Archive for May, 2011

Simon Kafando, West Africa Regional Director of Rotary Club speaks in Lincolnshire

Simon Kafando, regional director of Rotary Club West Africa spoke at Linclonshire on programs that the Rotary Club and the Government of Burkina Faso are doing to improve the lives of farmers in Burkina Faso.

As part of his trip, Kafando visited A2M Company of Lincolnshire, a telecom company looking to do business in Burkina Faso. Mikhail Zayats, a corporate officer of A2M Company introduced Kafando.

“Do the farmers need tractors from the US,” Zayatsa asked?

“No,” Kafando answered.

The three exports for Burkina Faso are cotton, livestock and gold. The presentation by Kafando was on the cotton, livestock and corn markets in Burkina Faso. Kafando mentioned that Burkina is expanding corn/maize and livestock exports to Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Niger. Grain and livestock exports have boosted incomes for farmers in Burkina Faso.

 “Most of the farmers are small farmers, and they grow cotton and maize,” Kafando said. “You know they have to eat so they cannot grow only cotton.”

 Burkina Faso exports cotton to China, India and Pakistan, but corn is a consumer staple. Farmers grow cotton to make an income and grow corn to feed their families.

Kafando described the cost incurred by the government in transporting cotton by road to the ports as prohibitive. Burkina Faso is a landlocked country. Because of the war in Ivory Coast, Burkina has to ship cotton through the ports in Ghana, but Burkina Faso and Ghana are not connected by a railway line.

Burkina Faso has a population of 16 million, and about 26% of the population lives in urban areas. The CIA report on Burkina Faso shows that 46% of the population lives below the poverty line. The poverty line is a based on an amount of money needed to support a person in a given country.


By: Kofi Amoabin


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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Obama at Notre Dame – Civil Discourse in America

It was an excellent idea for President Obama to accept the invitation to speak at the commencement ceremony at Notre Dame. As president, Obama is the father of the nation and must communicate with all the citizenry, regardless which side of an issue the president favors.

Notre Dame, as a leading catholic institution, meant abortion issues were on the agenda, and Obama favors the woman’s right to choose versus the Catholic Church’s strict opposition to abortion. Obama showed leadership at Notre Dame by first admitting his stand on abortion and then asked for a common ground between the opposing sides.

“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion,” Obama said.

Obama has the excellent ability to take on controversial issues and engage his opponents civilly. Whilst his opponents choose noise and placards, Obama was all about civil discourse. The protestors, some bore placards and others disrupted Obama speech, knew Obama did not just show up at Notre Dame. Notre Dame invited Obama, and he accepted the invitation.

If the protestors had any beef, and they did because of the way they vented their anger, then that anger and frustration must be directed at the host, which in this case is the University of Notre Dame.

The University knew Obama’s stand on abortion. From his campaign for president and his policy of reversing Bush’s era ban on government support for family planning and stem cell research, Obama was a foe to some in the Notre dame community. Despite Obama’s record, which smacks in the face of the protestors, Notre Dame chose Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree.

The invitation and the award given to Obama meant the university itself thinks differently from the protestors. However, the university cannot abrogate the protestors’ freedom of speech or expression.

Just like the university, Obama ignored the protestors and reasoned with those who choose to listen to his words encouragement, that regardless of where we stand on issues and political affiliation we can communicate.

By Kofi Amoabin

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