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World Focuses on War-Torn Somalia; City in Congo Besieged by Lava; African DJ Uses Success to Help Other Immigrants

Aired January 19, 2002 - 12:30:00   ET


TUMI MAKGABO, HOST: On this edition of INSIDE AFRICA: a divided country, the threat of U.S. military action and the struggle to rebuild. We'll gauge the mood in Somalia as the eyes of the world focus on this war torn nation.

Running from the wrath of nature, the people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo seek refuge as a volcano erupts and leaves much of the town in flames.

Meet one of Portugal's top DJs, an African who's using his success to help other immigrants from the continent.

Hello, I'm Tumi Makgabo and welcome to INSIDE AFRICA as we take a look at news and life on continent. We begin in Somalia with a look at how people there are reacting to reports that their country could be next in the war against terrorism. For that, we turn to Jeff Koinange who's in Mogadishu -- Jeff.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from Mogadishu, Tumi, where chaos still reigns in the streets below me. On its continuing war on terror, the U.S. is looking at Somalia as a possible terrorist safe haven. The U.S. and its allies are conducting surveillance flights across the country and there are warships monitoring the waters of the east African coast.

The U.S. says Somalia may be harboring elements of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. This war ravaged country -- in this war-ravaged country, militias control the streets and warlords rule over the entire nation.

In an effort to get the U.N. in, we must -- the U.S. must conduct a further -- sorry, I'll do that again. In this war-ravaged country, the U.N. must conduct a thorough research -- sorry -- monitoring the situation.


KOINANGE (voice-over): Somalia's militiamen attend Friday prayers in the capital, Mogadishu. Here, prayer mats replace armored vehicles and the Koran replaces the Kalashnikov. Somalis are traditionally liberal Muslims and although, practices like Sharia Law, the Islamic code of conduct, are prevalent in most parts of the country, it's hard to find to find Muslim radicals and extremist groups here as in many of the parts of the Muslim world. The reason for this, some say, could be more social than religious.

"Somalis associate themselves, first, with their clan and then with their religion," he says, "and despite the fact that Islam is practiced by 90 percent of the population, it's simply a religion of convenience rather than one of circumstance."

It's this clan association, which is credited with the bitter civil war that's lasted over a decade. But it's also in this lawless, divided land, that Islam could become a unifying factor and fundamentalism an alternative to chaos.

The U.S. says al Qaeda may have operated here under the name, Al- Ittihad. Somalis admit the presence of Al-Ittihad, but deny its links to al Qaeda. More typical the case, people here tell us that members of Al- Ittihad have simply disappeared back into their clans. What does exist and everyone will freely admit, is Al-Islah, a Somali word meaning "peace" and an organization established at the start of the civil war to provide basic social services for Muslims -- everything from free health care to education. Funding now comes principally form Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Many Somalis believe the goal of Al-Islah is the creation of the Islamic state similar to Al-Ittihad's aim. But Al-Islah members say their principal goal is national reconciliation and promotion of education and democracy.

SHEIKH MOHAMMED ALI YUSUF, MUSLIM CLERIC: Al-Islah is a peaceful organization. That is the main difference between Al-Islah and probably other organizations who have a militaristic or a violence attitude.

KOINANGE: Somalia has the potential of becoming a breeding ground for terrorism with no central government and no end to the daily misery for the average Somali, a vacuum is growing, which could be exploited by extremists and fundamentalist groups promising a better life.

YUSUF: And there is concern in the United States, in western nationists, against potentiality, that some terrorist groups can exploit the difficult situation in Somalia. I think the best way to face that is to help the Somalis to re-establish its government, its central government.

KOINANGE: If the U.S. does decide that Somalia is the next place in the war against terror, many here will be suspicious of America's motives. At this teahouse in downtown Mogadishu, war woed Somalis say they are growing tired of the U.S. using their country as an excuse to wage its next phase of the war against terror. They feel they are being unfairly signaled out as an excuse to avenge the deaths of U.S. servicemen killed here nine years ago.

"Today, Somalia is not considered part of the world," he say, "The Americans want to retaliate for what happened here in 1993 when the bodies of their soldiers were dragged through these streets. If they want to bombard our country, let them. What can we do? We are helpless against the Americans. But if they do it, it'll be at their own peril."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we are being attacked here by the USA without any reason, without any special reason, there's -- our religion says to be -- defend ourselves and our people is a Muslims. It has no reason of attacking and there's no comes -- and there's no special groups, extremist groups in our country. We have rights to defend ourself and our people.

KOINANGE: But the Somalis would rather see the Americans here as friends. They say they need America and the outside world to help rebuild their nation or else, Somalia will eventually become the next Afghanistan.


KOINANGE: Now, the U.S. war on terror has already come to Somalia in the form of the freezing of the assets of Al Barakaat, a remittance bank and the country's largest employer. The U.S. accuses it of funding funds to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But the freezing of Al Barakaat's assets overseas is also affecting Somalis in the U.S. as we hear in this report from Carol Pineau in Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came today to discuss ourselves, the reason crisis into seclusion of the Hawala.

CAROL PINEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the Washington area, a group of Somalis meet, discussing what some are calling a crisis, the closure of the Somali based remittance company, Al Barakaat. Barakaat used Hawala to transfer funds across continents. But the U.S. government accuses the company of moving money around the world for international terrorists. But many Somali immigrants say they used the company to send money to families back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no bank. There is checkbook that those people carry around. The only thing they await is a call from the Hawala office to reach them and say, "I have a hundred dollars for you."

PINEAU: Since 1991, Somalia has been without a central banking system due to years of civil war, making Hawala the only method of transferring money. But even that, Hawala run companies were part of Somali tradition.

FARAH MOHAMMED, DIRECTOR, SOMALI FAMILY NETWORK: There's a tradition of trust in people -- somebody to take your money to get to your family. It has been a long tradition.

PINEAU: One advantage is Hawala can reach the remotest of locations. Barin Ali says it took Al Barakaat five months to find her 105-year-old grandfather.

BARIN ALI, SOMALI IMMIGRANT: Al Barakaat, they used to come and say, "We don't know. Well, let's just try. How many children does he have? What kind of a house he lives? I mean that city. What is the middle -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that village called?"

PINEAU: She fears that link now broken will be almost impossible to re-establish.

U.S. authorities say terrorists used Hawala because it is a recordless system. It makes it easy to send money without a trace. Offices of Hawala still operating in Virginia, the dealer says there is a paper trail.

(on-camera): If the government said to you, you know, who gave you money, you could tell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely, just everything is there -- their name, their phone number, who they send the money to, which city, which country, everything.

PINEAU (voice-over): When Al Barakaat closed, its assets were frozen and some Somali immigrants say their money was caught up in the process as well.

MOHAMMED: They have the right to get their money back as any other person. I have to cover my back. If I don't get -- if anything had been stopped them, I need my money back anyway. And I think that there is the responsibility of the U.S. authorities to give a response to these people who lost their money.

PINEAU (on-camera): Now authorities in other countries have cooperated with the U.S. request to freeze the assets of the two largest, Hawala. They appear to be reluctant to take any legal action against any of the individuals targeted on the U.S. list. Of the 16 people the U.S. accuses of money laundering for the terrorists, none are in custody today. Even the head of Al Barakaat, now living in United Arab Emirates, says he has not been detained.

Carol Pineau for CNN INSIDE AFRICA, Washington.


MAKGABO: For more on this topic, go to our Web site at AFRICA. You'll find a report on the security situation in other parts of the country as well. And also, remember to take part in our quick vote.

And there's more to come on INSIDE AFRICA, including fighting to save a town: the people of Goma and their battle with a force of nature next.


MAKGABO: Welcome back, the Congolese town of Goma has had more than its fair share of trouble. Wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have caused thousands of refugees through the town in the past eight years. Now, residents are on the move again, this time, fleeing the wrath of nature. Much of the town is in flames as lava from a volcano began falling down on Thursday. Catherine Bond is just back from Goma and she joins us now from a Rwandan town of Gestyne (ph).

CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the earth tremors continue here. We're staying in a hotel on the first floor and every time there's an earth tremor, it rumbles like a jelly. So the volcanic activity isn't yet over. Underneath the earth's crust, there's still some movement going in and its surfacing actually just to the west of the original volcano here -- that erupted here in Goma. And so, it's anticipated that there may yet be some more volcanic activity, but it's not known how serious that will be.

Tonight, a lot of people were trying to go back into Goma because they said they didn't want to spend another night out in the cold, in the Rwandan tiny town of Gentyne (ph) and they said they were hungry. The Congolese are in a real dilemma because as soon as they leave home, they have no money to spend at Rwandan markets here in Gentyne (ph). They're not accepting their Congolese francs and therefore, that means effectively when they come across the border, they starve and because of that, a lot of men were sending their wives and children down to the Congolese city of Bucambo (ph) by boat. The Congolese city of Bucambo (ph) is at the southern tip of Lake Huvu (ph) and they'd rather send them back into the Congo than stay here in Rwanda and wait for relief aid. And they say the definitely don't want to go into refugee camps because that's not the kind of life that they've envisioned for themselves -- Tumi.

MAKGABO: Now, no doubt many people ordinarily might expect that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo help people out and try to address their needs. At this point in time, no doubt, they don't have the resources, turning perhaps to international aid agencies for help.

BOND: Well, the government of Congo hasn't controlled Goma since 1998 and I don't think it did much for its people in the 30 years that it previously ruled it either.

So no, I don't think that the citizens of Goma were expecting anything from the rebel authorities who control them. IN fact, it's remarkable how little they say anything about the authorities at all. I mean nobody has once said to us, "You know, we weren't told why don't people us." I think that they'd long since reconciled themselves to the fact that they have to make it on their own. And the only authorities who have been in Goma to provide any sort of order and help and security have been the Rwandan authorities who anyway more or less direct what goes on there at the best of times.

So I don't think, you know, the government of Congo is certainly -- has nothing to do with Goma. It's miles away from it at the other side of the country. And the rebel authorities, the most that they have done to date, to be quite honest with you, is taken some journalists up in a helicopter to see the damage and the lava flow from the air. We never saw them around town talking to anybody or assessing any damage on the ground - - Tumi.

MAKGABO: Catherine, thank you very much that update. Time now for us to take a look at some other stories making news inside Africa and for that, we begin in Sierra Leone where a decade of civil war is now officially over. President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah declared the war over on Friday at a symbolic ceremony in the capital, Freetown. The president burned nearly 3,000 rifles and automatic weapons. The occasion was attended by Ghanaian president John Kufor as well as member of the former rebel revolution, the United Front. The peace process will be climaxed by elections to be held later this year.

In another move towards peace on the continent, the Sudanese government and rebels have signed a cease-fire agreement. The two sides agreed to halt hostilities in the Nuba Mountain region and within 72 hours. The agreement was reached at peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. It will monitored by a joint military commission with representatives from both sides.

And onto Mali where the biggest sporting event on the continent begins this weekend, it's the 23rd African Nations Cup, at stake, the African football championship. INSIDE AFRICA will bring you weekly score updates. You can also check out the scores on the Web site. That's at AFRICA.

And time now for us to turn our attention to business news. Zain Verjee has that -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Tumi. Businesses and offices in major Nigerian cities reopened after the Nigerian Labor Congress called off the two-day strike. This came two days after a high court ordered an end to the work stoppage, which was called to protest an 18 percent hike in fuel prices. The government says the hike was necessary to help liberalize the largely state controlled economy. So why the does the Labor Congress oppose it?

JOHN ODAH, SECRETARY GENERAL, NLC: Nigerians depends on petroleum products likely because it is -- you used petroleum products to transport things from the countryside to the rest of the country. It is used a lot by our manufacturing companies because of the inefficiency of our public energy system. And therefore, by the time you increase the price of diesel, you are seeing that the cost of production will go up and therefore, making our products...

VERJEE: Yeah, but the government is already putting in $2 billion in subsidies for its production of fuel and by keeping the prices down, it's only going to encourage more smuggling than there already exists.

ODAH: There are overwhelming empirical evidence to indicate that there is no subsidy on the fuel our government sends to Nigerians. Secondly, on smuggling, we have also made a point that even if delivering countries that surround Nigeria, all different on small goods, energy into power, they are electricity. This will now take up to 10 percent of the total consumption that we have in Nigeria.

VERJEE: The General Secretary of the Nigerian Labor Congress speaking to us on INSIDE AFRICA. Thank you, sir.

To the north now and news that Egypt needs to adapt a market reform to shore up its economy. Reports say the country is suffering from a huge trade deficit and a drop in tourism revenues. But experts note that Egypt is not facing a crisis.

Time now to check the markets.

That's our business update. Tumi, back to you.

MAKGABO: Zain, thank you very much. INSIDE AFRICA continues now after the break with an unusual union, the heartwarming story of a crossbreed adoption in the animal kingdom. Don't miss that after the break.


MAKGABO: Hello again. It's a sight that's drawing a crowd in Kenya. Are you wondering what it is? Well, I'm going to hand you over to Femi Oke to tell us all about it -- Femi.

FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Tumi. Let me give you a little bit of background first of all. An Oryx is a very large antelope. It has beautiful black and white markings on its head and the foregoing adults of both sexes have very long horns. They spend their time eating grass and leaves and trying to avoid being eaten by large predators, which makes this story very unusual indeed.


OKE: A baby Oryx antelope would make a tasty bit of lunch for most lions, but at Kenya's Zambooru (ph) Wildlife Reserve, this lioness adopted the newborn. The odd couple got together when the lioness found the Oryx waiting for its mother, which had gone off in search of food. It was more of a takeover than an adoption. It's not easy arguing with a veracious carnivore.

A stream of visitors have come to see the unlikely sight. Some of them even witnessed the lioness warded off a leopard that was stalking the car.

Cross species adoptions are rare in the animal kingdom and this one has amazed the park warden.

SIMON LEIRANA, WARDEN: The difficult is now, we've got do is train. It is something, which has never happened, so it's a miracle.

OKE: The lioness was gracious enough to let the mother Oryx feed her cub occasionally before scaring her away and reclaiming her surrogate role again.

As word of the lion adoption spread, there were rumors that this quirk of nature had to be symbolic.

LEIRANA: Some of them are saying maybe it's the end of the world, you know.

OKE: The prediction turned out to be prophetic for the young antelope. For two weeks, he laid down in peace with the lioness. Finally, after leading her charge down to the river to drink, she took a nap. Seconds later, another lion leapt out of the bushes and killed the Oryx. The true order of the food chain was finally restored and so, this lion tale ends as nature intended, unhappily ever after.


OKE: Do you know, I always have this plot there for a really nice animation movie for kids, but I think I'm going to have to change the ending, how sad. But that's it for me for this week, back to Tumi.

MAKGABO: Yeah, I can imagine that would be a bit too sad for my kids. I wouldn't let them watch it, Femi. Anyway...

OKE: That's life.

MAKGABO: ... very tragic, but nonetheless, he got his dinner.

Finally, we go to Portugal to meet some African immigrants, who at the top of their profession, making a new life in an adoptive country is no easy feat. This is especially true for thousands of Africans who migrate to Europe each year. As Sylvia Smith reports, others who have made the trip before them are trying to help.


SYLVIA SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 25 years since Jose Viera arrived in Portugal from Angola. Since then, he's made a new life for himself, becoming one of the new generation of Africans who are forging ahead in Europe.

JOSE VIERA, RADIO HOST: I always wanted to be a journalist. I did my many studies at a university in Lisbon. Then, I started working in several local (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And then, I changed to the national broadcaster.

SMITH: Viera is a top DJ at RDP, the national radio station. His listening audience extends from Portugal to Camp Zed (ph), Mozambique and his home country, Angola.

VIERA: The most important thing in this life program is to join the community leaders, the city community leaders in Africa with the mayors here of the cities in Portugal.

SMITH: Viera says through the radio, he tries to make Africans understand that life in Portugal isn't always a bed of roses.

Another big man from Africa, Jose Orlando, from Cape Zed (ph). He's made his mark in the music business. Those fortunate enough to record a CD under his label are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of success. He produces, sells and distributes music. Orlando calls himself one of the lucky ones.

Wars, natural disasters and economic hardship cause thousands of Africans to leave home. Many seek refuge in Europe. While the opportunities may be here, not everyone is able to grasp them. There are many who don't get the jobs they deserve and who find life in their adopted home difficult.

But some of the successful ones like Jose Viera are determined to help the less fortunate. Somehow, Viera hopes that he can be an example to the thousands of Africans who choose to leave their homeland each year.

For CNN's INSIDE AFRICA, I'm Sylvia Smith in Lisbon, Portugal.


MAKGABO: And that's our look INSIDE AFRICA. I'm Tumi Makgabo.





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