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Chiefs ban genital cutting for girls under 18

February 10, 2011

April 19, 2009 | IRIN | Online here

Ceremonial knives owned by members of the women's Bondo society. Photo by Bryna Hallam/IRIN

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – In Sierra Leone village chiefs, community members and women who perform female genital cutting have signed an agreement stating that girls in northern Kambia district will not undergo genital mutilation – or ‘cutting’ – before age 18.

The number of girls being cut during the December 2008-January 2009 initiation season in Kambia dropped drastically, according to Finda Fraser, advocacy coordinator at local non-profit Advocacy Movement Network (AMNet), which runs a ‘Say No to Child Bondo’ campaign in the district.

Most Sierra Leonean girls – the World Health Organization estimates 94 percent – are initiated at puberty into ‘Bondo’, also known as the Sande Secret Society. As part of the rite, a woman known as a ‘sowei’ in the Mende language cuts the clitoris and prepares the girl for adulthood through singing, dancing and teaching domestic skills. For the initiation girls spend up to three months in the bush.

Anti-FGM/C campaigner John Marah, chairman of NaMEP, a network of Sierra Leone-based NGOs, told IRIN: “We are against just the cutting, not the training. You can still have a rite of passage. It’s just a change of mentality.” Read more…

The Art of Recycling Bikes

January 28, 2011

September/October 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

The 13th puncture turned out to be a lucky one for Graham Bergh. As he prepared to replace the heavily patched inner tube, he wondered: “Okay, what do you do with this?”

Unable to bring himself to just throw it out, the recycling educator turned it into a cradle for his speakers.

“I just started tinkering with the material, talking to bike shops, finding out they throw away like a thousand tubes per shop,” Bergh said. “There are 4,000 shops in the US. I did the math: There were four million tubes no one was doing anything with.” Read more…

Convocation profile: Michael Fryer

January 28, 2011

June 2010 | The Ring | Online here

Michael Fryer

Michael Fryer

The dinnertime conversation in Michael Fryer’s house may have centred on science and math, but it was never dull.

His father, a high school physics teacher in Sechelt, BC, and his mother, who has a background in biology, focused on “fun science” and ideas, he says, with the family figuring out the number of trees in the world, or using vinegar to show that blackberries can be used as an indicator of pH.

“We were good at leaving all the boring stuff for school and just dealing with the fun stuff.” Read more…

Convocation profile: Anne Mitaru

January 28, 2011

June 2010 | The Ring | Online here

When graduate law student Anne Mitaru saw a posting for an internship with Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), she wondered, “Is this possible?”

Mitaru, who was born in Canada and raised mostly in Kenya (she earned a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Nairobi), has a background in international law and women’s rights, and DAWN—a network of feminist scholars, researchers and activists—is a major organization in the field.

“I, of course, seized the day,” she says. “Any feminist working on global South issues would want to have an opportunity to meet the people behind DAWN.” Read more…

Da Gryptions Ride Bixi Rap Into Summer

January 28, 2011

June 23, 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Online here

Da Gryptions

Patrick Guay, Trevor Barnes and Evan Cranley of Montreal group Da Gryptions. Photo courtesy Da Gryptions.

Since going live on YouTube June 8, The Bixi Anthem, Da Gryptions’ ode to Montreal’s bike-share program, has garnered more than 10,000 hits and is being heralded by some as the city’s “song of the summer.”

“Not,” says lead rapper Patrick Guay, aka Dark Science, “that Bixi needs the help being cool.”

The program, which celebrated its first anniversary in May, has nearly 5,000 bikes at 400 stations around the city. For $5 for 24 hours, $28 a month or $78 a year, Montrealers can borrow a bike for up to 30 minutes (longer rides accrue additional fees). Riders seem to be on board with it – by the end of October, 10,000 people had signed up for the program, and made more than 1,000,000 trips.

With that kind of following, Guay isn’t surprised at the popularity of The Bixi Anthem video. “We knew from the beginning that we had something,” he says. “People reacted to it.” Read more…

Giant telescope to turn eye to the skies

January 24, 2011
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November 21, 2005 | Canadian University Press

Canadian scientists are behind a plan to build the world’s largest telescope.

With a diameter of 30 metres, the Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT) would be nine times bigger than the current largest telescope, which is 10 metres in diameter. It is estimated that the project will take $750 million and 10 years to build.

While the telescope won’t allow astronomers to see anything new—they can already see to the end of the universe—it will make things much clearer. Read more…

The dusty foot philosopher makes tracks

November 30, 2010

July 2005 | The Martlet

Photo by Kris Krug

Asked to describe his music, Canadian rapper K’naan is at a bit of a loss.

“It’s tough to describe, to be honest,” he said. “Musically, it’s something that’s kinda new. It’s a medium between two continents.”

The same could be said of K’naan himself.

Growing up in Somalia, K’naan was given hip hop records from his father, who worked as a cab driver in New York. The young, would-be MC spoke only Somali, but taught himself to mimic the American rappers perfectly.

It wasn’t until he left Somalia — on what turned out to be the last commercial flight out of the country — and moved to first the U.S. and then to Canada that he learned what the words meant.

Even more than a rapper, K’naan is a poet. It’s in his blood — his grandfather is one of Somalia’s best-known poets — and it’s how he started. In fact, it was as a spoken word poet that he first earned notoriety. Read more…