classical and traditional art of the Yoruba. A key argument in the book, one which seems so obvious that--with hindsight, we had been waiting for the someone to make it so compellingly, since Babatunde Lawal's Gelede book--is that it is impossible to appreciate the complexity and depth of the Yoruba artistic imagination, stylistic conventions and critical discourse, without recourse to that vast body of verbal text called oriki. Now, it takes someone who has an impeccable mastery of the language to make sense of oriki, and then to apply it to the kind of aesthetic analyses evident in Abiodun's book. But who says that such scholarship belongs to what one might call the "academic everyman"!
Anyway, I eagerly look forward to reading the whole book, and hopefully to  robust debate about its place in our scholarship.

The book can be found on Amazon.