Showing posts with label Syracuse University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syracuse University. Show all posts

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Jury System And Democracy Inside The American Court

By Paul Shalala in Cortland, New York
Judge Rumsey takes a selfie in court with Fola of Nigeria


Picture this: a Supreme Court Judge taking a selfie with a visitor inside the courtroom, the judge laughing and smiling inside the courtroom while giving a lecture.

Did you hear it right? Yes i said inside the Supreme Court.

I guess you are already saying 'What went wrong? Are you sure it was a judge?'

Well, that is not all: the Judge later joins you for dinner and interacts with everyone as beers, food and drinks are served.

Is that in Zambia? No sir!! Not at all.

If its in Zambia, that judge would be on the front page of daily newspapers the following day.

It can never happen in our conservative country because we have decided to maintain the decades old English style of a judiciary even after London has moved on and reformed its judiciary.

Remember the recent case were Zambia's former Chief Justice Ernest Sakala was publicly condemned for shaking hands with former President Frederick Chiluba at a funeral service?

Any way, the scenario above actually happened in my own eyes.

It happened inside the Supreme Court in Cortland City, New York state.

By the way, judges in the United States of America are as free as any other member of society.

Take for example, Justice Phillip Rumsey of the Supreme Court in Cortland County, he is a simple and down to earth man who at first impression does not look like a judge.

He is so common that he mingles with everyone without a problem.
Judge Rumsey addressing the Mandela Fellows

Probably its because of the mode of his ascendance to the office.

He is an elected official.

Judges in Counties are publicly elected and they are very popular in the communities were they work from.

Cortland County has been electing its judges since 1846.

On Friday, Judge Rumsey hosted the 25 Mandela Washington Fellows who are studying Public Management at Syracuse University in the neighbouring Onondaga County.

The judge opened his courtroom to the fellows so they could understand how the American judicial system works at county level.

He explained that the history of the court system in Cortland Country stretches back to 1691, way before the US got its independence from England in 1776.

"After our independence, we adopted many English laws....... But the jury is a unique feature in our legal system...... It is important and has a long history," said Judge Rumsey.

The jury is a group of people who are selected to analyse a court case and decide whether an accused person is guilty or not.

As opposed to the Zambian system were a judge or judges hear a case and find a person guilty or not, in America the jury does the job.

"The jury system is a unique process. It is a hallmark of our society. It has helped us avoid having violence and protests in society."

Judge Rumsey says the jury helps because it is composed of people from the community who know the people accused or the institutions and can give an objective decision on a particular case.

He says once the jury decides whether the accused is guilty or not, they are not obliged to explain why they arrived at the verdict.

When asked whether members of the jury can be in danger of reprisals if they arrived at a guilty verdict for a member of society, Judge Rumsey said jurors are generally safe.

"We advise the jurors not to disclose how they arrived at the verdict though they are free to do so. But usually they do not. But if we learn that a juror maybe in danger, we can then ask law enforcement to protect them," said Judge Rumsey.

South African fellow Luyolo Mpithi taking a selfie in court
He also said the jurors are expected to base their decision on information given in court and not research on social media.

Judge Rumsey was first elected as Supreme Court justice in in 1993 and was re-elected for a second 14 year term in 2007.

However, judges at the state appellate level are appointed by the Governor while those of the US Supreme Court are appointed by the US President.

Judges are not the only ones who are elected to work in public offices in the US.

Sheriffs, who enforce court orders and civil law in a county, also go through public elections despite being uniformed officers.

Now this is people power and democracy at its best: electing judges and Sheriffs.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Mandela Washington Fellow: Paul Shalala

He is popularly known as ‘Mumbwa-Mumbwa’ or the boy from Nangoma.

You probably know him as a journalist but us who are closer to him know him as a proud Mumbwa villager.

Paul Shalala is so proud of his village that whenever he visits it in his native Mumbwa District, he never comes back without uploading a photo of himself eating lusala or eating mango with his ageing father.

Some have been making fun of his once ‘backward’ Mumbwa but the young man does not shy away from revealing his love for his childhood.

“I was born in Lusaka, raised in Nangoma area of Mumbwa District, educated in Mumbwa, working in Kitwe and I know one day I will be buried in Mumbwa. That’s my home and I know no other home than Mumbwa,” said Paul in a telephone interview from Syracuse University in New York where he is studying Public Management as part of US President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship.

At a time when most youths brag about ‘living’ in Kabulonga, Ibex Hill or Woodlands, Paul is always talking about his Lubanze village.

What is so unique about Nangoma?

“Nangoma is an area in Mumbwa which consists of over 500 villages which form almost half of the Chiefdom for Senior Chief Shakumbila of the Sala people. I grew up in Lubanze Village. That’s my homeland. I love that area and I visit it very often.”

“As a family, we have a lot of land. We do agriculture and own houses. My parents moved from Lusaka to that area in 1967 and since then they had been moving from one school to the other until they finally settled in Lubanze and retired there. “

“My father taught at over five schools across Nangoma. My mother did the same too and currently she is in the board for Nangoma Mission Hospital. Shalala is a household name there. Actually my elder brother Louis is contesting as Mumbwa District Council Chairman under the Patriotic Front.”

Asked about his own contribution to his village, Paul smiled before opening up saying he even owns a registered transport company for minibuses called Nangoma Transport.

He says he had been a Youth leader for the SDA Church in Mumbwa and worked a lot with youths thatside.

“I spent over five years from 2008 to 2013 leading and training Adventist Youths in Mumbwa as a whole: covering Kabile, Mumbwa, Nangoma, Keezwa, Lutale and other areas. Currently, I sponsor an annual Independence Football tournament called Shakumbila Cup which is named after Senior Chief Shakambila and is held at his Chisalu Palace in Kakombo area. This tournament is for all the village teams in Nangoma. I also sponsor and buy balls, boots and jerseys for two amateur football teams in  Nangoma called Manchester United and Kakombo Boys. Nangoma is my home and I cannot forget where I come from.”

Despite being born in the capital city, Paul never boasts of being a town boy.

His obsession for Mumbwa is surprising.

On Thursday last week, he and 41 other Zambian youths left for the United States to be part of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The 42 youths were selected by the US State Department to be part of the 1,000 young Africans who are currently spread across the US attending training at various American universities in public management, energy, civic leadership and business and entrepreneurship.

Paul is studying Public Management at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs with 24 other youths from other African countries.

“I never ever dreamt of one day stepping into an American university and be taught by a Professor. It’s a humbling experience and I thank President Barack Obama for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I applied for this opportunity in 2013 and 2014 but I didn’t make it. I never gave up and for sure the following year I applied and here iam………,” he said.

Paul says he is already inspired by the composition of the fellows he has seen so far.

“We have a young politician from South Africa who is part of our class. He is the youngest elected Councillor in his country, having won a ward in Johannesburg at the age of 22 in 2012. I have also seen a South Sudanese and a Nigerian fellow who are both blind but are doing wonders back home.”
And with the coming of the Presidential Summit in Washington, DC which will climax with President Obama addressing all the 1,000 fellows during a town hall meeting in August, Paul says it will be an emotional thing for him to see Obama.

“I grew up in the George W. H. Bush days and I know every US President  since then,by name. Obama will be a special one because I will see him face to face and probably greet him. I cannot wait to get a selfie with him…….,” said Paul before bursting into laughter.

And when asked about his future prospects after coming back home, Paul says he has major plans for ZNBC and the media.

“With the help of my employer ZNBC, I plan to help set up desks for specialisation in the newsroom. Am learning how American newsrooms operate with specialised reporters in each desk. We can replicate that back home. We will be touring several media institutions and meet opinion leaders who can help me in that area.

“Secondly, with the help of other 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows, we plan to start training young reporters and school going children in basics of journalism. Our plan is to cover at least five provinces and spread the best practices of this noble profession to future media personalities.”


Paul is expected back home in August, a few days before Zambia gooes to the polls and he says: “Am coming to vote and I hope my 1 vote will add to someone’s 50 percent…...”

Note: This story was originally published by Zambia's largest online newspaper Mwebantu on June 20, 2016. It has been reproduced with permission

Poverty In America: How The Church Is Feeding The Poor

By Paul Shalala in Syracuse, New York
John Stopper
It is real, it is there and people are going hungry every day in America.

Every time we think about the United States, we imagine a society where everyone has food, everyone drives and everyone is enjoying life.

But that is not the case, there is poverty in the United States of America.

But not everyone agrees that some people in the richest country in the world, go to bed on an empty stomach.

Even well known researchers and pundits deny that poverty exists in the country.

Writing in Forbes magazine on October 3, 2015, Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London said: “"Paul Theroux’s latest book is a travelogue across the Deep South. And in it, according to his introduction to it in the NY Times, he asserts that said Deep South has been impoverished by the capitalist plutocrats offshoring all the jobs. That this isn’t in fact how an economy works is easy enough to forgive, for many people hold the same, incorrect, opinion. However, the other part of Theroux’s argument, about the existence of poverty in America, is less easy to pass by. Simply because he is a well traveled man, he has seen real absolute poverty up front and personal. And he should indeed know that nothing like that at all actually exists in the United States."

However, the reality on the ground is that there is a silent minority of beggars, homeless people and those doing what Americans call ‘minimum wage jobs’ who cannot manage to support themselves.

According to a report entitled Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2014 by the U.S. Census Bureau, 47 million people in the USA were living with poverty in 2014.

This means that the poverty rate for that year was at 15%.

The report further reveals that among those hard hit in 2014, people with disabilities accounted for 29% (4 million people) while 16% of women lived in poverty.

To get first hand information on poverty in America, this blogger decided to research and analyse the situation during his short stay in the country.

In the USA, Syracuse city is now ranked the highest metropolitan area with poverty among African-Americans and Hispanics.

The city is located northern part of New York state.

According to the 2015 estimate of the United States Census Bureau, out of a total population of 144, 142 of Syracuse, 35.1% live in poverty.

The report states that of that population, 56.% are whites, 29.5% are African-Americans while Hispanics make up 8.3% of the city.

According to an article published by syracuse.com on September 5, 2015, “"Syracuse is at the leading edge of a disturbing national trend in which the number of people living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods nearly doubled from 7.2 million in 2000 to 13.8 million in 2013, the highest on record."
“The trend reflects a sharp reversal from the progress reported in the 1990s, when the number of Americans living in such concentrated poverty fell by 25 percent by 2000.”
The article states that the data is based on a 2015 report by Paul Jargowsky, the Rutgers University-Camden professor who published the study with The Century Foundation.
Coincidentally, this blogger is in Syracuse for six weeks and is investigating and writing a number of stories on poverty in America.

At Syracuse University, there is a famous street where beggars and homeless people are found.

On Marshall Street, both white and black beggars are found and Police keep an eye on them because sometimes they can be aggressive in their pursuit.

The image projected by Hollywood movies and TV channels that there is no poverty in America is totally different from what one can see if they venture out of these big US cities.

Like many other small cities reliant on industries, Syracuse has seen several plants closing and people losing jobs over the years.

The town has recorded an increase in unemployment which has resulted in poverty increasing in the southern part of the town which is mainly inhabited by blacks (African-Americans).

In the northern part of the town is a growing community of mainly Asian and Hispanic immigrants and a small but increasing population of Congolese.

Syracuse Deputy Mayor Bill Ryan concedes that his city has one of the country's highest poverty levels and he blames the trend for the increase in crime and the abuse of drugs in the city.
Bill Ryan speaking at City Hall


Mr Ryan, who is also the City's Chief of Staff, says shootings in the city where three people lost their lives in the past three weeks are as a result of poverty and increase in gang activities.

"Because they live in poverty, these criminal gangs are now resorting to drugs and crimes. We are doing everything possible to ensure we find the people involved because in the area where these shootings happened, we never had such incidents," said Mr Ryan when he addressed Mandela Washington fellows who visited City Hall recently.

On Tuesday, this blogger joined other Syracuse University-based 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows to help in making sandwiches for poor people at the Bishop Harrison Center which is run by the Catholic Church.

The trip was arranged by the university to help the young African fellows appreciate the challenges Americans in poor communities face on a daily basis.

The center, which is located at the All Saints Parish of the Catholic Church, hosts volunteers who make sandwiches twice a week to feed poor people who cannot afford to buy food for themselves.

“"The sandwich program started in 1990 and we make one at least a thousand sandwiches per week to feed people in need. We make them here at All Saints but they are transported to Assumption Parish in the north where they are given to people who cannot afford to feed themselves,”" said John Stopher, a volunteer who coordinates the program.

Fellows making sandwich
A former science teacher, Mr Stopher says he works with mainly volunteers who give their time to help feed the homeless, poor and needy.

“"Per day, we feed about 500 with lunch and supper. People who receive our sandwiches are those who are unemployed, those who are doing minimum wage jobs and those who cannot manage to feed their families. Sometimes we even have parents coming with their children," he added.

Mr Stopher, who gave a 30 minutes briefing to the visiting Mandela Washington Fellows, said he has a heart for volunteering and his Catholic faith has helped him spend a lot of time helping the needy since he retired.

“"I no longer work and I have a pension. I now volunteer here at the center. I also volunteer for the blood bank and the Red Cross. This spirit of volunteering is very common in our city and we have a couple of people coming down here to help out with sandwiches every week.”"

In the past 26 years the program has been running, church members and food companies have sustained the sandwich program by donating food stuffs to feed the needy.

When the meals are ready, those in need are fed irrespective of their religious affiliation and are not obliged to be registered.

“"We feed whoever shows up at our window. We do not care where they come from or which church they go to……. Usually we receive a huge number of people towards the end of the month when pay cheques run out,"” said Mr Stopper.
Schedule of meals at the Samaritan Center


Another church-run feeding program is the Samaritan Center, a former church building which is now the only hope for hundreds of people who cannot to feed themselves.

The center was established by seven local churches and it receives donations of funds and food stuffs from restaurants and several other donors.

It offers breakfast and supper to between 150 and 400 people on a daily basis.

According to officials at the Samaritan Center, about 150,000 meals were saved last year.

Most of the people fed are African-Americans but there is also a significant number of white people who receive the meals.

Just a few kilometers away from the Samaritan Center is the headquarters of the Salvation Army, another religious center where poor people are housed and fed for free.

The place offers free lodging for individuals and families who have been evicted or are homeless.

They are fed, given life skills and helped to get jobs.

On average, the homeless are given shelter for 20 days and there after they are expected to find a job or a new home.

"We are located in the southern part of Syracuse because this is where poverty is. We serve over 38,000 people through 41 separate programs, catering different groups of people," said Andrew Sabbaghzadeh, Resource Development Director at the Salvation Army Syracuse Headquarters.
Mr Sabbaghzadeh talking to Mandela Washington fellows


He said Salvation Army was working hard to fit into the US federal government's plan to eradicate poverty by 2022.

"Syracuse is nationally recognised because of its poverty. We are doing our best to cater for the poor through our programs."

The Salvation Army, which has been operating in Syracuse for over 100 years, has an annual budget of $20 million funded by grants from the federal and state governments as well as donors.

According to Salvation Army Onondaga County Chief Executive Officer Major Karla Clark, most of the money is raised during Christmas parties. 

"Despite being a church, the Salvation Army serves people of all races and religious faiths. Nobody is required to be a church member in order to receive our services," said Major Clark when she addressed visiting 2016 Mandela Washington fellows at her office.

Apart from offering shelter and food to the homeless, the church also runs the Therapy program which is aimed at helping youths break away from gangs and find alternatives like jobs and education to reduce the levels of violence in the city.

Syracuse is estimated to have over 100 gangs.

Apart from these church run initiatives, poor people in Syracuse, a town which falls under Onondaga County, have two other options of having a meal.

Firstly, the Onondanga County provides food and other supplies through a program called the Food Bank.

Here, those in need are registered by the county administration and queue up at centers to receive their meals.

According to Stopper, the Food Bank in a county benefits from US Federal funding.

Food banks operate like warehouses where food stuffs are collected and stored before being distributed to NGOs and food pantries which give food to the needy.

Secondly, the needy also receive meals from several centers called Pantries where free meals are issued at no cost.

The pantries survive on generosity from donors and other well wishers to feed thousands of people in Syracuse.

Apart from receiving donated food supplies, the pantries also buy cheap food stuffs from the local Food Banks.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Mandela Washington Fellowship: Its Meaning To Villagers Like Me

By Paul Shalala in Syracuse, New York
On arrival at Syracuse Airport with fellows from South Africa


I have lived a life of poverty, a life full of problems, a village life of being a kachema wangombe (cattle herder) and now i can dine with Kings, Presidents and comrades from all around the world.

Am Paul Shalala, the boy who in the 1990s used to wake up at 04:00hrs and help his father tie cows, go to the field and plough.

Am the same Paul who used to walk to Kasalu Primary School, learn and later go home to look after our cows two of whom i fondly remember being named Kingdom and Manyando.

Am still the same Paul who later went to Mumbwa High School, Evelyn Hone College and worked for New Vision newspaper, MUVI Television and now the Zambia National Broadcasting corporation (ZNBC).

Oh by the way am still the Paul who solely runs this blog you are reading The Zambian Analyst.

Am still the same village boy who has at least traveled to a few countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe to cover events and later receive phone calls from my fellow villagers to confirm that they heard my voice on TV1.

What am i trying to say with all this confusion am creating in your precious mind?

Am Paul Shalala, a villager who never ever dreamt of ever stepping a foot in an American University.

With fellows Chipo, Kelly and Namaku on transit in Johannesburg
But yesterday, i was given an access card, a meal card, a room, an ATM card (really) and a tour of Syracuse University, a prestigious university located in the small town called Syracuse, a few kilometers north of New York City in an area the locals call the upstate.

By the way this is not just a simple university, its the institution which educated Joe Biden, the current Vice President of the United States.

This is no Matero University (where fake PhDs can be produced in 30 seconds).

I never paid anything to find myself here.

Actually, children of the rich are the ones who were supposed to be here, not ine Mumbwa-Mumbwa.

But who am i to find myself at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University?

What did i do for me to deserve this chance to be among the 1,000 Mandela Washington fellows who are currently studying at various universities for the next six weeks?

 Here is a bit of background in case some of my villagers are reading this.

In August 2006, when Barack Obama visited Kenya as a first term Senator, it was the first time i ever heard of this son of a Kenyan man who was destined to be the world's most powerful politician for an eight year period..

In the run up to his 2008 historic election as the 44th President of the United States, Obama had a lot of sympathy from many of us in Africa for obvious reasons.
At our village in Mumbwa with my kid bro Mukena in the 1990s

At the time i was a cab reporter in Lusaka and i remember interviewing some people to get their reactions to his election and what it meant for Africa.

In a major policy speech in Accra, Ghana in July 2009, President Obama said the future of Africa was in the hands of its young population and there was need for Africans to seize the opportunity.

In the subsequent years, Mr Obama established the Mandela Washington Fellowship which has over the past four years sent thousands of African youths to American universities to study business and enterprenueurship, civic engagement, energy and public management.

The selection of fellows for this program is so intense that in the past two years i had been applying and failing but on the third attempt, the US State Department selected me.

This fellowship is an opportunity for poor, little educated and unexposed young Africans like me to mingle with America's highly educated Professors, visit historic places around the country and at the end of the fellowship see Obama in your own eyes and take a selfie with him.

Obama went to the White House as the first Black (not vama African-American) President though of course Africa argues that the first black American President was Bill Clinton due to his many beneficial contributions on the continent.

I know by now some of you may be wondering why am taking you around in this article.

In short, this article is meant to show that it is possible for a village boy like me to one day walk the streets of Yale, Havard, Rutgers, Wagner, Virginia Tech, Columbia and many other prestigious American universities if they believe in themselves and push themselves to the limit.

As i sit down in my small hostel room at Syracuse University, i remember the words my father Namasiku Kamuti Shalala told me while we were hearding cattle together in 1996 in my native Lozi language: "Mwanake bupilo kikutiya. Aubata kubonahala inge yabutali, kikuitiisa kwasikolo nikubala," (when you want to look intelligent among people, you must work hard at school and read alot),

Dad's words inspire me a lot and since he uttered them, i have seen his wisdom having an impact in everything i do.
With Dad and my two grandmothers at our village in 2014

This coming week i will start my studies in Public Management and i will be in the same class with other African fellows who have Masters Degrees, Bachelors Degrees and several other academic qualifications.

I will share the same seats with an elected Councillor, Government officials, Media personalities and several other high ranking people from across Africa.

But ndemuchangu (poor me), the small kachema (Cattle herder) from Mumbwa will sit quietly, listen attentively and learn from these highly acclaimed lecturers and get the best that the American education system can offer to poor me.

By the way, am still the same Paul from Lubanze Village in Nangoma area of Mumbwa, am just privileged to be in New York today.

Am still that same Lozi villager who comes from that Tonga village in Mumbwa.

And when am done with the fellowship in August, i will go back to my beloved Zambia to continue doing my news job at ZNBC.

I will reclaim my villager tag upon landing at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka.

But for now ladies and gentlemen, allow me to forget about my villager status and sample the American foods and explore this great nation since my status here is that of a fellow: shhhh they don't know that am a villager.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Paul Shalala Selected For 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship


Paul Shalala

The US State Department has selected Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) reporter Paul Shalala as a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.

Mr Shalala will be among a thousand young African leaders who will spend six months at US universities and institutions being mentored in public management, civic leadership and business and entrepreneurship.

Over 1,500 youths in Zambia applied for the fellowship and about 200 were interviews from which 41 were selected to travel to the USA in June for the fellowship.

The fellowship starts on 17th June and ends on 4th August.

According to a letter by US Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schulz to Mr Shalala, the ZNBC journalist will be among the youths who will also attend the Presidential Summit which President Barack Obama will host in Washington at the end of the fellowship in August.

Mr Schulz says Mr Shalala was successful in his interviews hence the reason the State Department offered him a place as a fellow.

And the Mandela Washington Team has disclosed that Mr Shalala will do his fellowship at Syracuse University in New York.

In an emailed statement, the team said Mr Shalala will study public management at the university and his placement is final and it cannot be changed.

Prominent among people who studied at Syracuse University are US Vice President Joe Biden and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Mr Shalala applied for the Mandela Washington Fellowship in November 2015.

In February 2016, he was interviewed by the US Embassy.

His application for the public management track was based on his job experience at Zambia’s state broadcaster ZNBC.

He also profiled his award-winning blog The Zambian Analyst (www.paulshalala.blogspot.com) which he hopes can help him inform the public through his news and analytical pieces before, during and after the August 11 general elections this year.

Since 2014, thousands of young African leaders have undergone mentorship under the Mandela Washington Fellowship which President Obama is implementing under his Young African Leaders Initiative.

Prominent among Zambians who have undergone this fellowship are media personalities Luyando Hangala, Kenny Tonga, Patience Chisanga and Raphael Kumwenda, hip hop artist Brian ‘B Flow’ Bwembya, Governance expert Isaac Mwanza, and many other youths.

Meanwhile, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation is excited about Mr Shalala’s selection for this year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship.

ZNBC Corporate Affairs Manager Masuzyo Ndhlovu says the selection has been well received by management.