The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have met for the first time since a border dispute brought their countries close to conflict in April.

Omar al-Bashir sat down with Salva Kiir on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.  South Sudan became independent from the north a year ago, and numerous issues remain unresolved between the two countries.

A United Nations deadline for them to settle the dispute is set for 2 August.  Among other issues, their border has not been finalised and there are disagreements over oilfields, transport payments and divisions of the national debt.

Deadline looming No information has been released about what the two men spoke about during their meeting in Addis Ababa, but they shook hands publicly for the first time at the end of it.  The last official talks between Presidents Kiir and Bashir were at the previous AU summit in January.

At this summit, AU delegates urged the governments in Khartoum and Juba to settle their differences on oil and border demarcation before the UN's deadline.  The UN introduced its three-month deadline after cross-border clashes centred on the oil-rich region of Heglig brought Sudan and South Sudan close to all-out war in April.

South Sudan's independence from Sudan in July 2011 was supposed to herald the end of more than 50 years of bitter conflict between the two, but tensions have lingered.  Saturday's meeting between the two leaders is unlikely to yield any immediate results, but it at least shows the two countries are feeling the pressure to resolve their dispute.

CNN

The driver of a farm truck that was ripped in half by a coal train at a level crossing in Mpumalanga as he took fruit-pickers to work has been charged with 25 counts of murder.

South African police said that its investigation suggested the driver ignored clear signage, taking his vehicle into the path of the train that dragged the truck 200 metres down the track, dismembering its occupants.  “He was negligent,” police spokesperson Col Leonard Hlathi told Reuters.

Last year a Cape Town minibus taxi driver was sentenced to 20 years in jail for killing 10 children in his vehicle when it was hit by a train as he drove over railway lines while taking a shortcut on the way to school.  The latest accident on the country's ageing rail network happened on Friday, at a rural rail crossing in Mpumalanga. The train was carrying coal to Mozambique.

Police said forensic experts found it hard to establish exactly how many people had been killed. The initial death toll given was 24 while on Saturday police said it could be 26.

-Reuters

Kenyan police detained scores after gunmen masked in balaclavas hurled grenades at two churches this week, authorities said Wednesday, killing 17 people in the latest attacks in the nation.

 Authorities held more than 30 people after the twin explosions in Garissa town Sunday, according to Philip Ndolo, the regional deputy police chief.
Of those detained, at least 20 remain in custody after police released others because their interrogations yielded no results, he said.  The arrests include Kenyans and foreigners of Somali origin, according to the police chief.  The explosions near the Somali border wounded at least 40 others when gunmen stormed the Catholic Church and African Inland Church when services were under way, prompting a stampede.No one immediately claimed responsibility.
"We are sure al-Shabaab is behind the attacks, but right now we are only speculating," Ndolo said.  Attacks have escalated since Kenyan forces invaded neighboring Somalia last year to battle Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, blaming it for kidnappings of foreigners in the nation.  When Kenya pursued the terror group, it threatened retaliatory attacks, saying it considers the incursion an affront to Somalia's sovereignty.
Since the invasion in October, Kenya has been hit by a series of grenade attacks blamed on the militants or their supporters.  The grenade attacks have mostly hit the capital of Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and northeastern towns and refugee camps near the border with Somalia.  Al-Shabaab is linked to al Qaeda and has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.  U.S. officials have issued warnings of potential attacks in the country since the incursion.

 

 

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The Mandela family feud involving the ruling ANC has reached new heights

with some of the former president’s grandchildren reminding his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that their grandfather is the only “magnet” in the family.  They also claim she is abusing Madiba’s name to try and swing the ANC leadership race, and is unnecessarily warping family ties in the process.

As the tensions unfold, it has also transpired that the ANC Youth League rowed into the saga on Tuesday, warning Ndileka Mandela that she was “breaking rank” by attending an ANC lecture in honour of Mandela, the event that appears to have fuelled the latest family spat. The so-called Mother of the Nation boycotted the lecture, which was delivered by President Jacob Zuma, and took issue with Ndileka for attending the event and speaking in the family’s name. Ndileka is Madiba’s first grandchild from his marriage to Evelyn, and the daughter of their first child, Thembi, who was killed in a car crash in 1969 while Madiba was in prison.

In a withering statement issued on her behalf, Winnie claimed Ndileka’s presence did not have the “endorsement by the family, as she stated” and that “the family reject (sic) her lies with contempt”.  Relations between Winnie’s and Evelyn’s sides of the family have at best been cordial over the years, but mostly terse. The past week’s exchange of anger was unprecedented.

It also came just days before the icon’s 94th birthday and family friends see it as a replay of his 90th, when relations had soured to the extent that Madikizela-Mandela and her family refused to attend.  However, Winnie is scheduled to travel to the Eastern Cape on Wednesday for Madiba’s birthday where she will face the family and Ndileka for the first time since the row started.  “Any suggestion that I was lying is not deserving of comment,” Ndileka told the Sunday Independent on Friday evening.

“When we talk about family endorsements and family opinions, we must be clear who we are speaking about.”  In her defence, her cousin, Mandla Mandela, who is also the chief of the Traditional Council in Madiba’s birthplace of Mvezo, and like her drawn from Evelyn’s side of the family, says he has no problem with Ndileka or any member of the family speaking in the Mandela name.  “My grandfather is the magnet of this family and through him we are all Mandelas.

“I respect each member of my family and I believe we must respect one another in return.”

Graça Machel, who was also present on Tuesday, appeared undeterred by Ndileka’s presence. In addition to Machel, the ANC had invited the “four senior members” of the Mandela family, which includes Madikizela-Mandela, her two daughters Zenani and Zindzi, as well as Makaziwe, Madiba’s only surviving child from his marriage to Evelyn.  “Aunt Maki (Makaziwe) couldn’t make it and she asked me to attend in her place,” Ndileka explained. “I believe it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets. I spoke about granddad’s legacy and as his granddaughter I have a right to do that. They cannot take that away from me. That some people decided not to attend, for whatever reason, is not a good enough reason for the rest of us not to go or to be later subjected to this kind of treatment.”

On the morning of the lecture, Madikizela-Mandela sent a harsh e-mail to the ANC expressing her general unhappiness at the “shabby” way in which she, her family and “Tata” were being treated by the ruling party. The e-mail was leaked to several newsrooms, well ahead of the 5pm lecture.

At around noon, Ndileka received a call from a member of the ANC Youth League, who generally has been supportive of “Mama Winnie” as she is one of them, telling her Ndileka was “breaking rank” by proceeding with her plans.  “I ignored the warning as I am not part of any rank or faction,” Ndileka said. “This was an event to honour the legacy of granddad and I didn’t want to be drawn into party politics, one way or the other, then or now.”

Mandla declined to comment on the contents of Madikizela-Mandela’s e-mail as he had not yet seen it.  “Until I am consulted by those who wrote it or who feel aggrieved, if that is the case, I do not want to speculate. If there are issues that need to be discussed, we must call a family meeting. But if these are issues that are played out in public, then that is outside my space.”

- Sunday Independent

Gaborone, Botswana (CNN) -- While Botswana is perhaps best known for its wildlife reserves, a burgeoning counter-culture is painting a very different image of the small south African Country.

 Clad in leather, adorned in spikes and topped off with cowboy hats, these are Botswana's heavy metal heads.  CNN got up close to the hardcore rockers and discovered a passionate retro scene proudly celebrating its African heritage.
While Western head bangers are most commonly associated with sneakers and band t-shirts, Botswana's fans have carved a unique image reminiscent of the 1970s New Wave British heavy metal scene.

Photographer Frank Marshall captured the rockers in all their Hell's Angels-style glory as part of his Renegades exhibition, on display at the Rooke Gallery in Johannesburg.  "Metal was seeded here by a classic rock band that started in the early 70s. Since then, it's evolved and grown," he said.  "In the last 10 to 20 years, it's come to be visually composed of what it looks like now -- the guys dressed in leather. It started off with classic rock and later on more extreme forms of metals were introduced."
Marshall described a macho scene with unique rituals, adding: "There's a strong sense of camaraderie amongst them. That's the first thing you'll notice about them as an outsider coming in. They've got a very strong bond and friendship with each other."They're very physical. At the shows, you don't just shake their hands. They'll grab your hand and shake you around.  "They embody the very aggressive elements of metal. It's an expression of power. Everything is an expression of power for them, from the clothes to the way they speak to the way they walk. They walk with very deliberate lurching strides.

"To them, it's perfectly normal. Maybe for an outside observer, from the west it might seem bizarre or comical but not here. They're respected and revered in some ways as well.  With names like Demon and Gunsmoke it would be easy to dismiss the rockers as thugs. But in fact, the titles come with a strong awareness of social responsibility.  "We try to portray a good figure. We're trying to be role models. I know rock used to be a hardcore thing but actually it's something in our heart too," heavy metal head Gunsmoke said.
"It's all about brothers in arms. Brothers in metal -- we're there for each other. That's the way we identify ourselves."  The leather-clad rockers share a similar aesthetic to notorious motorcycle gang the Hell's Angels. But that's where the likeness ends. According to Gunsmoke, the African head bangers are seen as a type of guardian angel, rather than the Hell's variety. "Kids follow us around. Parents approach us. We're there for a good cause actually. We help people on the streets at night," he said.
And for the hardcore fans, heavy metal is more than just a scene -- it's part of the national identity. Even the Botswana president Ian Khama is a fan. Or at least that's according to Gunsmoke.  "We want to make him proud. He made us proud with one man like him leading the nation. Why should we be scared when our president is a rocker?" Gunsmoke argued.  "Bots is known as a small country. People used to think it was a rovince of south Africa.
"But if we can stand tall on this family then we can be known as much as the country was unknown." Watch: Building music schools in townships
It's a uniquely African movement, and one that celebrates a special spiritual connection to the land. Gunsmoke pointed to the use of animal horns in fashion, as a representation of Africa. "Most of us are in a tribe. The totems are animals. We've got the crocodile, lion, hare, rabbit. You name it. It's part of your culture," he added. African mythology and folklore loom large in the lyrics of Botswana band Skinflint. CNN caught up with lead singer Giuseppe at a gig just outside the capital Gaborone. "We have a lot of ancestral beliefs - back in the day they used to believe that if someone dies and you touch the dead person then Gauna will come and take your soul," he said. "Gauna was created on a 7-inch vinyl and it was distributed by Legion of Death Records in France. We're the first ever African heavy metal band to release something on vinyl."
The white singer also pointed to the unifying powers of heavy metal, saying: "The metal nation knows no racial boundaries. We're all one. We all speak one common language and it's called heavy metal."Metal is a music about power, independence and freedom. That's what I believe in --fighting for what you believe in no matter the consequences. Standing up for what you believe in and showing individuality."

CNN

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