by Peter Uduehi (@kogibobo) in Toronto

From the fight against radicalization and professional roadblocks to the question of whether a Black police chief would have any impact in Toronto, here are some recent headlines in the African-Canadian diaspora media.                             

Radicals Have No Chance With Our Youth: Toronto's Somali Community

Somalis in Toronto are not taking chances. Neither will they take a wait-and-see approach.

Tired of reports of how Jihadist terrorists have successfully recruited African youths in the U.S. state of Minnesota, Kenya and several European countries, community activist Jibril Muhammed told the African World News, “We cannot pretend that our children in Canada could not be influenced by these crazy people who call themselves Muslims. We are aware of how terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab and ISIS have poisoned the minds of innocent Somali and other African youths everywhere they can find them.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Canada has been good to us and any terrorist trying to harm this country has no chance to use our kids against it.” - Mohammed Abdi, community activist[/quote]

Muhammed, who is also a former coordinator of many Somali community groups, said several organizations and individuals in the Somali community are working with the RCMP, the police and their parliamentarians in the Toronto area. “We have to protect our children against these bad eggs,” he says.

Another community activist, Mohammed Abdi, concurs. “Canada has been good to us and any terrorist trying to harm this country has no chance to use our kids against it. On my part, I am constantly educating my teenage children about what is the right Islam,” he explains. “I tell them always that the ISIS and Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab people they see on television are practising the wrong Islam.”

Will a Black Police Chief Really Make a Difference?

Writing in Pride News Magazine, educator and community organizer Ajamu Nangwaya says that simply having a Black police chief at the helm in Toronto is no cure for the poor relations between the force and the city’s African-Canadian community.

The organizer with the Toronto-based Network for the Elimination of Police Violence argues it’s like saying that the soured relations between American Blacks and the police would improve just because a Black president, Barack Obama, was elected the president of the United States.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“For a sobering dose of reality about race, class and policing, we may look at the behaviour of the police in major American cities that have or had African-American police chiefs or at police violence in global South countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Haiti, Kenya and Jamaica.” - Ajamu Nangwaya, educator and community organizer[/quote] 

He adds: “For a sobering dose of reality about race, class and policing, we may look at the behaviour of the police in major American cities that have or had African-American police chiefs or at police violence in global South countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Haiti, Kenya and Jamaica,” stressing that police-versus-society issues are institutionalized matters. 

Taking a swipe at those who are now calling for either deputy chiefs Peter Sloly (pictured to the left) and Mark Saunders (two African-Canadians in the Toronto Police Service) to replace the outgoing chief,  Nangwaya doubts that any police office that has successfully gone up the ladder would not belong to the same systemic ideology from which they emerged. “To what extent are we realistically expecting an African-Canadian police chief to be more committed to fighting institutional racism than a white one? Deputy Chiefs Peter Sloly and Mark Saunders have not made it this far up the organizational ladder, because of their tendency to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,’” he writes. 

Why African Professionals Make Career Advancements Later in Canada

Many new African immigrants to Canada are often surprised to find themselves shut out of jobs in their professional disciplines.

So, not surprisingly, many African graduate and post-graduate degree holders end up driving taxis or taking menial jobs to make a living. The question is, why do newly arrived African professional immigrants to Canada make inroads to their chosen professions late?

Dr. Adeleye King (pictured to right), executive director of the Canadian Institute of Leadership and Development (Africa), told African World News the reasons are both professionally demanding and personal. He says when African professionals first come to the country as immigrants, they are shocked to learn that they must do more learning in their fields, “because Canada requires a different level of certification and designation from the ones in Africa.”

“Certain professions like engineering, for example, require a designation before you can be accepted for work as an engineer. It’s different in Africa where you are required only to be certified,” King explains. “[T]he same applies to other professions.”

King says that personal issues also prevent African professionals from making quick inroads into the Canadian marketplace. One issue is that many don’t do enough research about Canada before coming into the country. “If they did,” he says, “they would know exactly the type of skills needed to survive with their professional know-how.” He says it’s important to plan ahead before immigrating and, once here, “never lose concentration of why [you] are here, don’t straddle your life between here and the one you just left.”                                                                                                                            

Education Funding Cut May Negatively Impact African Nova Scotians

Recent cuts in funding to the Council on African Canadian Education (CACE) by Nova Scotia’s ministry of education may severely affect learning standards for Africans in the province, says the organization’s chairwoman Alma Johnston-Tynes.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“The lack of staff and resources will have a detrimental impact on CACE’s ability to identify and meet the needs of African Nova Scotian learners.” - Alma Johnston-Tynes, Council on African Canadian Education[/quote]

“The lack of staff and resources will have a detrimental impact on CACE’s ability to identify and meet the needs of African Nova Scotian learners and to fulfil its mandate under the Education Act, which is to monitor and continually analyze the policies of the Department of Education with respect to the needs of Black learners,” she said in a statement reported by the African Nova Scotian News.

The axe comes as education minister Karen Casey (pictured to left) announced that staff funding to CACE will no longer continue because of an audit that, “raised questions about the body’s governance and financial situation.” Casey described the findings as “very troubling.”

CACE was set up in 1996, after race riots in 1989, and following findings that not enough attention was being paid to improving standards for African and Black school children in the province. The council’s focus was to advise the education ministry on how to improve learning in African Nova Scotian communities, after a recent statistic showing that while reading comprehension test scores for third-graders in the Halifax regional school board was 70 per cent, it was particularly lower for African students at 54 per cent.

Immigrants Change Diet After Arriving in Canada

report by Statistics Canada cites studies that show immigrants who change their traditional diet after arriving in Canada tend to become less healthy later. Overall, the studies show, newly arrived immigrants to Canada had lower mortality rates than the Canadian-born, and also reported lower levels of fair or poor health. Those mortality rates tended to rise, the further removed immigrants were from their arrival in Canada, as did the reported levels of fair or poor health. 

Tanzanian-born Toronto resident Dr. Wasira Bokore, a family physician, told African World News that generally the African immigrant succumbs to, “a new environment where time is limited for cooking your meals and begins to adopt new eating habits, eating burgers, fast foods and fatty foods and these things are not good for your health.” She adds that matters are made worse when, “an exercise regimen is absent in one’s daily existence.”


Peter Uduehi is a journalist and publisher of the African World News in Toronto.

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Published in Africa

by Peter Uduehi (@kogibobo) in Toronto

Here in Canada, the seemingly peaceful transition of power that is about to take place in Nigeria, as a result of the recent elections, is a win for all. It means oil prices will likely remain as low as they have been for quite some time now.

Nigeria is the fifth largest producer of oil in the world and many analysts were already predicting a rise in crude oil prices should civil war erupt as a result of the vote. But, the violence and ethnic firestorm many fearfully anticipated did not happen when challenger Muhammadu Buhari defeated the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan this week.

Of the Nigerians living in the Toronto area, many were comforted by the fact that they, “don’t have to worry too much about loved ones we left back home,” noted Peter Obuba, a Toronto-based lawyer. “Can you imagine the type of headache a violent atmosphere would have brought to many of us living here?” he asked.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[W]e Nigerians in Toronto and Canada can rest easy knowing that our people back home are sound and okay, and that some of us whose investments are in Nigeria will feel safer to continue to invest in our homeland.” - Emelike Ukpabi, Nigerian-Canadian[/quote]

Most Nigerians living in Canada, with the exception of embassy and consular staff, did not vote in the elections.           

Financial investor Emelike Ukpabi is also of the opinion that the successful elections don’t only, “make us look good in Canada as Africans, it also means we Nigerians in Toronto and Canada can rest easy knowing that our people back home are sound and okay, and that some of us whose investments are in Nigeria will feel safer to continue to invest in our homeland,” he stressed, adding, “these are indeed good times.”

Impacting the Continent

While the much-dreaded Nigerian elections have come and gone relatively peacefully, what they actually mean for Africa’s most populous nation and biggest economy, as well as for the entire continent, can be far-reaching.

Many sceptics feared the elections would throw the country into turmoil, as previous ones have, and with good reason. No election has passed off so peacefully as this one, as no incumbent in the country’s history has ever been voted out of office: the incumbent has always won while his challenger and supporters have always found themselves throwing rocks and missiles afterwards – maiming and killing innocent people.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[The election was] a testament to the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy… a democratic shift. - Ban Ki Moon, United Nations[/quote]

In spite of the low turnout (because voters were apprehensive of violence), stakeholders, world leaders and international observers have praised the vote as impressive and a promising event for democracy in Africa. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon described the elections as, “a testament to the maturity of Nigeria’s democracy… a democratic shift.”

Outgoing president Jonathan put it succinctly, announcing that, “Nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian… I thank all Nigerians once again for the great opportunity I was given to lead this country and assure you that I will continue to do my best at the helm of national affairs until the end of my tenure.” In the statement, which was delivered shortly after he conceded defeat publicly, he also noted, “I have conveyed my personal best wishes (in a telephone call) to General Muhammadu Buhari.”

Jonathan’s concession in defeat was not only magnanimous, but an exemplar of pure sophistication and panache, especially in a continent where politicians have always felt it was their birthright to be leaders, blemishing the face of their countries through violence and intolerance. That’s one implication of the Nigerian elections that will bode well for the continent if all politicians take heed.

Another implication of the Nigerian elections is that it highlights how imperative it is to have educated and forthright leaders, known to be selfless and humble.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Jonathan is no Mandela for sure, but his temperament is profound, genuine and didactic as he chooses to lead by example. That is exactly why the recent elections in Nigeria were without bitterness in the end.[/quote]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko, Chad’s Hissène Habré, Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo, Libya’s Col Muammar Gaddafi and Equatorial Guinea’s president-for-life, Teodoro Obiang, to name a few dim-wit tyrants, were (and are) all depraved, vile and abhorrent men who got it into their heads that their countries would be nothing without them, continuously supplying themselves as heads of state and plunging their citizens into the abyss of deprivation.

The erstwhile and late emperor of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, for example, was reported by his detractors to feed some of his political enemies to caged lions in an annex to his palace.

But the likes of Nelson Mandela come to mind as shining stars of a new order, though he was advanced in years when he actually reached the political scene. The great Madiba almost single-handedly brought South Africa out of the dark ages of the worst human rights record that apartheid dealt the southern tip of the continent, and led the nation into a modern era where justice and peace became tangibles.

Jonathan is no Mandela for sure, but his temperament is profound, genuine and didactic as he chooses to lead by example. That is exactly why the recent elections in Nigeria were without bitterness in the end.

Fighting Boko Haram

Jonathan’s critics have denounced him as too spineless to go on a full attack of the Boko Haram Jihadists, who essentially are bandits preying on young women and harassing the innocent.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Nigerian-Canadians were in almost total agreement that the ship of state had become too burdensome for Jonathan to steer and that a more militaristic Buhari was the answer to the Boko Haram disturbances.[/quote]

But Jonathan went soft on the terrorist extremists for years, not because he’s weak, but because he is a thinking man. He preferred to give the militants enough rope to hang themselves.

When he did decide to actually thrash them two months ago – to pave way for the elections to really happen in those once-tense regions – the Islamists succumbed to cowardice; hence many of the areas they once overran from hapless villagers in the northeast of the country fell from their hands without much military prodding.

Yet it was clear that many Nigerians wanted a change at the helm, as did members of the diaspora living in Canada. Nigerian-Canadians were in almost total agreement that the ship of state had become too burdensome for Jonathan to steer and that a more militaristic Buhari was the answer to the Boko Haram disturbances. Little wonder the incumbent lost.


Peter Uduehi is a journalist and publisher of the African World News in Toronto.

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Published in Commentary

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