Ghana: Local drinks in demand at Christmas

3 weeks 6 days ago

December in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, is devoted to merriment.

Holidays and parties afford locals an opportunity to raise their glasses of kokroko, pito, or hibiscus beer, all locally produced drinks which they savor to forget the heat in the tropics.

According to Raja Owusu, co-owner of Republic Bar “trying to move your business model for not relying on imported inputs is quite essential, specially these days. When the global competitive market bares such difficulty on your exchange rate situation.”

The liquor traditionally consumed in rural areas throughout Ghana is now available in trendy bars and restaurants in the capital with very high demands during Christmas.

Owusu went on to say “December is the busiest time of the year. Christmas is the busiest time of the year. I think for most restaurants, bars and vendors, primarily because Ghanaians take Christmas very seriously.”))

Originally from the North of the country, the fermented drink is now resounding in the south. Consumers say their preference for locally made beverages is influenced by their affordability.

“When you compare the cost of it with other drinks too, this is way cheaper, but very good,” said Vincent Dindori, a Pito consumer.

67-year-old Veronica Dakurah, has concocted her famous pito, for more than 30 years, which she serves in calabashes and not in plastic bottles like her fellows do. It takes Veronica several hours to cook the delicacy.

“They like it because there are no chemicals in Pito. So when you drink it, you feel good, you are fine even if you are sick.”

The craze for local beverages has even spread to the beer market, traditionally dominated by large multinationals, an indication the market is promising.

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Christmas dinner for French troops in Chad

3 weeks 6 days ago

A christmas dinner for about 4,500 French troops deployed in the Sahel region at the Barkhane headquarters in Chadian capital, N’Djamena.

Saturday’s event featuring French President, Emmanuel Macron, is the second courtesy of the Elysee.

“The president has not given any special instructions, the president has expressed the wish that I come with the teams and make a nice Christmas meal for the troops so that’s enough for me, I do not need more set of instructions,“said Guillaume Gomez, Elysee Chief Cook.

Though the menu was strictly the same as last year, guests were twice as many.

Everything was done at the Elysée, everything is homemade, the cakes , the macaroons , the chocolate cakes , the pâtés en croute were made at the Elysée, 3,200 macarons, a hundred cakes, more than 50 crusted pies, a total of two tons of freight,” he added.

The special dinner also served as an opportunity for Macron to take stock of Operation Barkhane, launched in 2014 to fight against jihadists in the Sahel.

According to the Elysee, Emmanuel Macron embarked on this first visit to Chad to reaffirm his commitment to the fight against extremism in the Sahel region.

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DRC's displaced persons find refuge with host families

3 weeks 6 days ago

Jacqueline Kamala and her family fled their village in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to repeated attacks by various armed groups.

“We were at the market and we heard gunshots. We didn’t know what was going on or who was shooting. Everyone ran away,” said Jacqueline.

Over 100 armed groups operate in this unstable region and dozens of militant groups are based in North Kivu to fight for ethnic rivalries and natural resources.

Few of these people dare to return home leading to bloating in the camps and pressure on local communities that welcome them.

Jacqueline is a member of a group of displaced people who defend the protection of human rights. They call themselves AHCOPDI, an acronym which in French means “Humanitarian Action for the Consolidation of Peace and Integrated Development”.

Seven out of its 20 members are displaced themselves.

“I am a monitor. I collect information about incidents in the community. Once the problems are solved, I am satisfied because the work I do helps to help the community’‘, Kamala said.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), over one million people have been displaced in DR Congo this year alone due to ongoing violence. North Kivu, the Agency added now hosts the highest number of internally displaced persons in this Central African nation.

The UNHCR is helping the group to lobby authorities and humanitarian organizations for increased or improved support.

‘‘Internally displaced persons are victims of several human rights violations, such as sexual violence and arbitrary arrests. UNHCR’s approach is to empower these people to defend themselves, but also to respond to protection incidents in their communities”, said UNHCR official, Gloria Ramazani.

Jacqueline often travels long distances, carrying her 11-month-old son on her back, to visit families and learn about their needs.

‘‘I want my life to improve and I want to keep sending my children to school. It will make me happy”, she added.

Jacqueline’s group may have more work to do as the country’s electoral body postpones a long-delayed elections to Sunday December 30.

Reuters

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U.S. lauds Congo for consolidating peace in Pool region

3 weeks 6 days ago

The United States has congratulated the government of the Republic of Congo on the occasion of a years’ anniversary of a peace deal reached with armed rebels.

On December 24, 2017; the Congolese government announced having reached a peace deal with rebels in the Pool region located in the southeast region.

At the time, the agreement was signed by the Interior Ministry security advisor François Ndé and Pastor Ntumi’s representative, Jean Gustave Ntondo. “Today is a great day for the Congolese. This is the day we have just signed the cessation of hostilities agreement,” said Ntondo.

“We congratulate the Government of the Republic of Congo for their continued efforts, since the December 23, 2017 cease fire, to ensure peace and the resumption of normal life for the people in the Pool region,” a top U.S. diplomat said on Sunday.

The 12-months old ceasefire effectively ended a 15-year conflict that rights groups say has cost dozens of lives and forced tens of thousands to flee. Brazzaville called it a Christmas gift to the people affected by the crisis.

Over the course of this year, government undertook disarmament efforts in the region. The living conditions in the region have yet to return to normal as a general economic crunch bites harders at Pool inhabitants.

In March, a disarmament committee projected that about $70m was needed in humanitarian assistance stressing that over 100,000 people needed to be resettled.

The Plan for Humanitarian Response and Early Recovery was an update of the 2017 Plan for the Pool. It targets 64,086 displaced people (including 40,543 women and girls), 5,571 host families (25,000 people) and 25,000 people remaining in affected areas.

A militia led by Frederic Bintsamou, better known as Pastor Ntumi, which fought Sassou Nguesso during and after a 1997 civil war, has been blamed by the government for deadly raids on police, military and government bases, and has also halted trade through the Pool region with blockades.

Ntumi’s so-called “Ninja” rebels have clashed with the Congo government since 2002 and have long sought an end to government military intervention in the Pool region.

We congratulate the Government of the Republic of Congo for their continued efforts, since the December 23, 2017 cease fire, to ensure peace and the resumption of normal life for the people in the Pool region. ThMoungalla

— Tibor Nagy (AsstSecStateAF) December 23, 2018

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Macron praises French troops in Sahel region

3 weeks 6 days ago

French President Emmanuel Macron addressed members of the French military in N’Djamena, Chad on Saturday on the first of a two-day visit to meet troops stationed there as part of the 3,000 strong Barkhane contingent fighting insurgents in the Sahel.

“You have deeply weakened these radical Islamist groups that recruit, enslave, sow terror and crime. Be proud of these successes”, Macron said.

As he faces the biggest political crisis of his presidency, Macron stressed that the French military’s work in the Sahel region is helping to weaken radical Islamist groups in the region and to reduce attacks in France itself.

“Wherever we fight this terrorism, we protect our own. Because this is the same terrorism that struck our country in Strasbourg a few days ago”, the French President added.

On Sunday, Macron will hold a joint news conference with Chadian President Idriss Deby.

Reuters

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