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September 28, 2003

Nigeria Enters The Space Age

Nigeria, one of the poorest nations on earth, joined the Space Age today. The nation's first satellite, carried to orbit by a Russian rocket, will enable Nigerians to monitor impending natural disasters, keep tabs on ecological changes - such as erosion and deforestation - as well as to safeguard the profits of its oil industry. Many people don't realize that Nigeria is one of the world's major oil exporters. The nation has an abundance of the commodity, but is robbed of hundreds of thousands barrels of oil per day by pirates who siphon it off.

While some Nigerians have evinced pride at the launch, others see the expenditure as a waste of money in a nation where most of the population doesn't have electricity or running water. Personally, I see the satellite launch as a step in the right direction for Nigeria. Once she can protect her own resources, Nigeria's wealth will be more available to her people through market distribution. Also, in a largely agrarian society, the ability to predict ecological trends could be invaluable to the economy over time.

Bear in mind that this is the same Nigeria that this week reprieved Amina Lawal, the woman who was under a death sentence for adultery for over two years. The Amina Lawal case, however, was not an isolated one. Women (and men) in Nigeria are waiting to die by stoning even as I type. Shariah Law - the Islamic Code that governs many of Nigeria's individual states despite Federal opposition - can not be described a progressive governmental method.

It is, however, my hope to find every speck of good news, of movement in the right direction that is reported in Africa and trumpet it. In a continent so plagued by war, disease, and famine, it is reassuring to remember that through all this, Africans are still reaching beyond, reaching for more - grasping at the stars.

Posted by at September 28, 2003 12:06 AM
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