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Aired August 31, 2003 - 12:31   ET


TUMI MAKGABO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Amidst the celebrations, questions about the outcome of the Rwandan election. Is it an important step towards reconciliation or a mockery of democracy?

Belly dancers in Egypt, their fans and battle with the government and religious conservatives.

From bullish stock markets to plans for a common currency in West Africa, we'll have an analysis of recent economic trends on the continent.

Plus, on location with South Africa's Judith Sephuma, as she records her latest music video.

These and other stories coming up on this edition of INSIDE AFRICA.


Hello, and welcome to the program. I'm Tumi Makgabo.

Victory for incumbent Paul Kagame in the Rwandan election, but international reviews are mixed. Some world leaders call it a significant step towards recovery in an ethnically-polarized nation. But the European Union and others were not too pleased with the process.

We get more now from Cynde Strand in Kigali.


CYNDE STRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The victory dances began before the vote counting had even ended. After casting their votes Monday in Rwanda's first multiparty election, jubilant supporters of President Paul Kagame packed Kigali's main stadium and celebrated throughout the night.

On Tuesday, the National Electoral Commission confirmed Kagame's victory. Not a landslide, more an avalanche, with Kagame officially winning more than 95 percent of the vote. The main opposition candidate, Faustin Twagiramungu, rejected the results.

Most independent observers, though, hailed the election as a successful step towards a more democratic Rwanda. But the European Union observer said the election was not without problems.

JOHAN VAN HECKE, EUROPEAN UNION OBSERVER: The elections were very well-organized. People were extremely disciplined. There was no violence at all. But on the other hand, you must admit that in some polling stations, like, for instance, here in Kigali, there were a lot of observers from only one candidate clearly intimidating people.

STRAND: EU observers say they also saw incidents of Kagame's supporters tampering with voter lists and stuffing ballot boxes. This, along with earlier reports of intimation and the arrest of opposition supporters like these, stopped the EU team from declaring the elections free and fair.

But even going into the election, the head of the EU delegation recognized that this poll is part of a process.

COLETTE FLESCH, HEAD, EUROPEAN UNION OBSERVER: I think we were aware from the start of its nature and, to a certain extent, of its limits. But we considered that it was a step in the right direction.

STRAND: The international community has welcomed the election outcome, and President Kagame is hoping to use this vote of confidence to open more investment doors.

Rwandans are hoping the election will close the darkest chapters of their country's history -- a cycle of ethnic oppression, first by the Tutsi monarchy during colonization, and later by Hutu extremists, who fanned the flames of hatred and incited the genocide of 1994. Massacre sites like this church were left as a memorial.

Joseph Insigni Mano (ph) lost his wife and two children in the genocide. His sisters were killed in that church just down the street from where he cast his vote last week.

He says, "There are moments when mankind reaches the bottom, but there is also a time when you must rise up again."

STRAND: For him and many Rwandans the hope is the selection marks that time.

Cynde Strand for INSIDE AFRICA, Kigali.


MAKGABO: President Kagame's main challenger, Faustin Twagiramungu, says the process was less than democratic. Earlier this week, he told me of his plans for the future.


FAUSTIN TWAGIRAMUNGU, RWANDAN OPPOSITION LEADER: If I am not satisfied and if all of my followers are now (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because what they have taught as a democracy was rather a kind of pressure to vote for one man, threats all over, people being put in prison. So, I have to raise the case. And today, I have sent a letter of accusation to the supreme court. So, you know, the supreme court somehow will probably examine the case, but what we know it is literal to do so, because they have to respect the will of the regime and the will of the prisoners.

MAKGABO: You talk about the supreme court perhaps not being able to address this investigation, if you will, to the extent that you would like to see. So, what options is that leaving anyone, including yourself, who perhaps wishes to challenge and raise the objections more strongly?

TWAGIRAMUNGU: Well, we cannot change brutally the situation in Rwanda, those who have tried to induce or to tell us that we are a democracy. We are not a democracy actually. But what I want to say here, we have to create a real opposition, and the regime has to give us a space where we can make a choice of association, and we can also have freedom of free speech and try to build the democracy as it has been, you know, announced by the regime itself.

What can I do now? What I will do is to probably to create a new political party and continue the process until the real democracy is in Rwanda.

MAKGABO: How much have you pursued the possibility of having more direct conversations with the president, Paul Kagame, and perhaps trying to figure out whether dialog that you mentioned or that you infer is indeed possible in your country?

TWAGIRAMUNGU: Well, it isn't possible (UNINTELLIGIBLE) leadership. If leaders continue to frustrate the population, I think they have to expect not a positive -- not a positive reaction, but a negative reaction indeed. So, I have...

MAKGABO: Yes, but how far have you gone in trying to pursue that very dialog? How much have you tried to get the president to speak with you and discuss it?

TWAGIRAMUNGU: Well, yes, yes. Before I left -- before I left Belgium, I had approached the ambassador, who has asked for me, and our president who is the president, but until now I am on the waiting list. What they wanted was to have a dialog with the president, discussing matters concerning my country, discuss our own differences, because in democracy I believe. We have to accept this first, and we also have to accept an alternative situation in our country as far as the politics is concerned. So, dialog, yes, but with who is a problem.


MAKGABO: That was part of a conversation I had earlier this week with Rwandan opposition leader Faustin Twagiramungu.

Amnesty International warns that the government could use pressure tactics to undermine the opposition ahead of next month's parliamentary elections.

INSIDE AFRICA continues after this break. Don't go away.


MAKGABO: And welcome back. Time now to take a look at some of the other stories making headlines around Africa.


MAKGABO (voice-over): More than 250 soldiers from Senegal will join the West African peacekeeping force in Liberia. That will bring the total number of ECOMIL troops to nearly 2,000.

Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats and ECOMIL commandos met rebel leaders in the port city of Buchanan on Friday. They discussed the deployment of peacekeepers to that city.

In Cote d'Ivoire, authorities have detained several senior army and police officials in connection with an alleged plot to kill President Laurent Gbagbo. Earlier this week, France arrested several mercenaries, accusing them of planning to kill the Ivorian leader. Among them, Abraham Coulibaly (ph), the renegade Ivorian soldier, who was accused of being behind last year's army revolt that triggered the civil war.

And conservationists are worried that if urgent action is not taken, these hippos may soon be extinct. They say the hippo population in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo has declined by 95 percent. They blame the demand for hippo canine teeth and the illegal ivory trade. The World Wildlife Fund says action must be taken to closely control the trade and stop poaching.


And from the land of the hippos to the world of business and a look at your money. Nadia Bilchik has that.


We begin in Kenya, where it's been a relatively good year thus far for the economy. The stock market has made investors about a billion dollars richer, and most share prices are up by 100 percent. The government is streamlining its spending, attempting to reduce a huge budget deficit.

In West Africa, leaders have set a new target date for the introduction of a common currency. The eco, as it will be known, should be in circulation by July, 2005.

In Zambia, tough times for the government of President Levy Mwanawasa. A nearly 1-week-old civil servants strike is disrupting some government operations. Workers are demanding housing allowances. The government says it doesn't have the money to make that possible.

Joining us now to provide some insight into these issues is Razia Khan, chief economist responsible for Africa at London's Standard Chartered Bank. She's in our London bureau.

Razia, thank you very much for joining us.


BILCHIK: We're going to start off in Kenya. And the Nairobi Stock Exchange really has seen a good start to the year, and investor confidence is apparently been boosted by Kibaki's more streamlined government. But what appears to have happened is there is a huge domestic investment. Why is there so little interest by foreign investors?

KHAN: Well, there are a number of reasons for this. First of all, it's unsurprising that a lot of the interest should be from Kenyan investors themselves, who are that much closer to this situation and can see for themselves the reasons to be optimistic on the growth outlook for Kenya.

If you look at what's been happening internationally, a lot of the big global players wouldn't have been buying equities until very recently, and with the turnaround in global equity markets, that may be taking the lion's share of their interest.

Another reason is that interest rates in Kenya have dropped to very low levels.

BILCHIK: Can we move now to the West African Monetary Union? First of all, I'd like to know your perception of the eco, and whether having a current currency is, in fact, something that you see is worthwhile and beneficial?

KHAN: Well, the whole move towards a monetary union in West Africa really has to be seen in the context of greater regionalization. Of course, the sizes of the economies in West Africa are very varied, but for the smaller economies in particular, it can be very difficult to attract sufficient investor interest -- foreign investor interest to make a big difference to their growth prospects.

The hope is that by greater regionalization, tying in with the larger economies, creating bigger economic blocks, they'll be able to achieve the kind of economies of scale that would sustain greater investor interest. And one way of doing this, one way of forming an effective economic block is to go for a single currency; hence, the impetus behind this effort.

BILCHIK: Well, we are moving you around the continent on to Zambia now, where they've seen a civil servant strike. What effect is that having on the Zambian economy?

KHAN: To explain the background to this. The IMF is currently withholding its funding to the Zambia government claiming that the increase in public sector wages that had been agreed earlier this year might create such a big budgetary problem for the government that it would have difficulty financing that. And that might create a great deal of macro- economic instability.

As a result, the government is taking a very hard-line stance, and is actually asking public sector unions in Zambia whether it can reverse the earlier wage accords that had been agreed. So far, there are signs that public sector workers are taking heed of the government's call to return to work.

The government had threatened that workers were striking, because they considered the strike to be illegal, will not be able to get paid over that time or may be in danger of losing their jobs. This might limit the overall economic impact near term of the strikes.

BILCHIK: Razia Khan, thank you very much for joining us.

And that's our look at your money this week. I'm Nadia Bilchik.

Tumi -- back to you.

MAKGABO: All right, Nadia, thank you.

Now to Egypt and a story about the clash of tradition, politics and religion. At issue: the government's attempt to ban foreign belly dancers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a mounting debate over just how Egyptian the art of belly dancing really is.

Shahira Amin has a look.


SHAHIRA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zariya (ph) is from Brazil, but the dance she's performing is not the conga. It's the traditional Egyptian belly dance. Her nightly show at a five-star Cairo hotel attracts Egyptians, Arabs and Westerners, but Zariya's (ph) hip swaying and gyrations clearly have the same hypnotic effect on all of them. Zariya (ph) may not be able to enjoy the fruits of her success for much longer.

(on camera): The Egyptian Ministry of Manpower has announced that it won't be issuing work permits for foreign belly dancers, a move prompted by concerns that foreigners were taking over the profession from Egyptians, but also by fears that money would be flowing out of the country.

(voice-over): Attitudes towards the dance have changed drastically over the last two decades.

Unlike the '50s and '60s when dancers like Kerioka (ph) and Gemel (ph) were admired and respected for their art, belly dancing is now generally seen as vulgar and even sinful, or haram (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Of course, it's haram (ph). If you see a woman slithering half naked, what else can you call it?

AMIN: In the mid-'80s, fundamentalists burned down a nightclub on this road. Soon afterwards, many local belly dancers were forced into retirement or moved to other countries after receiving death threats from extremists.

Iva Noir (ph), now retired, says she quit because of society's lack of respect for the dance.

A few defiant ones have stayed on despite the odds. Fei Clado (ph) is one of them.

"Belly dancing is for Egyptians," she says. "Foreign dancers may master the technique but never the spirit of the dance."

It's at workshops like this one that foreigners learn the tricks of the trade. Practicing for hours on end, they hope that they can eventually pursue a belly dancing career. But with the new stringent rules and growing trend of fundamentalism, it may take more than flashy costumes and a sway of the hips to realize their ambition.

For INSIDE AFRICA, Shahira Amin, Cairo.


MAKGABO: And there is still more to come in INSIDE AFRICA, so stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MAKGABO: Hello again.

The artful dance form called capoeira is widely known as a cultural expression in Brazil, but it's rapidly becoming all the rage in the capital of Angola.

Femi Oke has the story.


FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new sensation in the Angolan capital, Luanda is capoeira. It's a graceful dance like fighting style that's rapidly gaining popularity among young Angolans, thanks to people like Mushi, an economic student at Luanda's Catholic University. He loves the dance so much that he's organized a weekly class in the university parking lot. His goal? To spread his passion and get others to appreciate this unique art form.

MUSHI, CAPOEIRA TEACHER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to improve and to keep my mind (UNINTELLIGIBLE) things, you know, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and to learn more when we teach to learn every day.

OKE: Some say capoeira is more Brazilian than African, but in a way the dance has found its way back to its roots. It was invented about 450 years ago by African slaves, who were taken across the Atlantic in disease- ridden ships.

There are many myths as to why it originated. Some say it was a form of revolution, a style of fighting designed by slaves to resist their enslavement. The music was added as a disguise, and so slave masters were deceived into thinking that the slaves were celebrating. Instead, they were preparing to revolt.

In Angola, the heart of the capoeira, is berimbau, a local instrument made of a calibache (ph) with a vibrating string. As it is played, other participants sing songs about problems in today's Angola, and occasionally about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on Brazilian plantations.

Many of the students in Mushi's class have fallen in love with the capoeira. One has even tattooed the name on his arm, saying that will keep him committed to the dance.

During the week, some students gather on the beach to rehearse. Their teacher, Mushi, is proud of them. Now that he's ignited their passion, he's now focused on his 3-year-old nephew. The hope is that someday he, too, will be a capoeira fanatic.



MAKGABO: And finally, a profile of South African recording artist, Judith Sephuma. Critics say she crosses both racial and generational gaps with her sultry, jazzy sound.

Paul Tilsley joined her on location in Soweto.


PAUL TILSLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The smooth, soothing voice of Judith Sephuma, a platinum-selling, multi-choral, award-winning artist.

Sephuma, who grew up in a township, has turned her back on the luxury trappings of her present life and chosen Soweto as the setting for her latest music video, "I Remember."

Children skip in this musical return to Sephuma's childhood.

JUDITH SEPHUMA, SOUTH AFRICAN MUSICIAN: Our children don't remember. They don't know what we used to grow up like. You know, they just see it on TV and they hear about it. So, this is my way of just reminding all of us that, you know, we shouldn't forget where we come from.

TILSLEY: Hot shot commercials director, Thabo Marara, who is putting the video together, agrees that if this location is one thing, it's real.

THABO MARERA, DIRECTOR: Yes. No, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I mean, if you look around here, I mean, I just love this location. You know, I quite like the setup. You know, I quite like the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Everything is here. It's going to -- it's just real and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

TILSLEY (on camera): Judith Sephuma's work is an artistic contradiction of sorts. Sophisticated. Yes, so sophisticated in fact that it wouldn't be out of place in the most opulent of surroundings. And yet, as is being demonstrated here, it's proudly and simply African.

SEPHUMA: I am an African. I grew up here in South Africa, and I know nothing. I don't know anything else except being South African.

TILSLEY (voice-over): Most young singers here make pop music, rough and raw. Sephuma is influenced not by Mary J. Blige, but by Ella Fitzgerald and Randy Crawford.

SEPHUMA: It's because of the way I grew up. I grew up listening to a lot of good, mature music. So -- and I knew then that I wanted to have an album that was very simple but yet mature, and, yes, it's sophisticated in its own way.

TILSLEY: Sephuma's smooth sound waves have already created excitement and repeat bookings in Europe and the Far East. Now, she's hoping her sulky blend of jazz will stir up interest in the U.S., too.

Paul Tilsley, INSIDE AFRICA, Soweto, South Africa.


MAKGABO: Now, as always, we look forward to your comments here on INSIDE AFRICA, so please send them to

And that's our look on the continent for this week. I'm Tumi Makgabo. Thanks for watching.



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