Archaeologists Find Well-Preserved 500-Year-Old Spices on Baltic Shipwreck

LUND, SWEDEN — Archaeologists say they have uncovered a "unique" cache of well-preserved spices, from strands of saffron to peppercorns and ginger, on the wreck of a royal ship that sank off Sweden's Baltic coast more than 500 years ago.

The wreck of the Gribshund, owned by King Hans of Denmark and Norway, has lain off the coast off Ronneby since 1495, when it is thought to have caught fire and sank as the monarch attended a political meeting ashore in Sweden.

Rediscovered by sports divers in the 1960s, sporadic excavations of the ship have taken place in recent years. Previous dives recovered large items such as figureheads and timber. Now an excavation led by Brendan Foley, an archaeological scientist at Lund University, has found the spices buried in the silt of the boat.

"The Baltic is strange - it's low oxygen, low temperature, low salinity, so many organic things are well preserved in the Baltic where they wouldn't be well preserved elsewhere in the world ocean system," said Foley. "But to find spices like this is quite extraordinary."

The spices would have been a symbol of high status, as only the wealthy could afford goods such as saffron or cloves that were imported from outside Europe. They would have been travelling with King Hans as he attended the meeting in Sweden.

Lund University researcher Mikael Larsson, who has been studying the finds, said: "This is the only archaeological context where we've found saffron. So, it's very unique and it's very special."

Source: Voice of America


Africa’s Largest Film Festival Offers Hope in Burkina Faso

Most film festivals can be counted on to provide entertainment, laced with some introspection.

The weeklong FESPACO that opened Saturday in violence-torn Burkina Faso's capital goes beyond that to also offer hope, and a symbol of endurance: In years of political strife and Islamic extremist attacks, which killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million in the West African country, it's never been canceled.

"We only have FESPACO left to prevent us from thinking about what's going on," said Maimouna Ndiaye, a Burkinabe actress who has four submissions in this year's competition. "This is the event that must not be canceled no matter the situation."

Since the last edition of the biennial festival in Ouagadougou, the country's troubles have increased. Successive governments' failures to stop the extremist violence triggered two military coups last year, with each junta leader promising security — but delivering few results.

At least 70 soldiers were killed in two attacks earlier this month in Burkina Faso's Sahel region. The fighting also has sowed discord among a once-peaceful population, pitting communities and ethnicities against each other.

Nevertheless, more than 15,000 people, including cinema celebrities from Nigeria, Senegal and Ivory Coast are expected in Ouagadougou for FESPACO, Africa's biggest film festival that was launched in 1969.

Some 1,300 films were submitted for consideration and 100 have been selected to compete from 35 African countries and the diaspora, including movies from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Nearly half of those in the fiction competition this year are directed by women.

Among them is Burkinabe director and producer Apolline Traore, whose film "Sira" — considered a front-runner in this year's competition — is emblematic of many Burkinabes' suffering. It tells the tale of a woman's struggle for survival after being kidnapped by jihadis in the Sahel, as her fiance tries to find her.

Still, Traore is upbeat about her country's prospects.

"The world has painted Burkina Faso as a red country. It's dangerous to come to my country, as they say," she told The Associated Press. "We're probably a little crumbled but we're not down."

Government officials say they have ramped up security and will ensure the safety of festival attendees.

Many hope FESPACO will help boost domestic unity and strengthen ties with other countries, at a time when anti-French sentiment is on the rise in Burkina Faso.

Wolfram Vetter, the European Union ambassador in Burkina Faso, called the film festival "an important contribution to peace and reconciliation in Burkina Faso and beyond."

The EU is the event's largest funder after the Burkinabe government. It has contributed approximately 250,000 euros ($265,000).

Source: Voice of America


President Weah Commissions Several Officials of Government

Monrovia, Liberia - The President of the Republic, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, Tuesday, January 17, 2023, commissioned several officials of government following their appointment and subsequent confirmation by the Liberian Senate.

The commissioned government officials included Cllr. Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; Mr. G. Wesseh Blamoh, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Madam Ruth Coker-Collins, Minister of Public Works; Cllr. Nelson B. Chinneh, Relieving Judge, and Amb. Sarah Safny Fyneah, Liberia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and its Organs.

Administering the oath of office, President Weah said the commissioned officials had been duly vetted, nominated, and confirmed by the Senate, and he expressed optimism in their ability to justify the confidence reposed in them.

“I have no doubts that they have the requisite experience, skills, and qualifications to perform in the respective positions to which they are being commissioned by me today,” the President stressed.

On behalf of the commissioned officials, Cllr. Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, thanked President Weah for their preferment to serve in their various positions they were appointed to.

He assured the President that they would do their utmost best to justify the confidence he has resposeed in them.

Source: The Executive Mansion


Spanish Government’s Body Positivity Campaign Goes Awry

The Spanish government maybe had a good idea, but the execution of the body positivity campaign has gone horribly wrong.

The idea was to encourage women to come out and enjoy the beaches – without any worries about how they looked in their swimsuits.

But three of the five women whose photographs were used in the campaign said they had not given permission for the images to be used.

Arte Mapache the campaign’s creator, has apologized for failing to obtain permission to use the images.

“Given the – justified – controversy over the image rights in the illustration, I have decided that the best way to make amends for the damages that may have resulted from my actions is to share out the money I received for the work and give equal parts to the people in the poster,” the artist said.

Two of the women in the campaign’s artwork are professional models. One has a prosthetic leg that was airbrushed out of the campaign artwork.

Sian Green-Lord told The Guardian, “It’s one thing using my image without my permission, but it’s another thing editing my body, my body with my prosthetic leg … I don’t even know what to say but it’s beyond wrong.”

Juliet FitzPatrick, a cancer survivor, told the BBC that the face of a woman who had a mastectomy may be based on a photograph of her. However, while the woman in the Spanish government photo has had a single mastectomy, FitzPatrick had a double mastectomy.

She told the BBC that using her likeness without her permission “seems to be totally against” the theme of the campaign. “For me it is about how my body has been used and represented without my permission.”

British photographer Ami Barwell who had taken photos of Fitzpatrick told the BBC that she believes Fitzpatrick’s photo was a composite of photos that she had taken of Fitzpatrick and another woman.

Barwell told the BBC, “I think that the person who created the art has gone through my gallery and pieced them together.”

Another model, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who wears a gold bikini in the photo, said her image was taken from her Instagram account without her permission.

Source: Voice of America


Kathleen Addy Heads NCCE

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Daily Guide Network

PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO has appointed Kathleen Addy as the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE). This follows the resignation of Madam Josephine Nkrumah, the immediate past chairperson who resigned in February 21, to become the ECOWAS ambassador to Liberia. Acting in line with Article 232 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 4 (a) of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Act 1993 (Act 452), President Akufo-Addo appointed Ms. Kathleen Addy as the acting chair of the commission. She was the deputy chairperson of the commission prior to her recent appointmen…


Pan African Film Festival Begins in Burkina Faso

The Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou returns to Burkina Faso this weekend after being canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Burkinabe director, who has made a film documenting a nursery for the infants of sex workers, talks about the importance of telling African stories through cinema.

Moumouni Sanou is a documentary film director from Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest city.

In 2019, he made a film, which is being screened at The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, or FESPACO.

Night Nursery follows the story of an older woman who runs a nighttime home for sex workers’ children in Bobo Dioulasso.

Sanou said he wants Night Nursery to humanize sex workers.

Sanou said the idea was to show a different side to sex workers, which is very rarely seen. In Burkina Faso and in the rest of Africa this profession is frowned upon, he said. "But it is also the oldest profession in the world. When we see these girls, people say they are bad people because they are sex workers,” he adds.

FESPACO has been running since 1969 and this year will feature films from around 30 African countries in its official selection. Cinema professionals and cinephiles travel from all over Africa and beyond to attend.

"FESPACO is one of the biggest African film festivals, and for me to be selected and represent Burkina Faso in the documentary film section will mean this film will be seen by the whole world, not just by Africans,” Sanou said.

Ardiouma Soma, the director of FESPACO, says that this year, the event will also host the African International Film & TV Market — known as MICA — for the first time.

Soma said, because this year the MICA will be held at FESPACO they have invited distributors, whose names he prefers not to mention, to Ouagadougou. He said the market will allow them to find new projects that are in post-production and also films that are already finished but not scheduled for FESPACO, so that they can buy them for their own platforms.

Last year, FESPACO, which usually happens every two years, was cancelled due to COVID-19. Burkina Faso is also in the middle of a conflict with terrorist groups linked to Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Burkina Faso’s culture minister, Élise Foniyama Ilboudo Thiombiano, said it is important the festival goes on.

She said it's a challenge for Burkinabè to continue to be able to keep the festival going every two years. But it is through cinema we can see the vision of Africans and the people who live on this continent, she adds. She points out that her predecessors all made sure FESPACO remained a focal point for Africa and she intends to do the same.

As for Sanou, he is hoping Night Nursery could receive an award, and the recognition it needs to win a wide audience.

Source: Voice of America