“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Gabon's sole train a lifeline for its people and economy

Yahoo – AFP, Camille MALPLAT, September 15, 2019

A file picture of the January 18, 1983, inauguration of part of Trans-Gabon
Railway (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Franceville (Gabon) (AFP) - The sky turns from indigo to ebony as the tropical night falls, and the train patiently thrusts through the jungle towards its destination, still hundreds of kilometres (miles) away.

The trek has the hallmarks of one of the world's Great Forgotten Train Journeys -- a voyage through 648 kilometres (just over 400 miles) of lush equatorial forest.

The train is the brainchild of Gabon's former president, Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years until his death in 2009.

In the 1970s, he dreamed of linking the central African state's resource-rich interior to the Atlantic coast -- and he saw it through, despite being rebuffed by the World Bank, which refused to fund it on the grounds that it was not economically viable.

Today, the "Bongo Train", as it is affectionately known, remains the country's sole railway line, linking 23 stations from the coastal capital Libreville to distant Franceville, the country's third most populous city.

"The Transgabonais binds Gabonese society," declares Christian Antchouet Roux, the stationmaster at Franceville.

Omar Bongo and former French president Francois Mitterrand on
the Transgabonais in January 1983 (AFP Photo/STF)

About 320,000 people take the train every year, a sign of its affordability for the average Gabonese.

Ticket prices depend on the time of year and class -- the train has a VIP carriage, as well as first and second classes.

Passengers travel only at nighttime but in air-conditioned comfort -- a rarity in the world's poorest continent -- and the blue and yellow compartments are modern.

One of them is Miyha Koumba, a young student in Libreville who uses it to visit her family at the other end of the line.

"I take the train at least four times a year. I can visit my parents regularly," she said, arriving in Libreville at 7:00 am bleary-eyed, having departed Franceville at 5:30 pm the day before.

During the day, the train hauls manganese -- a key export after oil -- from the interior to the oceanside capital.

Long haul: The project cost $1.65 billion (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

Critics and champions

Touting the train as a symbol of national unity and modernisation, Bongo doggedly pressed on with the plan, saying: "If we need to have a pact with the Devil, we'll do that."

Fortune smiled on Gabon's leader in 1973 when the OPEC cartel of oil producing nations raised prices dramatically, filling the country's coffers and enabling him to start construction with the additional help of Western aid, notably from former colonial ruler France.

Bongo flagged off the project -- the largest in Africa at the time -- on December 30, 1973.

It cost $1.65 billion (more than 1.5 billion euros), and millions of trees were felled to cut the swathe through the jungle for the track, which is unelectrified.

In 1986, the last stretch was inaugurated in the presence of then French prime minister Jacques Chirac.

Critics of the project have long pointed to its cost, to its use as a political tool for Bongo, whose partisan stronghold was centred in the region where Franceville is located, and to French involvement.

French President Francois Mitterrand (L) and Gabon's President Omar Bongo 
inaugurate the second section of the Transgabonais railway in Franceville
in January 1983 (AFP Photo/DANIEL JANIN)

"Since its creation, the Transgabonais has been closely linked to France and its interests," US law professor Douglas Yates, author of "The Rentier State in Africa: Oil Rent Dependency & Neocolonialism in the Republic of Gabon", told AFP.

Its champions view it as a critical piece of infrastructure for Gabon's development.

There is a road running parallel to the tracks. But it is riddled with potholes, making the journey much longer, far less comfortable, and dangerous too.

Derailments and elephants

In a country which has been grappling with the effects of falling oil prices since 2014, the importance of manganese for the economy has ballooned.

"Without manganese, this train could not exist," said Gabonese economist Mays Mouissi.

According to an economic report by the Gabonese government, the ore accounts for a fourth of non-oil exports.

A road running parallel to the tracks is riddled with potholes 

Although still volatile, a recent surge in manganese prices over the last couple of years has boosted the country's oil-dependent economy.

French mining group Eramet, which extracts 80 percent of Gabon's manganese, recently said that it wants to boost production by 60 percent by 2023.

But more than 33 years after the first train started rolling, the line is facing problems.

There have been many derailments on a stretch built on unstable terrain and maintenance has been poor.

Train services have been further compromised by technical problems, while elephants wandering over the tracks have caused delays.

To keep the line going, a massive eight-year revamp was launched in 2015, costing an estimated 330 million euros.

More than half of the total will be financed by France together with, ironically, the World Bank.

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