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  • Can the real St George please stand up?

    EVERY YEAR on April 23, Englishmen and women come together to celebrate England’s patron saint.

    Across the country, communities will gather to wave or raise the red and white flag of St George.

    Since the 14th Century, when George replaced Edward the Confessor as England’s patron saint, he has symbolised national ideals of honour and bravery.

    But a poll from think tank British Future found that just 61 per cent of people feel pride in the St George’s Flag, with a quarter thinking it holds ‘racist’ connotations.

    The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, once called for St George’s Day to become a public holiday, advocating it has the potential to promote unity in England.

    Perhaps he was on to something, as not only was St George not English, but a growing number of scholars say they have reason to believe that this great Christian soldier was, in fact, black.

    But little is said about his connections to Africa, in particular Ethiopia – the oldest Christian country in the world – where St George is one of the most important saints.

    Mark Simpson, co-founder of Black History Studies, told The Voice: “The figure, the bravery and the flag of St George has been claimed by certain right wing English groups as the foundation of what it means to be English but, contrary to popular belief, St George was not English.

    “At the time when St George lived the ‘English’ identity did not exist. It was in the 5th Century AD that Anglo Saxons crossed over to England and at the time were speaking German, which later evolved into the ‘English’ language. So why is this important? The story of St George is important because it shows how history can be distorted and will continue to be distorted unless it is challenged.”

    The small town of Lalibela, Ethiopia, is home to one of the world’s most sacred Christian sites – 11 rock-hewn churches, each carved entirely out of a single block of granite with its roof at ground level.

    The most spectacular is Bet Giorgis (St George’s). Cut 40 feet down and a roof that forms the shape of a cross, Bet Giorgis is believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world, and is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.

    St George was born in the 3rd Century to Palestinian Christian parents, in Cappadocia, an area now in Turkey. After his father died, George’s mother returned to Palestine, taking him with her.

    Once settled, George followed the path of young noblemen and enlisted as a cavalry soldier in the Roman army of Emperor Diocletian.

    Despite only being 17, he became a high-ranking officer due to his skills as a soldier and horseman. However, while serving in the army, the reigning pagan emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD) began a hate campaign against Christians.

    Staying true to his Christian faith, George resigned from the military in protest. He tore up the Emperor’s order against Christians, which resulted in him being imprisoned and tortured but he refused to change his perceptions or his faith.

    Eventually, he was dragged through the streets of Diospolis, now Lydda in Palestine, and beheaded.

    DEDICATION

    Since then, George’s bravery and dedication has touched the hearts of millions of Christians around the world. As well as England, he is the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia (Spain), Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice.

    George is also regarded as a patron saint for soldiers, archers, cavalry, farmers, field workers, riders, saddlers, and in recent years, scouts.
    Due to St George’s bravery, paintings of him were taken into numerous battles ahead of the Ethiopian army, with the belief it would give them victory which it did.

    In 1896, a cathedral was built as a token of thanks to the saint, whose relic was carried to the Battle of Adwa, a conflict fought against invading Italians. The Ethiopians won the battle which is the only time an African army defeated Europeans in a major encounter.

    In 1930, this holy place was the site of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie, who is the focus of Rastafarian devotion.

    The church is a place of pilgrimage for Rastafarians all over the world to this day.

    The Imperial flag of Ethiopia has green, yellow, and red horizontal stripes of equal size with a gold lion marching east, carrying a cross and wearing the Imperial Ethiopian crown. On the Imperial Standard flag there is an image of St George slaying the dragon on one side.

    This flag is only shown at royal occasions, such as the funeral of Emperor Selassie, or for military purposes.

    Simpson added: “St George is as important to Ethiopians as he is to English people, because they both regard him as an important saint. And not just Ethiopia and England, but many countries around the world have St George as their number one saint.

    “The question is, if the St George story has been distorted, how many other parts of history that are important to black people have been distorted? Knowledge is power, people.”

    So having learned the truth about our patron saint, perhaps black Britons no longer need to feel disconnected from St George’s Day and its traditions, but approach it with a new sense of pride and understanding.

    source: voice-online

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  • Addis Ababa Ranks 3rd Among 10 Fastest Emerging Megacities in the World 2014

    A report has detailed the cities that are catching up with their more developed counterparts in the First World.

    The Emerging Cities Outlook (ECO) report, released by Chicago consultancy AT Kearney, "measures the likelihood that cities in low and middle-income countries will improve their global standing over the next 10 to 20 years" in relation to the world's current largest cities, such as New York and London.

    The report analysed 34 cities and used business activity, human capital and innovation as indicators to predict the emerging cities most likely to progress in the near future.

    "As physical distances become less relevant and global competition intensifies, cities in low and middle-income countries will increasingly jockey for position with one another and with cities in higher-income countries," Andres Mendoza Pena, a coauthor of the report, said.

    The report also calculated the most "global" cities - based on a variety of indicators such as cultural experience and political engagement - with New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong making the top five. Beijing entered the top 20 for the first time, marking the Chinese capital's prominent rise as a global city.

    The report's top 10 rising cities:

    10) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur is set to catch leading cities in terms of "ease of doing business".

    9) Nairobi, Kenya

    Nairobi is described by the report as an "important centre of regional politics".

    8) Mumbai, India

    Mumbai looks set to take advantage of India's "booming global services industry and its greater openness to the global economy".

    7) Bogota, Colombia

    Bogota is progressing in human capital through vast improvements in "stability and security, respect for the environment, and healthcare".

    6) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Rio de Janeiro will enjoy the benefits of the World Cup this summer while the Olympics will be hosted here in 2016, demonstrating its rise as a global city.

    5) New Delhi, India

    New Delhi, like Mumbai, is set to enjoy the benefits of India's booming global services industry.

    4) Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Sao Paulo is set to catch the world's top cities if it continues to grow its business activity at current rates.

    3) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    The Ethiopian capital is one of the cities closing in fastest on the world leaders in "income equality, healthcare, and business transparency".

    2) Manila, Philippines

    Manila is one of the cities set to catch-up because of a notable improvement in healthcare quality and availability among other human capital indicators. 

    1) Jakarta, Indonesia

    Jakarta has topped the report's standing as the number one emerging city in the world because it is improving in areas of stability and security while "addressing income inequality and environmental concerns."

    The cities that make up the top 20:

    11. Bangalore, India

    12. Beijing, China

    13. Johannesburg, South Africa

    14. Kolkata, India

    15. Istanbul, Turkey

    16. Cape Town, South Africa

    17. Chennai, India

    18. Tunis, Tunisia

    19. Dhaka, Bangladesh

    20. Caracas, Venezuela

    source: IBT

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  • Bob Geldof 'beyond pain' at death of daughter Peaches

    London (AFP) - Live Aid founder Bob Geldof said his family was "beyond pain" at the death of his socialite daughter Peaches at the age of 25.

    Police were called to her secluded home outside Wrotham in Kent on Monday but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death was being treated as "unexplained and sudden" but non-suspicious, police said.

    Peaches, a mother of two young sons herself, was just 11 when her mother, television presenter Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose aged 41 in 2000.

    In her last Twitter message to her 190,000 followers on Sunday, Peaches posted a photograph of her as a baby being held by her mother, with the words, "Me and my mum".

    Her father Bob, who put together a huge live rock show in 1985 to raise money for the Ethiopian famine, said of his second daughter: "Peaches has died. We are beyond pain."

    "She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us."

    "Writing 'was' destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child."

    "How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever."

    Singers Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding were among the first to pay tribute on social media.

    "My thoughts are with Peaches' family at this awful time," fellow mum-of-two Allen wrote on Twitter. "I hope they get to grieve in peace. Peaches, rest in peace gorgeous girl"

    Singer Ellie Goulding added: "Even if you think you've got it all figured out, some things still can't be explained or understood. Two beautiful children. RIP Peaches".

    Sharon Osborne later said it was "unimaginable" what the family was going through, while X Factor mogul Simon Cowell tweeted: "The few times I met Peaches she was a sweet, funny warm person. Much love to her family she has left behind."

    Click HERE to read the rest...

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  • Belgium PM in gay rights appeal at Africa-EU summit

    Belgium's gay Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo has called on African leaders to respect the rights of minorities, including homosexuals.

    It was intolerable that people were "persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions", he said.

    Mr Di Rupo was addressing African and European leaders attending the EU-Africa summit in Brussels.

    Nigeria and Uganda have toughened anti-gay laws this year.

    Their presidents - Goodluck Jonathan and Yoweri Museveni - are at the summit, which is discussing ways to strengthen relations between the EU and Africa.

    Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, where homosexuality is often seen as "evil" and "abnormal".

    Mr Di Rupo is Europe's second openly gay government leader, after Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

    "We cannot tolerate that some are denied their rights and persecuted for their origins, their sexual orientation, their religion and their convictions," he said on Wednesday, at a welcome dinner for some 80 leaders.

    Mr Museveni and Mr Jonathan have not responded to his comments.

    Convicted

    Uganda's authorities have previously defended the tougher anti-gay law, saying Mr Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".

    The law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality" and also criminalises the "promotion of homosexuality".

    Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda when Mr Museveni approved the law in February.

    Some people known or suspected to be gay have faced "violence and retaliation" since then, rights activists say.

    Late last year, Nigeria's parliament passed a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

    Mr Jonathan signed it into law, with backing from influential Muslim and Christian clerics.

    Homosexual acts were already illegal in Nigeria under both secular and Islamic law when the law was approved.

    Five people have been convicted of homosexual offences by Islamic courts in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north since January.

    Several European nations - including Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden - have cut aid to Uganda to show their opposition to the law.

    The World Bank has postponed a $90m (£54m) loan to Uganda to improve its health services after the law was approved.

    source: BBC

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  • Ethiopian gets legal aid to sue Britain for giving aid to Ethiopia

    Prime Minister David Cameron

    An Ethiopian farmer has been given legal aid in the UK to sue Britain – because he claims millions of pounds sent by the UK to his country is supporting a brutal regime that has ruined his life.

    He says UK taxpayers’ money –  £1.3 billion over the five years of the coalition Government – is funding a despotic one-party state in his country that is forcing thousands of villagers such as him from their land using murder, torture and rape.

    The landmark case is highly embarrassing for the Government, which has poured vast amounts of extra cash into foreign aid despite belt-tightening austerity measures at home.

    Prime Minister David Cameron claims the donations are a mark of Britain’s compassion.

    But the farmer – whose case is  set to cost tens of thousands of pounds – argues that huge sums handed to Ethiopia are breaching the Department for International Development’s (DFID) own human rights rules.

    Read more from the dailymail

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