Category: International Written by Associated Press
ONE BILLION STRONG--Actress Thandie Newton, right, reacts with playwright and charity founder, Eve Ensler, during a photocall for One Billion Rising, the charity which aims to tackle violence against women, at the Institute of Arts in central London, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands danced in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hundreds chanted in South Africa, carrying signs and candles. The Philippines held a 24-hour dance party. Scores of students in India gathered for a candlelight vigil.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2013 09:29
Category: International Written by Associated Press
NEW REALITY SHOW--In this Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 photo, Swati Dlamini, left, and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway, granddaughters of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, pose during an interview in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
by Alexandra Olson
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The newest reality television show is in some ways like any other: mother and daughters, sibling rivalry, family gossip and talk of Big Grandpa, who is very strict but loves it when his great-grandchildren are around making a racket. But that's where the twist comes in: Big Grandpa is Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid legend.
"Being Mandela," a new series premiering Sunday on COZI TV, invites U.S. audiences into the lives of Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, the fashionable, 30-something granddaughters of Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The 94-year-old former South African president, who recently was treated for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones, does not appear in the series but his controversial ex-wife — "Big Mommy" to her grandchildren — does and seems to relish it.
If the Mandela clan seems like an odd subject for a reality show, the granddaughters make no apologies.
"We get asked this question a lot. Is this not going to tarnish the name and is this not going to be bad for the name?" Swati Dlamini said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York, where she and her sister were promoting the show. "But our grandparents have always said to us, this is our name too, and we can do what we think is best fitting with the name, as long as we treat it with respect and integrity."
The 13-episode first season follows the two women as they try to carry on the family legacy while juggling motherhood in Johannesburg.
The sisters, who spent most of their childhood in exile in the United States, make an emotional visit to the prison on Robben Island where their grandfather spent 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned by South Africa's white-ruled government. Zaziwe meets the guard who she says smuggled her into prison as a baby so Mandela could meet her.
Let in on the secret, prison guard Christo Brand recalls initially refusing to allow Mandela to see his grandchild, according to his memoir at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
Then, Brand says, he gave in, though he feared he might lose his job. "I gave him the baby, he had tears in his eyes while he held her ..." he says. "Mandela never told anyone about this. When we walked back to the prison section, he told me how important the moment was, to touch something small."
The sisters, along with two brothers, also become the latest famous names to launch a fashion line, called "Long Walk to Freedom" in honor of their grandfather's autobiography. Their lives are special and glamorous and they know it. They hope that U.S. audiences — COZI TV is a new network launched by NBC Owned Television Stations — will see a vibrant and modern side of South Africa through their eyes.
They also bicker. The family, especially Madikizela-Mandela, loves to gossip about when Swati, the single mother of a 4-year-old daughter, is going to get married. Swati is furious when Zaziwe, despite being sworn to secrecy, blurts to their grandmother that her sister is dating someone. Zaziwe, 35, is married to an American businessman and has three children.
The sisters are the daughters of Zenani Mandela and Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini of Swaziland. But parents everywhere will delight in seeing that being royal doesn't help them face toddler tantrums or get older children out of bed and into school uniforms.
Big Grandpa and Big Mommy are into the show, the sisters insisted.
Mandela will definitely watch it, they said. The Nobel Peace Prize winner apparently sort of likes reality TV.
"You'll be interested to know that he loves 'Toddlers and Tiaras,'" said Swati, laughing in reference to the TLC series about child beauty pageants.
"Because of the kids! He just loves children," Zaziwe added quickly.
The sisters said their grandfather is "happy and healthy."
Zaziwe showed a Feb. 2 photograph of Mandela at home, flashing his familiar smile, with his youngest great-grandchild on his lap — Zaziwe's one-year-old son. The picture is a rare public image of Mandela, whose last appearance on a major stage was during the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa.
Mandela, who always lamented his long separation from his family during his imprisonment, is happiest these days when his offspring are running around being loud, his granddaughters said.
"We're in and out of the house. We're loud and he loves the noise," Zaziwe said.
The granddaughters say their grandfather — to the world, a symbol of integrity and magnanimity — holds the family to high standards and sets rules for when the children should be home and when dinner should start.
"He's a very strict person. Most people wouldn't think that but he really, really is," Zaziwe said.
The sisters are closer to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who divorced Mandela in 1996. Their adoring description of their grandmother as the doting matriarch stands in contrast with her checkered public image. Beloved by many poor urban blacks, Madikizela-Mandela also faces accusations that she and her bodyguard unit committed 18 killings in the 1980s. She denies it.
"She's fun. She never says no to us. I don't think I've ever heard my grandmother say no to us," Zaziwe said.
Still, the series shows Big Mommy clearly taking charge of the family. She marches into the hospital room where Zaziwe gave birth to Zen with a list of possible names for the baby boy.
The sisters say it was only after Mandela retired from public life that they started to get to know their grandfather.
"Our grandfather always told us that he belongs to the country and he's of service to the country and he doesn't belong to us as a family. And that's the sacrifice he's made for the country and that what he's told us as far as I can remember," Swati said.
AP Entertainment Writer Lauri Neff contributed to this story.
On the Internet:
Last Updated on Friday, 08 February 2013 16:48
Category: International Written by CNN
INSPIRED TO RUN--Malik Obama, the half brother of President Obama, who has opened a recreation center, talks to CNN's David MacKinsie Nov. 3, 2012. In Kenya's next elections Obama is running for Governor. (CNN Photo/Lillian Leposo)
by CNN Political Unit
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- "Have thick skin, be honest, and sincere."
That's the campaign advice Malik Obama says he received from his half-brother President Barack Obama late last year. Malik Obama is running for governor of Siaya County in Kenya where his and President Obama's father Barack Obama Sr. was born.
Malik Obama told CNN he discussed his campaign with the American president on November 16 during a visit to the United States. The two men have remained close since they first met in the 1980s, and each served as the other's best man at their weddings.
Malik isn't sure whether the Obama name is an advantage to him -- though many Kenyans love Barack Obama -- but Malik hopes that being an Obama will give him an edge over his political rivals.
He's also harnessing some of the rhetoric employed by President Obama during his election campaigns. Malik Obama told CNN he wants to bring change in Siaya just like his brother brought change in the United States.
"My agenda is 1) poverty eradication, 2) infrastructure development, and 3) industrialization," he said.
Malik Obama says he has travelled widely, and feels that it's his duty and obligation to bring the development he has seen in other parts of the world to his constituency.
Siaya County, with a population of just over 800,000, edges Lake Victoria in the western part of Kenya.
CNN's Lilian Leposo in Nairobi and Kevin Liptak in Washington contributed to this report.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:00
Category: International Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
HANGING IN THERE---- In this Jan. 2 photo, former boxing legend Muhammad Ali arrives at the Sugar Bowl football game in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
By Tim Dahlberg
AP Boxing Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Muhammad Ali's daughter knocked down rumors of her father being near death Sunday, saying he was at home watching the Super Bowl.
May May Ali said she talked to her father Sunday morning on the phone and he was fine. She said he was watching the Super Bowl at home in Arizona, wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey.
"He's fine, in fact he was talking well this morning," she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "These rumors pop up every once in a while but there's nothing to them."
The family later posted a photo on Twitter of Ali sitting in a chair wearing a Ray Lewis T-shirt.
The rumors were started by a report in a British tabloid quoting Ali's brother, Rahman, as saying the former heavyweight champion was near death. Rahman, though, said he hadn't seen his brother since last summer and had no contact with the family.
The report was widely repeated on the Internet, drawing expressions of condolences on Twitter and Facebook.
Ali suffers from Parkinson's disease. He celebrated his 71st birthday last month.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 February 2013 22:09
Category: International Written by Associated Press
LIFE ON THE STREETS—In this photo taken Nov. 22, 2012, an alleged crack addict checks an out-of-commission laptop in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
by Juliana Barbassa
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)—Bobo has a method: Cocaine gets him through the day, when he cruises with a wheelbarrow around a slum on Rio’s west side, sorting through trash for recyclables to sell. At night, he turns the day's profit into crack.
“Sometimes I don’t sleep at all; I’m up 24 hours,” says Bobo, a former soldier who doesn't use his given name for safety reasons. “I work to support my addiction, but I only use crack at night. That drug takes my mind away. I lose all notion of what I’m doing.”
Bobo says balancing crack with cocaine keeps him working and sane. On the shantytown’s streets, life can be hell: Addicts unable to strike Bobo's precarious balance use crack day and night, begging, stealing, prostituting themselves, and picking through trash to make enough for the next hit. For them, there’s no going home, no job, nothing but the drug.
With a boom in crack use over the past decade, Brazilian authorities are struggling to stop the drug's spread, sparking a debate over the legality and efficiency of forcibly interning users. Brazil today is the world's largest consumer of both cocaine and its crack derivative, according to the Federal University of Sao Paolo. About 6 million adults, or 3 percent of Brazilians, have tried cocaine in some form.
Rio de Janeiro has taken the lead in trying to help the burgeoning number of users with an approach that city leaders call proactive, but critics pan as unnecessarily aggressive. As of May 2011, users living in the streets have been scooped up in pre-dawn raids by teams led by the city's welfare department in conjunction with police and health care workers. By Dec. 5, 582 people had been picked up, including 734 children.
The sight is gut-wrenching. While some people go meekly, many fight, cry, scream out in desperation in their altered states. Once they’re gone, their ratty mattresses, pans, sweaters and few other possessions are swept up by a garbage removal company.
Adults can't be forced to stay in treatment, and most leave the shelters within three days. But children are kept in treatment against their will or returned to parents if they have a family. In December, 119 children were being held in specialized treatment units.
Demand for crack has boomed in recent years and open-air “cracolandias,” or “crack lands,” popped up in the urban centers of Rio and Sao Paulo, with hundreds of users gathering to smoke the drug. The federal government announced in early 2012 that more than $2 billion would be spent to fight the epidemic, allotting money to train health care workers, buy thousands of hospital and shelter beds, and create transitional centers for recovering users.
Mobile street units stationed near cracolandias are among the most important and visible aspects of the government’s approach. The units, housed in metal containers, bring doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers to the areas where users concentrate. Slowly, by offering health care and other help, the units’ workers gain the trust of users and refer them to treatment centers.
Studies suggest the approach can work: 47 percent of the crack users surveyed in Sao Paulo said they'd welcome treatment, according to the Federal University of Sao Paulo study.
Ethel Vieira, a psychologist on the raid team, thinks their persistence is paying off.
“Initially, they’d run away, react aggressively, throw rocks,” she said of users. “Now most of them understand our intention is to help, to give them a chance to leave the street and to connect with the public health network.”
Human rights groups object to the forced commitment of children, saying treatment delivered against the will of patients is ineffective. They also oppose the sweeps, which they describe as violent.
“There are legal procedures that must be followed and that are not being followed. This goes against the law and is unconstitutional,” Margarida Pressburguer, head of the Human Rights Commission for Brazil's Association of Attorneys, said during a debate last year.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes suggested in October that the city would start forcing adults into treatment. “A crack addict isn’t capable of making decisions,” Paes said from the Jacarezinho shantytown in the week after police stormed the area and seized control of what was then Rio's largest cracolandia.
The Rio state Attorney General’s Office responded by telling city officials “the compulsory removal of adults living in the streets has no legal foundation.” It said adults can be committed only when they become a danger to themselves or others and outpatient treatment options have run out.
“They give us a place to sleep, food, clothes, everything,” said Bobo. “I’ve been picked up by the city and I liked it. They are doing this for our good.”
But even as Bobo endorsed the city's approach, a friend was stepping over to the drug stand for more cocaine. Bobo asked for $5 worth of drugs—cocaine for now, crack for later. Then he rolled up a bill and dumped a small mound of white powder in his palm for snorting.
With a nose full of cocaine, he set off, ready for another day.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 10:32
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