- Created on 04 November 2013
JOHANNESBURG -- JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The producer of a movie about Nelson Mandela says he screened some scenes and showed film images last year to the former South African president, describing him as amused by the elaborate makeup process for the British actor who played him.
Anant Singh, producer of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," recalled Saturday that Mandela smiled and said "Is that me?" when he saw a picture of actor Idris Elba as an elderly Mandela.
Singh had visited Mandela at his home in Qunu, in South Africa's Eastern Cape province. Mandela, 95, has stayed in a hospital several times since December and remains critically ill at his Johannesburg home.
The film, based on Mandela's autobiography, will be released in South Africa in late November before opening in the U.S. and other markets.
- Created on 04 November 2013
(AP Photo / Ben Curtis, File)
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan authorities have charged four Somali nationals with offenses related to September's terrorist attack on Westgate Mall that killed 67 people.
A court ordered the four men — Mohamed Ahmed Abdi, Liban Abdullah Omar, Hussein Hassan Mustafah, and Adan Dheq — imprisoned until a court hearing next week. All four pleaded not guilty in the court.
Among the charges were harboring a fugitive and illegally registering as a Kenyan. The charges had to be read to the defendants in Somali by a translator.
Authorities have detained dozens of people in the wake of the four-day mall siege, but had not said any suspects were directly related to the attack. It's unclear how many arrests have been made.
The Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in retaliation for Kenya's deployment of troops in southern Somalia.
Abdi, Omar and Mustafah were charged with knowingly supporting Mohammed Abdinur Said and Hassan Dhohullow and others identified as perpetrators of the terrorist attack.
Dheq was accusing of harboring terror suspects. Authorities said a mosque in Nairobi's Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh knowingly harbored Abdikadir Hared Mohammed, a terror suspect.
The four are due back in court Nov. 11.
- Created on 01 November 2013
In this Saturday April 13, 2013 file photo Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, talks with Zambia's President Michael Sata before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Zambia's relationship with China is growing quickly, spurring development but also friction. While there is gratitude for the scarce jobs and new infrastructure that China has bought, labor relations are sometimes tense and some Zambians claim they are being exploited. (AP Photo / Yohsuke Mizuno, Pool, File)
LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) -- On Lusaka's Great East Road, the image of a young Chinese woman beamed from a recent billboard encouraging participation in Zambia's census, a symbol of how much China has weaved its way into the nation as a donor, investor and partner.
Zambia's relationship with China is growing quickly, spurring development but also friction. While there is nationwide gratitude for the scarce jobs and new infrastructure that China has brought, labor relations are sometimes tense and some Zambians complain they are being exploited.
This complex relationship between China, a global economic giant, and a financially struggling country is one being played out across Africa. The issues are particularly acute in Zambia, where census data shows that about 100,000 Chinese live and more than 500 Chinese companies are engaged in farming, retail trade, pharmacies, hospitals, information and communication technologies as well as road-building, mining and manufacturing.
This week Chinese investors made a bid to expand even more into a continent that is rich in natural resources and seen as an area with strong potential for growth at the "Africa Infrastructure and Power Forum" held in Beijing. Top executives from Zambia's power company as well as officials from key ministries such as commerce and mining are attending the event, slated to end Friday.
Other African countries seeking more business with China included South Africa, the continent's biggest economy. South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe this week ended a trip to China, the African country's top trading partner. Trade volume between the two countries has grown to $20 billion. In Zimbabwe, Chinese investment has increased so much that Chinese-language signs greet visitors arriving at the international airport in Harare, the capital.
In Zambia, a country of 14 million people with a GDP of $20 billion, the impact of China has been enormous.
"The Chinese have changed Zambia," said Nelson Mwendabai, a retired civil servant who ticked off Chinese-backed projects: a railway between Tanzania and Zambia, new roads, schools, clinics and stadiums. Mwendabai said: "We should just accept that they are our friends."
Zambian President Michael Sata criticized the Chinese presence as an opposition leader, seeking to harness nationalist unhappiness with Chinese accused of taking jobs from Zambians by engaging in low-pay jobs such as pushing wheelbarrows at construction sites. He changed his tune after his Patriotic Front party won elections in 2011. In April, Sata went to China on an 11-day state visit, soon after new Chinese ruler Xi Jinping took office.
"I have come to say 'thank you' for the work the Chinese are doing in Zambia," Sata told Xi.
Relations between Zambia and China date back to Zambia's independence from British colonial rule in 1964. The real Chinese push begun in the past couple of decades, as China expanded rapidly and sought natural resources to feed its economy. China's accumulated investment in Zambia stands at over $2.5 billion, mostly in mining and metal refining.
Chinese mining of Zambia's copper reserves is an important ingredient in China's industrial production, said Zhou Yuxiao, China's ambassador to Lusaka. Chinese mines are expanding into Zambia's northwest Copperbelt region, where fresh deposits of copper, gemstones, uranium and traces of oil have been located.
Chinese investment is expected to grow even more when industrial parks go into full production in 2015, allowing companies to manufacture and export tax-free goods. All these Chinese activities are being serviced by the Bank of China. China is also helping Zambia overcome electricity shortages by building a $2 billion hydro-electric project, part of which will start operating in December.
The benefits of China's presence, however, are tempered by outbursts of tension and even violence between Chinese managers and many Zambian workers who accuse them of poor pay, bad working conditions and inadequate safety regulations that have cost lives on occasion.
In one incident, four Chinese men involved in the mining industry were accused of paying for sex with minors. A magistrate later ordered them to be freed, saying police had bungled the investigation, but critics speculated that authorities had been bribed to drop the case. Separately, earlier this year, 400 workers working at a Chinese-operated mine complained of ill treatment for being held underground for three hours while an elevator was repaired; managers refused to pay them overtime despite protests from union officials.
Complaints about Chinese business practices in Zambia stretch back years and often are pointed to as examples of problems with Chinese investors across Africa. In 2005, an explosion at a Chinese-owned factory in northern Zambia killed 51 Zambian workers. In 2010 two Chinese managers were accused of shooting coal miners during a labor dispute. Months later, the mine agreed to pay compensation to 13 injured workers, and attempted murder charges against the managers were dropped.
But for Precious Kunda, China is essential. She runs three shops in Lusaka that sell dresses and women's accessories from China and she imports Chinese building materials for sale in Zambia.
Kunda said succintly: "They are cheap."
- Created on 01 November 2013
In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, an influential member of a controversial mosque where two previous mosque leaders were killed under mysterious circumstances, sits in his office in Mombasa, Kenya. Writing in Arabic on islamist flag reads "There is no God but God and Muhammed is his messenger". (AP Photo / Jason Straziuso)
MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) -- In August 2012, a leader of a Kenyan mosque that has attracted extremist followers was shot dead as he drove through the streets of Mombasa. Fourteen months later, another leader of the same mosque met the same fate. There have been no arrests in either case.
Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, an Islamic community leader associated with the same mosque, is certain that he will also be killed. And he believes - as do many others - that the police haven't solved the two high-profile killings because they are the ones who carried them out. Riots broke out in Mombasa after Aboud Rogo was killed in August 2012 and after Sheik Ibrahim Ismael was killed in October, and tensions remain high in this shabby seaside city ringed by high-end resorts that sit on white-sand beaches.
While the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi in September was the highest-profile terrorist action by Islamic extremists in East Africa since the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, a low-level conflict has been simmering for years in the region, particularly in Kenya which has been a recruiting ground for the Somali group al-Shabab and where police are accused of kidnapping and killing suspected extremists.
The latest U.S. State Department report on human rights practices in Kenya says security forces are suspected of being responsible for a number of forced disappearances. "At least half dozen prominent Muslim leaders alleged to have terrorist ties were victims of killings or forced disappearances," the report says.
Ahmed, who dyes his beard orange and speaks fluent Arabic after living for almost 20 years in the United Arab Emirates, makes statements he knows to be controversial, such as saying the al-Shabab gunmen who attacked the Westgate Mall, killing 67 people, were justified because of Kenya's invasion of Somalia.
A July report from the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea accuses Ahmed of ties to a Kenyan terror group known as al-Hijra and says he wants terrorist attacks become more deadly.
Ahmed denies it and counters that Muslims have no legal recourse to fight back against the oppression he says exists in Kenya. He believes he will be killed because of his outspokenness.
"I'm living on borrowed time. The same guy who ordered Aboud Rogo's death is going to order mine," Ahmed told The Associated Press in his cramped office in an apartment block where he sits under a black flag with Arabic writing on it that says "There is no God but Allah."
Ahmed has no official connection with the Masjid Musa Mosque, which is governed by committee, but he attends the mosque and is someone whom worshippers will listen to. The U.S. State Department report says Rogo and Ahmed survived an abduction attempt in July 2012.
Ahmed says he is "duty-bound" to avenge the death of his friend, Rogo. He says he has offered a bounty of about $11,500 to any police officer who will tell him which fellow police officer killed Rogo.
Meanwhile, police have largely kept quiet about any investigation they may be conducting into the Oct. 4 shooting deaths of Ismael and three others who were in the car with him. The coastal police chief did not respond to repeated calls for comment. A national police spokesman told AP to call back later but then turned off his phone.
Family members of the victims doubt there has been any investigation at all.
The bullet-riddled car - an AP reporter counted 25 bullet holes in the car's right side, six in the front, and one in the back - sits at the wood shop of the 35-year-old who had been driving it. Mohamed Hamoud, the father of the slain driver, says no authorities have ever examined the car - not even at the scene - or interviewed any family members.
"Nothing. Nobody has approached us. It is the government that did the work," Hamoud said.
A barrage of bullets also killed Mohammed in August 2012 as he drove in Mombasa with his family.
In the interview, Ahmed acknowledged that there are some in the coastal Muslim community and the Masjid Musa Mosque who embrace the jihad ideology and support the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab in Somalia. But he says the killers of the mosque leaders and those behind the unexplained disappearances of several other Muslims on the coast are not lessening that element, they are fueling it.
"The fool who was in charge, he killed Ibrahim thinking it will stop the youth from whatever. Now the youth are looking for guns. Mombasa youths are looking for guns. It was nothing, to knives, and now it's guns," said Ahmed, who is free on a nearly $100,000 bond on terror-related charges. He reports to the police twice a week.
Hamoud says his son used to hand out milk and biscuits to some 50 young girls and boys every Friday. The day after his son, Gaddafi Muhamed Hamud, was killed, the youngsters turned up crying and angered.
Hamud's sister, Mufida Mohamed Hamoud, quoted one of the youngsters as saying: "I wish I had a gun, I would go and kill him."
Rock-throwing Muslim youths and tear-gas wielding police have faced off in recent weeks, adding to tension felt by a Muslim community that feels it's being persecuted. For their part, many non-Muslims see the Masjid Musa Mosque as a breeding ground for, if not outright terrorists, then radical views.
Jack Ikoha, who works at one of Mombasa's upscale resorts, told a reporter: "They are harboring terrorist. That's an open secret."
The killings of Rogo, Ismael and others are fueling reprisal attacks, Ahmed said. At least two Christian pastors have been shot and killed around Mombasa in recent weeks. He said if the killers of Rogo and Ismael had been caught, such targeting of Christians wouldn't be happening.