The Great Lakes Research Journal

In-depth reviews of issues and challenges facing Central Africa – ISSN: 1554-0391

In three West African nations an outbreak of polio is quickly sweeping through and already has a death toll of 97. The first case appeared in the Republic of Congo on November 4th, since than over 200 cases of the virus have been reported with almost 100 casualties confirmed. In response to this massive outbreak of the virus, the United Nations has decided to start an immunization campaign on Friday November 12th which will target over 3 million children and adults in order to prevent them from succumbing to the disease. The campaign will begin in the Republic of Congo and eventually carry over to other countries being afflicted by the epidemic.

UNICEF stated that the unusual reports of the disease began in mid October with over 70 cases being recorded in one week.  The World Health Organization reported that the death toll started to rise in the city of Pointe Noire. Scientists are baffled at the massive outbreak of the disease, especially in the Republic of Congo who has not had a recorded case of polio since 2004.  Earlier last month the World Health Organization began their own immunization campaign that target over 70 million people, mostly infants and toddlers. Over 290,000 member of the W.H.O planned to go door to door in order to administer the vaccine to children under the age of 5 that were in “high risk zones”.

The idea that a disease such as polio can sprout up in an African nation and spread to over 20 others in only a few short months is not only astonishing to me but also terrifying. But at the same time, seeing so many people from so many walks of life come together to aid those who desperately need it gives me hope for this world. To often do we see people dieing because they cannot afford the help they need. In my eyes, modern society has put a price on human life, and it is not cheap. But with groups such as the W.H.O acting in a generous way, devoting a huge amount of effort in order to help those who truly need it gives me hope that hopefully someday people will begin to worry about the people they can save instead of being paid.


David Bahati saw down with CNN reporters recently to talk about his desire to pass an anti-gay law in Uganda. Bahati believes that this piece of legislation is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the traditional ideals of the African family. The bill was proposed over a year ago, and since than has been under pressure from human rights groups all over the world, and was thought to have been shelved. But according to Bahati the bill is not only still being discussed, but in fact will soon become a law in Uganda.

Bahati’s statements were made after a Ugandan magazine outed 100 homosexual Ugandan citizens which resulted in numerous attacks on those outed in the magazine. Two women who were outed recall having groups of people stand outside of their home as they would throw stones and yell “Homosexual, Homosexual” at their home. The two women were forced to leave their home and since than been in hiding. According to the author of the magazine article, the article was written to out members of the gay community who were thought to be converting school children to become homosexual. He goes on to say that the aim of his article was that the police would track down these people and hang them for their crimes.

The bill itself supports the ideas of murdering anyone thought to be homosexual literally making it illegal to be gay. Personally, I think that this is beyond insanity. In fact I find it hard to respect their ideals, which is saying a lot considering I really try to be an open minded human being. But what they are doing in Uganda and what they want to make law is blatantly wrong in every single way, shape and form. Bhati along with other supporters of the law call themselves Christians, personally I am not a man of any particular faith but I don’t remember reading the part of the bible that read thou shall kill someone for being different than I am. At the moment I feel terror for anyone who is gay in Uganda, having to  hide who you are in order to stay alive is something that no one should have to do, and I can only hope that this law will never see the light of Uganda or any other country in the world.


Violence ensued in Guinea this past week after elections were hel, at least 9 were killed. The army Chief of Staff for Guinea stated that the attacks were being commited by civilans with malevolent intentions on security forces around the country, although both doctors and other civilians claim that all deaths involved with these incidents were all civilian casualties caused by security forces.

The majority of busniesses and shops were closed and citizens were warned to remain indoors until the state of emergency was cleared. People were still free to move about the city, but police had the right to confront any citizen and ask them for their papers.

Dr. Mory Kaba claimed to have see 5 people shot and killed and over 30 people wounded by security forces, although leaders of these secrutity forces claim to have no knoledge about that took place in these shootings. Kaba went on to say that the city will return to normal in a few days, in hopes that the state of emergency would be lifted. He continued to talk about how Guinea is used to these types of situations post election and that a sense of normalcy is soon to return.


Ben Okeke, also known as “Baba Mutum” meaning “Very Big Man” is attempting to bring the ancient form of Japanese wrestling known as sumo to Nigeria. Ben had started with regular wrestling until one of his friends suggested that he tried sumo, so Ben moved to Japan and practiced this ancient art, and in 1996 won a world championship bronze medal, a feat that had never been achieved by a Nigerian  until than.

Today Okeke teaches a class of about 40 students how to sumo in a makeshift arena in a rented hall in hopes that the sports popularity will spread throughout Nigeria. Okeke’s days of sumo are now over after a knew injury that he sustained in 1997 forced him to retire. But he has high hopes for future generations, believing that Nigerians are a strong people and with practice be the greatest sumo wrestlers in the world.

Today Okeke has lost a lot of weight after blowing out his knee and have a gastric bypass done, but he uses his new found look as a teaching method to his students. He teaches his students that sumo is not strictly about how physically strong you are, but that you are mentally strong and able to see your goals and push yourself to work harder than your opponents, only than can you reach your goals.