The Great Lakes Research Journal

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

On Monday  a Federal American court sentenced a Somali man to 30 years of  prison for acts of high sea piracy. Monday was the first time that a man had been sentenced to any time in prison for acts of piracy in over 150  years, the last time being in 1861 during the Civil War. Piracy is in its own way making a comeback, as piracy is one of the most growing threats facing our world today. The man sentenced to prison was named Jama Idle Ibrahim and he openly admitted to have planned on seizing a U.S Merchant Ship on April 9th and holding it for ransom.

According to statements given in court the pirates attempted to take over what they thought was a merchant ship but in fact turned out to be the U.S Naval vessel the USS Ashland. Once on board the pirates opened fire on those serving on the Ashland, once fire upon the members of the Ashland retaliated and subdued the pirates where they were taken into custody.

Today piracy is one of the most growing forms of terrorism but fortunately for us we have the largest Navy in the world. It is my belief that this resurgence of pirates can and will be stopped as long as not only our Navy but other Navy’s around the world join together to stop this threat than besieges  all of us.

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In South Africa rhino’s are being tracked down but not for the reasons you may think of. Unlike most hunters who chase down rhinos and have hunted them down to near extinction, scientists are now tracking rhino’s and fitting their horns to house a GPS so that they can be tracked. The main goal isn’t to focus on their migration patterns or see where rhino’s spend most of their time, but instead to help protect them from the poachers after their ivory horns.

Over this year alone over 250 rhino’s have been slaughtered for their horns, which is a huge increase in recent years and could not have come at a worse time with their numbers now quickly dwindling. The GPS system is set that if a rhino begins to move in an uncharacteristic fashion or drift off into a zone it normally stays away from, it notifies a control room of it’s location which notifies the authorities and hopefully will save the rhino.

Personally I find this methodology to be sound, the rhino is one of the most majestic and well recognized animals in the entire world, and now that it has become endangered because of poachers, it’s up to the rest of the world to help out. These scientists are taking the first steps in helping prevent their losses from growing any more with this simple method. But what I like most about this system is that even if the authorities are late getting there and are not able to save the rhino, there is still hope in catching the poachers who are responsible for taking its life and hopefully put them in jail for the remainder of theirs.

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Gay and lesbian groups throughout Kenya are deeply upset about comments made by the prime minister. He was quoted in saying that anyone who participates in any type of homosexual activity should be arrested. Prime Minister Raila Odinga made his stance very clear on Sunday when he made these comments at a rally in Nairobi, he went on to say that the constitution is in power and it’s power dictates that homosexuality is a crime, one that can put you in jail for up to 14 years.

Lawrence Mute is a member of the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission believes that these statements have brought a new sense of homophobia to Kenya and that it encourages Kenyan citizens to participate in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Mute went on to say that because of the Kenyan bill of rights that no citizen of Kenya should ever have to fear being who they were born to be.

Personally, I find it completely illogical that anyone, especially a politician, has the right to imprison someone based on their sexuality. The simple fact is that you are born that way and their is nothing you can do to change it. But I think what bothers me even further is that if they do have a bill of rights set up to protect people of every race, creed, religion and sexual orientation than obviously certain members of the government find themselves at a higher precipice than the bill of rights.

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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.

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