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Shisha ban leaves Malians divided



“Shisha-abana,” exclaims Bilal, a grocer in Mali’s capital Bamako, in the national language Bambara: “Shisha is finished.”  His is a common reaction.

An unexpected ban on hookah smoking in this West African country has stirred surprise as well as division, leaving devotees dismayed but health advocates delighted.

Bars where small groups of smokers — primarily young men — hang out to chat and puff on water pipes have flourished in Bamako in recent years.

Mali is an overwhelmingly Muslim country, and interpretations of Islam are generally unfavourable to cigarettes and to shisha.

But it is also a secular nation that tolerates alcohol, even if consumption is limited to certain public places and most shops and restaurants do not serve it.

Shishas, or hookahs, typically burn a tobacco flavoured with fruit to provide a sweetened taste. The smoke is inhaled in through a long rubber tube, passing through water to cool it down. “Shisha” is also the term sometimes used for the tobacco product.

The government’s sudden decision on August 15 to ban shishas took many by surprise — the ruling junta, in power since 2020, had not been particularly known for its concerns about tobacco.

The law, co-signed by six ministries, including the ministry of security, health and youth, “prohibits the importation, distribution, sale and use of shishas (water pipes) or any similar device throughout the national territory”.

Any shisha smoker will be punished with a prison sentence of one to 10 days and a fine of 300 to 10,000 CFA francs ($0.45 to $15.00).

Shisha bars have six months to close.

The authorities did not provide any reason for the ban.

But in his shop in the centre of Bamako, Abdramane Daff is fuming as he shows off his pile of stock.

“We can’t sell all this in six months, it’s impossible”, he said.

“We beg (the authorities) to look for another solution — maybe they could limit themselves to banning consumption in the streets and spare shisha sales”.

– ‘Thank you’ –

On the consumer side, there are questions about the authorities’ ability to enforce the decree.

“Is it possible to stop smoking shisha for good?” asked one occasional smoker on condition of anonymity.

Measures such as the closure of restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic had little effect in a country where many businesses are informal and law enforcement resources are limited.

On social networks or in conversations in street hangouts in Bamako, the news was rather well received.

“Thank you for the ban on shisha in Mali, I think we should now ban cigarettes as they are also a drug!” posted Abdoul Karim Maiga on Twitter.

“I think the decree is very important,” Ousmane Toure, a representative of the association of tobacco victims, told AFP.

“In terms of mortality and disease, if we took into account shisha and tobacco, we would see that frankly it is better to stop,” he said.

Salif Kone, a tobacco specialist, points to a study conducted in schools in Bamako showing that “about 70 percent of young people use shisha”.

– Health risk –

A working group of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in 2017 about the danger of shisha smoking.

The practice is up to 10 times more harmful than cigarettes but is not targeted by the same awareness campaigns as with tobacco, it said.

It is “up to us, the doctors, the parents of these children, to combine our efforts with those of the government to (make them) stop using shisha”, Kone said.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have taxed shisha consumption. Others, including Jordan and Cameroon, have banned it.

In Mali, where free speech has been increasingly threatened since 2020, few critical voices have been raised apart from shisha bar managers.

“Was this the most urgent thing, when our country is in the grip of a multi-pronged crisis?” asked one social scientist on condition of anonymity.


Black Teen Makes History, Becomes Youngest Glider Pilot in the United States




Meet 16-year old Caleb Smith from P.G. County, Maryland, who according to the FAA has become the youngest Glider pilot in the United States. He is currently a 10th grader at Charles H. Flowers High School in the city of Springdale.

According to WUSA-9, Caleb’s dream began when he was just 10-years old during a discovery flight at Bowie Freeway Airport. From this experience, his ambition sparked a sincere interest in aviation. Periodically he would fly with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) just to see if the desire was still there. Over the course of time, he began to gradually pursue his dream by having one-on-one ground instruction and airtime.

In May 2021, Caleb was awarded a scholarship for gliding school. He was able to achieve his first solo after 33 flights and has already flown 12 solos. Even more, he has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) written exam and his check-ride which allows him to obtain his Glider Pilot’s license. Ultimately, his goal is to become a commercial airline pilot.

Caleb credits Skyline Soaring Club at Front Royal Airport, in Virginia for awarding him a scholarship that helped him to achieve this monumental goal. He also says that Destiny Aviation Services also provided valuable aviation guidance in his early years and warmly welcomed him as a team member.

He says his goal is to inspire other young people and let them know that they can live their dreams if they stay connected with God, remain family-oriented, achieve a good education, maintain values, and above all, cultivate love and respect for others.

For press inquiries, contact his parents, Chazz & Dee Smith, at 301-906-2976.

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Texas News Anchor, Shatanya Clarke, Sadly Dies at 27 After Cancer Diagnosis




Shatanya Clarke, an HBCU graduate and a well-respected news anchor for KFDX in Wichita Falls, Texas, has sadly died from brain cancer. She was only 27-years old and had recently graduated from Florida A&M University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. She was also a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

While on campus, she worked as a live shot reporter, an entertainment news anchor, and an associate news producer. This all led to an audition with the University’s radio station, and she became the radio host and DJ of a Caribbean segment. Later, she landed a radio internship in the Cayman Islands, and in 2018, Texas-based KFDX hired her as a news reporter/ multimedia journalist.

Shatanya was originally from Ochos Rios, Jamaica, but she immigrated to Florida when she was a teenager. Her passion for giving back went beyond journalism. She served on the local Child Care Partners board, she helped establish an annual event for the homeless community, and she created a project at KFDX called The Remarkable Woman Campaign that featured local women history makers.

She reportedly passed away at her home after a 2-year battle with cancer. According to her family members, she was very optimistic about upcoming medical treatments.

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82-Year Old Woman Makes History, Graduates From University of Maryland




Nationwide — Mae Beale, an 82-year-old woman from Maryland, has finally achieved her dream of graduating college as she recently received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.

n the past years, Beale has been working as a licensed practical nurse at different health care and government agencies in Washington, DC. While working at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, she discovered her skills in event planning.


“My supervisors thought I had something special,” she told WJLA-TV. “When I was working at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, I organized some large events and everybody was impressed with it, so I started coordinating their IT information conferences.”

In 1994, she decided to make a new career out of event planning and launched her own event planning business called “In Grand Style.” She then went back to school to earn her associate degree in business management at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland.

Just a few years ago, Beale, who was then in her late 70s, decided to continue her studies and pursue a bachelor’s degree to help her grow her business. She worked really hard towards her goal, even making it to the Dean’s list several times and participating in various extra-curricular activities.

“I discovered that I had to be intentional about it and make it my priority,” she said.

Most recently, Beale graduated with honors on the day after she just turned 82-years old.

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