Un ancien dignitaire marocain lance un nouveau livre sur la voie du développement de la Chine à Pékin

PÉKIN, 27 décembre 2021 /PRNewswire/ — L’édition française du nouveau livre de Fathallah Oualalou, ancien ministre de l’économie et des finances du Maroc, ancien ministre de l’économie et des finances du Maroc, chercheur supérieur au Centre de politique pour le nouveau Sud, économiste, intitulé « La Chine et l’espace arabo-africain» a été publiée en France. L’auteur considère que les Nouvelles routes de la soie ou plus précisément la Ceinture et la Route est sans doute un moyen de redéfinir notre monde et son équilibre, en nous permettant de mieux comprendre la relation entre l’Afrique et les pays arabes et « la Ceinture et la Route ».

L’événement est conjointement organisé par les Éditions de la Route de la Soie et China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Co., Ltd.

Le 16 décembre 2021, le lancement du livre et le séminaire sur les « Opportunités et défis de la coopération sino-arabe et sino-africaine dans le cadre de l’initiative la Ceinture et la Route ont été organisés en ligne et hors ligne. Fathallah Oualalou; Mohammed Khalil, président de l’Association d’amitié Maroc-Chine; David Monyae, directeur du Centre d’études Afrique-Chine à l’Université de Johannesburg, Afrique du Sud; Khaled Elhaj Ahmed, sinologue et doyen du Département des langues orientales, Institut supérieur des langues, Université de Carthage, Tunisie; Sonia Bressler, rédactrice en chef des Éditions de la Route de la Soie; Mohamad Elkhatib, président de Digital Future Ltd., Xue Qingguo, professeur à l’Ecole d’études arabes de l’Université des études étrangères de Pékin (BFSU); Liu Xinlu, doyen de l’Ecole d’études arabes, BFSU; Zhang Yongpeng, chercheur à l’Institut pour l’Asie de l’Ouest et l’Afrique de l’Académie chinoise des sciences sociales ainsi que d’autres experts et universitaires chinois et étrangers ont discuté du contenu du livre.

Les intervenants au séminaire ont convenu que le livre est un ouvrage important qui montre l’initiative la Ceinture et la Route et son impact sur le continent africain et le Moyen-Orient, et qu’il constitue une réponse aux défis de la santé, de la pauvreté, de l’environnement, de la révolution technologique et du remodelage du monde. Les universitaires étrangers ont déclaré qu’une nouvelle structure mondiale se construit tranquillement dans la nouvelle situation, et que l’initiative la Ceinture et la Route apporte beaucoup d’espoir dans le processus de remodelage de la nouvelle structure mondiale, et que la Chine, comme la locomotive du développement mondial, est une force motrice qui devrait mieux participer à la construction de la nouvelle structure mondiale pour créer un avenir plus pacifique, équilibré, mutuellement bénéfique, amical et tolérant.

Le livre est d’abord publié en français, et dans l’avenir, les versions chinoise et arabe seront respectivement publiées par les Editions Guangming Daily de Chine et Digital Future Ltd. du Liban.

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Moroccan Former Statesmen’s New Book on China’s Development Path Launched in Beijing

BEIJING, Dec. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — La Chine & lespace arabo-africain, the French version of the book titled “China and Arabic & African Regions Pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative” authored by the Economist Fathallah Oualalou, Former Minister of Economy and Finance of Morocco and Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, came out in France. The author holds that the New Silk Road, or rather the Belt and Road definitely represents a way to redefine our world and the world balance and enables us to get a deeper understanding about how the African and Arabic countries relate to the Belt and Road.

Group photo

On December 16, 2021, the new book launch and the seminar themed on China-Arabic and China-African Cooperation Opportunities and Challenges were held online and offline, organized by Les Éditions de la Route de la Soie and China National Publications Import and Export (Group) Co., Ltd. (CNPIEC). Fathallah Oualalou, Former Minister of Economy and Finance of Morocco, Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, Economist; Mohammed Khalil, President of Morocco-China Friendship Association; David Monyae, Director of the Center for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa; Khaled Elhaj Ahmed, Sinologist and Dean of the Department of Oriental Languages, the Higher Institute of Languages, Carthage University, Tunisia; Sonia Bressler, Chief Editor of Silk Road Publishing House (Les Éditions de la Route de la Soie); Mohamad Elkhatib, President of Digital Future Ltd.; Xue Qingguo, Professor of the School of Arabic Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Director of the BFSU Zayed Center for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies, and Vice President of the Chinese Society for the Study of Arabic Literature; Liu Xinlu, Dean of the School of Arabic Studies, BFSU; and Zhang Yongpeng, Researcher of the Institute for West-Asian and African of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences among other Chinese and foreign scholars and experts discussed the contents of the book.

experts online

The speakers at the meeting agreed that it is a significant book expounding the Belt and Road Initiative and its impact upon the African continent and the Middle East, responding to the challenges related to health, poverty, environment, technological revolution and world reshaping. Overseas scholars indicate the new world landscape is taking shape under new circumstances and the Belt and Road Initiative has brought many hopes in this process. China is like a locomotive of the world’s development; it is a great driving force. It should better participate in the construction of the world landscape to usher in a more peaceful, balanced, mutually beneficial, friendly and inclusive future.

book launch

The French version of the book was first published. In the future, the Chinese version and Arabic version will also be published by Guangming Daily Press of China and Digital Future Ltd. respectively.

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In Africa, Rescuing the Languages that Western Tech Ignores

Computers have become amazingly precise at translating spoken words to text messages and scouring huge troves of information for answers to complex questions. At least, that is, so long as you speak English or another of the world’s dominant languages.

But try talking to your phone in Yoruba, Igbo or any number of widely spoken African languages and you’ll find glitches that can hinder access to information, trade, personal communications, customer service and other benefits of the global tech economy.

“We are getting to the point where if a machine doesn’t understand your language it will be like it never existed,” said Vukosi Marivate, chief of data science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, in a call to action before a December virtual gathering of the world’s artificial intelligence researchers.

American tech giants don’t have a great track record of making their language technology work well outside the wealthiest markets, a problem that’s also made it harder for them to detect dangerous misinformation on their platforms.

Marivate is part of a coalition of African researchers who have been trying to change that. Among their projects is one that found machine translation tools failed to properly translate online COVID-19 surveys from English into several African languages.

“Most people want to be able to interact with the rest of the information highway in their local language,” Marivate said in an interview. He’s a founding member of Masakhane, a pan-African research project to improve how dozens of languages are represented in the branch of AI known as natural language processing. It’s the biggest of a number of grassroots language technology projects that have popped up from the Andes to Sri Lanka.

Tech giants offer their products in numerous languages, but they don’t always pay attention to the nuances necessary for those apps work in the real world. Part of the problem is that there’s just not enough online data in those languages — including scientific and medical terms — for the AI systems to effectively learn how to get better at understanding them.

Google, for instance, offended members of the Yoruba community several years ago when its language app mistranslated Esu, a benevolent trickster god, as the devil. Facebook’s language misunderstandings have been tied to political strife around the world and its inability to tamp down harmful misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. More mundane translation glitches have been turned into joking online memes.

Omolewa Adedipe has grown frustrated trying to share her thoughts on Twitter in the Yoruba language because her automatically translated tweets usually end up with different meanings.

One time, the 25-year-old content designer tweeted, “T’Ílù ò bà dùn, T’Ílù ò bà t’òrò. Èyin l’emò bí e se sé,”which means, “If the land (or country, in this context) is not peaceful, or merry, you’re responsible for it.” Twitter, however, managed to end up with the translation: “If you are not happy, if you are not happy.”

For complex Nigerian languages like Yoruba, those accent marks — often associated with tones — make all the difference in communication. ‘Ogun’, for instance, is a Yoruba word that means war, but it can also mean a state in Nigeria (Ògùn), god of iron (Ògún), stab (Ógún), twenty or property (Ogún).

“Some of the bias is deliberate given our history,” said Marivate, who has devoted some of his AI research to the southern African languages of Xitsonga and Setswana spoken by his family members, as well as to the common conversational practice of “code-switching” between languages.

“The history of the African continent and in general in colonized countries, is that when language had to be translated, it was translated in a very narrow way,” he said. “You were not allowed to write a general text in any language because the colonizing country might be worried that people communicate and write books about insurrections or revolutions. But they would allow religious texts.”

Google and Microsoft are among the companies that say they are trying to improve technology for so-called “low-resource” languages that AI systems don’t have enough data for. Computer scientists at Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced in November a breakthrough on the path to a “universal translator” that could translate multiple languages at once and work better with lower-resourced languages such as Icelandic or Hausa.

That’s an important step, but at the moment, only large tech companies and big AI labs in developed countries can build these models, said David Ifeoluwa Adelani. He’s a researcher at Saarland University in Germany and another member of Masakhane, which has a mission to strengthen and spur African-led research to address technology “that does not understand our names, our cultures, our places, our history.”

Improving the systems requires not just more data but careful human review from native speakers who are underrepresented in the global tech workforce. It also requires a level of computing power that can be hard for independent researchers to access.

Writer and linguist Kola Tubosun created a multimedia dictionary for the Yoruba language and also created a text-to-speech machine for the language. He is now working on similar speech recognition technologies for Nigeria’s two other major languages, Hausa and Igbo, to help people who want to write short sentences and passages.

“We are funding ourselves,” he said. “The aim is to show these things can be profitable.”

Tubosun led the team that created Google’s “Nigerian English” voice and accent used in tools like maps. But he said it remains difficult to raise the money needed to build technology that might allow a farmer to use a voice-based tool to follow market or weather trends.

In Rwanda, software engineer Remy Muhire is helping to build a new open-source speech dataset for the Kinyawaranda language that involves a lot of volunteers recording themselves reading Kinyawaranda newspaper articles and other texts.

“They are native speakers. They understand the language,” said Muhire, a fellow at Mozilla, maker of the Firefox internet browser. Part of the project involves a collaboration with a government-supported smartphone app that answers questions about COVID-19. To improve the AI systems in various African languages, Masakhane researchers are also tapping into news sources across the continent, including Voice of America’s Hausa service and the BBC broadcast in Igbo.

Increasingly, people are banding together to develop their own language approaches instead of waiting for elite institutions to solve problems, said Damián Blasi, who researches linguistic diversity at the Harvard Data Science Initiative.

Blasi co-authored a recent study that analyzed the uneven development of language technology across the world’s more than 6,000 languages. For instance, it found that while Dutch and Swahili both have tens of millions of speakers, there are hundreds of scientific reports on natural language processing in the Western European language and only about 20 in the East African one.

Source: Voice of America

US Catholic Clergy Shortage Eased by Recruits From Africa

WEDOWEE, ALABAMA — The Rev. Athanasius Chidi Abanulo — using skills honed in his African homeland to minister effectively in rural Alabama— determines just how long he can stretch out his Sunday homilies based on who is sitting in the pews.

Seven minutes is the sweet spot for the mostly white and retired parishioners who attend the English-language Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the small town of Wedowee. “If you go beyond that, you lose the attention of the people,” he said.

For the Spanish-language Mass an hour later, the Nigerian-born priest — one of numerous African clergy serving in the U.S. — knows he can quadruple his teaching time. “The more you preach, the better for them,” he said.

As he moves from one American post to the next, Abanulo has learned how to tailor his ministry to the culture of the communities he is serving while infusing some of the spirit of his homeland into the universal rhythms of the Mass.

“Nigerian people are relaxed when they come to church,” Abanulo said. “They love to sing, they love to dance. The liturgy can last for two hours. They don’t worry about that.”

During his 18 years in the U.S., Abanulo has filled various chaplain and pastor roles across the country, epitomizing an ongoing trend in the American Catholic church. As fewer American-born men and women enter seminaries and convents, U.S. dioceses and Catholic institutions have turned to international recruitment to fill their vacancies.

The Diocese of Birmingham, where Abanulo leads two parishes, has widened its search for clergy to places with burgeoning religious vocations like Nigeria and Cameroon, said Birmingham Bishop Steven Raica. Priests from Africa were also vital in the Michigan diocese where Raica previously served.

“They have been an enormous help to us to be able to provide the breadth and scope of ministry that we have available to us,” he said.

Africa is the Catholic church’s fastest-growing region. There, the seminaries are “fairly full,” said the Rev. Thomas Gaunt, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which conducts research about the Catholic church.

Falling numbers

It’s different in the U.S. where the Catholic church faces significant hurdles in recruiting home-grown clergy following decades of declining church attendance and the damaging effects of widespread clergy sex abuse scandals.

Catholic women and married men remain barred from the priesthood; arguments that lifting those bans would ease the priest shortage have not gained traction with the faith’s top leadership.

“What we have is a much smaller number beginning in the 1970s entering seminaries or to convents across the country,” Gaunt said. “Those who entered back in the ’50s and ’60s are now elderly, and so the numbers are determined much more by mortality.”

From 1970 to 2020, the number of priests in the U.S. dropped by 60%, according to data from the Georgetown center. This has left more than 3,500 parishes without a resident pastor.

Abanulo oversees two parishes in rural Alabama. His typical Sunday starts with an English-language Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church in Lanett, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Birmingham along the Alabama-Georgia state line. After that, he is driven an hour north to Wedowee, where he celebrates one Mass in English, another in Spanish.

“He just breaks out in song and a lot of his lectures, he ties in his boyhood, and I just love hearing those stories,” said Amber Moosman, a first-grade teacher who has been a parishioner at Holy Family since 1988.

For Moosman, Abanulo’s preaching style is very different from the priests she’s witnessed previously. “There was no all of a sudden, the priest sings, nothing like that. … It was very quiet, very ceremonial, very strict,” she said. “It’s a lot different now.”

Abanulo was ordained in Nigeria in 1990 and came to the U.S. in 2003 after a stint in Chad. His first U.S. role was as an associate pastor in the diocese of Oakland, California, where his ministry focused on the fast-growing Nigerian Catholic community. Since then, he has been a hospital chaplain and pastor in Nashville, Tennessee, and a chaplain at the University of Alabama.

Amid the U.S. clergy shortage, religious sisters have experienced the sharpest declines, dropping 75% since 1970, according to the Georgetown center.

Culture shocks

When Maria Sheri Rukwishuro was told she was being sent from the Sisters of the Infant Jesus order in Zimbabwe to West Virginia to work as a missionary nun, she asked her mother superior, “Where is West Virginia?”

She was scared, worrying about the unknowns.

“What kind of people am I going to? I’m just a Black nun coming to a white country,” Rukwishuro told The Associated Press from Clarksburg, West Virginia, where she has been teaching religious education to public and Catholic school students since arriving in 2004.

Rukwishuro vividly remembers that at her introduction, a little girl walked to her and “rubbed her finger on my fingers all the way, then she looked at her finger and she smiled but my heart sank. … She thought I was dirty.” Despite that, Rukwishuro says most people have been very welcoming. She’s now a U.S. citizen and says, “It feels like home.”

One of her first culture shocks was an overnight snowfall. “I really screamed. I thought it was the end of the world,” she said. “Now I love it. I do my meditations to that.”

During their integration into American life, it is commonplace for newly arrived clergy to face culture shocks.

For Sister Christiana Onyewuche of Nigeria, a hospital chaplain in Boston administering last rites for the dying, it was cremation. She recalled thinking, “Like really? … How can they burn somebody? I can’t even imagine.”

She came to the U.S. 18 years ago and previously served as the president of African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious, a support group for African missionaries serving in the U.S.

‘Jesus necks’

Onyewuche said African clergy can face communication challenges with the Americans they serve. To address this, many dioceses have offered training to soften accents, she said. Abanulo, who went through the training in Oakland, says it helped him slow down his speech and improve his pronunciations.

Abanulo, who moved to Alabama in 2020, admits he was initially apprehensive about his latest posting, which meant exchanging a comfortable role as university chaplain for two rural parishes.

“People were telling me ‘Father, don’t go there. The people there are rednecks,'” he said.

But after a year, and a warm reception, he says he now tells his friends, “There are no rednecks here. All I see are Jesus necks.”

Source: Voice of America

Young South Africans Learn of Tutu’s Activism for Equality

JOHANNESBURG — Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s legacy is reverberating among young South Africans, many of whom were not born when the clergyman battled apartheid and sought full rights for the nation’s Black majority.

Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for those efforts.

Even though they did not know much about him, some young South Africans told The Associated Press on Monday that they understood his role as one of the most prominent figures to help their country become a democracy.

Zinhle Gamede, 16, said she found out about Tutu’s passing on social media and has learned more about him over the past day.

“At first I only knew that he was an archbishop. I really did not know much else,” Gamede said.

She said Tutu’s death had inspired her to learn more about South Africa’s history, especially the struggle against white minority rule.

“I think that people who fought for our freedom are great people. We are in a better place because of them. Today I am living my life freely, unlike in the olden days where there was no freedom,” she said.

Following the end of apartheid in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented atrocities during apartheid and sought to promote national reconciliation. Tutu also became one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders to champion LGBTQ rights.

“As a gay person, it is rare to hear people from the church speaking openly about gay issues, but I found out about him through gay activists who sometimes use his quotes during campaigns,” said Lesley Morake, 25. “That is how I knew about him, and that is what I will remember about him.”

Tshepo Nkatlo, 32, said he is focusing on the positive things he hears about Tutu, instead of some negative sentiments he saw on social media.

“One of the things I picked up on Facebook and Twitter was that some people were criticizing him for the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) because there are still many issues regarding the TRC,” Nkatlo said, referring to some who say Tutu should have been tougher on whites who perpetrated abuses under apartheid and should have ordered that they be prosecuted.

South Africa is holding a week of mourning for Tutu. Bells rang at midday Monday from St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town to honor him. The bells at “the people’s cathedral,” where Tutu worked to unite South Africans of all races against apartheid, will toll for 10 minutes at noon for five days to mark Tutu’s life.

“We ask all who hear the bells to pause their busy schedules for a moment in tribute” to Tutu, the current archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said. Anglican churches across South Africa will also ring their bells at noon this week, and the Angelus prayer will be recited.

Several services in South Africa were being planned to honor Tutu’s life, as tributes came in from around the world.

Tutu’s coffin will be displayed Friday at the cathedral in Cape Town to allow the public to file past the casket, “which will reflect the simplicity with which he asked to be buried,” Makgoba said in a statement. On Friday night Tutu’s body will “lie alone in the cathedral which he loved.”

A requiem Mass will be celebrated Saturday, and, according to Tutu’s wishes, he will be cremated and his ashes placed in the cathedral’s mausoleum, church officials said Monday.

In addition, an ecumenical and interfaith service will be held for Tutu on Thursday in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

South Africans are laying flowers at the cathedral, in front of Tutu’s home in Cape Town’s Milnerton area and in front of his former home in Soweto.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Tutu’s home Monday in Cape Town where he paid his respects to Tutu’s widow, Leah.

“He knew in his soul that good would triumph over evil, that justice would prevail over iniquity, and that reconciliation would prevail over revenge and recrimination. He knew that apartheid would end, that democracy would come,” Ramaphosa said Sunday night in a nationally broadcast address.

“He knew that our people would be free. By the same measure, he was convinced, even to the end of his life, that poverty, hunger and misery can be defeated; that all people can live together in peace, security and comfort,” Ramaphosa said and added that South Africa’s flags will be flown at half-staff this week.

“May we follow in his footsteps,” Ramaphosa said. “May we, too, be worthy inheritors of the mantle of service, of selflessness, of courage, and of principled solidarity with the poor and marginalized.”

Source: Voice of America

South Africa Starts Week of Mourning for Archbishop Desmond Tutu

CAPE TOWN — South Africa has started a week of mourning for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90. Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral will toll its bells every day at noon through Friday in honor of the anti-apartheid hero before a Saturday funeral service.

The bells at St. George’s Cathedral rang out for 10-minutes on Monday. It was here that Archbishop Tutu gave refuge to many during the dark days of apartheid.

His non-violent campaign won him international recognition including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He was also greatly loved by his countrymen and women. Veteran journalist Ayesha Ismail explains.

“You know as a South African and as a journalist when I think about Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I think about love, I think about justice, I think about peace and I think about compassion. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the one who opened the doors of this cathedral when we were fighting the apartheid regime during the height of apartheid and during the state of emergency, we were teargassed, we were sjambokked and it was the archbishop who opened these doors for us to come and seek refuge. He will be deeply missed and I think I can safely say that South Africa has lost its moral compass,” said the journalist.

Once democracy was established in South Africa in 1994, Tutu continued to campaign for human rights, championing all kinds of causes around the world.

In recent years, he also spoke out against the African National Congress which is in power in South Africa. He was outraged by the unchecked corruption within the party.

Children and young people were close to his heart. He was a patron of many trusts. The CEO of one of them, Jason Falken, said even when Tutu was ill, the archbishop was in email contact with him so they could work out a plan to ensure funding came in after he passed on.

“Not only for the trust but for our beneficiaries the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital it’s been immense. You know the arch and Ma Leah their many visits to the hospital were always filled with joy and laughter and the kids really look out for that. But over and above that, the arch was also very instrumental, especially in the early years of the trust in raising significant funds specifically for the purpose of much-needed medical equipment which ran into the hundreds of thousands of rand,” he said.

The assistant priest at St. George’s Cathedral, Marcus Slingers, said it was a great privilege to have visited Tutu at his home in Milnerton, a Cape Town suburb, for about 40 minutes each day.

“We are all saddened by this great loss. The dean and I and others, you know in these last few months, had the opportunity of celebrating the eucharist with him every day and that was part of his life and I’ve just been privileged to have been part of it. And what a man of God and humble,” he said.

The archbishop’s 66-year marriage to Leah Tutu was admired by many. They had four children: Trevor, Thandeka, Naomi and Mpho. Father Marcus said on his visits to Tutu, Mrs. Tutu would tell him stories over cups of tea about how they supported each other.

“And how the two of them had just done things together. Everything that they’ve done, they’ve done together and our hearts and our prayers, our thoughts are with her and the rest of the family,” he said.

A number of events are planned for this week, including a memorial service which the South African Council of Churches will host on Wednesday.

Archbishop Tutu’s body will lie in state at St. George’s Cathedral on Friday. His funeral will take place there on Saturday.

Source: Voice of America