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Myanmar Child monks become royalty for a day (Photos)

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The whole village of Myinkabar, nestled among the centuries-old pagodas of Bagan city, turns out for an annual lavish feast in their honour.

Riding elephants and horses in heavily bejewelled costumes, thick eyeliner and rouged lips, boys in central Myanmar parade through their village as ancient princes in a ceremony to mark their passage to monkhood.

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The whole village of Myinkabar, nestled among the centuries-old pagodas of Bagan city, turns out for an annual lavish feast in their honour.

Everyone pays respects to the children giving up their worldly belongings — at least for a few days.

Buddhist tradition in Myanmar requires youths to spend some time in a monastery or nunnery before the age of 18 in what is viewed as an important coming of age ritual.

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Most people undertake this at least once in their lives.

The first step for both boys and girls is to have all their hair shaved off.

They adjust to a demanding daily schedule of alms collecting, chores, study and worship.

But perhaps the hardest aspect is not eating from 12 noon until sunrise the next morning.

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Many ‘novices’ are happy to exchange their robes — maroon or saffron for monks, pink for nuns — at the end of the week for their normal attire and return to their families.

Others, however, are there for the long-term, destined for a monastic life.

“Sometimes I want to play football like other children in Yangon but I can’t,” says 13-year-old Tate Tha, who has been a novice monk in Yangon for five years already.

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“I’m envious of them but I’m doing good things in life and I am happy for that.”

Traditionally monasteries and convents have offered the chance for children, particularly from poorer backgrounds, to receive an education in the country which is 87 percent Buddhist.

But as free places in government schools have become more widely available, the number of novice monks and nuns is in decline, a trend that worries some Buddhism experts.

“It is like a tree whose roots are being destroyed,” says Mya Thein, 50, a scholar at Yangon Buddhist University.

“We need to take care of it and we also need to find a solution. It is now in danger.”

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Nigeria Customs suggest 35% levy on imported vehicles reduction to check smuggling.

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The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) has called on the Federal Government to reduce the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles so as to check the rising cases of smuggled vehicles into the country.

Ali said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the unveiling of a Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative which was held at the Ministry of Finance.

He said already the Nigeria Customs Service had made a proposal to the Ministry of Finance on the need for a reduction in the 35 per cent levy on imported vehicles.



Ali said currently, any new vehicle imported into the country attracted an import duty of 35 per cent and an additional levy of 35 per cent.

This, he noted, brought the total duty payable on such a vehicle to about 70 per cent.

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He described the 70 per cent being charged by the government as high, adding that time had come for it to be reduced.

In achieving this, he said, the government could still retain the 35 per cent import duty while the additional 35 per cent levy could be tinkered by bringing it downwards.

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He said, “First, we must understand the fact that smuggling in most cases did not really occur because of the tariff that is placed on goods in Nigeria.

“When we talk about vehicles, yes, new vehicles attract 70 per cent duty; that is 35 per cent duty and 35 per cent levy but most of the vehicles that are being smuggled through our borders are not new vehicles, they are used vehicles.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who unveiled the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative, said that the government was concerned about the inability of some of its agencies to meet their revenue target.

She admitted that it had become a challenge for the government to mobilise fiscal resources to deliver on its developmental objectives, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that revenue generation needed to be enhanced.

According to her, while oil revenue to oil Gross Domestic Product ratio stands at about 39 per cent, non-oil revenue to non-oil GDP is about 4.2 per cent.

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24 days to Election in Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili quits presidential race.

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The leading female candidate in Nigeria’s presidential election said on Thursday she had withdrawn from the race weeks ahead of the poll to help build a coalition to provide a viable alternative to the country’s two main parties.

Former government minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, co-founder of a group to raise awareness about more than 200 girls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, said on Twitter that she had been in talks for three months with other candidates about a coalition.



Nigeria’s presidential election is scheduled to take place on Feb. 16. The main candidates in the race to head Africa’s top oil producing country are the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who is representing the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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“I have decided to step down from the presidential race and focus on helping to build a coalition for a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the 2019 general,” said Ezekwesili in a tweet.

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Ezekwesili was not considered to be among the frontrunners in the race. Analysts see President Buhari and Abubakar as the only genuine contenders due to the financial power and patronage networks provided by their parties.

Ezekwesili, a former government minister, is a founder of the civil society organization Transparency International. She was considered for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her anti-corruption work.

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