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  • Tiffany James posted an article
    Larry André is the new U.S. Ambassador to Somalia. see more

    Larry André is the new U.S. ambassador to Somalia.

     

    Photo courtesy the U.S. Secretary of Defense

     

    Larry André, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal 1983–85, is the new U.S. ambassador to Somalia. A career foreign service officer, he arrived in Mogadishu in January. It wasn’t his first visit.

    Back in 2007, André developed the U.S. mission in Somalia. In his current post, he will seek to foster peace and democracy in the country — at a time when Somalia is facing its worst drought in a decade.

    André previously served as U.S. ambassador to Djibouti and Mauritania and worked with USAID, assisting in the reconstruction of post-war Chad. After service as a Peace Corps Volunteer, he worked at agency HQ as regional environment officer for East Africa, overseeing work in 14 countries, including Somalia.

     


    This story appears in the special 2022 Books Edition of WorldView magazine. Story updated May 6, 2022.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Understanding identities through oral history interviews with 50 Africa-born immigrants in Kentucky see more

    Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky

    Migration, Identity, and Transnationality

    By Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno, Angene Wilson, and Jack Wilson

    University Press of Kentucky

     

    Reviewed by Steven Boyd Saum

     

    The heart of this book is based on oral history interviews with nearly 50 Africa-born immigrants in Kentucky — of which there are now more than 22,000. From a former ambassador from The Gambia to a pharmacist from South Africa, from a restaurant owner from Guinea to a certified nursing assistant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, every immigrant has a unique and complex story of their life experiences and the decisions that led them to emigrate to the United States. The geography of stories reaches from Algeria to Zimbabwe, Somalia to Liberia, grouped together with stories of origins, opportunity, struggles, and success, and connecting two continents.

    Within scholarship on migration and identity, this book “offers a refreshing step away from existing research on major urban centers that host large populations of African immigrants,” notes a review in the Journal of Southern History. “It is especially relevant to the study of ‘new African diasporas,’ which focuses on African diaspora communities who have arrived directly from Africa in recent decades and whose sense of history, race, and identity is understandably different from the many other African diaspora communities in the United States.” And at a time when migration continues to roil U.S. politics, the book also offers new insights into transnational identity. With that in mind, the final chapter takes as an epigraph an Igbo proverb from Chinua Achebe’s novel Arrow of God: “The world is like a Mask dancing. You do not see it well if you stand in one place.”

    The project brought together Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson with historian Francis Musoni, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe and teaches the University of Kentucky; and Iddah Otieno, a professor of English and African Studies who teaches at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and is originally from Kenya. 

     

    This review appears in the special 2022 Books Edition of WorldView magazine. Story updated May 2, 2022.


    Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    During the U.S. Civil War, these weapons were lambasted as "offenses against democracy" see more

    America’s Buried History

    Landmines in the Civil War

    By Kenneth Rutherford

    Savas Beatie

     

    Reviewed by Nathalie Vadnais and Steven Boyd Saum

    Illustration from the cover of America’s Buried History

     

    There are tens of millions of land mines buried in dozens of countries around the world. Each year thousands of civilians are maimed and killed by them — despite the 1997 treaty to ban antipersonnel mines, an agreement to which 164 countries are party. Political scientist Ken Rutherford, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mauritania 1987–89, knows firsthand how cruel those weapons can be.

    While working for the International Rescue Committee in Somalia in 1993, Rutherford was in a vehicle that struck a land mine. He was severely injured; one leg had to be amputated. Several years later, so did the other. He co-founded the Landmine Survivors Network, now known as Survivor Corps, to help communities recover from war and break the cycle of violence. At the time, land mines killed some 26,000 people a year. Driving home that this is not a strictly military issue but a humanitarian one, Rutherford played a key role with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

    Yet these weapons continue to cause suffering and death. Just this March, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a Red Cross official discovered that Russian troops had mined a proposed humanitarian corridor from the city of Mariupol. Ukraine is a signatory to the convention banning land mines; Russia is not. (Nor is the U.S., though under President Obama the U.S. said it would stop using mines everywhere but the Korean Peninsula. In 2020, President Trump put mines back on the table for use anywhere.)America's Buried History cover

    Take that as the present to which America’s Buried History is prologue. Rutherford delivers the first comprehensive analysis of the development and use of land mines in the U.S. Civil War, when they were first deployed on a widespread basis. Developed by Confederate General Gabriel Rains (who had experimented with explosive booby traps in wars against the Seminole people), mines were deployed across the Confederacy to compensate for a shortage of manpower and materiel. In response, Union generals at times turned the Confederate weapons upon those they had captured. Major Gen. George B. McClellan ordered Confederate “prisoners remove the mines at their own peril.” Generals Philip H. Sheridan and William T. Sherman ordered prisoners to march ahead of their own troops to identify or detonate land mines.  

     

    These weapons, initially lambasted as being “offenses against democracy and civilized warfare,” acquired an accepted place in arsenals around the world.

     

    But these weapons, initially lambasted as being “offenses against democracy and civilized warfare,” acquired an accepted place in arsenals around the world. In his review for Peace Corps Worldwide, Paul Aertker describes this book as one written with “intensity and heart” and assesses, “With an empathetic pen, Rutherford illustrates the devastating and powerful effects of these newly invented ‘infernal machines.’”

    More than 15 years ago, a Fulbright took Rutherford to the University of Jordan to teach politics and to research disability rights. In 2006, he participated in U.N. work to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, and in 2008 played a key role in the drafting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty, which banned that category of weapons. While 100 countries have signed that treaty, the U.S. and Russia are not among them.

    Since 2012, Russian forces have used cluster munitions to devastating effect on civilians in Syria; since 2014, Russian-backed forces have used them in eastern Ukraine. And in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russian forces have used them to broadly target civilian areas. One can glean many insights from Rutherford’s study. A hard and brutal one, given current events, is about failing to learn from the past.

     

    This review appears in the special 2022 Books Edition of WorldView magazine. Story updated May 2, 2022.


    Nathalie Vadnais is an intern with WorldView. She is completing a degree in international studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView.