Africa

Episode 30: Fatma Naib - We Need To Talk About FGM

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a non-medical procedure that involves partial or radical removal of young women’s genitalia, and while widely practiced in parts of Africa and the Middle East, is neither limited to these regions nor defined by theology or religion. The practice is typically linked to a right of passage, sexual purity, or as a marker of cultural identity (or all three), and its impact on the lives of tens of millions of women is both cruel and often deadly. The UN is working to eliminate the practice by 2030, and it is the subject of Fatma’s Peabody Award-winning film, “The Cut”, which she and her team completed for Al Jazeera English in 2017. Our conversation also focuses on the broader questions around navigating multiple cultural identities and contexts.

The subject of FGM makes some of us more than a little squeamish, but it’s important to move past our personal sensitivities and make some time to inform ourselves about a practice that is impacting the lives of women around the world, and perhaps closer to where you live than you might realize. And while the practice itself might be fundamentally rooted in ignorance so are a lot of the popular perceptions about the it, so it’s important that we leave our assumptions and pre-judgements at the door and listen so that we can take meaningful action to help eliminate the practice.

 
 
 
 
“Saleema initiative was launched in 2008 by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in collaboration with the UNICEF Sudan, with the aim to support the efforts to abandon Female Genital Mutilation“…

“Saleema initiative was launched in 2008 by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in collaboration with the UNICEF Sudan, with the aim to support the efforts to abandon Female Genital Mutilation“…

 
 

Episode 28: Murhula Zigabe - Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo remains an enigma to many in the West, and for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s the lack of coverage, the singular focus on violence and poverty, or the silent bigotry that informs many Western attitudes towards the fortunes of Africans more generally. Many of the root causes of human suffering continue to get ignored while aid money pours in, resources pour out, and little changes to improve the lives of the people. Murhula is one example of the many positive stories from the Congo that we don’t hear about much. He’s from the eastern part of the DRC, and by watching Youtube videos managed to find a solution to multiple problems faced by his community, including environmental degradation, unemployment, poverty, lack of education, and autonomy for women. It centers on recycling organic waste into eco-charcoal for cooking. Sound like an unlikely solution? I thought so too until we connected for this episode.

In our conversation we also set his work against the backdrop of the DR Congo’s recent history, in particular the wars of the mid 90’s and early 2000’s that claimed approximately 5 million lives, and the ongoing use of rape as a weapon of war on a scale that sees a woman raped nearly once every minute. However, this conversation is not a catalogue of miseries and grievances. Murhula is an optimist, and perhaps after listening to his story you will be too, and maybe you’ll be inspired to look at the DRC and Africa a little differently.

Check below for more info about Murhula’s projects, and for some helpful videos to learn more about the DRC.

 

For a quick history lesson…

 
Murhula’s Website and articles about his work.

Murhula’s Website and articles about his work.

 

Feature-length documentary films…

 
 

Episode 17: Rosine Hounakey - Togo & Human Trafficking

Rosine is from Togo, but was trafficked to the US at 13 years old and forced to work for free on both coasts of the US, and later into a coerced marriage, until she was freed with her two young sons as the result of an ICE raid when she was 17 years old.

She then had to go through foster care in various American cities, waking up at 5am every day to take her kids to school before completing high school herself, after years with no formal education, having taught herself English along the way.

Rosine is currently pursuing an advanced degree, running her own hair salon, and raising her two sons in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We also discuss the entrepreneurial spirit of Togolese women, annoying stereotypes about Africa and Africans, tension and solidarity with the African American community, and moving forward after a deeply traumatic start at life in the US.

Be sure to check the links below for critical facts on Human Trafficking, as well as organizations that can provide immediate assistance.

 
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women

Episode 15: Cory Lee - Wheelchair World Travel

Cory Lee started Curb Free With Cory Lee, a travel blog for people who use wheelchairs and for people with accessibility needs. So far he's been to six continents and tours as a public speaker. Aside from accessible travel, we talk about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the importance of self-advocacy, educating the public about wheelchair access, working for Obama's inaugural committee, navigating the complex relationships with caregivers, college life, riding a specially adapted camel, what cities are great for wheelchair access (Sydney, Helsinki, and Washington, DC are at the top), and more.

And, we’ve just launched a Patreon page for Latitude Adjustment podcast. The show will remain free to the public, but if you find value in it then please consider supporting us with a dollar or more per month to help make our efforts sustainable. And remember to tell your friends about us! Thank you for your support!

(Photos are from Curb Free With Cory Lee)

(My research notes for SMA were taken from SMA News Today, Counsyl, and National Institute of Health)