Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Humble traditional Toro wedding of Kassiam and Latoya

The prospective bridegroom, accompanied by a few kinsmen, would pay a formal visit to the girl's home, bringing a gift of a large goat and pots of banana beer. On this visit, the boy's father vaguely announced his intentions, and thereafter promised to pay another visit. On the next visit, he made his point. "If there were many girls, they would be brought in and the boy would point out the one he wanted," said Amooti.
The girl's family would try to learn more about the other family's reputation. When the proposal was accepted, they knelt down and thanked their hosts. Throughout, the bride's group assumed an air of haughty superiority, while the groom's family was humble

Next, they would take beer over which to discuss the bride price, amaarwa g'ekicwa muhendo. When this beer was delivered, the negotiation started. Bride wealth included cows, goats and many pots of beer.
Usually, families married from families of equal social standing.

The engagement
After the payment of the bride wealth, a small strap from the hide of a small animal, engonge, was tied on the arms of the couple as a symbol of engagement, like engagement rings.

The bridegroom's family brought beer (Amaarwa g'ekigambo or 'alcohol for the word') to the girl's family and they were told the date when to take the girl.
When the girl's family was ready to give away their daughter, they sent for amaarwa g'ekimwa isoke, or 'beer for shaving the hair.' The groom's family would deliver this beer. The bride had to be shaven as it was taboo for both the bride and the groom to appear on their wedding day with hair

Effort and time was put into preparing the bride for her wedding. She did not do any chores. Among the cattle keeping communities, she was fed on milk to make her fat, as fat was, and still is, attractive. She was smeared with cow ghee and her body perfumed with special incense. Her body was scrubbed with a type of red soil, which left her skin smooth.
The girl received presents, ensagalizi, from parents and relatives, including straw mats, cow hide carpets, baskets and bark cloth. The bride took with her a bag full of incense made out of dried and smoked papyrus reeds and scented herbs. The bride would take these herbs, known as emigajo to their bedroom, which made the house smell good and also aroused her husband.

The bride was taken at night. The in-laws arrived at her home in the evening. Shortly after their arrival, the bride was taken into a nearby bush and given marriage tips by her paternal aunties, abaisenkati and they sang a special send-off song, ijooje.
The bride sat four times on her father's laps and her mother's laps, which was okubukara, a way of officially bidding her farewell and blessing her marriage.
The in-laws would then sing, engoma nyabahuma, begging to leave. At this point all the women would be crying for their parting member. When the bride was about to leave the house, one of her cousins would lie across the doorway to prevent her from leaving until the bridegroom's party gave him 10 cowrie shells. This cousin would carry her on his back and whenever the party stopped to rest, the bride would sit on the laps of her aunt.

When the bride arrived at the entrance, a senior wife in the household, or a wife of one of her brothers-in-law closed the door using a curtain (made of bark cloth while holding a gourd. This lady said, oginsangiremu, originsigamu, 'you found me in this house, and you will leave me here.' She would then give the gourd to the bride, which meant, 'you are now my co-wife, come in and churn.'

Commonwealth announces Eminent Persons Group

Group will recommend options to sharpen impact, strengthen networks and raise profile of the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Secretary–General Kamalesh Sharma on 7 July announced members of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG).

“This distinguished Group will set out decisive recommendations on how to strengthen the Commonwealth and fulfill its potential in the 21st century,” Mr Sharma said when he made the announcement in London. “The Group’s work will aim to ensure that the Commonwealth remains relevant to its times and makes the best use of its networks and partnerships to do so.”

At their 2009 meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Commonwealth leaders called for the “creation of an Eminent Persons Group to undertake an examination of options for reform in order to bring the Commonwealth’s many institutions into a stronger and more effective framework of co-operation and partnership.”

The Group is also tasked with looking at the format, frequency, and content of Commonwealth ministerial meetings.

The EPG will have its first meeting in London from 19 to 20 July 2010. The Group will present its recommendations to Commonwealth leaders at their next meeting in Perth, Australia, in October 2011. The Group is also expected to consult extensively with governments, civil society groups and professional associations, and individuals within the Commonwealth, as well as those beyond the membership with an interest in the Group’s work.

“All members of the Group have strong connections with the Commonwealth, have seen the Commonwealth in action, and also have wider knowledge and experience to contribute. They will be able to speak with authority about the Commonwealth’s challenges, how the association can be strengthened, as well as bringing a wealth of other experiences to bear on their deliberations,” Mr Sharma said.

The Group’s members are representative of the diversity of the Commonwealth. They will participate in their individual capacities and will not represent the views of any member government.

The members are as follows:

· Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Malaysia, Chairperson)

· Ms Patricia Francis (Jamaica)

· Dr Asma Jahangir (Pakistan)

· Mr Samuel Kavuma (Uganda) – (Commonwealth Youth Caucus)

· The Hon Michael Kirby (Australia)

· Dr Graca Machel (Mozambique)

· Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind (UK)

· Sir Ronald Sanders (Guyana)

· Senator Hugh Segal (Canada)

· Sir Ieremia Tabai (Kiribati)


Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Malaysia) - Chair of the Eminent Person Group - is a former Prime Minister of Malaysia. Previously he served as minister of education, defence, foreign affairs, home affairs, finance and deputy prime minister. In 2003 he succeeded Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia, building a progressive and modern multi-racial society as well promoting wide-range reform. During his career, he attended Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings and Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' meetings. He was a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and earlier an architect of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

Ms. Patricia R. Francis (Jamaica), an award-winning leader and business facilitator, joined the International Trade Centre as Executive Director in June 2006. ITC is a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization that enables small business export success in developing countries. During her tenure at ITC she has implemented a change management strategy to build common values and strengthen key management functions. ITC has defined and restructured itself around five new business lines, and extensive consultation has led to a stronger Strategic Framework. The UN Millennium Development Goals have been mainstreamed within the organization, with new strategies and work around trade development related to gender, environment and poverty. New integrated country and regional programmes have been developed, and partnerships have been strengthened through active participation in the One UN initiative and greater coherence with many international and regional trade related organizations. ITC’s communications have been improved with the launching of a new brand and stronger common messaging, aligned with a refined mission, vision and brand values for the organization. Ms Francis comes to ITC from Jamaica Trade and Invest, where she served as President since 1995. She was also a member of Jamaica’s Cabinet Committee for Development. During her tenure Jamaica attracted more than US$ 5 billion in foreign direct investment. She served twice as President of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies. She has chaired Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Caribbean Rim Investment Initiative as well as the China-Caribbean Business Council. She has received awards from the Washington D.C. based Caribbean-Central American Action Council and from the King of Spain for her leadership and support for investment and business advocacy.

Dr. Asma Jilani Jahangir (Pakistan) is a leading human rights lawyer, and Chair of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. She is known for her work in Pakistan and internationally to prevent the persecution of religious minorities, women, and exploitation of children. She is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, at the UN Human Rights Council. Previously, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. She is co-author of “Democracy in the Commonwealth” (Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit & ERIS report) and a Board member of the International Crisis Group. In 1980, Dr. Jahangir and fellow activists and lawyers formed the first law firm established by women in Pakistan. In the same year they also helped form the Women’s Action Forum (WAF), a pressure group campaigning against discriminatory legislation. Dr. Jahangir was house arrested and later imprisoned for participating in the movement for the restoration of political and fundamental rights during the military regime in 1983 and 2007. She was one of the leading figures in the campaign waged by the women activists against the promulgation of the controversial Hadood Ordinances and draft law on evidence. Dr. Jahangir has gained international recognition for her achievements. In 1995, she received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for "greatness of spirit shown in service of the people" She has also been awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award of Pakistan, for her services to human rights.

Mr. Samuel Kavuma (Uganda) is the interim Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Caucus. Mr. Kavuma has been a student leader in Uganda since 1997 at the institution, district and national level. In 2004, Mr Kavuma was elected to the National Youth Council of Uganda and in 2007 he was elected to be the Regional Youth Caucus representative. During this time, he was elected by other country youth representatives to be the Regional Coordinator/Chairperson for the Commonwealth African Region Youth Caucus, and more recently, as the interim Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Caucus. Mr Kavuma has also worked as a youth worker with Students Partnership Worldwide, Youth and Women Initiative of Uganda, and the Africa Youth Trust; he has also served as the Director of Uganda Youth Action for Development. Mr. Kavuma has spearheaded a number of youth advocacy initiatives and campaigns in Uganda and has helped pioneer the establishment of the one-stop youth centre by UN-Habitat. Mr. Kavuma completed his formal education in Uganda. He holds a Diploma in Computer Science and is currently a student of Bsc IT. In addition to this, he has participated in training schemes by the Ugandan National Youth Council on leadership skills, reproductive health and human rights. He has also studied leadership, project management, MDGS and Africa Development programmes at Coady International Institute.

The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG (Australia) served as a Justice of the High Court of Australia between 1996 and 2009. When he retired from the Bench, he was Australia's longest serving judge. He also served as President of the Court of Appeal of the Solomon Islands 1995-6. He has held many international posts, including as President of the International Commission of Jurists 1995-8; UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia 1993-6; and member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee 1996-2005. He took part in the Commonwealth Secretariat Conferences 1988-95 that established the Bangalore Principles on domestic application of international human rights law; was independent co-chairman of the Malawi Constitutional Conference 1994; and member of the ILO mission to South Africa 1991-2. He is on the board of advisors for The Law Reports of the Commonwealth and regularly contributes to the Commonwealth Law Bulletin. Recent appointments include to the UNAIDS reference group on HIV and human rights and to the UNDP Global Commission on HIV and the Law. In 2010, he was named co-winner of the Gruber Justice Prize.

Mrs. Graça Machel (Mozambique) is a renowned international advocate for women and children's rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. As Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique (1975-1989) she was responsible for overseeing an increase in primary school enrolment from 40 per cent of children in 1975 to over 90 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls by 1989. Graça Machel is President of the Foundation for Community Development, a not for profit organisation she founded in 1994. FDC makes grants to civil society organisations to strengthen communities, facilitate social and economic justice and assist in the reconstruction and development of post war Mozambique. In 1994, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed her as an independent expert to carry out an assessment of the impact of armed conflict on children. Her groundbreaking report was presented in 1996 and established a new and innovative agenda for the comprehensive protection of children caught up in war, changing the policy and practice of governments, UN agencies, and international and national civil society. Graça Machel has served on the boards of numerous international organisations, including the UN Foundation, the Forum of African Women Educationalists, the African Leadership Forum and the International Crisis Group. Amongst her many current commitments, she is a Board Member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Fund (GAVI Fund), Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Panel Member of the Africa Progress Panel, Member of The Elders and Member of the High Level Task Force on Innovative International Finance for Health Systems.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC MP (UK) is a British Conservative party politician. He was educated at George Watson's College and Edinburgh University where he studied law before taking a postgraduate degree in political science. From 1967-69, he lived in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and taught at the local University. On return to Britain he was called to the Bar and practised as an Advocate until 1979. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1985. In 1970 he fought his first Parliamentary campaign and from 1970-74 he was a local councillor in Edinburgh. In 1974 he was elected as MP for Pentlands and represented that constituency until 1997 In 1979, when the Conservatives were returned to power under Margaret Thatcher, he was appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, at first in the Scottish Office and then, at the time of the Falklands War, he was transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, being promoted to Minister of State in 1983. He became a member of the Cabinet in 1986 as Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1990 he became Secretary of State for Transport and in 1992 Secretary of State for Defence. From 1995-97 he was Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He was one of only four ministers to serve throughout the whole Prime Ministerships of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major. In 1997 he was knighted in recognition of his public service. Sir Malcolm was re-elected as a Member of Parliament in 2005.

Sir Ronald Sanders KCMG (Guyana) is an International Consultant, Writer, and former Caribbean senior diplomat. He has served in the private sector on the Board of Directors of media, telecommunications, banking and sustainable forestry companies in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Barbados and Guyana. In the public sector, he was High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda to the United Kingdom (1984-87 and 1996-2004) and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (1997-2004). He also served on the Board of the International Programme for the Development of Communications at UNESCO (1983-1985) and as an elected member of the Executive Board of UNESCO (1985-1987). He was one of three Commonwealth High Commissioners elected in 1985 to liaise with the UN Committee on countering Apartheid propaganda; Member of the Commonwealth Advisory Group on Advancing the Small States Agenda, 2001; Member of the Advisory Board to World Bank/Commonwealth Secretariat Task Force on Small States (2000-2003); Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force against Drug Trafficking and money laundering (2002-2004). He is the author of several works on the Commonwealth including in The Round Table: Journal of Commonwealth Studies (London): Is Britain Indispensable to the Commonwealth, July 1987; The Commonwealth Must Not Wake-up Feeling Terrible, July 1996; The Growing Vulnerability of Small Sates, July 1997; Commonwealth Edinburgh Summit: A Beneficial Encounter for Small States, January 1998: The Commonwealth After Edinburgh, April 1998; and The Commonwealth as the Champion of Small States in The Contemporary Commonwealth: An Assessment 1965-2009, (Routledge, London, 2009).

Senator Hugh Segal CM (Canada) joined the Canadian Senate in 2005, after four decades of public service which included Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada, Associate Cabinet Secretary (Ontario) for Federal-Provincial Affairs and Policies and Priorities, Legislative Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition (Ottawa), President of the independent Institute for Research on Public Policy. Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism, he is a former Chair and present member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. He headed a NATO parliamentary delegation to Washington and is a former Chair (Calgary 2004) of the annual Canada-UK Colloquium. A University of Ottawa graduate in history, he is a Senior Fellow at the Queen’s Schools of Policy Studies and Business, the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a member of the Working Group on National Security at Cranfield University’s Centre for Security Sector Management. He chaired the Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies and was the founding Vice-Chair (Research) of the Canadian International Council. He sits on the Council of the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance (Stockholm) and sat on the Council of the International Institute of Strategic Studies (London) He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2003 and holds honorary doctorates from his alma mater and the Royal Military College of Canada

Sir Ieremia Tabai (Kiribati) is currently a sitting member for the island of Nonouti in the national Parliament of the Republic of Kiribati. He was born in December 1949 and first entered Parliament in 1974. Apart from the six years he spent as head of the Forum Secretariat, a regional organization based in Suva Fiji, he has been in Parliament for a period of about thirty years. On Independence Day 12th July 1979 Sir Ieremia became the first President of the country. He stepped down in 1991 from that position as required by law after serving the maximum of three terms or twelve years as Head of Government. Sir Ieremia was educated in both Kiribati and New Zealand. He spent three years at St Andrews College in Christchurch before going to Victoria University in Wellington where he did a degree in commerce. On returning to Kiribati at the end of 1972 he joined the public service the following year before joining politics in 1974. Sir Ieremia is married to Meleangi Kalofia from Tuvalu and has three children, one boy and two girls. They now live in the village on the island of Nonouti which he represents in Parliament. His favorite topics for public discussion in the village Maneabas (village meeting house) are agriculture and family planning; the two areas that are critical to the development of Kiribati.