People: Jackson's democracy mission

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The Independent Online
IS there a trend for black American politicians to make a pilgrimage to Africa? The civil rights leader Jesse Jackson departs on a mission to Nigeria this week to deliver a message from President Clinton to General Sani Abacha, urging him to restore democracy. 'We must not allow Nigeria to drift into civil war,' says Mr Jackson. 'It could be devastating.'

Mr Jackson has links with the millionaire opposition leader Moshood Abiola, who is charged with treason for having declared himself president after last year's elections. But Nigerian rights activists don't want him to come.

They say Mr Jackson has been over-chummy with the military rulers. Not at all, says Mr Jackson. A misunderstanding.

THEN there is the black activist leader the Rev Al Sharpton, who plans to take a week off from his Senate campaign next month to visit Rwandan refugee camps.

'I feel that this is one of the greatest human tragedies in history and that there has not been an effort by public leadership - particularly in the African-American community - to find out what is going on over there and what can be done,' Mr Sharpton said.

Mr Sharpton, who says Mr Clinton should have given more aid sooner for Rwandan refugees, hopes other clergymen will join him on his trip.

A PIN-UP calendar featuring scantily dressed Australian female athletes, including the Commonwealth champion Jane Flemming wearing only gold paint, has prompted loud official complaints. A dozen track stars who will represent Australia in next month's Commonwealth Games took their kit off to appear in what the promoters call 'a hot, sexy and raunchy pin-up calendar'.

Flemming, 29, who graces the front cover, dreamed up the idea to raise funds for junior athletes. But the head of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Arthur Tunstall, is not impressed. 'This is not giving the sport a good image,' he sniffed.

'I'm just shocked and surprised that the girls had to resort to this sort of behaviour to capitalise on their bodies.'

Others in the calendar include the 800-metres runner Sandra Dawson (astride a Harley-Davidson, wearing just a leather jacket) and long- distance walker Jane Saville (wearing medals and a black bikini). 'The calendar,' says Flemming, 'is a chance to raise the profile of track and field in Australia and hopefully attract more athletes to the sport.'

A SLAP across the knuckles for the unfortunate Tunku Abdullah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, brother of the king of Malaysia, who took a three- day business trip to Israel in violation of Malaysian law. Malaysia has no relations with Israel and does not allow its people to travel there.

Prince Tunku Abdullah said he had met the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, while he was there. He now faces a barrage of police questioning and may be stripped of his passport.

(Photographs omitted)